Sex Abuse Case Shocks Amish Community

ByABC News
October 22, 2004, 2:29 PM

VIROQUA, Wis., Oct. 22, 2004 -- -- Earlier this month, on a crisp autumn morning, more than 100 Amish men and women gathered to witness a rare event: the sentencing of one of their own, 25-year-old Johnny Byler, for rape.

Watch World News Tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET for the broadcast report.

"Johnny Byler is a rapist. He needs to recognize that," said Judge Michael Rosborough. "He is a sexual deviant."

"I am very sorry for what I have done," Byler said during his statement in court.

Byler's victim, his younger sister Mary, left her Amish community earlier this year and went to the police. For much of her childhood, she told them, Johnny and another brother sexually assaulted her more than 100 times.

"You raped me so many times I cannot count them all," Mary Byler said as she read a statement in court. "From the time I was 8 and as far I can remember until I was 14, you raped me."

She would try to protect herself, she says, by locking the doors to her room. But Johnny would climb through a window or take the hinges off the door.

Mary said her other brother, Eli, would chase her down in the barn, throw her in the straw, and rape her. The assaults, she told police, simply became a way of life.

"She had finally reached the point where she was ready to get out of there, and she took that step," said Vernon County Sheriff's Investigator Don Henry.