Nine Men Raped Married Women, Some While Husbands Slept Next to Them. They Raped Boys too

Posted: October 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
Mennonite Heritage Village Steinbach Manitoba ...

Mennonite Heritage Village Steinbach Manitoba Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

[O]ne night in June 2009, two men were caught trying to enter a neighbor’s home. The two ratted out a few friends and, falling like a house of cards, a group of nine Manitoba men, ages 19 to 43, eventually confessed that they had been raping Colony families since 2005. To incapacitate their victims and any possible witnesses, the men used a spray created by a veterinarian from a neighboring Mennonite community that he had adapted from a chemical used to anesthetize cows. According to their initial confessions (which they later recanted), the rapists admitted to—sometimes in groups, sometimes alone—hiding outside bedroom windows at night, spraying the substance through the screens to drug entire families, and then crawling inside.

 

…over the course of a nine-month investigation, including an 11-day stay in Manitoba, I discovered that the crimes are far from over. In addition to lingering psychological trauma, there’s evidence of widespread and ongoing sexual abuse, including rampant molestation and incest. There’s also evidence that—despite the fact that the initial perpetrators are in jail—the rapes by drugging continue to happen.

But it wasn’t until their trial, which took place almost two years later, in 2011, that the full scope of their crimes came to light. The transcripts read like a horror movie script: Victims ranged in age from three to 65 (the youngest had a broken hymen, purportedly from finger penetration). The girls and women were married, single, residents, visitors, the mentally infirm. Though it’s never discussed and was not part of the legal case, residents privately told me that men and boys were raped, too.

 

In a dark living room, I spoke with Helena Martens, a middle-aged mother of 11 children, and her husband. She sat on a couch and they kept the window shades drawn as we talked about what had happened to her nearly five years ago.

 

Mennonite Heritage Village Steinbach Manitoba ...

Mennonite Heritage Village Steinbach Manitoba Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometime in 2008, Helena told me, she had heard a hissing sound as she settled into bed. She smelled a strange odor too, but after her husband made sure the gas canister in the kitchen wasn’t leaking, they fell asleep. She vividly recalls waking up in the middle of the night to “a man on top of me and others in the room, but I couldn’t raise my arms in defense.” She quickly slipped back into a dead sleep and then the next morning her head throbbed and her sheets were soiled.

 

The rapists attacked her several more times over the next few years. Helena suffered from various medical complications during this period, including an operation related to her uterus. (Sex and reproductive health is such a taboo for conservative Mennonites that most women are never taught the correct names for intimate body parts, which inhibited certain descriptions of what took place during the attacks and in their aftermath.) One morning she woke in such pain that “I thought I was going to die,” she said.

In Helena’s living room, she told me how her daughter was also raped, but the two have never spoken about it, and the girl, now 18, doesn’t even know that her mom is also a rape survivor. In Old Colonies, rapes bring shame upon the victim; survivors are stained, and throughout the community other parents of the youngest victims told me that it was all better left unspoken.

 

“She was too young” to talk about it, the father of another victim, who was 11 when she was raped, told me. He and his wife never explained to the girl why she woke with pain one morning, bleeding so much she had to be taken to the hospital. She was whisked through subsequent medical visits with nurses who didn’t speak her language and was never once told that she had been raped. “It was better she just not know,” her father said.

 

“I have forgiven the men who raped me.”

 

She wasn’t alone. I heard the same thing from victims, parents, sisters, brothers. Some even said that if the convicted rapists would only admit their crimes—as they did initially—and ask penance from God, the colony would request that the judge dismiss their sentences.

 

Wind Mill in Mennonite Heritage Village Steinb...

Wind Mill in Mennonite Heritage Village Steinbach Manitoba Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Agnes Klassen] said “One morning I woke up with headaches and there was dirt in our bed,” referring to when she lived in Manitoba, as if remembering an item she had left off a shopping list. She had never thought much about that morning since and wasn’t included in the lawsuit because she saw no reason to come forward after the perpetrators were nabbed.

 

Instead, I had come to talk to Agnes about other painful parts of her past—namely incest—the origins of which aren’t even clear. “They kind of mesh together,” she said of her earliest childhood memories, which include being fondled by several of her eight older brothers. “I don’t know when [the incest] started.”

One of 15 children, growing up in the Old Colony of Riva Palacios (her family moved to neighboring Manitoba Colony when she was eight), Agnes said the abuse would happen in the barn, in the fields, or in the siblings’ shared bedroom. She didn’t realize it was inappropriate behavior until the age of ten, when she was given a stern beating after her father found her brother fondling her. “My mother could never find the words to tell me that I was being wronged or that it was not my fault,” she recalled.

 

After that, the molestation continued but Agnes was too scared to go to anyone for help. When she was 13 and one of her brothers tried to rape her, Agnes warily notified her mom. She wasn’t beaten this time, and for a while her mom did her best to keep the two apart. But the brother eventually found her alone and raped her.

 

The sibling assaults became increasingly commonplace, but there was nowhere for Agnes to turn.

Manitoba residents told me that they handed the gang over to the cops in 2009 because victims’ husbands and fathers were so enraged, it’s likely the accused would have been lynched. (One man who was believed to be involved and caught on a neighboring colony, was lynched and later died from his wounds.)

“They forgive a ton of gross stuff that happens in families all the time,” said Abraham Peters, father of the youngest convicted rapist, Abraham Peters Dyck, who is currently in Palmasola Prison, just outside Santa Cruz. “Brothers with sisters, fathers with daughters.” He told me that he believes his son and the entire gang were framed to cover up widespread incest in Manitoba Colony. Abraham senior still lives in Manitoba; he considered leaving in the period immediately following his son’s arrest because of hostility from the rest of the community. But uprooting his family of 12 proved too difficult, so he stayed put and says that over the years and despite his perspective on his son’s incarceration, he has been accepted back into the fold of Colony life.

 

Agnes thinks the two crimes are flipsides of the same coin. “The rapes, the abuse, it’s all intertwined,” she said. “What made the rapes different is that they didn’t come from within the family and that’s why the Ministers took the actions they did.”

http://www.vice.com/read/the-ghost-rapes-of-bolivia-000300-v20n8

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s