BERLIN, Ohio — The board of directors of an Amish Mennonite-run charity rocked by revelations that one of its workers sexually abused dozens of boys in Haiti has now placed two of its top officials — Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver — on leave pending an investigation as they have acknowledged that they allowed a confessed pedophile to return to Haiti, where he then continued to serially rape young boys. The man is currently free after fleeing back to the United States, but the organization believes he should be sent back to Haiti to face up to his crimes.
The board for the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement released on Monday that it was not aware of Jeriah Mast’s sexual abuse of male youth, but has discovered that the two Weavers — one who served as assistant director and the other who served on the executive committee — were privy to his confession in 2013.
“Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver are two men who have faithfully served the Lord and our ministry for many years in management roles. Unfortunately, they allowed Jeriah to continue to work in the field even after his confession in 2013 of sexual activity with young men that had taken place several years prior,” the statement outlines.
“Both men recognize that their failure to properly investigate and inquire into Jeriah’s conduct was a serious failure in judgment and should have severe consequences,” it advises.
The CAM Board of Directors has consequently placed the men on administrative leave pending an investigation.
“CAM is placing Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver on administrative leave pending a full investigation of their role in this matter,” the statement explains. “The board and leadership of CAM understand the gravity of the situation and have mutually come to realize it would be difficult to work through this case with their involvement.”
It said that the board has no interest in covering up the matter and believes that Mast should be sent back to Haiti to face justice. However, the matter needs to go through the judicial and extradition process between the U.S. and Haiti.
“We are deeply committed to the long-term goal of ensuring the boys Jeriah molested will receive the help and support they need,” the board stated. “CAM is still attempting to understand the scope of the tragedy. We realize there are no easy solutions and any steps we take will require extensive preparation. We will be seeking counsel and support from those in Haiti and the larger Anabaptist community.”
As previously reported, Trudy Metzger of Ontario, Canada, a formerly conservative Mennonite, sexual abuse survivor and author of the book “Between 2 Gods: A Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community,” who traveled to Haiti to interview those affected, had discovered that some within CAM were made aware of Mast’s sexual abuse in 2012.
She recently interviewed Harold Herr, the Haiti director of the organization LIFE Literature, who told her that he had been alerted to the sexual abuse allegations at that time and sent a notice to CAM. Mast worked for LIFE Literature one day a week.
“The information was given. Whether I emailed it, I don’t remember that, but Eli had a copy,” he said.
“Did you ever hear back from [him]?” Metzger asked.
“Yes. He asked for a meeting. And so, I was there at a meeting,” Herr responded.
Will Rodenhouse, the former director of CAM’s Haiti outreach (2015-2017), told Christian News Network that he was never told what Mast had done, but was generally informed that Mast had been sent home for a short time in 2012 due to a “moral failure” and allowed to return.
Rodenhouse stated that when he asked what Mast had done, he was told, “[I]t was dealt with and we don’t need to talk about it.”
“I was never warned … that Jeriah was involved in pedophilia. I have three boys. I have two girls. I was never warned,” he lamented.
Rodenhouse’s boss was Eli Weaver.
As previously reported, on May 3, Mast was confronted by a CAM pastor in Haiti, Eris Labady, about sexual abuse allegations. Mast denied any wrongdoing at first, but as the pastor pressed, he broke and was immediately fired.
Mast then fled Haiti in the middle of the night, and went to the Dominican Republic before flying back to the United States, where he then confessed.
He went to his American victims and/or their families, and after reportedly receiving assurance that charges would not be filed, he went to the police to confess. Metzger and Rodenhouse state that, to their knowledge, Mast only intended on confessing his U.S. crimes to authorities, but as another individual who was privy to the matter alerted officials, the FBI also showed up to question Mast.
Mast’s church, Shining Light Christian Fellowship in Millersburg, released a statement last week explaining that Mast has been engaged in child molestation from his youth and has been “living a life of deception and hypocrisy.”
“He confessed multiple instances of immoral sexual relationships with boys, which began in his youth,” it said. “He acknowledged to living a life of deception and hypocrisy. He also confessed that he lied to cover up his sins.”
“Because of the sins that were committed and the victims that were abused, an appointment was made to report this to our local Sheriff Department. Jeriah voluntarily went in person for an interview and confessed to a local detective and an FBI agent (including giving names of victims).”
The pastor of the church, Paul Hershberger, is stated to be Mast’s brother-in-law. Christian News reached out to Hershberger at Shining Light Christian Fellowship — after locating the phone number, which was removed from the church website — but he coolly declined to answer any questions on the matter, expressing reluctance, and referred to the statement.
When asked if he was aware of the earlier sexual abuse allegations for which Mast had been sent home in 2012, Hershberger said “no” and hung up the phone.
It is estimated that Mast sexually abused at least 30 children in Haiti, many of whom are now adults and are having difficulty finding jobs because of the stigma. They are seen as homosexuals and referred to teasingly as “Madame Jeriah.” Two fathers, who are brothers, sent their sons out of the country to give them a chance at life since they had none in Haiti.
Metzger told Christian News Network that “there are victims who are still hiding it because of the rejection and what it will cost them.”
She said that she told several of the young men during her visit, “I am so sorry for what Jeriah did to you. This is not who Jesus is. This is not the heart of God, [and] this is not who you are.”
When asked if Mennonite doctrine might have had a role in Mast not being turned into law enforcement years ago, she explained that “[t]hey’re very much not justice people. They’re very much mercy.” Rodenhouse similarly lamented what he saw as an inordinate level of forgiveness among those involved.