Throwing light on the widespread sexual abuse that happens in the Plain Community, ‘Sins of the Amish’ is a heartbreaking two-part docuseries on Peacock. The Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan directorial delves into the traumatic sexual abuse experiences of former Amish women, who have been often preyed upon by their own family members at times. One such brave survivor is Mary Byler, who was assaulted by her biological brothers for years. While she has managed to break free from the cycle of abuse and is on the path to healing, let’s find out what happened to her perpetrators — Johnny, Eli, and David Byler!
Who Are Johnny, Eli, and David Byler?
Johnny, Eli, and David Byler were born and raised in an orthodox Amish community and had five more brothers as well as two sisters, Mary and a younger one. When Mary was 4, her father began molesting her, but it ended when he died in a buggy accident the following year. However, when the family moved from Viroqua, Wisconsin, to Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania, her older cousins began molesting her. Not just that, Johnny started abusing her as well, when he was around 12 and she was 6.
Subsequently, Eli joined his elder brother in sexually assaulting Mary. According to her, the former would rape her in the milk house and the barn on their family property. On the other hand, Johnny continued to rape her countless times well into her teens. When she would lock her room’s door, Mary said he would climb in through the window or even take off the door’s hinges. As per Mary, once both her brothers attacked her together, and unfortunately, she was overpowered.
This horrible ordeal became a way of life in the household, and Mary tried informing her mother, Sally, about the abuse. “You don’t fight hard enough and you don’t pray hard enough…Every time I would talk about this she would say that they have already confessed in church and you’re just being unforgiving,” said Mary. Not just that, her stepfather William Kempf was rather physically abusive toward all the children and used to regularly beat them up. Furthermore, her continuous pleas to her mother to not leave her alone with the boys were left ignored.
Johnny and Eli kept abusing Mary for 11 years, up till she turned 17. That’s when she began suspecting that their younger sister was being abused by their brother David, who was in his late teens at that time. Sadly, the young girl received a similar response from Sally as her older sister and was told to keep quiet about it and forgive her brother. This became the tipping point for Mary, as she did not want her kid sister to suffer the same fate as her.
Therefore, when the church authorities in Mary’s community paid no heed to her complaints, she approached external authorities in 2004. She reported her brothers to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department, and with the help of a wire-tap investigation, she managed to obtain Johnny’s confession of having sexually abused her. Based on this as well as the full investigation report, he, Eli, and David were charged with multiple felony counts. Moreover, Sally was charged with failure to protect her daughter, and William was charged with misdemeanors for having physically assaulted Mary.
Where Are Johnny, Eli, and David Byler Now?
Johnny Byler, then-25-year-old, admitted to raping Mary more than 200 times, while Eli admitted to raping her around 15 to 16 times. After pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child, Johnny was sentenced to one year in county jail with work release during the day, along with additional 10 years of probation. More than 100 Amish community members shockingly came to support him in the courtroom during his hearing. In his statement, Johnny apologized to Mary for causing her irreparable damage and to his community for bringing them shame.
Surprisingly, no Amish member supported Mary, as they reportedly felt that Johnny had already been punished adequately by being temporarily shunned by the church, as per their community’s customs. On the other hand, Eli and David were arrested while trying to flee the state, and the former pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree sexual assault of a child and felony bail jumping. Eli was given an 8-year prison term, while David, then-18, who pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault of a child, was sentenced to four years in prison.
As per the documentary, Eli returned to the Amish community in Sugar Grove after his release and continues to live there in the old family house. Johnny got married and has children, and it is possible that he and David are continuing their Amish lifestyle, as they stay away from the limelight as well as the outside world. However, they could be living in other areas of the Plain Community as well. Meanwhile, Mary has long left the community and is thriving as an advocate for other child sexual abuse survivors.
Read More: Where is Mary Byler Now?