Watchtower ordered to pay $13.5 million in sex abuse case as Gerrit Lösch fails to testify
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lopez-gonzalo-camposIt is without doubt Watchtower’s biggest courtroom defeat since the hammer-blow Candace Conti verdict of 2012. Jehovah’s Witnesses find themselves on the wrong end of a $13.5 million judgment, $10.5 million of which is earmarked as punitive damages against the Watch Tower Bible and Tracy Society of New York, Inc.

The case was filed in February 2013 after another victim of Gonzalo Campos stepped forward.

The victim, named as Jose Lopez, was just 7 years old when abused in 1986 by a man who posed as his bible mentor and a “fatherly figure.” By the time the series of attacks took place, Campos, whose conduct was known to elders as early as 1982, had already abused four other children.

Amazingly, despite there being evidence that Campos confessed his 1986 abuse of Lopez to elders, AND his abuse of another child years earlier, he eventually climbed the ranks to become an elder himself in 1993. As disgraceful as this sounds, this fits with Watchtower’s most recent policy letter, dated October 1 2012, which insists that: “It cannot be said in every case that one who has sexually abused a child could never qualify for privileges of service in the congregation.”

Currently evading US authorities in Mexico, Campos has since admitted to child sexual molestation during the period that he served in two San Diego congregations.

Lopez and Zalkin address the media at a press conference

Lopez and Zalkin address the media at a press conference

 

“Mr. Lopez has suffered for years as a result of this horrendous abuse and we are pleased that he will finally receive justice and compensation as a result of Judge Lewis’ strong ruling against the Watchtower,” says Irwin Zalkin, Mr Lopez’s attorney and increasingly a thorn in Watchtower’s side.

“The Watchtower has ignored sexual abuse complaints from its members for years, choosing to protect sexual predators and not children,” Zalkin added. “This ruling may hopefully awake the Jehovah’s Witnesses leadership to the standards of morality and care for children that our society demands.”

In a remarkable twist to this case (not picked up by the media thus far), it has emerged that Judge Lewis issued a “default judgment” against Watchtower after it refused to cooperate with court orders to present key documents and produce the longest serving member of the Governing Body, Gerrit Lösch, for a deposition.

Appointed to his position in July 1994, Gerrit Lösch is by far the longest serving member of the Governing Body

Appointed to his position in July 1994, Gerrit Lösch is by far the longest serving member of the Governing Body

Watchtower has already balked at the judgment, telling the media that it was “barred from participating” in the proceedings. However, if the organization had taken the court’s orders seriously enough in the first place, they would never have found themselves in such a predicament.

As explained in Zalkin Law Firm’s news release, which has been made available to JWsurvey: “California law permits the court to strike the answer of a defendant that refuses to abide by a court order and to enter a default judgment against them. After giving Watchtower every opportunity to comply with her order, Judge Lewis issued the terminating sanction and entered a default judgment against Watchtower. She then ordered the Zalkin Law Firm lawyers for the victim to prove their case by putting on evidence to support the allegations of the victim’s complaint. After hearing six days of testimony and presentation of written evidence, Judge Lewis was satisfied that the Plaintiff had more than adequately proved his case.”

As thinking Witnesses are left scratching their heads, wondering why their hard-earned contributions to the “world wide work” threaten to be diverted by yet another adverse sex abuse judgment, the questions continue to pile up.

What pressing matter prevented Gerrit Lösch from appearing as a witness in such an important case? Was he not concerned about the welfare of the child involved, not to mention the reputation of the organization he jointly represents? Why are the same policies that freed Gonzalo Campos to go about his despicable crimes unchecked still in place today? And how can an organization that claims to represent a God of love, justice and wisdom be condemned as “reprehensible and reckless” by a court judge?

 

 

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Further reading…

Related videos…

Listen to the interview with lawyer Irwin Zalkin on the Nov 2nd episode of JWpodcast…

(Interview starts at 0:11:10)

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107 Responses to Watchtower ordered to pay $13.5 million in sex abuse case as Gerrit Lösch fails to testify

  1. gary says:

    Welcome to positivity 4th street.

