Contra Costa DA Faces Uncomfortable Questions About Her Husband’s Church

In the final days of her re-election campaign, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton is fending off questions about alleged sexual abuse at the church where her husband serves as a pastor.

An unnamed individual has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by an employee of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church of Richmond when the plaintiff was 14. Becton’s husband, Pastor Alvin C. Bernstine, is named in the suit, although he is not accused of sexual abuse.

According to the lawsuit, a background check would have revealed that the accused employee was a convicted child molestor. Becton’s husband either didn’t care or showed negligence by hiring the employee, the plaintiff claims.

Becton says she wasn’t even married to her husband at the time the employee was hired, nor is she accused of any wrongdoing herself. “As such, Diana Becton is completely unrelated to the civil claims which stem from a decade ago.”

The victim, however, is asking the state’s Attorney General to get involved.

"Given the personal relationship between Pastor Bernstine and District Attorney Becton, we are calling upon Attorney General Rob Bonta to investigate this case to avoid any conflict of interest on behalf of the district attorney," said the alleged victim's attorney Vince Finaldi.

The issue has become a distraction for Becton, who is facing a re-election challenge from longtime county prosecutor Mary Knox in the June 7 primary. Knox has pledged to restore morale in the DA’s office, which she believes has become too politicized under Becton. Knox has also vowed to tackle rising property crime.


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