DARLINGTON — Seven Amish girls, one as young as 3, were sexually abused by older male relatives, according to criminal complaints filed Aug. 9 in Lafayette County Circuit Court.
Three men, all related to each other, are charged in connection to a Lafayette County detective’s investigation into the reported abuse, some of which dates back 20 years. The alleged abuse happened or started when the men were teenagers.
Elam Stoltzfus Allgyer, 36, Darlington, is charged with five Class B felony counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child, one Class B felony count of attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child and three Class BC felony counts of incest with a child.
Benjamin Esh Allgyer, 30, Mineral Point, is charged with a Class B felony count of repeated sexual assault of the same child, three Class B felony counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child, three Class BC felony counts of incest with a child and two Class C felony counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child.
Elmer Esch Stoltzfus, 25, Cuba City, is charged with two counts of repeated sexual assault of the same child and two counts of incest with a child, all Class C felonies.
Stoltzfus and Benjamin Allgyer also face one Class C felony count each of second-degree sexual assault of a person “who suffers from a mental deficiency.”
All three have initial appearances in court Sept. 9.
According to the criminal complaints, written by Det. Sgt. Jerrett Cook:
Cook was investigating an unrelated case when he learned of allegations of incest and child sexual assault within the Amish community. He met with the three defendants separately at their rural homes in mid-July. All three admitted to and provided details of specific assaults.
Cook’s first interview was with Benjamin Allgyer.
“Benjamin explained the sexual assaults he was involved in (were) brought to the Amish church elders’ attention because one of the Amish women has been dealing with depression and the elders could not figure out why. Benjamin stated it was learned the woman had been sexually assaulted as a child and Benjamin’s name was mentioned as a possible suspect,” Cook wrote.
Benjamin eventually admitted to his father, a church bishop, that he had committed several sexual assaults in the past.
Benjamin wanted to confess “as he has lived with guilt as a result of his actions,” Cook wrote.
Benjamin gave details of committing assaults that included intercourse, began when he was 14 and continued until age 26 or 27.
Elam Allgyer described his assaults as “fondling” and said they occurred between 1998 and 2000 when he was 15 to 17 years old. He told Cook he realized at about age 18 while taking classes for church membership that what he had been doing to the children was “very wrong” and he had vowed to “live a better life” going forward.
Elmer Stoltzfus also expressed regret. He told Cook he was “scared” of getting a girl pregnant and that after one of the assaults, he recalled thinking, “Why did I do that again?” After an assault of another victim, Stoltzfus said he “knew it was not right.”
The assaults the men described all occurred one-on-one when each was able to get alone with a girl. For some of the younger victims, the assault was preceded by a game like “mom and dad,” “dog,” “hide-and-seek” or “hide under a blanket.”
A small number of the assaults were described as consensual, but the majority were either forced or committed while the girl “cooperated” or “just stood there,” in one man’s words. One of the victims, an older teenager at the time, is described as having a birth defect that caused her to have “a mind more like a child.”
Cook visited one of the victims, now an adult, at her home. She “stated she does not have any bad or ill feelings about the situation and did not want to talk to me,” Cook wrote.
None of the other victims wanted to be interviewed by Cook either, but it's unclear if Cook was ever able to make direct contact with them, or if this information was relayed to him by other relatives.
When Cook visited an older Amish couple about the case, the father told Cook he didn’t want to talk about the incidents and didn’t believe it was necessary to say anything.
The man “believed they took care of things their (Amish) way, and if I wanted to know anything, it was up to me,” Cook wrote.