But rather than report De Long to police, as required by law, that elder, George Klingensmith, decided to pray about it with him instead, according to both De Long and Klingensmith’s statements to officers. In 2009, another member, 23-year-old Joseph Ratliff, was sentenced to 100 years for aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child.A full year would go by before De Long once more talked with Klingensmith about the abuse, court records show. A year after that, Bill De Long’s 23-year-old son Andrew was told he would serve 15 years in prison after admitting four counts of sexual assault against two children.
Adams, now in his mid-60s, taught that the end times were near and his followers needed to learn to live off the land.
The group first tried community living at a ranch in Colorado, but eventually settled on a 500-acre farm in Mc Lennan County, near Waco. Services are held every Friday night and Sunday, but for its members ― and they currently number about 1,000 ― Homestead Heritage is a way of life.
Others helped with the story but, because they still have family members inside the community, refused to speak publicly.
Homestead Heritage claims most criticisms amount to secular attacks on religious freedom, but all of the ex-members the spoke to still consider themselves religious.
“After about a year it was clear to me this act that Bill had done was weighing very heavy on him,” Klingensmith wrote in his statement. Clay Perry of the Mc Lennan County Sheriff’s office told the that officers decided not to pursue a prosecution against Klingensmith.
“I suggested to him that he should turn himself in and he said he would.” Under Texas law, ministers and clergy are required to report any suspected child abuse ― sexual or otherwise ― to authorities within 48 hours of being told, otherwise they too are committing a criminal offense. “When you work these cases, you need all the help you can get as far as testimony is concerned,” he said.
And in July 2011, 31-year-old Richard Santamaria, another member of the community, was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a minor.
He intends to plead guilty, according to the Mc Lennan County DA’s office.
Visitors see traditional craftsmen and women who bake their own bread, sow their own crops, make their own furniture and build their own homes.
They’re well known in this city of 125,000 along the Brazos River as harmless religious folk devoted to an earlier, simpler way of life.
Every November, Homestead Heritage members show off their crafting, woodworking and agriculture skills at the well-attended Homestead Fair. But dig a little below the surface, and the idyllic veneer of this place begins to peel and crumble.