Bishop of Pequea Township Amish Church Charged with Failure to Report Sexual Abuse
Levi Esh Sr. served as bishop of two local Amish churches when a member of his congregation confessed to him in 2012 or 2013 to the sexual abuse of three girls.
Esh, 63, did not contact police; instead, the matter “was handled internally,” according to charges filed Wednesday by Pequea Township police and approved by the District Attorney’s Office.
Police became aware of the activity after concerned members of the Amish community had conversations with Esh and other bishops and ministers in October 2019. The community members were told to “let it go” and that it had “been taken care of.”
Pequea Township police Detective Sgt. Robert Burger charged Esh with felony and misdemeanor counts of failure to report to appropriate authorities. Assistant District Attorney Karen Mansfield approved the charges.
District Judge William Benner arraigned Esh Wednesday morning via video conference and set bail at $25,000 unsecured.
Esh, of Marticville Road, is presumed innocent.
The unreported abuse regards behavior by 41-year-old John G. Beiler. Pequea Township police charged Beiler last week with counts of sexual abuse regarding crimes against three girls between 2011 and 2015.
Beiler is presumed innocent.
Beiler confessed in 2012 or 2013 to Esh. Esh instructed Beiler to confess to fathers of the victims. Beiler also was excommunicated from the church.
However, Esh did not contact police or social services.
Police, after opening an investigation, were told by Amish church leaders and community members that the Beiler matter was handled internally.
The investigation is ongoing.
The Pequea Township Police Department was assisted by Lancaster District Attorney's Office Media Specialist Brett Hambright.