Landmark victory sees Jehovah’s Witness sex abuse victim receive six-figure sum
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Under fire: The Britain branch office (pictured) says it will "review" the six-figure judgment

Under fire: The Britain branch office (pictured) says it will “review” the judgment

The BBC has today reported on a landmark ruling at London’s High Court that sees a victim of child sex abuse as a result of safeguarding failures by Watchtower become the first person to win a civil suit against the organization in the UK.

Our child abuse correspondent, Karen Morgan, who is herself a JW child abuse victim, reported on this case back in March.

Then it was revealed that, if successful, it could open the floodgates for more claims to be brought against Watchtower in the UK – with the organization already under fire with the Charity Commission over its worsening safeguarding reputation.

AO Advocates, the law firm representing the victim (who is being referred to as “C” to preserve her anonymity) also revealed in March that they had as many as six extra clients waiting in the wings if C’s case proved successful.

Well, now C has been awarded £275,000 in compensation from Watchtower, surely paving the way for more legal proceedings against the embattled organization.

Visit the BBC page reporting this story

As heartening as this news will be to the many campaigners who urgently want to see Watchtower protect children by taking child abuse seriously, it is worth reflecting on the heavy price paid by the victim as a result of her ordeal.

Now in her 20s, C was abused between 1989 and 1994 when she was between the ages of just four and nine. The abuse, including rape, took place in her home, in her attacker’s home, in a shed, and in cars. C was told “she was sinning” and “she would not be saved.” Her ordeal has left her so traumatized that she has already attempted suicide and reportedly told her lawyers she didn’t expect to live beyond 30.

C’s attacker, Paul Stewart, died in 2001, aged 72, shortly before police arrived at his home to arrest him for his abuse of her. He was a ministerial servant when he began abusing C in 1989, but was shortly thereafter removed as a servant after confessing to molesting another girl.

Even so, elder’s let him hold on to many of the privileges he’d held as a servant. Thus Stewart was able to exploit the positions of trust given to him by elders in a congregation in Loughborough to carry out his wicked acts.

Reaction

In delivering his verdict, Mr Justice Globe said he was “satisfied” the organization should be “held responsible” for the abuse.

The organization has responded to the verdict by telling the BBC it will review the judgment. Regular readers of JWsurvey will recall that, as recently as February this year, Governing Body member Stephen Lett slammed concerns over Watchtower’s mishandling of child abuse as “apostate-driven lies and dishonesties.”

C spoke to the BBC before the verdict, saying: “These [abuse victims] aren’t apostates, these are people who have suffered from horrible, horrible crimes and had their lives completely wrecked. They’re not out to destroy the organisation… This is a problem that needs to be dealt with and it needs to be dealt with properly because it is only going to get worse.”

The BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman has recognized the significance of the verdict: “This is the first civil case for damages for historical sexual abuse in the UK brought against the Jehovah’s Witness organization, and is thought to be the first brought against any non-mainstream religion.”

And Kathleen Hallisey, lawyer at AO Advocates, has remarked: “This should be a wake-up call to the Jehovah’s Witness organisation that they need to implement better child safeguarding policies that are in line with modern day knowledge about child safeguarding and sexual abuse. And I also hope that it’s a wake-up call to members of the organisation that child sexual abuse is a problem within the organisation and it’s something that they need to do something about.”

We can only hope this story and so many others like it will indeed cause individual Witnesses to either urge reform from within the organization, or vote with their feet.

 

 

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70 Responses to Landmark victory sees Jehovah’s Witness sex abuse victim receive six-figure sum

  1. anonymous says:

    In the Catholic Church, the pedophiles were the priests but in the JW religion, a lot of the time, the pedo is going to be an elder with children who will molest his own little girls.

    Can you imagine the little girl of an elder who is molesting her? What hope does this little girl have of getting out of that situation? Nobody is going to listen to her and probably her own mother unless her mother sees the molesting for herself but in the case of Kendrick, the grandmother still took the side of her molester husband.

    More than likely, the father or grandfather or uncle or cousin will shower that little girl with much attention and gifts, making all around her think this is the most wonderful dad or man in the world.

    If he showers her with gifts and attention, that will make it ever harder for her to come forward with what is happening to her.

    When it’s a close family friend, she is put in the very same situation. It takes so much courage for a girl to come forward with the molestation that more than likely, she won’t come forward because she knows ahead of time that she won’t be listened to. It’s only when the molestation is outside of the religion, is when she has any possibility of getting justice.

    I asked my husband about why the elders are told to get in touch with the branch if there is an accusation of abuse and he absolutely doesn’t agree with that. He said he feels that when a child is abused, that they should not go to the elders but to the police right away to gather evidence etc. but when I said to him “what if you were an elder and another elder told you that he has a problem with molestation of his daughter, would you report the molestation to the police to protect the child?” and he said no he wouldn’t. He said it was up to the mother and the child and the man that molested the child should report it. So I said “what if he doesn’t report it?” and my husband insisted he would not report it because of confidentiality.

    So, he will say on one side of his mouth, he’d report it and out of the other side of his mouth, he said he wouldn’t and it would be up to the man to report himself. Does that make any sense to anybody? It sure didn’t to me. That is what it is like trying to reason with these men. You can’t.

  2. 1914 ha ha ha says:

    Elders will lie, twist the truth and be down right devious.My old man who is the cong secertary tried to say it was a few bad elders in this case, to which i replied ”no its your corupt org and there idiotic rules.”

