Weaver given his sentence

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – A former Amish community member previously convicted of rape of a minor, is going to prison again for sex crimes involving two Amish girls.

Jacob Weaver, 65, of Jerusalem appeared before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra on Monday and was sentenced on two counts of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fourth degree, and one count of attempted gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fifth degree. Vavra imposed a sentence of 17 months for the first two counts, to be served consecutively, and an 11-month concurrent sentence for the third count, for a total of 34 months.

The offenses were initiated in 1986 and continued through 2006. Court records indicate the two female victims were younger than 13 years old when the crimes began.

Weaver had been convicted of first-degree rape of an underage girl in 2006. His defense attorney asked Vavra to consider Weaver’s prior sentence of eight years and his efforts to reform, as well as his law-abiding life since his release in 2015.

Pastor Don Loucks of the Ohio Valley Restoration Church in Hendrysburg asked that some leniency be shown, adding that in the time he has known Weaver he has seen a change in his character.

Vavra took note both of the prior rape conviction and of the physical and psychological harm to the victims.

“I have to focus on the victims and what you put them through, based on the manner on which you manipulated your relationship with them,” Vavra said. “I’m uncertain whether, although there is a showing of remorse, whether that is genuine at this point, or whether you are simply hiding behind your newfound religious feelings to shield yourself from punishment.

“You victimized (the victims) quite frequently, and while this occurred many years ago, it also occurred over a course of years,” Vavra said, adding that consecutive terms were necessary.

“This conviction and sentence ends a horrible case that will see the defendant receive yet another prison sentence,” Belmont County Prosecutor Dan Fry said, pointing out that the abuse occurred in the late 1990s and early in 2000. Fry said the sentence was commendable in light of new victims coming forward.

He added that the victims were part of the Amish community, and factors including their ages made a prosecution of all offenses committed difficult. His office refilled the new criminal charges when it appeared that the other victims were ready to come forward.

“We never gave up on the other victims that were affected by this individual,” he said. “My office will always continue to investigate claims of sexual abuse, no matter how old the allegation.”

He commended law enforcement and the strength of the victims.