Breaking News: Jury Selection Complete in Fessler Versus Watchtower Child Abuse Case – Trial Date Set
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For the first time since the 2012 landmark ruling in the case of Candace Conti versus the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, a jury will decide the outcome of a sexual abuse case in which multiple Jehovah’s Witness elders in two states knowingly failed to report the abuse of a 14-year-old girl, even after reporting the matter to Watchtower’s legal department.

Stephane Fessler, approximate age 13

The plaintiff, Stephanie Fessler of Lancaster Pennsylvania, will testify that elders from the Freeland Maryland and Spring Grove Pennsylvania congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses failed to contact law enforcement officials when they became aware of a sexual relationship between Ms. Fessler, aged 14-16 and the co-defendant, Mrs. Terry Jeanne Monheim, 49-51.

The abuse began in 2003, was discovered by the summer of 2004, and when Stephanie’s parents became aware of the abuse they contacted congregation elders. Elder Eric Hoffman initiated an internal Jehovah’s Witness investigation, which included two additional elders, Neal Cluck and John Ness, and did not contact legal authorities.  The elders also did not urge her parents to contact authorities.  Instead of protecting Stephanie, they punished her by privately reproving her.

According to court documents, the Spring Grove elders interrogated the victim, Stephanie Fessler, but did not question the 49-year-old Terry Seipp (Monheim), and made no attempt to contact the police or child protection authorities. Instead of offering protection, Stephanie was slapped with a private “reproof” from her elders. Under deposition, Witness elder Eric Hoffman admitted that he knew of suspected abuse, but failed to contact the authorities.

Elders from the Freeland Maryland congregation were informed of the sexual abuse accusations against their member, Terry Seipp (Monheim), but as with the Spring Grove elders, they too failed to contact any legal authorities and rather also issued a private reproof.  Elders from the Spring Grove congregation did, however contact Watchtower’s legal department in Patterson, New York, but court records indicate that despite their inquiry regarding possible police notification, the failure to make a report of suspected abuse violated Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Laws (CPSL).

As a direct result of the defendants’ collective unwillingness to comply with both Pennsylvania and Maryland law, the plaintiff suffered abuse for yet another year, until the defendant’s husband hired a private investigator, who provided photographic proof of the relationship between Fessler, aged 15, and Monheim, who was now 50 years old. Elders were again notified following this disclosure, but they still refused to contact police or Childline.  They punished Stephanie again by now publicly reproving her;  a formal announcement was made to the entire congregation.

Abuser Charged, Victims Suffers

It was not until 2011 that Stephanie Fessler, aged 22 was able to report her abuser directly to the police, who arrested and charged Terry Seipp (Monheim) with multiple criminal violations. Seipp pled guilty to corrupting the morals of a minor and indecent assault and was sentenced to prison and probation.

Meanwhile, Fessler suffered severe PTSD which presented in extreme anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares, and multiple additional symptoms which required professional therapy. It is clear that the Jehovah’s Witness organization not only obstructed justice, but by violating Pennsylvania and Maryland Law, they subsequently deprived Stephanie of the counseling services which would have been available to her at the right time. The added layer of stress caused by her private and public reproof caused additional damage, forcing her to deal with the stigma of being considered “bad association” by all of her Witness friends.

Stephanie was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the age of 10, a decision which rendered her permanently accountable to the Witness organization and its elders. While non-Witness children have the benefit of practical support and encouragement if they are abused or taken advantage of, a baptized Witness child will often find themselves seated before a body of all male elders, forced to relive their trauma, then punished with no recourse.

Stephanie stated:

“it’s robbed years of my childhood because I was a child at the time. I did not know about sex… to be abused by somebody and then to be blamed for it, the damage that’s caused me and done to me mentally and emotionally, it’s beyond words”

The Lawsuit

The primary defendant in this case is the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, and the CCJW (Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witness).  Fessler’s attorney Jeffrey P. Fritz of Soloff & Zervanos, P.C. will demonstrate to the jury that Watchtower’s legal department failed to instruct the elders involved in this case to follow the mandatory child abuse reporting laws which govern Maryland and Pennsylvania.

This is in spite of Watchtower’s own written and published documentation  which openly acknowledged that child abuse is a crime, and that “no elder will criticize anyone who reports such an allegation to authorities.” (February 15th 2002 Letter to Elders)

February 15, 2002 Letter to Elders

 

However, in line with Watchtower’s conflicting legal recommendations, elders are not specifically instructed to report matters of child abuse to legal authorities, but to only do so as the last resort in states where mandatory reporting is strictly enforced. Watchtower relies heavily upon the use of clergy privilege, despite exemptions in place which permit a member of the clergy (an elder) to report accusations of abuse to the proper authorities.

