Community disturbed by sex crime allegations against Suffern clergy member

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Neighbors say they're disturbed by charges filed this week against a Suffern clergy member who is accused of sexually assaulting two women.

As News 12 has reported, 51-year-old Fidel Hernandez is charged with rape, criminal sex act and sexual assault. He has served as a member of Tagaste Monastery and Sacred Heart Church.

Hernandez is accused of walking one of the women to the back of the Tagaste Monastery by the basketball courts, where he allegedly forced himself on her. After that victim came forward, investigators say another woman came forward saying she was forced to perform sexual acts on Hernandez.

MORE COVERAGE: Suffern police: Clergy member charged with rape, other sex crimes 

News 12 spoke to Father John Gruben, the assistant priest of Sacred Heart Church. He didn't wish to go on camera, but says he's deeply saddened to hear about Hernandez's charges and sorry for the whole community.

Hernandez's arrest is shocking to community members like Camille Gattuso, who was born and raised in Suffern and grew up going to Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church.

"I'm shocked at things that are happening in this world today in this country, in this area where I was born and raised -- it's shocking, it's alarming," Gattuso says.

Hernandez was released on bond pending a future court date.

Anyone who feels they were a victim or knows of a potential victim is  being asked to call Suffern Police Department or the Rockland County District Attorney's Office.

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