Jeriah Mast, a former missionary who worked for a global ministry with ties to Lancaster County, was sentenced in Holmes County, Ohio, Tuesday morning to nine years in state prison for sexually abusing Anabaptist youths.
Mast, 38, was sentenced by Holmes County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert D. Rinfret before a packed courtroom. Prior to sentencing, he apologized to his victims.
Holmes County Prosecutor Sean Warner said the plea deal recommended concurrent five-year sentences but Holmes County Judge Robert D. Rinfret opted to make the sentences consecutive. Warner said one of the two victims asked for the maximum five-year sentence. The other agreed to a reduced sentence.
Mast pled guilty to two felonies for gross sexual imposition as part of a plea deal in October. He faced a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of $20,000.
He had been charged in July with 14 counts, including seven felonies, but 12 of those charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement. Investigators found that all but two of the five victims in the case were at least 13 years old at the time, making those misdemeanor offenses that were beyond their statute of limitations, Warner said. The assaults occurred between 1999 and 2008.
Mast will serve his time at Lorain Correctional Institution in Grafton, Ohio.
Mast also has been accused of molesting youths in Haiti where he served as a missionary for Christian Aid Ministries, which has a large distribution center in Ephrata. Those cases, Warner said, have been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mast fled Haiti in May when confronted with allegations that he had abused youths there. On May 5, he was fired by Christian Aid Ministries. He then confessed to his church and to local police of having had sexual relations with the Holmes County youths between 1999-2008.
Two supervisors at the ministry — Paul and Eli Weaver — were placed on administrative leave in June after it was disclosed they had continued to assign him despite knowledge of his previous sexual activity.
Calls to the Christian Aid Ministries warehouse in Ephrata were referred to the Berlin, Ohio headquarters. The Ohio office directed all calls to the law offices of Gammon & Grange, PC.