One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to raise awareness of the harm caused by Watchtower is how little journalists seem to care about serious issues such as shunning and the mishandling of child abuse within the organization.
When you are a Witness you are conditioned to believe that “Satan’s media” is actively seeking to exploit any opportunity to pour scorn on ‘God’s organization’. But if anything, it turns out the opposite is true.
Investigative reporters tend to give Watchtower an extremely wide berth, and even the most clear-cut stories of abuse usually only achieve modest local press exposure.
But it could be that the winds of change are upon us, at least if a new report by Trey Bundy at The Center for Investigative Reporting is any indicator. Trey’s superb 4,500+ word article, posted to the Reveal website, is a hard-hitting expose of Watchtower that leaves no stone unturned when it comes to uncovering the horrendous extent of the organization’s negligence in dealing with known pedophiles.
I spoke to Trey on Skype a number of months ago after being put in touch with him by Barbara Anderson, another of his sources. I was immediately impressed with how committed he was to verifying his facts (not a universal preoccupation among reporters), and trying to gather as much information and as many contacts as possible.
By the time of our second catch-up conversation, Trey knew more about certain aspects of the organization than I did – so you can imagine how excited I am now that the first wave of his work is now in circulation. And I am led to believe more material will follow.
In his Reveal article Trey has done a superb job of summarizing the numerous Jehovah’s Witness child abuse cases that have emerged over the last three years, from Candace Conti to Jose Lopez and pretty much everything in-between, at least from an American perspective.
Trey has even gone to the trouble of posting video depositions (including the following chilling one from Jonathan Kendrick, Candace Conti’s abuser), and damning quotes from body of elders letters (“memos”) that show just how backwards and clandestine the organization is regarding pedophilia.
And if you are anxious for a full rundown of the events surrounding the Candace Conti case, just wait until you listen to the following 20-minute audio-only broadcast!
Featuring interviews with both Candace Conti and Irwin Zalkin, mixed in with document excerpts and courtroom recordings (including snippets from Watchtower’s recent oral argument at the Supreme Court of California), this outstanding piece of journalism is mandatory listening for anyone who wonders how the jury in the Conti case ended up being so unequivocal in its judgment.
As you may have guessed from my introductory comments, my experiences with the media over my last three years of activism have left me more than a little jaded. I have been particularly frustrated by the disproportionate coverage given to cults like Scientology, over which so many journalists seem to fixate even though it only boasts 50,000 actual devotees compared to some 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses.
But my dealings with Trey Bundy have prevented my faith in investigative journalists from total collapse. I am hopeful that, with the persistence and diligence of individuals like him and his colleagues, Watchtower might finally start to get the notoriety it richly deserves and (most importantly) potential victims of child abuse might be shielded from harm.
- Reveal article on Jehovah’s Witnesses using the 1st amendment to hide child sex abuse claims
- Friendly Atheist article on Trey Bundy’s investigation
- Jehovah’s Witness Report article
- Watchtower appears in court to give oral arguments in appeal against Candace Conti verdict
- Watchtower ordered to pay $13.5 million in sex abuse case as Gerrit Losch fails to testify
- JWsurvey articles on child abuse