Amish Leader Charged with Failing to Report Child Sexual Abuse

An Amish bishop from Pennsylvania has been charged with failing to report child sexual abuse. We believe these charges are a move in the right direction, and we hope that this story will remind church leaders nationwide of their responsibility to protect the vulnerable by reporting all suspicions of sex crimes to police.

In this case, an Amish leader named Levi S. Esh, Sr. was alleged to have known that a church member had sexually assaulted at least three young girls.  The bishop chose to handle the matter internally, excommunicating the abuser instead of turning him over to law enforcement. Yet this decision put other children at risk by keeping the allegations hidden and allowing the accused to remain free.

We hope that this story and example will lead church leaders to realize that handling serious crimes like sexual abuse internally is a dangerous and foolish move. For the sake of the vulnerable and the community, all cases of child sexual abuse should immediately be sent to secular law enforcement for investigation. This is the best way to keep children safe, and is something that needs to happen in every community, regardless of faith tradition or location.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])

(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

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant