Amish bishop arrested, accused of failing to report sex abuse by church member, cops say

Police: Amish bishop arrested, accused of failing to report sex abuse by church member

PEQUEA TOWNSHIP, Pa. — An Amish bishop was charged this week by Pennsylvania authorities with failing to report sexual abuse allegedly committed by one of his congregants.

Levi Esh Sr., 63, of Pequea Township, was bishop of two Amish churches in Lancaster County in 2012 or 2013 when one of his congregants confessed to him that he had sexually abused three girls, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

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Esh failed to alert police but instead handled the matter internally, according to Pequea Township police officials. The alleged abuser, John Beiler, was charged last week with two counts indecent assault of a victim younger than 13, one count of indecent assault of a victim younger than 16, three counts corruption of minors and three counts unlawful contact with a minor, police officials said.

The charges against Beiler stem from multiple incidents that took place between 2011 and 2015, authorities said. The allegations came to light in November 2019.

“Police 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 DA’s office reported. “The community members were told to ‘let it go’ and that it had ‘been taken care of.’”

According to prosecutors, Beiler confessed his actions to Esh, who instructed him to admit his sins to the fathers of the girls. Beiler was subsequently excommunicated from the church.

The bishop failed to call the police or social workers, however.

“Pequea Township police Detective Sgt. Robert Burger charged Esh with felony and misdemeanor counts of failure to report to appropriate authorities,” prosecutors said.

Amish bishop Levi Esh Sr., left, of Pequea Township, Penn., is accused of failing to report alleged sexual abuse committed by former church member John Beiler, right, in 2012 or 2013. Esh, 63, is charged with failure to report and Beiler, 41, is charged with multiple sex crimes.
Amish bishop Levi Esh Sr., left, of Pequea Township, Penn., is accused of failing to report alleged sexual abuse committed by former church member John Beiler, right, in 2012 or 2013. Esh, 63, is charged with failure to report and Beiler, 41, is charged with multiple sex crimes. (Pequea Township Police Department)