Five men who belong to different Jehovah's Witness congregations in Pennsylvania have been accused of sexually abusing underage girls, many of whom are family members.
On Tuesday, the state's acting Attorney General, Michelle Henry, announced that she had filed charges against men from various counties, including Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Lancaster. The following individuals have been indicted by a grand jury:
- Norman Aviles, 44, "an elder in his congregation," has been accused of molesting at least three children between the ages of 5 and 10. He was also the subject of a sexual abuse investigation in 2010, but that investigation was closed due to "a lack of information" — information which prosecutors say they now have. Aviles has been charged with aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, and corruption of minors. He is the only suspect of the five who remains at large.
- Marc Brown, 65, has been accused of "regularly" sexually abusing two sisters, ages 10 and 13, while he was their legal guardian. The older sister reported that Brown threatened to molest her younger sister if the older girl "stopped him from abusing her, or if she reported his abuse of her." Brown has been charged with aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, and corruption of minors.
- Kevin Isovitsch, 51, has been accused of sexually assaulting his 9-year-old niece. He has been charged with rape, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, and corruption of minors.
- Raymond Shultz, 74, has been accused of molesting his granddaughters from 2000 to 2007. Several years later, when the girls sought counseling for trauma, Shultz supposedly cut each of them a check for $2,500. He has been charged with aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, and corruption of minors.
- Abimael Valentin-Matos, 42, has been accused of grooming a 15-year-old girl 12 years ago, when he was 30. He allegedly had sex with the victim "multiple times" after he convinced her that the behavior was "appropriate and normal" since he wanted to marry her eventually. Other members of the church also reportedly approved of Valentin-Matos' "romantic interest" in the girl. He has been charged with indecent assault, indecent exposure, endangering the welfare of children, and corruption of minors. He is the only defendant whose picture has been released via news outlets.
All of the alleged victims are members of a Jehovah's Witness church, and all of them reported the alleged abuse to the authorities.
"The details of these crimes are sad and disturbing, facts which are made even more abhorrent because the defendants used their faith communities or their own families to gain access to victims," acting AG Henrysaid in a statement. "Our office will never stop working to seek justice for those who have been victimized, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who harms the most vulnerable in our society."
Last October, when current Governor Josh Shapiro (D) was still attorney general, he arrested four other Jehovah's Witnesses and charged them with similar crimes against a total of 19 victims. "[T]hese children deserved to be protected and grow up in peace, not to be preyed upon," Shapiro said at the time.
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