Attorney General Michelle Henry announced today that criminal charges have been filed against five Pennsylvania men for the sexual assault and exploitation of children, Your Content has learned.
The defendants and their victims in each case were members of Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations.
The individuals arrested and charged are as follows: David Balosa from Philadelphia County, Errol William Hall from Delaware County, Shaun Sheffer from Butler County, Terry Booth from Panama City, FL, and Luis Ayala-Velasquez from Berks County.
Attorney General Michelle Henry expressed her concern over the distressing nature of these crimes, particularly since the defendants exploited their faith communities and families to gain access to victims.
She stated, “Our office is committed to pursuing justice for those who have suffered, and we will diligently investigate and prosecute anyone who harms the most vulnerable members of our society.”
The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General is handling the prosecution of the defendants on the following charges:
David Balosa, 62, from Philadelphia, is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl when she was only 4 years old. Balosa developed a close relationship with a family in his congregation after immigrating to the United States.
Having gained their trust, he resided in their home and took advantage of the young victim, subjecting her to sexual assault.
Balosa is charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault, Indecent Assault, and Corruption of Minors.
Hall, an elder in the congregation, exploited the trust of parents, which allowed him access to their children. He faces charges of Indecent Assault and Corruption of Minors.
Shaun Sheffer, 45, from Butler County, is accused of sexually assaulting a young family member starting when she was only 7 years old.
Due to their close relationship, Sheffer often had unsupervised time with the child, during which he repeatedly raped and assaulted her.
He is charged with Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Aggravated Indecent Assault, Indecent Assault, and Corruption of Minors.
Terry Booth, 57, from Panama City, FL, acted as a mentor to a 16-year-old boy he knew through his Jehovah’s Witness congregation while residing in Allegheny County.
Booth spent significant amounts of time with the child and engaged in inappropriate sexual conversations and touching. He is charged with Indecent Assault and Corruption of Minors.
Luis Manuel Ayala-Velasquez, 55, from Reading, is accused of abusing a young family member for several years, starting when she was 12 years old.
According to the victim’s testimony, Ayala-Velasquez would enter her bedroom while she slept and sexually assault her.
Years later, when she was an adult, he allegedly raped her in his home. Ayala-Velasquez faces charges of Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Aggravated Indecent Assault, Indecent Assault, Endangering the Welfare of Children, and Corruption of Minors.
The charges have been filed in the corresponding counties of Philadelphia, Delaware, Butler, Allegheny, and Northampton.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones is overseeing the prosecution of these cases. It is important to note that all charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General.
For anyone with information related to child sexual abuse, please report it to ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. If you have additional information regarding these cases, please report it to the Office of Attorney General’s hotline at 888-538-8541.