Five More Jehovah’s Witnesses Charged with Child Rape

Pursuant to the recommendations of the 49th Investigating Grand Jury of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, five (5) additional Jehovah's Witnesses have been arrested and charged on July 6 2023, for the sexual assault, rape, corruption and exploitation of children. The offenses occurred during the years 1996 to 2014, spanning some 18 years.

All five (5) male Jehovah's Witness offenders range in age 45 to 61 at the time of arrest. At the time of the offense, their ages were between 18 and 44.

All five offenders used their religious community to gain access to their victims. They include one (1) congregation elder. Only two (2) offenders was subsequently expelled from the religious community (also known as disfellowshipped).

At the time of the offense, the ages of the victims were between 4 and 16.

These new arrests brings the total number of Jehovah's Witnesses charged thus far under Pennsylvania statutes to fourteen (14).

WARNING!!! This article contains explicit sexual content that is very disturbing and NSFW. Reader discretion is strongly advised.

Written by Lester Somrah and published on July 7, 2023

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, USA -  Starting in October 27, 2022 and under the supervision of then Attorney General Josh Shapiro, criminal charges against four (4) individuals in Pennsylvania was laid for the sexual assault and exploitation of children.

Furthermore on February 7, 2023 and under the supervision of Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry, criminal charges were filed against five (5) additional individuals from Pennsylvania for the sexual assault and exploitation of children.

Further details regarding these nine (9) Jehovah's Witnesses can be found in my previous article "Nine Jehovah’s Witnesses Charged with Child Rape".

On July 7, 2023, Attorney General Michelle Henry, filed criminal charges against five (5) additional individuals from Pennsylvania for the sexual assault and exploitation of children.

In all the fourteen (14) cases without exception, all the defendants and their victims were members of Jehovah’s Witness congregations. In each case, all the defendants gained access to their victims via their religious faith and community.

The criminal charges stem from the 49th Investigating Grand Jury and are prosecuted by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Throughout the investigation, it was revealed that these Jehovah’s Witness men sexually abused, raped, corrupted and exploited minors with whom they had close contact, in some cases members of their own family. All five (5) men used "their [religious] faith communities or their own families to gain access to victims".

Summary of the Criminal Offenses

(Reader Discretion Advised)

David Balosa (age at offense, 35; age at arrest, 61) was from the Olney Spanish Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses and migrated from Angola in 1996 to the United States.

According to the Presentment, upon arriving to the United States, Balosa was permitted to live in the basement of the home of his victim’s family. His victim’s family were active members of the Olney Spanish Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. During his stay at their Philadelphia home, he sexually assaulted the 4 year old daughter of the family in the basement.

After he moved out from her family’s home, the victim would still encounter Balosa in the religious activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which made her uncomfortable.

For the next 10 to 11 years, the victim felted that she had done something wrong and blamed herself and therefore she did not tell anyone including her parents.    

David Balosa is charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault, Indecent Assault, and Corruption of Minors.

Errol William Hall, (age at offense, 40; age at arrest, 60) was a congregation elder from the Upper Darby Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses and was introduced to his 16-year-old victim (V.F) by her Bible teacher. The victim was an active member of the said congregation and attended religious services at the Kingdom Hall with her grandmother and son.

At some point V.F and Hall became so close that she viewed him as an uncle. They would communicate via text message and V.F knew Hall’s daily schedule.  

On one morning in March 2014, when V.F was attending Philadelphia High School for Girls, she missed her scheduled bus. So, she texted Hall who drove her to an “L” train stop. This location was near Hall’s workplace and provided V.F with only a 30-minute commute to school. V.F told the Grand Jury that when she got out of Hall’s vehicle, they hugged and went their separate ways.

However, last then one week after, Hall offered V.F a drop to the said train station. She once again accepted his “kind gesture”; they hugged upon departure; however, this time Hall’s hand grazed the side of her breast. V.F shook this off as an accident.

Hall then begin to offer V.F a ride to the train station once or twice per week and each time they departed, his hand would graze her breast. V.F testified that this made her uncomfortable and she made this known to Hall during a phone call. Hall responded “oh, okay” and the conduct seemed to stop. At this time, Hall was also driving V.F to the Kingdom Hall for congregation meetings.

V.F testified that Hall’s conduct continued to escalate. On the last occasion when she was sexually assaulted on April 17, 2014, V.F informed the Grand Jury that Hall was particularly aggressive. The next day she informed her bible teacher what had been happening. The matter eventually reached the congregation elders which resulted in Hall being disfellowshipped.

Errol William Hall is charged with Indecent Assault and Corruption of Minors.

