Five Jehovah’s Witnesses charged with sexually abusing children in Pennsylvania

by | Feb 7, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Five Jehovah’s Witnesses have been charged with sexually abusing nine children in congregations across Pennsylvania, the state’s acting attorney general, Michelle Henry, announced Tuesday (Feb. 7). The alleged crimes are separate, but the attorney general’s office described the actions of several of the defendants as having leveraged religion to get access to the reported abuse survivors.“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,” said Henry in a press release. “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.”
Four of the five accused have been taken into custody; the fifth, Norman Aviles of Lancaster County, is still at large.
In October, four other Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested and charged with sexually abusing a total of 19 children in Pennsylvania as part of a broad investigation into abuse known as the 49th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury.
“As Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses despise the mistreatment and abuse of anyone, especially precious children,” a spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ U.S. branch said in a statement to Religion News Service. “While it is not appropriate to comment on cases pending before the courts, we want to express ou …

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