Sarah Schmucker, 52, of Bell Township, who failed to report that her husband was sexually abusing six daughters, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of children and was sentenced to probation.
Sarah Schmucker’s husband, Wallace Schmucker, 54, of Bell Township allegedly sexually abused the girls when they were between the ages of 13 and 16 years old and the girls reported the abuse to Sarah Schmucker — but she failed to notify the authorities. When interviewed by State Police, Wallace Schmucker said the girls would not lie. All of the girls are now over 18 years old.
Wallace Schmucker is charged with multiple felony counts of aggravated indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors; and numerous misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure and indecent assault by the Punxsutawney-based State Police.
When interviewed, Sarah Schmucker was asked why she didn’t report the incidents and she replied, “Other than those little incidents, I’d say we had a pretty good life.”
Sarah Schmucker pleaded guilty to the counts of endangering the welfare of children, which are misdemeanors of the first degree.
Originally, all four counts of endangering the welfare of children were graded as felonies of the third degree, and President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman asked Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick J. Schulte why the commonwealth lowered the grading. Schulte said they lowered the grading of the charges in the best interest of rehabilitation of the defendant.
Ammerman then asked if any of the victims were abused after they informed the defendant, and Schulte said there was abuse after the defendant was informed.
Ammerman then asked Schulte how the commonwealth can justify allowing her to plea to only probation when she could have prevented the sexual abuse of children by reporting the incidents to authorities.
“I think this sends the wrong message to the community,” Ammerman said.
Schulte said it was a “package deal” where Wallace Schmucker would plead guilty to all the charges in exchange that Sarah Schmucker would not get any jail time. He added Wallace Schmucker was the main target of the investigation.
He said Wallace Schmucker has signed a plea agreement where he would enter an open plea of guilt to all charges. An open plea means there is no agreement between the commonwealth and the defense on a minimum sentence leaving the sentence up to the presiding judge.
Schulte also said Sarah Schmucker eventually did inform authorities of the abuse and she and the community took steps to have Wallace Schmucker removed from the home. He also said all of the victims said they do not want Sarah Schmucker to serve any jail time for her offenses.
Ammerman then said he knows the state Attorney General’s office has taken great interest in this case and this plea deal was likely approved by the highest levels of the department, and trusts that if state Attorney General Josh Shapiro was in the courtroom today, he would approve of the plea deal. Schulte said Shapiro would and the plea deal has been approved by the highest levels of the department.
Ammerman asked if Wallace Schmucker was colloquied and can no longer withdraw his plea, and Schulte said Wallace Schmucker was colloquied. A colloquy is when a defendant agrees to plead guilty under oath and once completed the plea cannot be withdrawn.
Schulte also asked Ammerman to keep fines at a minimum. He said Wallace Schmucker was the bread winner of the household and now that he is incarcerated, Sarah Schmucker is relying on her community to support her and any fines given to her would likely be paid using community resources.
Ammerman then accepted the plea and sentenced Sarah Schmucker to a total of three years probation and fined her $100 plus costs for each of the four counts.