A former missionary who worked for a global ministry with ties to Lancaster County, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two felonies stemming from charges that he sexually abused Anabaptist youths in Ohio.
Jeriah Mast, 38, of Millersburg, Ohio, faced 14 counts tied to allegations that he abused minors between 1999-2008. Twelve of those charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement. Holmes County prosecutor Sean Warner said the statute of limitations had expired on some of the lesser charges.
Mast faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000. Warner said the plea deal recommended a five year sentence but added that Holmes County Judge Robert D. Rinfret is not bound by that. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 5.
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. Federal authorities are said to be investigating those claims.
Mast returned to Ohio in early May when confronted with allegations that he had abused youths in Haiti. On May 5, he was fired by the organization. He then confessed to his church and to local police of having sexually abused Holmes County youths more than a decade earlier.
Two supervisors at the ministry — Paul and Eli Weaver — were placed on adminstrative leave in June after it was disclosed they had continued to assign him to do mission work despite knowledge of his previous sexual activity.
The organization recently came under further scrutiny after it was learned that representatives from Christian Aid Ministries had offered payments to some of the alleged victims in Haiti.
Christian Aid Ministries board, however, stated in a letter on its website that it “has not authorized any settlement payments,” nor has it attempted to cover up Mast’s crimes.
Instead, the board stated it had moved “to provide appropriate assistance for confirmed victims. We started with reparation agreements with several known victims who had expressed a need of housing, vocational training, etc. We have since moved to a more comprehensive plan ... .”
The organization also stated that an Anabaptist care group independent of Christian Aid Ministries traveled to Haiti to research ways to “equip Haitian pastors to minister to victims.”