5 Pa. Jehovah’s Witnesses accused of child sex abuse following grand jury investigation

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Pittsburgh PA]

February 7, 2023

By Sarah Cassi

Five members from Jehovah’s Witness congregations from across Pennsylvania are facing child sex abuse charges as the state’s acting attorney general continues to urge survivors to come forward and report their abuse.

The charges against the five men are the result of an investigating grand jury, and in each case the men and their victims were members of Jehovah’s Witness congregations, acting Attorney General Michelle Henry announced Tuesday.

Four of the men were arrested, while one man, Norman Aviles of Lancaster County, is still at large and is wanted on 20 charges, prosecutors said.

The new cases come after four Jehovah’s Witness members were charged last October by then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro with the sexual assault and exploitation of 19 children.

Ms. Henry said Tuesday those initial cases stemmed from a referral from a local district attorney’s office, which grew to a three-year investigation with 100 of hours of testimony from dozens of witnesses.

When the four cases were announced, the attorney general’s office called on survivors to contact then via its hotline and “many courageous survivors came forward,” Ms. Henry said. “We would not be here today without them.”

Ms. Henry repeated that any Jehovah’s Witnesses with similar experiences should call the office’s clergy abuse hotline at 888-538-8541, and anyone with information regarding child sexual abuse can report it at ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.

“Tell us what happened. We will be here,” Ms. Henry said.

When she announced the following cases, Ms. Henry said the details were disturbing, sad and “hard to listen to.”

“Some of these defendants even used their faith communities to prey upon the victims, and others had to look no further than their own families,” she said. “We have a duty to protect children in Pennsylvania. These children deserve a community where they can grow, play, learn and pray, and not be preyed upon.”

Marc Brown, 65, of Allegheny County, is accused of sexually abusing two young sisters when they were between the ages of 10 and 13. Mr. Brown is awaiting arraignment on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, six counts of indecent assault, and two counts each of child endangerment and corruption of minors.

Raymond Schultz, 74, of Beaver County, allegedly abused two relatives when the girls were between the ages of five and 10. Mr. Shultz is facing 16 charges including six counts of aggravated indecent assault. He was sent to Beaver County Prison after failing to post $250,000 bail.

Abimael Valentin-Matos, 42, of Lancaster County, was supposedly “courting” a 15-year-old girl before marriage, but Ms. Henry said he sexually assaulted the teen. Mr. Matos will be charged with indecent assault, indecent exposure, child endangerment and corruption of minors.

Kevin Isovitch, 51, of Butler County, is charged with raping a 9-year-old and faces charges including rape of a child and three counts each of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault.

Mr. Aviles is an elder in his Jehovah’s Witness congregations in Lancaster County. Prosecutors allege he molested at least three young children between the ages of 5 and 10. Mr. Aviles is facing multiple counts of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, child endangerment and corruption of minors.