The pair, along with two younger brothers aged 12 and 13 years who were not charged for the crime, raped their sister last year multiple times, resulting in her getting pregnant.
Trigger Warning: The story has details of rape of a minor that readers may find disturbing
Two Amish brothers, aged 22 and 18 years old, who raped their 12-year-old sister, have been found guilty of the crime but will serve no jail time. Instead, they will only be given 10 years of suspended prison terms as part of their plea agreement earlier this month, reports Metro. Aaron and Petie Schwartz are from the Amish community in the Seymour area of Webster County, Missouri. The two had raped their sister along with two of their younger brothers last year, resulting in a pregnancy and even a baby being born. The other two juvenile rapists were not charged for the crime due to their young age. The Amish community where the brothers are from has claimed to have inflicted “very severe” punishment on the guilty although the details of what these punishments are not yet known.
The light punishment for this heinous crime has caused an uproar. The prosecutor in the case has claimed that he himself had agreed to the light punishment knowing that the boys were less mature for their age. Another reason he cited was that they would be “eaten alive” in prison. According to Webster County Citizen, Ben Berkstresser, the prosecutor in the case, said, “The other terms of the two brothers’ sentence were 100 hours community service, a fine of $250 each, a letter to be written by them explaining how they’ll protect their own children from abusers like them. In the end, this wasn’t a case of a parent and child, where a parent in a position of authority sexually abused or exploited their child. This was a situation where four siblings engaged in acts with their sister.”
He added, “I offered a 15-year prison sentence based on this … it was a different relationship. And I made the decision not to send them to the DOC, to suspend the sentences. These two young men would’ve been eaten alive in the state prison system.” The brothers had pleaded guilty to third-degree molestation of a child under 14 years. They were initially charged with six felony counts of statutory rape and a felony count of incest. The younger brothers who also raped their sister are aged 12 and 13. Berkstresser said in response to the criticism against the light punishment, “It needs to be noted that in this case, there were four brothers, two of them minors, while the other two legally are adults. All of them had sexual relations with their sister. There is no question this occurred.” He also highlighted the Amish community in the area did not want to hire a legal counsel in the first place.
Berkstresser, who has previously represented Amish clients in Webster County, however, felt otherwise and connected with them. “Previously, I’ve been very harsh on the Amish when they’ve been charged with crimes of this nature. We had a previous case where a father committed sexual acts with his daughter, and he went to prison. In this instance, these two boys are very immature relative to their respective ages. Maturity wise, they are much younger than their age.” The Schwartzs will also have to register as sex offenders for life. “But within the Amish community that primarily lives in the Seymour area, (the Amish) don’t see the authority we have to do anything to them. This was a tough case to prosecute. The Amish community was cooperative yet upset.” The crime was discovered when the girl was taken to a hospital while pregnant.
Hospital staff then called the police and the truth came out. The brothers admitted that they had raped the sister, as many as six times each on different occasions. If they do not complete the terms of their suspended sentences they might go to prison, said Berkstresser. “They will go to prison if the Missouri Sex Offender Treatment Program isn’t completed in a year. This won’t be easy for either of them to do, but I’ll assure you they will face the consequences if the program isn’t completed. And that consequence will be prison.” A year-long investigation into the Amish community by a journalist, Sarah McClure, revealed widespread cases of rape and sexual abuse that spanned “generations” and were often covered up.
Some of the key findings of the report, that was published this year in January, stated that “Amish church leaders have covered-up child sexual abuse, discouraging and intimidating victims from going to the authorities in favor of dealing with abuse internally.” But when a case came into the public eye, these leaders would “sentence” the guilty by shunning them from the community for up to six weeks. “After the church disciplines the abuser, he makes a confession and everyone, including the victims, are compelled to forgive and forget the “sin” ever happened,” the report added. It identified as many as “52 cases of Amish child sexual assault in 7 states over the past two decades” but said that this was likely “the tip of the iceberg.”