  2. waytodawn says:

    Sorry,
    can anyone explain the following? I’m not sure if I get it correctly: (I’m from Germany)

    “In a remarkable twist to this case (not picked up by the media thus far), it has emerged that Judge Lewis issued a “default judgment” against Watchtower after it refused to cooperate with court orders to present key documents and produce the longest serving member of the Governing Body, Gerrit Lösch, for a deposition.”

    So Watchtower doesn’t cooperate with cour orders, I get that. What is this “deposition of Gerrit Lösch”?

  3. In hindsight says:

    @excellsior

    The question as to whether WTBTS has insurance is not irrelevent to MY concern. As I said there is much hard earned money donated worldwide to the organisation. If this money is being used to fund court cases, that is morally wrong. At least if there is an insurance policy in place then it is more palatable to me and not at all irrelevant. I am well aware that the two witness rule is the cause of all the law suits, but hitting genuine faithfull christians in their trusting pockets is also very wrong.

    @ Anonymous many are very happy in the faith. They do not see it as a waste of their time or life. Perhaps they enjoy the field service and love the truth.
    Also why should money donated by these faithfull christians be used in ANY kind of court settlement, I do not see any justice at all in that.
    Which is why I am trying to find out about insurance.

  4. anonymous says:

    @ In hindsight. I am getting what you are saying now. If they have insurance for such things, then that money should pay for it just as doctors have insurance for malpractice. I am happy for people who enjoy being a witness. If they are being misled, that is my problem though. I don’t think anybody should be in the dark as far as their religion goes.

  5. Thankyouall! says:

    I would love to be able to listen to the podcast but it keeps stalling when I play it. Can someone explain the bullet points of the conversations? That’s if it’s possible to condense it.

  6. Gareth says:

    @Thankyouall, please scroll down the webpage to see some alternative ways to listen to the podcast. There is also a link to download it, look for “Download the Show”. Then play it locally.

    http://www.jwpodcast.org/2014/11/03/s01e01-irwin-zalkin/

    @waytodawn: it’s like a testimony to the court to discover evidence for a case. Please see wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deposition_%28law%29

  7. theirarroganceknowsnobounds says:

    Their arrogance is breath taking and deeply shocking. I am disgusted.
    Here is the real face of the Watchtower.
    Consider. . .
    A child not being believed walking 5x a week into a KH where their abuser is. . .for years.
    Consider the childs confusion, guilt, fear, isolation.
    When finally faced with its culpability the Watchtower turned its back not only on the child at the time and now again but on the supreme court of Justice. . . Justice itself.
    By their own actions . . They stand condemned.
    None of us here would sully ourselves with such disgraceful behaviour.
    The arrogance in believing God supports such action is sickening an arrogance that is going , one day I believe, to have them stand in the witness box for all to see.
    There wouldn’t be a God of Justice if they didn’t.

  8. waytodawn says:

    @Gareth
    Thanks, now I understand. German dictionary gives a lot of different translations if I just type deposition. I first thought they wanted good old Gerrit to step down as a GB member.

    This makes a lot more sense.

  9. Excelsior! says:

    In Hindsight,

    Every baptised member of the JWs pledges allegiance to “God’s spirit directed organisation” as part of their baptism.

    I agree that it is unfortunate that the rank and file donate money for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom, only for it to be paid out in fines. The point being that the rank and file are unaware of the child protection policy.

    However, the WTBTS chose to ignore the findings of the judge, the first appeal, the second appeal and the Supreme Court of California. The fine was just and fair in this case.

    The rank and file are not responsible for the policy. However, the WTBTS can and do use their money for whatever they wish.

    I think that the penalty was fair. It is up to the members to know what they are contributing to and where their money is going. And don’t forget, that some of that money has been provided by the American tax payer too!

    Peace be with you,

    Excelsior!

  10. In hindsight says:

    @ excelsior

    First the whole organisation of faithfull brothers and sisters worldwide offer contributions.

