LANCASTER, PA — A Mountville man and former caretaker pleaded guilty Monday morning to sexually abusing 14 residents at Faith Friendship Villa in West Hempfield Township.
James Zook, 69 of the first block of Rockford Road, accepted guilt on 329 counts of institutional sexual assault, 333 counts of indecent assault, and one count of disorderly conduct stemming from reports of abuse from individuals under his care.
Faith Friendship Villa is a non-profit personal care home for individuals with mental illness and other disabilities.
Lancaster County Judge Dennis Reinaker accepted the guilty plea and ordered a sexually violent predator assessment and presentence investigation to be completed before the sentencing hearing. Zook faces a maximum sentence of 3,094 years.
Assistant District Attorney Amy Muller is prosecuting the case and stated the facts from all 14 dockets during the guilty plea hearing, which Zook did not deny when asked by Judge Reinaker.
Zook was originally arrested and charged on Nov. 7, 2022, with one count each of institutional sexual assault and indecent assault. That complaint alleged Zook sexually assaulted a Faith Friendship Villa resident weekly or biweekly beginning in late 2020 or early 2021 and ending in August 2022. After further investigation, additional charges were filed in January before Magisterial District Judge Miles Bixler based on other victims coming forward alleging abuse.
West Hempfield Township Police received the first report of sexual abuse on August 14, 2022. After the initial arrest, 13 additional victims came forward to report abuse by Zook.
All victims participated in interviews with the Lancaster County Children’s Alliance Center and revealed sexual abuse spanning from 2007 until 2022. Zook had been employed at Faith Friendship Villa for approximately 20 years.
West Hempfield Township Police Captain George Brace filed charges and attended the guilty plea hearing.