What You Don't Know About Breaking Amish

TLC's "Breaking Amish" premiered in 2012, introducing the world to a group of native Pennsylvania Amish country young people who practice Amish and Mennonite beliefs and lifestyles. Trading in their bonnets and horse and buggies for New York City lights and skyscrapers, we watched the young group explore a whole new world outside of their country lifestyle and strict communities. This is what good television is made of, right? As much as we want to believe everything on the reality television show is accurate, many rumors have surfaced — some confirmed by cast and crew members — bringing to light some of the show's less-than-realistic storylines.

Between sexy photoshoots in lingerie, secret marriages, arrests for substance abuse, and relationship and baby drama, there are multiple hidden truths that "Breaking Amish" network executives have tried to hide. Without further ado, let's dive into everything you don't already know about "Breaking Amish."

TLC revealed the show is not exactly what it seems

As much as we want to believe everything on "Breaking Amish" is as real as it seems, TLC has admitted to bending the truth when addressing rumors about the show's authenticity. When photos of cast members living outside the Amish community before the show aired circulated across the internet, this raised a lot of questions and concerns about how much of the reality show is staged (via Deadline). According to the New York Daily News, TLC issued a statement saying the network would address the rumors in upcoming episodes of the series. "There is a lot of information floating around about the group featured on Breaking Amish," the statement read. "Much of it is not true, but some of it is — and is addressed in upcoming episodes."

Hot Snakes Media, TLC's production company, later issued a statement to Variety further addressing the speculations. "Our Amish and Mennonite producers that we hired introduced us to Amish and Mennonite men and women who were already determined to leave," the company said. "They had already made the decision to go out and see the world, with or without us. They courageously allowed us to follow them on this journey."

Some Breaking Amish cast members had already been married

Jeremiah Raber, known as the local Amish bad boy amongst community members, has become an instant celebrity and made an everlasting impact on the show. When Season 4 of "Return to Amish" aired, we met his second wifeCarmela Mendez, whom he met online and married in April 2016 (with "second" being the key word here). From 2005 until 2011, Raber was married to Naomi Stutzman with whom he shares three children (via Distractify). After the split in January 2019, Starcasm reported that Stutzman made a series of Facebook posts claiming her ex owed her more than $10,000 in child support and hadn't seen his kids in quite some time.

Cast member Sabrina Burkholder, a Mennonite woman amongst the Amish group, was also married prior to the premiere of "Breaking Amish." Photos of Burkholder's ceremony were leaked by a former friend of hers (via Today). During the "Breaking Amish: The Shunning Truth" reunion in November 2012, Burkholder addressed her 2009 ceremony to host Michelle Beadle, stating it adhered to Mennonite traditions, which include no dancing or drinking alcohol. "I'm not ashamed I was married," she said. "I still love (my ex) — he's a good man and he's honorable. I have nothing but good things to say about him." 

Did Rebecca and Abe know one another prior to Season 1?

Although viewers watched Abe Schmucker and Rebecca Byler's love story unfold on the TLC show, some believe the now-married couple dated way before the series originally aired when a picture of Rebecca and Abe holding a baby was shared online and went viral. After TLC claimed the couple met for the first time during Season 1, this caused speculation regarding the identity of her child's father, considering Byler confirmed she had already divorced ex-husband Rufus Hostetler (via the Daily Mail). "I do have a daughter," she said. "She's 19 months old. I wasn't with my ex when I found out I was pregnant. But I did call him and tell him, and he absolutely denied that it was his. I was glad he denied it."

When Byler later confirmed she is the mother of the child in the "Breaking Amish: The Shunning Truth" reunion special, she quickly got defensive when asked to address rumors of dating Schmucker before moving from Pennsylvania to New York City and getting married (via Us Weekly). "[Fans] can believe whatever they want, but if they want to know, they can watch the show. If they don't want to believe, they don't have to believe it," she said. 

According to a July 2014 Bustle article, Byler shared paternity test results of her daughter on Facebook, confirming Schmucker is, indeed, the father. These days, the couple and their children live away from the spotlight.

Drinking and partying weren't necessarily new for the Breaking Amish cast

It turns out that certain "Breaking Amish" cast members have been drinking and partying way before their time on the show. Kate Stoltzfus (also known as Kate Stoltz), Jeremiah Raber, and Abe Schmucker have all run into their own trouble with the law before appearing on the show. According to Today, Schmucker confirmed he was arrested in 2008 for public intoxication. "I spent eight hours in the drunk tank — it was pretty cool actually, because my mom and dad didn't have to know about it," he said. 

Before joining the show in 2012, Stoltz was arrested and charged with a DUI in Boca Raton, Florida (via Starcasm). Stoltz admitted her arrest made her feel "like a horrible person" and that it was "a really bad decision, and a huge mistake. Just me being stupid, and not thinking things clearly."

If that's not enough, Raber was also arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication in May 2015 (via the Daily Mail). According to TMZ, Raber was a passenger during a routine traffic stop. After Pennsylvania state troopers let the car go, he began drunkenly yelling at the officers through the car window. When the cops followed the vehicle and found Raber in a screaming match with the driver who had taken him home from a bar that night, he was arrested and later released. 

