Yes, there are Mennonites in South America, and from 2005 until at least 2009, one Mennonite community called the Manitoba Colony in Bolivia experienced a terrifying crime wave. Over the course of four years, nine men went from respected members of the ultraconservative community to convicted serial rapists. But what makes this story of assault all the creepier is that the perpetrators were spraying reformulated cattle anesthetic through people's windows in the middle of the night to incapacitate entire families while they slept.
Originally German in origin, Mennonites have communities and churches throughout North and South America. There are many branches of the Anabaptist faith, but the Old Colony Mennonites, like the colony in Bolivia, are some of the most conservative. The conservative nature of the community has made it that much harder for this small community to address what has happened, and they are still struggling to heal and move on from the "ghost rapes."
A Veterinarian In The Community Had Reformulated A Spray That Was Originally Intended To Anesthetize Cattle
A veterinarian in the Mennonite community named Peter Weiber provided the Manitoba rapists with a special spray he had formulated, using a drug meant for anesthetizing cows. He had changed the formula, and made it sprayable so as to easily knock out entire families.
Nine Men From The Community Were Using The Spray To Knock Out Entire Households As They Slept
Using veterinarian Peter Weiber's spray, a handful of men began committing rapes in the middle of the night. First they would spray the anesthetic through windows and screens, knocking out anyone inside the room. This had the advantage for the men of not just incapacitating their victims, but also incapacitating any potential witnesses. Many of the women were assaulted with their husbands unconscious right beside them.
Women Would Sometimes Wake Up In Pain Or Without Clothes, Yet Community Leaders Accused Them Of Having 'Wild Female Imagination'
When the nighttime attacks first began, the initial victims were cautious to speak up about what was happening. They couldn't understand what was going on, which made the experiences that much harder to explain to others. When the women did begin to speak out, they were told that they were lying, with one woman being told that she was lying to cover up an affair. Others shrugged it off as if it was a plague from God, or something they couldn't do anything about. It was also called "wild female imagination."
Even though women would wake up in pain or even naked, nothing was done. They would make their beds and go about their day as if nothing had happened. And this went on for years.
Once They Stopped Denying What Was Happening, They Decided They Could Only Be The Work Of A Demon
After the leaders of the colony overcame their initial disbelief as to whether these assaults were even taking place, there were still a few roadblocks to understanding what had really happened. The colony leaders were incredibly resistant to believe that men from the community could commit such horrible crimes, so they came up with their own explanation -- that this could only be the work of a demon.
It may sound bizarre, but the intensely spiritual community simply fell back on a religious theory to explain the horrors that were occurring. The physical evidence that remained after the attacks seemed to provide more questions than answers, with no actual witnesses (thanks to the drugs). It would, in theory, be much easier to say it was the devil rather than point a finger at someone in the tight-knit community.