Pennsylvania grand jury charges more Jehovah’s Witness suspects with child rape, molestation

Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry announced five new suspects in the child abuse probe

A Pennsylvania grand jury charged five more men connected to the Jehovah’s Witnesses community with raping or molesting child victims amid an ongoing investigation into the organization.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry announced the charges at a news conference Friday. The five suspects charged included: Shaun Sheffer, 45; David Balosa, 62; Errol William Hall, 50; Terry Booth, 57; and Luis Ayala-Velasquez, 55.

Sheffer, Booth, Hall and Ayala-Velasquez were taken into custody, while Balosa has not yet been detained. Henry said that all the men had contact with children through the church.

According to Henry, one victim said that she was raped 50 or more times between the ages of 7 and 12. The church member who assaulted her was between 18 and 23 years old at the time.


pennsylvania grand jury charges more jehovahs witness suspects with child rape molestation

Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry speaks during a news conference, Friday, July 7, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Other allegations include inappropriate touching and grooming. Some of the assaults took place when a child's family took a perpetrator into their home.

The new charges are part of an ongoing probe on child sex abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization. In February, five associates were indicted on various child sex abuse charges. There have been 14 suspects identified in total.

Church spokesperson Jarrod Lopes told the Associated Press that the church was sickened by the news of sexual abuse, but could not comment on the new charges.


pennsylvania grand jury charges more jehovahs witness suspects with child rape molestation

A Pennsylvania grand jury investigating child sexual abuse in the Jehovah's Witnesses community has charged another five people with raping or molesting children as young as 4, the latest developments in an ongoing probe that has identified 14 suspects.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

"[The church works to] educate and warn parents through our publications, meetings, and website, about how to protect their children in a variety of circumstances," Lopes explained. "We also are quick to support and offer pastoral care to those affected, while working to ensure that unrepentant perpetrators are removed from the congregation."

"Anyone who has been victimized has the full support of the congregation to report the matter to the authorities," he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Authored by Andrea Vacchiano via FoxNews July 7th 2023