If Ben Berkstresser has his way, the Schwartz brothers are headed to jail.
Specifically, state prison.
Berkstresser, Webster County’s prosecuting attorney, filed a motion to remove probation and roll probationary period last Thursday afternoon on both Aaron C.M. Schwartz, 22, and his younger brother, 18-year-old Petie C.M. Schwartz, members of the Highway C Amish community, alleging that the brothers each violated their respective probation by “having contact with the victim of their crime,” which in this instance was their 13-year-old sister.
Earlier this month, the brothers pled guilty to two counts of third-degree child molestation with a child under 14, a Class C felony, in connection with events last year and earlier this year when they and their two younger brothers, both minors, engaged in sexual relations with their younger sister, who was between 12 and 13 years old at the time of the alleged sexual intercourse.
Per the plea agreement for both brothers, each received a 10-year sentence in the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) on the first count and a five-year DOC sentence on the second count, with a suspended execution of sentence on both counts.
Suspension of all sentences was contingent on the brothers following the terms of their probation.
It appears that didn’t happen, per Berkstresser’s motion to the court last Thursday.
In his motion, Berkstresser said each brother violated probation “by having contact with the victim of the crime, after signing the sex-offender supervision agreement that prohibited contact with the victim, and the defendant(s) did have contact with the victim at her residence.”
The motion said both brothers signed the aforementioned agreement on Sept. 9, which was the day after their trials were set to start at the Webster County Courthouse in Marshfield as both brothers faced six felony counts of statutory rape and one felony count of incest.
Berkstresser’s motion added that the state “would respectfully request that defendant(s) suspended imposition of sentence be revoked and sentence imposed,” adding that the state “further requests that the probation period be tolled, pending resolution of this issue.”
Prior to the Sept. 8 plea agreement, the Schwartz brothers were represented by Springfield attorney Will Worsham.
In an interview on Sept. 11, Berkstresser said that the victim, who now is 13 years old, had a baby just two weeks prior. He added, “One of the brothers is the father of this child.”
It is uncertain where the 13-year-old girl now resides.
Many in the Seymour area with ties to the Highway C Amish community told the Citizen she is residing with her parents on Short State Highway P, where the entire family resided before the crimes were uncovered after the girl visited a local physician, who hotlined authorities after it was revealed to the doctor that she had been engaging in sexual activities with four of her brothers.
The doctor also discovered the girl was pregnant.
Cpl. Ryan Wells of the Webster County Sheriff’s Department wrote in his probable-cause statement that on June 6, “(The 13-year-old Amish girl) had disclosed to a doctor that she had been having sex with her male siblings,” adding that when interviewed, Aaron C.M. and Petie C.M. Schwartz each said they “had engaged in sexual intercourse” with their younger sister.
Aaron C.M. Schwartz said the acts occurred “approximately six times over the course of the previous year,” per Wells’ report, while Petie C.M. Schwartz told Wells that he and his sister had sexual intercourse “a half-dozen times” over the course of the previous year.
“Aaron was asked if it was going to happen again and answered, ‘Not to a little one like that,’ and said that no other sexual acts had occurred,” Wells concluded in his report, which was written June 16.
Charges were filed only a few weeks later.
Berkstresser said his motion was filed after the Schwartz brothers’ probation officer filed a violation report.
“We’re very confident that a violation occurred,” he said.
The violation report also was sent to 30th Circuit Court Judge Michael O. Hendrickson, per court records.
Hendrickson presided over the case earlier this month.
And it will be Hendrickson who decides if the brothers’ probation is revoked, if they will be sent to prison and for how long.
That hearing arrives at 8:15 a.m. this morning (Wednesday) before Hendrickson at the Webster County Courthouse.
Both brothers were ordered to appear before the judge, per the case’s docket.
Both brothers are on probation for five years, with the probationary period beginning Sept. 9, 2020.
On the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s statewide sex-offender registry, the official residential address listed for the Schwartz brothers, as required to be released to the public by state law, is 4254 State Highway C, located about 4-1/2 miles north of Seymour, which is not the same address where their parents reside, contrary to several unverified online and social-media reports and statements that said the brothers were living in the same home as their crime-victim sister.
It is believed she and her baby reside with her parents at a home on Short State Highway P, about six miles northeast of Seymour.
If found in violation of their probation, the brothers face a maximum of 15 years in prison.