Amish bishop charged with failure to report sexual abuse

Lancaster

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — A bishop from a Pequea Township Amish church is charged with failure to report sexual abuse to authorities.

According to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office Levi Esh Sr. served as bishop of two local Amish churches when a member of his congregation confessed to him in 2012 or 2013 to the sexual abuse of three girls.

Esh, 63, did not contact police and said the matter “was handled internally,” according to charges filed Wednesday by Pequea Township police.

Police say they became aware of the activity after concerned members of the Amish community had conversations with Esh and other bishops and ministers in October 2019. The community members were told to “let it go” and that it had “been taken care of.”

Esh is charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of failure to report to appropriate authorities.

District Judge Benner arraigned Esh Wednesday morning via video conference and set bail at $25,000 unsecured.

The unreported abuse regards behavior by 41-year-old John G. Beiler. Pequea Township police charged Beiler last week with counts of sexual abuse regarding crimes against three girls between 2011 and 2015.

Officials say Beiler confessed in 2012 or 2013 to Esh. Esh instructed Beiler to confess to the fathers of the victims. Beiler also was excommunicated from the church. However, Esh did not contact police or social services.

The investigation is ongoing.

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