It’s been a long wait for those skeptical of the “reality” of TLC’s breakout hit reality series Breaking Amish, but on tonight’s Reunion Special Part 2 the cast FINALLY addressed some of the big questions surrounding the authenticity of the premise of the show, including all the marriages, arrests, unknown babies, old bikini photos and more!
Just like last week, I’ve compile a bullet point summary of most all the major things that happened during the “Breaking Amish Reunion Special Part 2″, and without further ado, here you go!
• When asked if they were actors the cast laughed with Rebecca asking, “Where’s the million dollar house at?” All of them acted as though if they had been actors on the premiere season of a scripted TLC series they would be millionaires. I guess there’s also the assumption that reality stars don’t make any money. (That’s a beautiful thing for TLC!) (I think it’s pretty clear that these folks aren’t “actors” per se, but I think most everyone would agree that there was a good deal of “acting” on the show, as there is in most any reality show.)
• There seemed to be some confusion among the cast about what it is people are upset about. They seemed to think the detractors are angry that the characters were “telling the truth” about leaving the Amish and making the Amish look bad, but all of the controversies are over inconsistencies in how the characters presented themselves, most of which turned out to be true and were handled very awkwardly (and unbelievably) on the show. (Abe and Rebecca actually knew each other for some time, Rebecca has a daughter that may be Abe’s, Kate entered an online modeling contest in 2010, Jeremiah was previously married and was involved in all kinds of legal problems stemming from domestic violence allegations, Sabrina was married before, etc)
• The cast was asked about the money they spent in New York City and where it came from, and they explained it by saying they worked their asses off for it. “I’ve been working since I was 14 years old,” Sabrina revealed. “And when you’re Mennonite or Amish you don’t really go out and spend money on designer clothes. You live at home, you grow your own food, you don’t really have a lot of necessities that you need to spend money on,” she added.
• Jeremiah was asked about leaving the Amish in an attempt to ascertain just how long he had been “out.” Jeremiah responded by saying that at the time the show began, “I was living in the Amish community.” He was asked if he was practicing Amish, to which he responded by stating, “I never did.”
“I grew up Amish,” Jeremiah continued, “and I had actually joined the Amish church at 16. Now, I did leave multiple times, and went back. Growing up Amish, I’m always going to be Amish. It doesn’t matter how I dress. So, you can say whatever you want.”
• Sabrina was then asked about photos that surfaced of her in a wedding and looking otherwise not really strictly Mennonite (blonde streaks in her hair, partying, etc) As far as the wedding photo goes, Sabrina says it was a Mennonite wedding without dancing or alcohol.
So what happened in the relationship? “We decided that we were just going to part ways,” Sabrina said. She was then asked if she was divorced and she said it was still in the process and she would be divorced soon. “I’m not ashamed of the fact that I was married,”: Sabrina insisted before going on to say her husband was an “awesome guy.” They just had “different life paths.” She then piles on the praise. “He’s amazing and I still love him. We’re best friends. He’s a good man, and he’s honorable, and he — I have nothing but good things to say about him.”
* Sabrina did not address her current relationship status with her boyfriend Harry Kreiser III, who was arrested in September after allegedly brutally attacking his girlfriend!
When asked about the photos of her with blonde streaks in her hair, Sabrina confessed “I have an obsession with Sun-In. That’s where that came from.” She then said, “I was always Mennonite. I was kind of bad, though.” She then talked about how Mennonite youths are like Amish youths and they sneak out on weekends and do things they shouldn’t do. Rebecca agrees and adds that just because Amish people don’t wear traditional garb sometimes doesn’t mean that they’re not Amish. (Which seems to contradict what we were told on the show.) Kate then added that “if you go to Lancaster County on a Saturday night you’ll see groups of kids, like 16 to whatever age, you’ll see them in ‘regular’ clothes, but they’ll be Amish.”
• The next topic of conversation was Rebecca Byler’s now-infamous bikini photo, which certainly seemed to suggest she wasn’t as Amish as she was having us believe on the show. “I only know of one time I ever wore a bikini,” Rebecca said nervously before adding, “nobody was supposed to find out.” She then says she was “sneaking out” in the photo, which was posted on Facebook by the attractive young woman standing next to Rebecca — Shannon Edwards of Columbia, Kentucky. (Shannon says Abe and Rebecca lived in a camper on her and her husband’s property in Kentucky while Rebecca was pregnant — something the photo seems to back up.)
• Kate admits she was a waitress, but that waitressing is nothing unusual for someone who is Amish.
