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AG: Butler County man kills himself as police arrive to arrest him for rape

A Butler Township man committed suicide Thursday in his home as state attorney general agents and Butler Township police arrived to take him into custody to face charges brought by a grand jury alleging he sexually assaulted a minor during a five-year period, according to the attorney general’s office.

Eric E. Eleam, 61, took his own life as agents and officers arrived at his apartment at 1502 Villa Drive to arrest him on charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, and endangering the welfare of a child, according to Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Eleam and three other men, all members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, were charged by an investigating grand jury with sexually assaulting and exploiting a total of 19 minors, who also were Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to Shapiro.

“These cases are disturbing, the allegations hard to imagine, and all share one common tie. The 19 victims and the four men who are being charged with sexually violating them are all members of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These children deserved to be protected and grow up in peace, not to be preyed upon,” Shapiro said in a statement. “My office will not stop until these defendants are held accountable for their crimes against innocent children and until justice is achieved for these courageous survivors.”

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