Sexual Abuse of Amish Women and Teenagers – The David Clark Case


There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~ Maya Angelou

There was widespread abuse of Amish women and teenagers that took place in Oak Grove, Missouri, by a man named David Clark who posed as a naturopath with a chiropractor license. He targeted Amish women and girls who had little to no experience going to gynecologists or obstetricians. The obvious question for most of us is what does this have to do with chiropractic treatments? But for the Amish who are limited to an eighth-grade education and no sex education, this was not an obvious question. Many Amish people are drawn to alternative medicine, particularly to chiropractors, and they tend not to question or challenge the methods they use. David Clark preyed on their non-suspecting ways and “treated” women and girls abusively for more than 40 years.

The beginning of the end of David Clark’s work came when one of his victims talked to my friend and fellow advocate, Lizzie Hershberger, who is the author of the wildly successful memoir Behind Blue Curtains. She describes that fateful phone call this way:

On a bitter cold evening in January 2022, I received a message from a friend I will call Becky who I hadn’t talked with in a while. I didn’t know her well because she grew up in a different community but I knew many of her older relatives. She asked if we could get on a phone call, and I said let me get my ear pods and I’ll be ready to listen.

Becky asked if I knew about a chiropractor named David Clark with a clinic somewhere in Missouri, and I said I did not. She had attended his clinic with her mother. She asked me what I thought about certain procedures that were performed on her and whether this chiropractor was allowed to do this. The things she described were very disturbing and yet I believed her. I knew in my heart and soul what she was sharing with me was true, and yet it was so disturbing that my brain was having a hard time processing it. Becky said she had so much more to share and she didn’t realize until recently that she needed to share this with me. She said she’d never told anyone, but she trusted me, and that she thought I would understand.

I didn’t know if I did understand, but I told her I believed her. My mind was going back to when I was 14 when I didn’t understand. I assured her this was very unfortunate, but it was not her fault, and that she hadn’t done anything wrong, even if her parents had taken her there and her mom was also a patient of this so-called chiropractor.

Lizzie supported Becky and helped her do research and empower herself. Lizzie realized that there were likely other victims out there, so she set out to find them. She made flyers and posted them around her area, took them to meetings where she knew Amish were gathering, and posted it on social media, offering that if there are other victims of David Clark’s “treatments” they can call her. Eventually women did come forward with their stories. Lizzie was instrumental in bringing this case to the justice system. She writes:

I helped the second survivor come forward after she saw one of my social media posts about it. I listened to the top whistle blower survivors share their stories with me before they shared with anyone else. I then worked directly with the lead FBI agent to help law enforcement facilitate and understand the limited education and lack of sex education. I coached them on appropriate terminology to use in interviews with survivors.

Lizzie and Becky reported the abuse, found a civil lawyer, found an FBI agent, and advocated for other survivors.

In June 2022, the FBI raided the clinic. To Lizzie and the survivors’ dismay, Clark continued to treat patients even after the raid. In Lizzie’s words:

He kept operating Health Plus Clinic even after his office was raided. Many Amish patients are still unaware of the investigation by the FBI. Hundreds were questioned and they gathered an enormous amount of information. They found things on his work computer that isn’t acceptable reading material for an upstanding person.

Unfortunately, many of the Amish women did not want to cooperate with the investigation and would not tell what happened to them. Several of these women were from Lancaster, Pennsylvania area and had been talked to by Plain male members of the Conservative Crisis Intervention (CCI) who consider themselves liaisons between the Plain community and the law.

Clark was arrested in September 2023. Besides the criminal charges, there was (and still is) also a civil law suit. The victims were preparing for their day in court. And then that process was short circuited with the news of David Clark’s death. Reports cite the cause of death as heart failure, but there are claims that after he was arrested, he stopped eating. Whatever the cause, it has deprived the victims of seeing their perpetrator brought to justice.

The above image shows how David Clark preyed on Amish trust.

