Serah Bellar (b. 2003) was physically and sexually abused by her family members. Several of her siblings were also abused. Serah was homeschooled.
Serah’s parents, Robert and Deborah Bellar, had 18 biological children and 1 adopted child. The family may have espoused Quiverfull ideology; Deborah Bellar told law enforcement that “God would give her all the children she was meant to have.” The family belonged to the Dove Outreach church, a new religious movement of around 8 adults led by Robert Bellar’s brother James “Jim” Bellar. Serah and her siblings were forced to attend Dove Outreach, which Serah characterized as a cult; Jim Bellar preached in favor of sibling incest in anticipation of the apocalypse and ran a church-affiliated online gaming association.
Serah attended an online homeschool. In the Bellars’ home, Serah was physically abused by her father, and her brothers systematically sexually abused their younger siblings with the knowledge and protection of their parents. Serah’s brother Josiah (b. 1997) raped two of his sisters between 2011 and 2016, and Serah’s brother Jonathan (b. 1994) sexually assaulted one of the same two girls between 2008 and 2016. In January 2016, Serah’s oldest brother Benjamin Bellar (b. 1991) was arrested and sent to prison for cooking meth in the Bellars’ home. Later that year, in October 2016, Serah’s brother Jacob Bellar (b. 1998) was arrested and sent to prison for severely physically abusing his 10-month-old son. The following month, in November 2016, Josiah was arrested and sent to prison for theft. Beginning in February 2017, multiple sexual abuse reports were filed with child services. On May 7, 2018, Serah attempted to run away from home but was stopped by a police officer. She reported that she was afraid of one of her incarcerated brothers who would be soon released from prison, explaining that he had sexually abused her and that she was at risk of self-harm. Serah’s mother denied the abuse claim, and when a social worker called to follow up, Serah’s father claimed Serah was lying and refused to allow the caseworker to speak with other children in the home.
Following these events, Serah reported the abuse to a school counselor at her online homeschool. Child services visited the home to investigate; as soon as they left, Serah’s parents disowned her and had her forcibly admitted to an inpatient mental health facility in Cleveland. Eventually the facility staff transferred Serah to foster care and she began to attend school, where she encountered Athens County Sheriff Sgt. Jimmy Childs, a school resource officer and friend of her parents’. Childs repeatedly asked Serah where she was living, implying that he would report this information to the Bellars, and refused to help Serah after she told him her family members were harassing her. Fearing that neither the police nor child services would protect her from her family, Serah ran away from home in April 2020 with the help of Jerry and Shayna Chadwick. Serah had met Jerry Chadwick through Dove Outreach’s online gaming association in 2018; Chadwick sexually groomed Serah and exchanged nude photos with her. After the Chadwicks helped Serah run away, they took her to Georgia where they sexually abused her, claiming to be in a relationship with her. Meanwhile, Serah was declared an “endangered runaway”.
This “absolute systematic failure” on the part of everyone to help Serah finally came to light on April 26, 2021, Serah’s 18th birthday, when she made a public Facebook post about the abuse she had experienced in the Bellars’ home. Robert and Deborah Bellar were charged with corrupt activity and child endangerment. Josiah Bellar was charged with rape and both he and Jonathan Bellar were charged with gross sexual imposition. The Chadwicks were charged with interfering in custody. Childs was charged with obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence.
Date: April 3, 2020
Location: Amesville, Ohio