CONCORD — A Laconia alcohol and drug counselor has been charged with two counts of felonious sexual assault resulting from an incident that allegedly occurred with a patient, said the division director for heath care professionals.
Jay Bernier, whose practice is on 206 Fair St. was also suspended from practice by the Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Professionals. He also has offices in Concord. His license was suspended after an emergency hearing on Tuesday.
Bernier's arrest came on Oct. 27 after an investigation by the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department and his arrest was effected by that organization.
According to an emergency order of suspension released Wednesday by the licensing board, the alleged victim sought counseling from Bernier and attended approximately 14 to 20 sessions with him in 2014.
Either during the sessions or immediately thereafter, the order says Bernier developed an inappropriate relationship with the client. The investigation said Bernier went to the salon where the client worked to get a haircut on Nov. 3, 2014, and this was witnessed by two of her coworkers.
The client also said Bernier sent flowers to her at her place of employment and took her out shopping for clothes three times. The order said there were witnesses to this.
The order noted that Bernier and the woman were Facebook "friends" and he had "liked" several of her photographs.
Bernier also allegedly "hugged and kissed her on multiple occasions and sent her sexually explicit text messages on more than one occasion."
The order said that on Nov. 6, 2015, the client reached out to Bernier for help and upon his request she visited his Laconia office around 11 a.m., where he allegedly performed a sex act on her.
While Bernier has not been through the criminal process at this time, "the board finds that public health, safety and welfare require emergency action in this case," read the emergency order.
"Further, the board believes there is a reasonable basis for both immediately suspending Bernier's license on a temporary basis and for commencing an expedited disciplinary proceeding against [Bernier] pursuant to [state law and license requirements.]
According to the license board rules, an adjudicatory hearing shall commence within 10 working days after an emergency suspension. Bernier has been ordered to appear before the board at 9 a.m. on Dec. 3.
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