Investigative report shines light on culture of sexual assault, rape in Amish communities
By Shelly Stallsmith
York Daily Record
January 16, 2020
Amish men in communities around the U.S. have helped to continue a culture of sexually assaulting their daughters, sisters and employees, according to an investigative report by Cosmopolitan magazine and Type Investigations.
More than three dozen Amish people were interviewed for the story that was posted this week. Reporters also talked to members of law enforcement, judges, attorneys, outreach workers and scholars in seven states, including Pennsylvania, that have Amish populations.
The stories were similar.
Girls as young as nine were being inappropriately touched and raped by family members, neighbors and church leaders. When confronted, the men confessed and were punished by the church.
The girls and women were treated as badly by the community as the guilty.
When local law enforcement became involved, families begged and made deals to keep the convicted men out of jail.
The reporter, with help from nonprofit Type Investigations, discovered more than 50 cases from the last two decades. A former judge from Lancaster County talks about more than two dozen cases he presided over, including one where the victims would only cooperate if their abusers received no jail time.
Much like victims who came forward in the Jerry Sandusky, Boy Scout and Catholic church scandals, Amish women and their allies are coming forward with more regularity, according to the article.
Efforts are underway in Lancaster County to reform the Amish culture in which girls are not taught the fundamentals of feminine hygiene and basic sex education, the article states. Officials meet with Amish leaders several times a year to “build trust and communication.”
One Lancaster County member of a Conservative Crisis Intervention committee told the magazine “a lot of things have changed and forced us to comply and not allow things to be swept under the rug, like they had at one point.”