KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Prosecutors in Lafayette County say that they have dismissed all charges against five men in the Mohler family, accused by female family members of extreme sexual abuse that the women say lasted for years.
Prosecutors say they didn't think they had enough evidence against the men to pursue the case and convince a jury of the crimes.
Authorities in Jackson County were also investigating the Mohler family, but decided not to pursue charges, citing a lack of evidence.
"As far as we are aware, there's not enough evidence on which to proceed with a case. Our office has worked cooperatively with law enforcement and we have no plans at this time to file a charge," said Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in a statement.
In 2009, police arrested six male members of the Mohler family for allegedly molesting young female family members on a western Missouri farm in the mid-1980s. The alleged victims, who said they’d repressed the memories, said some of them were forced as children into marriages with the men, and forced to consummate the marriages in a ceremonial fashion.
The accusers said the abuse started when they were very young and they say they repressed the memories for more than 20 years. The women even claimed three of their relatives forced them to have sex with a horse.
Two of the women say they wrote down the crimes against them in 1988, before they decided to run away. They put the memories in a jar and buried the jar, they said. Police looked for the jar, but could never locate it. The women's brother confirmed their account of sexual abuse and said he remembers unearthing the jar and burying it again quickly when they asked him to.
Attorneys for the accusers say that they are angry that they will not have their day in court.
"I think it would be fair to say they do feel cheated with regard to what Lafayette County did," said attorney Rebecca Randles, who says that her clients are afraid for their safety. "They are physically afraid for their safety. The allegations, of course, were violent sexual abuse. Violence and even murder."
Lafayette County Sheriff Kerrick Alumbaugh told FOX 4 by phone that he still believes the alleged victim's story.
"(I am) sick about this, really sick about it," said Sheriff Alumbaugh. "Sick on behalf of the victims, sick on behalf of the amount of work put into this."
One of the men, Darrel Mohler, 74, died in September 2011 awaiting trial in a Florida jail.
All others had pleaded not guilty to the accusations.
Burrell Mohler Sr., the patriarch of the Mohler family was released from jail February 17, after spending two years behind bars, although he still faced the complex rape and sodomy charges.
In February, the judge in the case heard arguments from the defense that the alleged victims should not be allowed to testify in the case because the state still hadn’t given them the victims’ medical and mental health records that defense requested more than a year ago.
The prosecutor argued that the victims themselves are reluctant to release records for privacy reasons.
The judge denied the defense motion, saying that the failure to get the records is not the state’s fault. At the time, he said the case would move forward as planned. A trial date was set for July.
Prosecutor Kellie Campbell says it's not whether or not she believes the men are guilty, but it's about what she can prove in court by a reasonable doubt.
"I've prosecuted sexual abuse cases a number of times over the last 20 years taking several of those cases to trial," Campbell said. "I can tell you they're difficult cases to prosecute regardless of the long term delay and disclosure."
A family member says he never saw anything over the years to corroborate the victim's stories.