Two more Jehovah's Witnesses from Lancaster County have been charged by a statewide grand jury with using their positions within their churches to sexually abuse children.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry announced charges against Abimael Valentin-Matos, 42, and Norman Aviles, 44, on Tuesday.
They are two of five men charged in an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse allegations involving Jehovah's Witnesses.
Also charged are Marc Brown, 65, of Allegheny County, Raymond Shultz, 74, of Beaver County, and Kevin Isovitsch, 51, of Butler County.
The arrests follow the October 2022 arrests of four other Jehovah's Witnesses for sexual abuse, including Lancaster's Jose A. Serrano, 68, of the 400 block of Poplar Street.
“The details of these crimes are sad and disturbing, facts which are made even more abhorrent because the defendants used their faith communities or their own families to gain access to victims,” Henry said. “Our office will never stop working to seek justice for those who have been victimized, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who harms the most vulnerable in our society.”
Henry said Valentin-Matos met a teenage girl at a cross-congregational event in 2009. She said the churches knew of his interest and permitted him to court her only if there were a chaperone at their meetings and he was committed to marrying her, despite being double her age at the time.
Valentin-Matos began sending the girl inappropriate photos and convinced her to meet him without a chaperone and sexually assaulted her, Henry said.
Aviles was an elder at his congregation and earned trust with many members, which allowed him to abuse three girls between the ages of five and 10, Henry said. Aviles was consistently asked to babysit.
Valentin-Matos has been charged with indecent assault, indecent exposure, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors. Aviles has been charged with aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.
Aviles is still at large. Valentin-Matos and the other men men are in custody.
The Grand Jury Report said Aviles was part of many Jehovah's Witness communities in Lancaster, but was primarily affiliated with the "West" and "East" Spanish-speaking communities, serving as an elder in the latter. Henry said Valentin-Matos was part of these communities as well.
"We have a duty to protect children in Pennsylvania these children deserve a community where they can grow, play, learn and pray and not be preyed upon," Henry said. "Our office will never stop working to bring justice to those who have been victimized. We will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who takes advantage and harms the most vulnerable in our society."
The cases are being prosecuted by Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones.