EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced criminal charges against four men in Pennsylvania for the sexual assault and exploitation of children of the Jehovah’s Witness congregations.
Through the investigation, police say it was found that four men, Jesse Hill, formerly of Berks County, Jose Serrano of Lancaster County, Eric Eleam of Butler County, and Robert Ostrander of Cambria County, sexually abused and exploited 19 minors with whom they had close contact.
The four are being prosecuted by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General for the following charges:
- Jose Serrano, 69, is alleged to have molested six young girls in 2011. He admitted to these crimes and to a life-long struggle with deviant impulses. He has been charged with aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, and endangering the welfare of children.
- Jesse Hill, 52, is alleged to have used his milling business to attract young boys from his Jehovah’s Witness congregation, with promises of alcohol, marijuana, and pornography to his property for parties in the 1990s. Hill would later expose himself to the children, grope them and force them to perform oral sex. The investigation revealed at least 10 victims of the abuse. Hill has been charged with rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, indecent assault, and corruption of minors.
- Robert Ostrander, 56, is alleged to have sexually abused at least two minors. He has been charged with indecent assault, endangering welfare of children, and corruption of minors.
- Eric Eleam, 61, was alleged to have sexually abused a child and used sexual molestation as a form of discipline for that child. He has been charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. When agents attempted to take him into custody, police say he retreated into his bathroom and killed himself.
“These cases are disturbing, the allegations hard to imagine, and all share one common tie. The 19 victims and the four men who are being charged with sexually violating them are all members of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These children deserved to be protected and grow up in peace, not to be preyed upon.”–Josh Shapiro, Attorney General
All of these charges have been filed in the corresponding counties of Lancaster, Berks, and Cambria.
Anyone with information regarding child sexual abuse is encouraged to report information to the Office of the Attorney General’s hotline at 888-538-8541.