    However, Your comment does not answer my question. I am trying to find out if the WTBTS is insured. After listening to the jwpodcast interview, I have discovered that in an instance that Lloyd discussed, an historic payout came from contributions from the worldwide work, no insurance was mentioned.

    At no time have I suggested that there should not be a payout. I am saying that it is moraly wrong if those payouts are coming from the contributions of uninformed innocent people, when they have no idea that it is being used like this.

    So I ask again, is there an insurace policy payout, because if not I will be bringing it to the attention of my family, who are contributing.

    I wish someone knew the answer to this. It is upsetting me greatly.

  11. JustAnotherGuy says:

    If you look at the court documents from Barbara Anderson’s site, and read the discussion about Gonzalo Campos, they make it clear that Campos was a ministerial servant and elder for a while. Yet, the WT lawyer says that Campos held no position of responsibility. Further, they object to having Gerrit Losch give a deposition, on the grounds that Losch was not a member of the organization, and thus the WTS had no grounds to compel him to do anything. That is surprising, since a check on jw.org shows an article about Losch that describes him as a member of the organization for 50 years, and a GB member for 20 years. This, to them, is “no part of our organization”?

    The depth of their dishonest and duplicity is almost as bad as the abuse they allowed to take place.

    Who would have guessed that the governing body would publically show themselves to be liars of the worst sort? This is just stunning. Perhaps this is at last the smoking gun that will wake people up.

  12. Thankyouall! says:

    Wow I finally got to hear the interview. I’m even more shocked. I have only started to fade in the last 6 or so months so this is all so new to me. I’m still in a state of disillusionment. The solicitor is really on to it. I love how he pointed out the lies the WT used about not being custodian somethings… (can’t remember the legal term he used) because they didn’t hold children’s events. Good on him, he blew there argument out of the water by saying that they in fact were responsible because they put this elder in a position of trust to help the fatherless boy. How disgusting!!!

  13. Excelsior says:

    In Hindsight,

    I’m sorry, I do not know if the WTBTS has taken out insurance for this case. I know that they did take out a policy for the Candace Conti case.

    I would urge you to speak to your family about this, regardless of which way they are coming up with the money. Even if they have taken out insurance, this premium will still be paid by donated money.

    The rank and file JWs do NOT know about the scandalous child protection policy, or the cover ups.

    Perhaps you could email the Zalkin law firm, who may be able to tell you if the WTBTS have taken out insurance?

    Peace be with you,

    Excelsior!

  14. Excelsior! says:

    Thankyouall!

    You have my sympathy. When I was booted out twenty years ago, I had no clue about any of these scandals. I had a hard time deprogramming, but I found that studying nature and science helped to wash out the nonsense.

    Your journey to personal freedom has only just begun, and there is so much for you to experience! Please avail yourself of the ex JW Community. We are here to help you.

    I wish you all the best and I hope that your exit will be as smooth as possible.

    Peace be with you,

    Excelsior!

  15. Thankyouall! says:

    Peace to you too Excelsior & thank you for your support. It has been an emotional journey for me & my husband was an MS 6 months ago. We have both realised how silly the religion is. We’re the lucky ones though, all of the 20years we have been associated I cried that my family were not ‘in the truth’. Now I feel grateful that they weren’t silly enough to get hooked like me. But all the same the mind control really is hard to break off & I still fight those feelings of guilt & fear of men. Witnesses keep coming around trying to save us from leaving & the cycle keeps going around. I hope they give up soon & realise that we are happy with our decision & that there is a life outside of the cult.

  16. anonymous says:

    Rev. 1:10 says “By inspiration I came to be in the Lord’s day and I heard behind me a strong voice like that of a trumpet”.

    When Witnesses read the Revelation, they read it with the mindset that this all happened in 1914 that Satan was cast out of Heaven down to the earth, but if they don’t read it with the Watchtower mindset of 1914 and just read it the way it actually says, the Revelation is presented in past tense, not future tense like the Watchtower wants you to believe.