Kate Stoltz left the drama in the past to focus on her career

"Breaking Amish" star Kate Stoltz is known for leaving the Amish community and following her dream of becoming a model in New York City. After her DUI arrest in 2012 (via Us Weekly), Stoltz worked her way through alcohol education classes and finished her probation to focus all her energy on modeling. "I'm trying to get everything in my past and move on," she said. "Right now I'm taking care of all of the court-related issues and after that I want to move up to New York."

Although Stoltz is undeniably one of the most successful cast members from "Breaking Amish" and "Return to Amish," she has far removed herself from the series. According to Us Weekly, Stoltz has "completely cut ties" with her life in Pennsylvania and Amish upbringing. "I think the best thing I ever did was completely cut ties with all of my friends and everything back home, not because they weren't good for me," she explained, "but because if I would have stayed in touch with them, I would still be hanging onto that life that I had, and it would keep me from pursuing what I want to do up here."

Today, Stoltz is CEO of the nonprofit Developing Faces, Inc., an organization that provides facial surgical care to babies and children in impoverished countries (via Distractify).

Sabrina Burkholder struggled with drug addiction

Fans of "Breaking Amish" have followed Mennonite cast member Sabrina Burkholder's struggle with drug addiction and sobriety since Season 1 of the series. In May 2017, Radar reported that Burkholder was arrested by the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, police department on numerous drug charges and for driving an unregistered vehicle. One year later, Burkholder nearly died of a heroin overdose. According to People, Burkholder revealed she had relapsed during a trip with boyfriend Jethro Nolt in a Facebook post. "A few days before my 32nd birthday, almost [two] months ago, Jethro and I were with our friend Sean in York County, Pennsylvania. I was almost a year clean from heroin. For whatever reason that day, I was in a mood. We all were," she wrote in her post.

In September 2021, Burkholder exclusively revealed to People she has been clean for over three years. Not only has she moved out of Pennsylvania and completely transformed her life, but she also welcomed her fifth baby, her daughter, Kalani Ariyah. Burkholder explained that her kids "keep me grounded" during her sobriety.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jeremiah Raber has faced a lot of legal trouble

Aside from his 2015 arrest for public intoxication, "Breaking Amish" star Jeremiah Raber has faced other legal trouble. He was taken into custody for assaulting his wife, Carmela Mendez, after a verbal dispute in April 2017. Mendez told police officers that the "Breaking Amish" star made "several threats" toward her and that she was struck by Raber "with a closed fist" (via the Daily Mail). Mendez allegedly had "several large bruises on her arms and legs" and claimed the beatings occurred "on a daily basis." 

In an exclusive statement to Radar, Raber insisted there are two sides to every story. "As of now I have nothing really to say other then the real truth will come out in the end," he stated, adding, "This is not a one-way street. It goes both ways and I have the evidence to prove it and it will be released soon enough."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Jeremiah allegedly has not been part of the Amish community for years

Jeremiah Raber appears to have lived a very non-Amish life way before "Breaking Amish" even aired on TLC. According to Bustle, Raber's ex-wife, Naomi Stutzman, told a CBS News affiliate that the reality star had left the Amish community when he was 18 years old. However, when "Breaking Amish" officially aired in 2012, Raber was already in his 30s. At the time, photos of Raber wearing modern clothing circulated the internet, ultimately causing a whole lot of confusion regarding the legitimacy of the show. In the "Breaking Amish" reunion special, Raber confirmed he had left the Amish community multiple times.

The TLC show claimed that Raber had been shunned from the community and that he had never driven a car, but Stutzman had a lot to say about this as well. "It's so untrue. Jeremiah's mom and dad bought him two cars to help him out when he left the Amish. He was never shunned. He was spoiled rotten," Stutzman explained to Starcasm in September 2012. Stutzman alone has alleged that aspects of the show are unrealistic and that TLC has repeatedly promoted false narratives about the Amish community on the network.

Kate Stoltz reportedly used technology and took photos before leaving the Amish community

In traditional Amish beliefs, using technology and taking photographs are highly forbidden. This is because photographs represent "vanity," which is considered a sin in the faith. However, this didn't stop "Breaking Amish" star Kate Stoltz, known as the bishop's daughter, from submitting multiple images of herself to modeling agencies in hopes of kick-starting her career. This allegedly happened years before she claimed to have given up her Amish faith (via the Daily Mail). Stoltz reportedly entered a Best Smile contest in 2010 and on the show was seen beginning a successful modeling career for herself in New York City, posing for the camera in lingerie and risqué outfits. 

In a November 2015 interview with HuffPost, Stoltz opened up about her longtime dream of modeling, enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology, and becoming an emerging fashion designer after leaving behind her Amish roots. "I always knew that I wanted to be a model but I never knew how excited and interested I was in design until I moved to NYC," she said. "Getting the opportunity to work with reputable designers in Manhattan and working with all the amazing prints and fabrics is so inspiring. The designers have opened me up to a whole new world," where everything they do, she says, "is honestly a piece of art."