MILLERSBURG — Jeriah Mast, the Holmes County man accused of sexual abuse locally and in Haiti, pleaded not guilty to 14 sex charges Wednesday afternoon in Holmes County Common Pleas Court.
Mast, 37, of rural Millersburg, has been charged with seven counts of gross sexual imposition, third-degree felonies, and seven counts of sexual imposition, third-degree misdemeanors. At Mast’s arraignment Wednesday afternoon, he appeared via video from the Holmes County Jail and pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Mast was indicted by the Holmes County Grand Jury on Monday. He turned himself over to the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday evening, Chief Deputy Richard Haun said.
Mast is currently being held in the Holmes County Jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond.
Mast’s attorney, John Johnson Jr. of Orrville, argued for a lower bond, saying Mast’s family and connections to the community make him a low flight risk.
Holmes County Prosecutor Sean Warner said he wanted some security to tie Mast to the area and argued that the bond needs to stay high due to the allegations against Mast and the number of victims.
Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Rinfret kept bond set at $250,000. If Mast bonds out of jail, he must wear an ankle monitor and check in with a probation officer weekly.
A pretrial hearing in the case is set for Aug. 29 at 9 a.m., and a jury trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 30 at 8:30 a.m.
The indictment accuses Mast of abusing five juveniles, who were between 10 and 15 years old at the time of the alleged abuse. The allegations range from September 1999 to September 2008, when Mast was between 18 and 27 years old, according to the indictment.
Mast voluntarily came to the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office in late May to speak to investigators. Before returning to Ohio in May, Mast worked for Christian Aid Ministries as an international aid worker in Haiti, where he faces similar charges.
Mast fled Haiti, and was “promptly discharged” from the Berlin-based organization after its leaders learned of the allegations, according to a June 11 statement from Christian Aid Ministries.
Mast is still wanted to answer for the charges against him in Haiti. Both Mast and Christian Aid Ministries are named in Haitian court documents that summon them to appear in front of a prosecutor regarding “abuse and sexual assault against minors.” In a subsequent statement, the CAM board of directors said it believes Mast should return to Haiti to face charges there.
“Although CAM no longer has any control over Jeriah, the board believes it would be the right thing for him to appear in Haitian court to answer for his confessed crimes,” the statement reads. “However, this needs to go through the proper judicial and extradition processes of the United States and Haiti.”
In that same statement, dated June 17, Christian Aid Ministries announced it placed two officials on administrative leave pending an internal investigation into what they knew regarding the allegations against Mast.
The two CAM managers, Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver, knew of sexual abuse allegations as early as 2013, according to the statement.
“Unfortunately, they allowed Jeriah to continue to work in the field even after his confession in 2013 of sexual activity with young men that had taken place several years prior,” the CAM board wrote in its statement.