  3. SR says:

    You are awesome C! Back in the 70/80s when I was in a child would not have even been believed. The us/them mentality was so strong that there is no way the adults would have acknowledge that it could have happened. The victim would have been lucky to get away without being punished to bringing reproach on Jehovah. The more that come forward the harder it is going to be for them to deny it. Hopefully some will start to demand protection for their children.

  4. Kat says:

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nsw/jehovahs-witnesses-to-appear-before-sex-abuse-royal-commission-20150622-ghue73.html
    Jehovah’s Witnesses to appear before sex abuse royal commission in Australia. Starting July 27 2015

  5. Thinking of leaving says:

    Thanks Louise for the insight. I just have to say what a complete utter mess they have created for themselves.

  6. Ted says:

    According to Matt,5:40, They should not be appealing the
    courts decision. In fact they should voluntarily add a few
    more K, to the award.

    Any chance of them obeying the masters command on that
    one? Yeah! when a rocking horse wins the Derby !

    “I see no ships” said nelson, putting the spyglass to his
    blind eye.

  7. anonymous says:

    I am listening to Anthony Morris’ talk on Sunday and he said there were 5 baptized the day before and we are talking about what used to be called the district convention and that low of a number shocked me so I asked my husband how many were baptized at his convention in Green Bay and he said 1 or 2 and he said he was kind of shocked and said there just aren’t that many people coming into the “truth” anymore.

    That just cheers me up so much!!!

  8. Excelsior! says:

    Folks,

    As the opening sentence says, the British Broadcasting Corporation did indeed feature this landmark case on its various outlets…..but removed the text article from the red button news service the next day!

    They also stopped talking about it on the main programme.

    I have officially complained to the BBC about the indecent haste of its removal of this important news from its red button news text service and the main programme.

    I now have to wait for about ten days. Oh well! At the very least I was able to explain why this coverage is so important in the main body of my complaint.

    I urge any other UK activists out there to do the same. The BBC’s “Panorama” programme investigated child abuse in the JWs a long time ago, and the problem is tragically still in the WTBTS!

    I shall let you know what response I get!

    Peace be with you, Excelsior!

  9. Kat says:

    Excelsior do you think the WT was behind this?

    • Rosie says:

      Hi Excelsior

      I too noticed this – there was mention of it on the lunchtime news bulletin, I missed the 6pm news and then by the 10pm news slot, it was not considered newsworthy, and it did not feature.

      This was in stark contrast to days of endless repeated coverage given by the BBC to the Muslim women who fled to Syria because they didn’t like the UK.

      I have noted for sometime that anything related to JWs that is mentioned on the BBC is no longer portrayed in the same negative light or given the air time that it used to be and I wondered if there was any WT influence behind this.

  10. Excelsior! says:

    Kat and Rosie,

    Very good questions, ladies.

    It is in the interests of the WTBTS to bury this kind of loss as soon as possible.

    I await with interest the answers I receive from the BBC.

    I will let you all know what the BBC has to say for itself when I receive their reply.

    Peace be with you, Excelsior!

  11. sirius says:

    Recent report “Law & Religion UK”, perhaps a deeper insight this case may of had.

    http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2015/06/22/historical-sexual-abuse-and-the-jehovahs-witnesses-a-v-watchtower-bible-and-tract-society/

    Credit to Frank Cranmer on 22 June 2015

    IMHO

    dogstar

  12. Excelsior! says:

    Folks,

    I received an unsatisfactory response to my complaint to the BBC. I have simply complained again!

    I shall let you know what happens.

    Peace be with you, Excelsior!

  13. Excelsior! says:

    Folks,

    I have received a second response to my complaint to the BBC about its coverage of this case.

    The BBC showed this news item for one hour on the news channel. These were at 15:30, 16:00 and 16:30. One hour! Three features!

    It also carried a bulletin on radio 2, 3, 4 and 6 from 5pm to 10pm.

    We need the media to spread the message that the WTBTS has not dealt with these horrific cases correctly.

    I have complained for a third time. I shall continue to express my sorrow and displeasure that this brave young woman’s historic case was given scant coverage until the BBC, who exist through a licence fee, cover this and future cases adequately.

    It is high time the BBC measures up to its public interest obligation and helps expose the disgraceful policies that led to this brave young woman’s, and so many others’ abuse.

    Peace be with you, Excelsior!

  14. Average Joe says:

    Look at the latest statement from Anthony Morris on JW Broadcasting. At minute 43:33, where they say no one that alleges to have suffered abuse should be deterred from reporting the incident to the authorities.
    Could the WT Society be changing their policy?

  15. Rosie says:

    The BBC news website has today done a feature on JW child abuse, mentioning Karen Morgan’s story.

    Here is an extract

    “But what is striking about the Jehovah’s Witnesses is their explicit policy of dealing with abuse in-house.

    Confidential documents from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Britain – the official name for the Jehovah’s Witnesses – that we have seen are explicit about the best way to deal with such matters being within the congregation.
    Nowhere in the hundreds of pages we have seen are elders told that they must go to the police, even if the perpetrator confesses, unless state or national law makes it mandatory to report such allegations.
    The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ UK leadership declined to talk to us for the programme.

    Caroline Wyatt’s investigation will be broadcast in Radio 4’s The Report at 20:00 BST on Thursday, 23 July.”