The suspects ‘used their faith communities or their own families to gain access to victims,’ Pennsylvania’s acting Attorney General, Michelle Henry, above, announced.
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FOR several years the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has been investigating whether the Jehovah’s Witnesses repeatedly failed to report child sexual abuse allegations to authorities.
On Monday Henry announced at a press conference that five members of J W congregations in Pennsylvania had been indicted by a grand jury on various child sex abuse charges.
She said that the five preyed on young members of their own families and congregations.
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.
Image via YouTube
One person who testified before the grand jury in 2019 was Mark O’Donnell, above, a former J W who edits J W Watch. In 2020 he wrote:
After a lifetime in the Jehovah’s Witness organization, having seen the damaging effects of child abuse and the cover-up of these crimes, I am thankful that the Government of Pennsylvania has finally turned its attention to the organization which silenced the voices of survivors and those who champion their rights.
O’Donnell pointed out that the State of Pennsylvania is no stranger to the cover-up of abuse within religious organizations. In 2018, the Attorney General’s office released the results of a two-year investigation into the Catholic church, following multiple substantiated reports of child sexual abuse and corresponding cover-ups.
The men who were charged
According to this report, among the five charged are Marc Brown, 65. He is a member of a J W congregation in Allegheny County who allegedly sexually assaulted two girls for whom he was the legal guardian between 2004 and 2006.
He has been charged with aggravated indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, and corruption of minors.
Abimael Valentin-Matos, 42, is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old member of a congregation in Lancaster County.
Brown, left, and Valentin-Matos. Photos provided by Pennsylvania Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry.
Valentin-Matos allegedly sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl who he was courting to marry when he was twice her age.
The victim testified to the grand jury that Matos, who was 30 years old at the time and twice her age, “promised that he would eventually marry her and that they could court in the presence of a chaperone pursuant to the elders’ instructions.”
During one meeting at a public park in 2004, Matos allegedly sexually assaulted the 15-year-old girl.
Three other men—74-year-old Raymond Shultz, 51-year-old Kevin Isovitsch, and 44-year-old Norman Aviles—were also charged with various child sex abuse charges.
Four of the suspects have been arrested, while Aviles is still at large, according to officials.
I, like many others, have long argued that religious institutions pose a grave danger to children. Apart from harmful indoctrination issues, they are routinely exposed to perverts who find easy access to kids by infiltrating such environments.
This is confirmed by a 2022 report that revealed:
Religious institutions, which commonly rely on volunteers and hold a high degree of trust, are especially susceptible to allegations of child sexual abuse. In many cases, the abuser is in a respected position, such as a leader whose authority a child would be hesitant to question.
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