Victims and defendants in all four cases were members of Jehovah’s Witness congregations; defendants’ charges range from rape, indecent assault to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
HARRISBURG– Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced criminal charges against four individuals in Pennsylvania, Jesse Hill, formerly of Berks County and now a resident of the state of Georgia, Jose Serrano of Lancaster County, Eric Eleam of Butler County and Robert Ostrander, formerly of Cambria County and now a resident of New York, for the sexual assault and exploitation of children. In each case, all of the defendants’ victims were minors and members of Jehovah’s Witness congregations.
“These cases are disturbing, the allegations hard to imagine, and all share one common tie. The 19 victims and the four men who are being charged with sexually violating them are all members of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These children deserved to be protected and grow up in peace, not to be preyed upon,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “My office will not stop until these defendants are held accountable for their crimes against innocent children and until justice is achieved for these courageous survivors.”
The charges stem from the 49th Investigating Grand Jury and are charged by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Through the investigation, it was revealed that these men sexually abused and exploited 19 minors with whom they had close contact, in some cases their own children.
The defendants are being prosecuted by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General for the following offenses:
- Jose Serrano, 69, of Lancaster County is alleged to have molested six young girls, including his own daughter, in 2011. He confessed to committing many of these criminal offenses to the Grand Jury, and admitted to a life-long struggle with deviant impulses. He has been charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault, Indecent Assault, and Endangering the Welfare of Children.
- Jesse Hill, 52, formerly of Berks County, now a resident of the state of Georgia, is alleged to have used his milling business to attract young boys from his Jehovah’s Witness congregation, with promises of alcohol, marijuana, and pornography to his property for parties in the 1990s. Hill would later expose himself to the children, grope them and force them to perform oral sex. The investigation revealed at least 10 victims of Mr. Hill’s abuse. Hill has been charged with Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Indecent Assault, and Corruption of Minors.
- Robert Ostrander, 56, formerly of Cambria County, now a resident of New York state, is alleged to have sexually abused at least two minors, including his own step-daughter and her friend. He has been charged with Indecent Assault, Endangering Welfare of Children, and Corruption of Minors.
- Eric Eleam, 61, of Butler County was alleged to have sexually abused his daughter and used sexual molestation as a form of discipline when she was a child. He has been charged with Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual intercourse, Aggravated Indecent Assault, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. When agents from the Office of Attorney General and police from Butler County attempted to take him into custody, he retreated into his bathroom and killed himself behind closed doors.
All of these charges have been filed in the corresponding counties of Lancaster, Berks, and Cambria. Under the leadership of Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has arrested over 500 child predators.
Anyone with information regarding child sexual abuse is encouraged to report information to the Office of Attorney General’s hotline at 888-538-8541. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Dan Dye.
# # #
Click a photo to enlargeDownload All Photos