An Amish bishop has entered a probation program to resolve criminal charges that he failed to report suspected sexual abuse in what is apparently the first such case of its kind in Lancaster County.
Levi S. Esh Sr. 63, of Pequea, was accepted into Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition to settle two misdemeanor counts of failure to report to appropriate authorities on Oct. 16 before Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely. The ARD program is a probationary program for first-time offenders that allows participants to expunge their record upon completion.
Esh will be on probation for two years and must perform 25 hours of community service aimed at informing the Amish community on mandated reporting. His attorney's office declined comment Tuesday.
According to charging documents, last October, two members of the Amish community met with Esh on one occasion, and another occasion, Esh and other Amish leaders, about sexual abuse.
State law classifies certain categories of adults, such as school employees, licensed health care workers and clergy, as “mandated reporters” who are required to report suspected child abuse to authorities.
They were told the problem was taken care of and to let it go, the documents said. The two then went to police.
The issue concerned John G. Beiler, 42, of Providence Township, who was charged in April with sexually assaulting three girls several times between 2011 and 2015. The girls were between 12 and 14 years old at the time.
According to court documents, Beiler confessed to church leaders to abusing the girls and was told to confess to the girls’ father. Beiler was then excommunicated and Esh told the girls’ father that church leaders were keeping a close eye on Beiler.
Beiler's case is pending. A conference is scheduled for Dec. 3.