• Kate was asked for an update on her DUI arrest in Florida in April and she said, “I’ve gone through court and it’s just the normal DUI process.” And how far away is she from being done with it? “I still have two more classes, then I have probation for a couple months, and then I’m done.” Kate then added that she’s just trying to move on.
• Kate admitted to entering the online modeling contest in 2010. She said she found the contest, submitted the unprofessional photo (above right), and then forgot about it.
• Next up is Jeremiah’s ex-wife, Naomi Stutzman, who has spoken to the media on more than one occasion about Jeremiah’s rather unseemly past, which included tons of police reports involving accusations of domestic violence. Jeremiah admitted to being married and having three children. (Strangely, the topic of his large arm tattoo, that he supposedly got on the show but actually had well before, didn’t come up)
“Supposebly [sic] I was abusive,” Jeremiah began,” and supposebly I was stalking her. Now, I have one thing to say to America: Do your frickin’ homework! I did spend three days in jail for supposebly doing it,” he confessed. “When my court date came, I went to court. The court threw everything out.” He also said her claims of staying in a woman’s shelter were also true. “She did go to a woman’s shelter for a night or two.” But he added that it was only because they had an argument and the police were called, so someone had to leave and stay somewhere else or one of them would be arrested. When asked if he was ever abusive, Jeremiah simply said, “No.”
Where were the children during this? “They were around playing when all this was going on.” He then revealed that his kids were aged 3, 5, and 7 at the time of the Reunion Special. How involved is Jeremiah in their life? “I see them as much as possible. Right now, obviously, I’m not living in Ohio. But when I’m living in Ohio, I see them every other weekend from Friday afternoons until Sunday nights. But being in the state that I’m at now, I go back once a month.” He then revealed his children are not being raised Amish and his ex-wife has also left the Amish.
Jeremiah said the stalking charges were false and that there are paystubs proving he was in Florida at the time he was allegedly stalking Naomi. He iterates that people need to do their research and they will see from the police reports that the accusations are untrue. (Which is strange, because basically the accusations were that there were police reports, not that he was guilty.) He said his kids are not being raised Amish and his ex has left the Amish too. “As far as my kids, my kids are the main thing in my life. They keep me going,” he said.
Jeremiah said his relationship with his ex is now stable when it comes to the kids, otherwise he doesn’t want to talk to her.
• On the issue of Jeremiah paying child support he said, “Did I mess up in my past? Absolutely.” He then added, “I regret that I didn’t pay child support in the past. Am I paying it now? Absolutely.”
• Next on the agenda? Abe Schmucker’s mug shot photo for a 2008 arrest for public intoxication. “So yeah I got arrested when I had just turned 18 for getting drunk,” Abe admitted. Abe sais he didn’t have an ID when he was riding in a car and as a result he was arrested and spent eight hours in a drunk tank. (He didn’t mention the fact that his brother Andrew was arrested with him) But, on the subject of his brother, Abe said emphatically, “My brother and me DO NOT — DO NOT get along.” What happened? “Long story short, he don’t like me, I don’t like him — end of discussion.”
• Jeremiah stands by his view that women should do the laundry. He does say he would be willing to help “do the cookin’” though.
• Rebecca says her teeth were pulled because they were very bad and that it was her choice to have them pulled because they hurt. She said she couldn’t remember how old she was when they were pulled, only that she was a teen. (I find it VERY hard to believe someone wouldn’t remember how old they were when they had all their teeth pulled out and started wearing dentures!)
• How long did Abe and Rebecca know each other before “meeting up” on the show? “Quite A long time,” Rebecca said. Did they date? “No.” Rebecca said the two were in Rumspringa together, but she was dating someone else. Abe said he was “doing my own thing.”
Did they live together? “No,” said Abe.
Here’s a clip:
“That is my daughter,” said Rebecca, “but she is not signed up on the show. I never signed her up for this. She is a part of my private life, and she is obviosuly still a part of my grandparents’ life, so therefore I cannot talk about her. That’s the one promise I did make to my grandparents I cannot talk about her.” * Towards the end of the show Rebecca said something that I think is very revealing. “There’s legal issues involved, so therefore I am not — I don’t have the privilege of talking about it.” That is sure to spark a lot of speculation as to whether or not her husband is paying child support, or is the baby (or Rebecca) receiving some sort of benefit (insurance maybe) based on the paternity of the child, or perhaps there’s a contract of some sort prohibiting Rebecca to discuss the paternity of her child?