Even after Clark’s death, his clinic remains open. Some of the staff, who worked with him and must have known about the abuse in one way or another, are still there. And there are still Amish people traveling from far and wide to be treated there. Someone is still benefiting from Clark’s claim to be “the chiropractor the Amish trust.” For many of us, that is not okay. Lizzie writes:

This Chiropractor in Missouri who had a clinic called Health Plus was not the gentle caring kind doctor many may have thought he was. The “probable cause form” can be mailed or emailed out for anyone who is interested in knowing the nature of his abuse. As a victim advocate, I want to be clear that I want survivors’ stories to be told. I have been listening to these stories for two years and I want Amish and Plain People to know that it is now safe and they no longer need permission to share their stories. Clark will not be facing criminal charges, so whatever they share will not get him in legal trouble.

Healing starts when we share our stories with professional counselors, victim advocates, or trusted friends. I invite you to be in touch if you are a victim of abuse and you need someone to listen. You can call me at 1-507-458-0224 or email me: You can also visit my website:

Amish people see chiropractors in many states. I hope they are upstanding and treat their patients appropriately. But the Amish remain a vulnerable population because of the lack of sex education and their limited general education. So there are likely more “chiropractors” out there who are treating their Amish patients inappropriately. In fact, there is an Amish man within the Lancaster community who poses as a chiropractor and is reportedly an abuser. I will write about him in a future post.

If you are being treated (or have been in the past) in a way that makes you feel too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it, then you are probably a victim of abuse. I urge you to reach out to someone you trust to tell your story to. It takes courage to tell. Know that this was not your fault and you are not alone. By telling the “secret” you have been asked to keep, you can start healing, stop your abuser(s), and help protect others from what happened to you.

If you need to tell your story, you are welcome to call me at 1-540-830-9646 or email me: Or you can tell a trusted friend, counselor, or victim advocate near you. You no longer need to bear the agony of your untold story inside you.

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Saloma Furlong


  1. Bruce Stambaugh on February 17, 2024 at 10:31 am

    Thanks for sharing this disturbing story.

    • Saloma Furlong on February 17, 2024 at 10:58 am

      It is hard to write, but this story needs to be told.

  2. Kensi on February 17, 2024 at 10:37 am

    Thank you for the informative article and listing where Amish girls and women can get help.

    “Several of these women were from Lancaster, Pennsylvania area and had been talked to by Plain male members of the Conservative Crisis Intervention (CCI) who consider themselves liaisons between the Plain community and the law.”

    In other words, the intimidation crew. Sickening.

    • Saloma Furlong on February 17, 2024 at 11:01 am

      Kensi, you get the picture. I will be writing more stories that involve the silencing of Amish women.

  3. Kathie Kurtz on February 17, 2024 at 11:38 am

    Thank you, Saloma, for the work you are doing. I know that it is hard to listen to stories of abuse, but crucial for victims and for the community at large. Blessings to you.

  4. Saloma Furlong on February 17, 2024 at 12:07 pm

    Thank you, Kathie. Your support means so much. Blessings to you also.

  5. Sadie Showalter on February 17, 2024 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks for this blog, reminding us that abuse continues and there are those who don’t realize what is happening.

    • Saloma Furlong on February 17, 2024 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you, Sadie. Yes, abuse does continue, unfortunately, and looking the other ways is not an option once we are aware of it.

  6. Celia Crotteau on February 17, 2024 at 8:32 pm

    What David Clark did to these trusting women and girls was bad enough. That members of the CCI tried to keep them from coming forward and disclosing this abuse boggles the mind yet fits a pattern I’ve read about again and again. What justification for keeping ugly secrets do these supposedly upstanding citizens offer – again and again?

    • Saloma Furlong on February 17, 2024 at 11:07 pm

      The silencing of victims is common everywhere. I was just reading about several sexual abuse cases in the community of Jehovah Witnesses tonight.
      But what I’m hearing that goes on here in the Plain Community is beyond comprehension in the scale of it.

      • Celia Crotteau on February 18, 2024 at 4:54 am

        Yes, I understand that victims are discouraged from stepping forward and voicing their abuse. For too many years it was common in society at large. People of all backgrounds looked the other way. Fortunately that began to change with the so-called Second Wave of Feminism, which definitely impacted my life beginning in the 1970s. Still, even when practicing as an RN for 25 years, which brought me into contact with the abused and their abusers, I saw inexplicable abuse. Using, or, rather, misusing religion as an excuse was common. My question was, and is, the following: what reasons do authorities within the Amish community, including the CCI, offer for their role in the coverups? Are there no members within that same group who attempt to help the abused women? What about upstanding Amish husbands and fathers?

