SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [Chicago IL]
February 7, 2023
By Zach Hiner
We applaud Pennsylvania Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry who announced today the arrests and criminal charges in multiple child Sex Abuse cases across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The charges were returned to the Office of Attorney General by the 49th investigative grand jury.
Five men, all of whom were involved with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, were charged with sexual assault offenses involving minors, some of their own families. The charges were filed against Marc Brown of Allegheny County, Raymond Shultz of Beaver County, Abimael Valentin-Matos of Lancaster County, Kevin Isovitsch of Butler County, and Normal Aviles of Lancaster County.
We know that pursuing justice against these perpetrators would not be possible if it were not for the strength and courage of the brave victims who stepped forward by calling the Office of Attorney General to report these crimes. We understand it’s hard for victims to speak up, but that’s what it takes to see justice, safeguard others, expose predators, and prevent crimes.
This case reads like so many others that have been heard for the past several decades, abuse facilitated within a faith-based community. Abusive men who used the faith community to prey upon their victims. We’ve seen this before. Yet just because this is nothing new doesn’t mean that the actions aren’t just as horrific. How can it be that leaders of a faith group could acknowledge relationships involving children? How could it happen that, even with the media attention paid to sexual abuse scandals since 2002, that faith leaders and abusers alike would continue to follow the same old playbook? We believe this is the tip of the iceberg and hope that further charges will be brought against others complicit in these crimes.
To us, these tragedies serve as an example that abuse should be reported to law enforcement only. We sincerely hope that anyone else who may have been harmed or has knowledge involving these crimes or others within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, call the Office of Attorney General hotline at 888-538-8541. These cases are being prosecuted by Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones at 717-787-3391.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (email@example.com 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386 email@example.com)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)