    When Jesus was tempted, he was offered all the kingdoms of the earth by Satan the Devil. Wouldn’t that indicate that Jesus already had full control of the earth, even then?

    In the Insight book volume 2, page 169 it says:

    “The Kingdom of the Son of his love” began at Pentecost 33 C.E. and has been over Christ’s anointed disciples; “the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ” is brought forth at the end of “the appointed times of the nations” and is over all mankind on earth. Luke 21:24″.

    So, the Society is saying there are 2 kingdoms, one over the 144,000 since 33 C.E. and that one is limited, but the real one, the 2nd one comes at the appointed times of the nations” and that would be 1914 (I think).

    What does that mean for the earth, since the first kingdom supposedly is just over the 144,000 but the 2nd one (the big one) is over the whole earth? Do these scriptures and the Watchtower say then that Jesus is on the earth right now and so is Satan and they are both 5roaming around like some kind of movie characters? Does Jesus come a 3rd time? If so, then he isn’t here now if he’s still coming like the Watchtower of July 2013 said.

    According to the Watchtower, Jesus is directing the Organization. Does that mean that he doesn’t really have all authority over the earth or just his organization? But there are supposed to be 2 kingdoms and the first, Limited one) is only over the 144,000 from 33 C.E.

    The whole thing makes my head swim.

    Like Ted said, why would the Bible be such a “riddle” if God was talking to us through the Bible and wanted us all to understand it to save our lives?

    There are no dates in the Bible so all somebody has to do is put on a nice suit and sound smart about the Bible and throw in some scriptures and people will devote their lives to this religion with no basis at all to it and even though it makes no sense at all to a thinking person.

    What makes me so mad, is how the Society will disfellowship me if I don’t buy into all this nonsense anymore when I have finally got my head in gear and figured out that it’s just a stupid puzzle and the pieces don’t fit together.

    I called the F.B.I. in Brooklyn to report the Watchtower for protecting thousands of child molesters. If more people call, maybe they will take some action.

    The phone number for the F.B.I. in Brooklyn is: 1-212-384-1000

  17. StillShocked says:

    Thanks for your well-written article exposing the evil side of the Watchtower! No amount of money will compensate that poor child who endured the atrocities he did at the hands of a “spirit appointed” elder (sarcasm noted). Hopefully when their coffers are hurt sufficiently, they will change their policies to protect the children they should have been protecting since their inception. They have so much pain and blood on their hands!

  18. Radi says:

    “deposition” bedeutet in diesem Zusammenhang wohl “Aussage unter Eid”.

  19. Very bad bad day for watchtower !!

  20. Paulo Sousa says:

    Herr waytodawn,
    I also had the same doubt of yours concerning Mr. Lösch. I believe they mention him because he´s been govening body member since 1994 and so his responsability is bigger the the others and so he should have done something about the case by,at least, defending the Watchtower. As we saw,he did nothing as the others; maybe they are afraid of facing the public when they have no magazine or any literature from Watchtower with them. Guten Tag.

    From Brazil.

  21. Wild Olive says:

    If Gerrit the Great had stood trial and the the verdict go against him,how would that look in the media?
    A whole lot of bro who are asleep at the moment might find themselves asking a lot of embarrassing to their local elders,Ime sure this is why he didn’t take the stand and dodged the whole court room scene,I mean you can’t have Gods chosen proved guilty on peadophilia problems can you?
    That would just look so bad!
    What amazes me is how absolutly nothing is mentioned to the congs about any of this stuff that’s all over the Internet,how long can the leadership pretend that nothing is wrong or that no one knows about the serious things that are going on?
    Even if half of it is true it’s bad enough,the elephant in the room is getting bigger and bigger,the denial is monumental

  22. Giuseppe says:

    Io non ci credo e tutta una montatura…..ma secondo voi se era vera non ne avrebbe parlato tutto il mondo? Up pure dove era la CNN TV principale Americana?
    Tutta una falsa sui casi è rimborsi per la Pedofilia.