Then began a lengthy discussion about the photo at right (click for the full-sized photo) during which Rebecca remained on the defensive and argued that she and Abe were just friends at the time the photo was taken. The interviewer summed it up perfectly when she said, “I’m just telling you that the internet’s a tough place, and this picture, even if you’re just looking at it for the very first time, and I keep looking at it, it’s a very intimate picture of two young people and an infant who are now married. But, in this particular photo we are to believe that you guys are just friends.” Rebecca’s response? “You’re going to think whatever you want.” She then went on to defend her stance that the photo isn’t “intimate.” Abe just refused to talk about it.
What was the deal going into this show exactly with you two? “Don’t you watch the show?” Rebecca asked. “I do” was the answer.” “Then you know,” said Rebecca. Rebecca then said people can basically believe whatever they want and she doesn’t give a s***.
Abe, are you the father of this baby? “Ma’am, how clear do I have to be. It’s an innocent child for crying out loud. Stop talking about the baby before. I. get. Angry. Do. You. Under. Stand. English?” Then he added, “Do not ruin Rebecca’s daughter’s life.”
Abe then says that yes, he knew about the baby, and no, he didn’t know about the marriage. (Which contradicts the fact that Rebecca’s ex posted on his Facebook wall in 2010 that Abe had run off with his wife and then asked him to be his friend on Facebook.)
Abe summed up his history with Rebecca this way: “We hung out for a while then I moved out to Kentucky, that’s where I got my underage drinking. Then she got married, she moved off somewhere (North Dakota). I moved back in the meantime.” Rebecca then moved back as well and they hung out as friends. (Which doesn’t jibe with the bikini photo of Rebecca taken in Kentucky as well as the photo’s submitter who says Abe and Rebecca lived on her property while Rebecca was pregnant.)
And then more beautiful insight from the host. “When you sign up to do a show like this, you guys had to think, or did you not at all, that all of this would come out? Everything that you had done — weddings, marriages, allegations, kids. But now you seemed shocked that people want answers.” Rebecca’s response? “We give them what we feel they need to know.”
In summary, I think it’s obvious viewers got duped by the producers of the show who billed it as five former Amish and Mennonite people leaving their communities “for the first time” to go to New York City. Every single one of the cast members left their respective churches some time ago, or at least had been doing things that would seem to suggest they left their churches some time ago.
Sabrina High was married and is getting a divorce. It appears as though she liked to go to the city and party with her friends on occasion and was no stranger to makeup, hair, and clothes. Otherwise I feel like we pretty much got the straight story on her.
Katie “Kate” Stoltzfus seems like a beautiful young girl who has had aspirations to be a model for some time. There has not been proof that she was living the English life for any length of time prior to filming, but there is a lot (her comfort in a bikini, some unverified, though believable, online reports, the fact that she was in Florida, etc) that would seem to suggest she wasn’t really “fresh off the farm” either.
Jeremiah Raber appears to have, for all intent and purposes, left the Amish church a looooooong time ago. Though he was never convicted of assault or any other crimes that we know of, all evidence (including what we saw on the show) suggests he is not only completely and entirely familiar with the English life (including driving, strip clubs, ATMs) but that he’s kind of a chauvinist jerk.
Abe Schmucker and Rebecca Byler are the huge deceit here. Revealing Rebecca was previously married and has a daughter not only made her character up to that point a complete fabrication, but it has since spawned very vague and flimsy explanations from both of them that just do not jibe with the evidence. For instance, the bikini photo of Rebecca was taken in 2010 in Kentucky when she was reportedly living with Abe in a camper on Shannon Edwards and her husband’s property in Columbia, Kentucky. Abe and Rebecca’s timeline of events makes no mention of her ever being in Kentucky. And are we to believe that she “snuck off” from Pennsylvania or North Dakota to Kentucky to wear a bikini one time? And let’s not forget, as mentioned above, that Rebecca’s husband Rufus Hostetler posted on his Facebook wall back in 2010 that Abe had run off with his wife. I call complete BS on Abe and Rebecca’s explanations on the Reunion.
The biggest thing that I don’t understand is why producers felt like they had to lie at all. The success of the show, as is the case with most reality shows, was based on the fact that the characters were entertaining to watch. I believe that the show would have been just as popular if they had just been honest about the fact that these were people who were formerly Amish and Mennonite and were going to live together in New York City. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong on that. Either way, I’m still a fan of the show in spite of being deceived! Aside from the last couple episodes after the cast left New York City, which I thought was really forced, I loved watching these five living together and getting drunk in New York City! Hell, I’d be all for a Jersey Shore type Season 2 where they put the same batch of folks back together in the same hotel again! But just don’t feed us any more crap.