        • Saloma Furlong on February 18, 2024 at 8:19 pm

          Celia, I don’t know if I can answer your question, but I will give it a try. Their reasons or “excuses” normally have to do with being separate from the world and its secular laws, which is another way of saying the laws that govern this country do not apply to them. And many of the social workers, law enforcement, and staff at Children and Youth Services are conditioned to allow the Amish to “take care of their own.” In fact, any cases here in Lancaster County that are reported to the law find their way back to the CCI and the Amish Steering Committee, who then “advise” the local ministry teams how to handle these cases. Normally it includes all the ways the rest of society has learned not to treat victims, such as getting them to recant their stories and apologize to the their perpetrators for “telling.”

          I will be writing more in depth with these issues in future posts. I would say it is as bad as you imagine it is, perhaps even worse. The hopeful thing is that there are many advocates banding together to bring these issues into the spotlight. Every day/week I hear of new cases, and every day/week I hear of new advocates. There are too many stories emerging for the leadership to keep them hidden much longer.

          • Celia Crotteau on February 19, 2024 at 11:37 am

            Thank you for your detailed reply. I learn so much from reading your blogs.

  7. C.J. on February 17, 2024 at 9:09 pm

    Thank you for what you are doing to spread the word. I appreciate reading your interesting stories. I used to enjoy (ex-Amish) Ira Wagner also, but do not know what has happened to him? Do you know?
    Wondering if a printed letter could be placed in some of the booths where Amish folks visit…like the Marketplaces in some cities like Lancaster, explaining this info.? Since few Amish have social media readily available, I imagine only “the grapevine, word of mouth, or maybe a letter to the editor of the BUDGET” or other newspapers would help spread the word that some Amish ladies/girls have came forward with and others are free to do so also, confidentially.
    There was one little widow lady that I visited with, at a Marketplace booth, that was very untraditional and open minded, that I could imagine would be happy to spread the word among her Amish friends, OR, would the Bishops put a stop to that? She was elderly, so cute, and letting customers take photos of themselves with her. I asked her about the photo thing, and she said it did not bother her, she was not raised that way! Maybe some Englishers could help in that way, with free letters of interest at their booths at those markets? Maybe not?
    Just an idea….I hate that the Amish are taken advantage of at times, and in many ways.

    • Saloma Furlong on February 17, 2024 at 11:21 pm

      Hello CJ, it’s great to see you here. Glad you enjoy reading. I believe Ira Wagler had a serious illness, and I’ve not heard how he is doing in his recovery. This is probably why you have not heard from him.

      Your idea to put up flyers at the Marketplace is a good one. I will check with other advocates to see how this could be done. The question of whether a notice has been placed in The Budget or Die Botschaft is one that I can ask Lizzie, because that is an excellent idea too. That would reach most of the Amish, whereas the Marketplace would be more local to the Lancaster area.

      I hate that too, that the Amish trust is exploited like that. I also wish the Amish would educate their children beyond the eighth grade and provide appropriate body awareness and sex education. This would make them a lot less vulnerable to being preyed upon.

  8. pamela lakits on March 1, 2024 at 12:34 pm

    First i want to say how brave this young woman was and is for telling her story, for looking for help and especially for reaching out to others.
    It breaks my heart how we as women have to feel such shame when abused sexually, emotionally and physically. while the abuser denies, makes excuses or places blame of the woman.
    I hope that with more and more women, like yourself, come forward that the Amish community will take notice and educate their young girls and adult women.

    • Saloma Furlong on March 1, 2024 at 12:51 pm

      Pamela, it is great to hear from you. Yes, it takes a lot of courage to reach out for help, and for helping others. I hope too, that that the Plain communities will educate their children better. And it is not only girls and women… there are many boys who endure abuse as well.

      Thank you again for your encouragement.

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