31 Oct 2010

Bolivia: 8 Mennonite men accused of raping dozens of women and underage girl

Associated Press - June 23, 2009

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) -- Eight men from a Mennonite farming community in eastern Bolivia have been accused of raping dozens of females at the settlement, a prosecutor said Tuesday, indicating at least one victim was an underage girl.

Prosecutor Freddy Perez told The Associated Press that 60 women, from 11 to 47 years old, have accused the men of rape. He said the men were suspected of using a form of aerosol spray to drug the women.

"Members of the community told us that for religious reasons, and because they didn't have electric lighting, they didn't move about late at night, but these youths did and were spotted jumping into the windows of houses," he said.

ATB television said the men all denied the charges.

Perez said the suspects range in age from 18 to 41, but are mostly young. He said they were arrested Monday and taken to the town of Cotoca in the Santa Cruz region.

The men were scheduled to go before a judge Wednesday. Investigators from the Office of the Public Prosecutor planned to go to the farm colony, near the town of Manitoba, on Thursday.

Mennonites belong to a conservative Christian sect that does without most modern conveniences and limits contact with outsiders.

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