Shaun Sheffer, (age at offense, 18; age at arrest, 45) was from the Zelienople Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Him and his family were active members of the congregation. Shaun Sheffer is charged with raping his younger sister 50 to 75 times when she was between 7 to 12 years old, from 1996 to 2000.

The Grand Jury learned that his parents were seldom at home and therefore him and his siblings were frequently left unsupervised.

His brother (B.S) informed the Grand Jury that his sister is developmentally disabled. This was used by Sheffer to manipulate situations that required someone to comfort or help his sister. B.S testified that his sister disclosed the abuse to him in 1995 when he was 12 years old.

When he informed his parents, they did nothing but create a rule that prohibited his brother from being alone with his sister. B.S stated that because his parents were seldom at home, there was no way to prevent Sheffer from being alone with his sister. B.S stated that he and his brothers were told that their seldom-at-home parents would take of it and to keep quiet about it.

Shaun Sheffer is charged with Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Aggravated Indecent Assault, Indecent Assault, and Corruption of Minors.

Terry Booth, (age at offense, 44; age at arrest, 57) was from the White Oak Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Him and his family were active members of the congregation.

The Grand Jury learned that Booth and his family moved to the North Versailles area and began to attend the religious meetings of the White Oak Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Booth befriended the family of the victim, D.W, a 16-year-old male and shortly after, took it upon himself to “mentor” the minor.  D.W and his family were also active members White Oak Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses

D.W told the Grand Jury that in December 2010, Booth recruited him to assist on a renovation site where Booth sexually touched D.W.

On the final occasion that D.W assisted Booth on a renovation site, Booth brought beers with him. He drank several of them and also provided the 16-year-old with a beer. Booth also grabbed D.W by the genitals.

D.W told his parents about the assaults and they informed the congregation elders. During their religious internal investigations Booth denied assaulting D.W.

Terry Booth is charged with Indecent Assault and Corruption of Minors.

Luis Manuel Ayala-Velasquez, (age at offense, 32; age at arrest, 55) was from the Bethlehem Spanish Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Him and his family were active members of the congregation.

His daughter, J.B informed the Grand Jury that when she was 12 years old, her father began to touch her in ways that made her feel uncomfortable. There was numerous incidents of sexual touching and several occasions where Ayala-Velasquez performed oral sex on J.B as well as several occasions where Ayala-Velasquez forced J.B to perform oral sex on him. These sexual assaults occurred multiple times each week for more than two (2) years. The abuse ended when Ayala-Velasquez moved out from the family home after divorcing J. B’s mother.

However, whilst she was visiting Ayala-Velasquez in 2006, he raped her at his home in Reading, Berks County.

Luis Manuel Ayala-Velasquez is charged with Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Aggravated Indecent Assault, Indecent Assault, Endangering the Welfare of Children, and Corruption of Minors.

The Presentment indicated that by the time that the congregation elders learned about the sexual assaults, Ayala-Velasquez had already been disfellowshipped. Most likely this disfellowshipping could have been the result of Ayala-Velasquez committing an unrelated religious offence (See Chapter 12, Shepherd the Flock of God, April 2023 edition).

Editor's Notes

All these charges are based on documents that are in possession of bodies of elders of each congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the State of Pennsylvania. These documents are kept as part of their internal investigation into the religious offence in each of the above five (5) cases.

These documents were obtained by the Grand Jury as a result of a subpoena to all bodies of elders of congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the state of Pennsylvania. It must be emphasized that this is the first time that any non-Jehovah’s Witnesses, non-elder, has access to these investigative documents.

These documents that contain evidence of criminal wrongdoing are generally kept a secret by bodies of elders and Jehovah’s Witnesses have previously fought tooth and nail, moved heaven and earth, to prevent courts and law-enforcement agencies from having access to these documents.

These documents most likely are part of a large database owned by at least one of the U.S based corporations used by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This international database contains a minimum of 23,000 cases of child rape, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, and corruption of minors; and other criminal offences committed by individual Jehovah’s Witnesses.

These criminal charges leave many unanswered questions as to the ability and reliability of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Governing Body to protect children and reduce the risk of further sexual abuse of children in their community.

Anyone with information regarding child sexual abuse should make a report to ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313, and anyone with additional information regarding these cases should make a report to the Office of Attorney General’s (Pennsylvania) hotline at 888-538-8541.

Related Media

Press Release (Text) - July 7th 2023 - Attorney General Henry Announces Charges Against Five Men for Sexual Abuse of Children Across Pennsylvania

Presentment of Offenses - July 7th 2023 - Attorney General Henry Announces Charges Against Five Men for Sexual Abuse of Children Across Pennsylvania

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Lester Somrah

Lester Somrah writes about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses on his social media platforms and was baptized as a member in 1998.

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