As we have reported in past articles, Watchtower attorneys frequently use the term “absolute right” when describing their desire for victims to handle abuse reports themselves –  a practice designed to make them appear to favor victims rights while making no effort to actively involve congregation elders in the reporting process. This strategy results in grossly under-reported cases of abuse. Most victims and their families are so traumatized by the abuse, they usually decline to report. Another reason they fail to report is that elders encourage Jehovah’s Witnesses to do nothing which would “bring reproach upon Jehovah’s name” – a well-known Witness policy designed to protect the organization’s reputation rather than seek the highest level of care for victims.

The jury has been selected, and the trial is set to commence Tuesday February 7th at City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. JW Survey will provide continual updates following testimony and final verdict.

 

John Redwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media reports:

Woman accused of sexually assaulting teen girl

http://avoidjw.org/2017/02/stephanie-fessler-v-watch-tower/

 

SPECIAL THANKS:

JW Survey would like to thank the editors of www.avoidjw.org for providing detailed research materials which have assisted counsel for Ms. Fessler.

 

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89 Responses to Breaking News: Jury Selection Complete in Fessler Versus Watchtower Child Abuse Case – Trial Date Set

  1. Chris Monk says:

    Thank you for the update. Excellent reporting.

  2. Jeffreycanning says:

    Thanx John, we’re winning… One small step for mankind…

  3. Ms. B says:

    Yes. Publicity for this case needs to be widespread and persistent.

  4. Maryan says:

    Elders also say to victims that brother doesn’t take brother to the court. If you do it, we must take you (victim) to judicial committee and might disfellowship YOU.

  5. twistedsister69 says:

    The Eagle has Landed.

  6. FinallyMe says:

    Omg … I’m at a loss for words again at the horrific treatment meted out to yet another victim of child abuse within the cult. My heart goes out to you Stephanie, and I wish you strength and courage during the court case. That they callously and evilly subjected you to reproof rather than loving support is criminal and disgusting. Thanku for another expose on the cult John amd JWSurvey

    • ScotWm says:

      Regarding: “My heart goes out to you Stephanie, and I wish you strength and courage during the court case.”

      And the abuse isn’t over. Watchtower lawyers have already delayed the Stephanie Fessle case for over 3 years by using unethical change of venue stall tactics. If the trial actually begins on time, the Watchtower liars — I mean lawyers — will probably attempt further delay by filing a motion to dismiss. Once the trial begins, the Watchtower lawyers will proceed with more delay strategies consisting of postponements, endless discovery requests and objections which will likely drag out the trial for at least 2 or maybe even 3 years. Finally, Watchtower lawyers will appeal an adverse judgment, adding at least another 2 years to the final settlement of the case.

      A confidential out of court settlement could alter the outcome. However, it doesn’t look like Stephanie Fessle will give up so easily. As always, so-called dedicated funds will be used by Watchtower to to fight this case.

      https://www.revealnews.org/blog/another-judge-criticizes-jehovahs-witnesses-court-tactics/

      • Ricardo says:

        So, the court case should be settled right in the middle of the Witnesses’ decade of decrease, causing members to leave the organization due to the proof that Jehovah has left it (as shown by the decrease). And from now until then the Governing Body will be sitting on their hands chanting “We aren’t going to change anything”.

        What a perfect storm the GB is preparing for itself.

  7. Ted says:

    Half witted goons, victimising the victims and freeing the
    felons. But rest assured these elders will have been
    directed from HQ. It’s time jail sentences were handed
    out to these people who believe they are above the law
    that everyone else is subject to. Self important, deluded
    individuals, causing suffering by their ineptness.

    • Big B says:

      @ Ted;

      A well stated summary, Ted. Too bad for the ‘sheeple’ being stuck in an organization that can’t or won’t help themselves. “Self important, deluded
      individuals, causing suffering by their ineptness”. Any other corporation/organization would have removed its board members for such ineptness and avarice.

      But will the ‘sheeple’ finally dig in and not contribute or vote with their feet? Nope; like the three monkeys they ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil (and as a result, have no life).

      • Ricardo says:

        I looked around the congregation at the last meeting and thought the same, Big B. I thought, “What is wrong with you people, that nobody is caring about this?” It seems that their faith is too fragile to consider too much of what is happening.

        I guess the decent witnesses who are sick of appearing to be hypocrites have voted with their feet. But I’m still waiting to see someone from my cong do it.

  8. Vox Populi says:

    A young impressionable girl aged between 14 – 16 was being groomed, molested and abuse by an older woman three time her age, and the Elders go on to privately, and then publicly, reprove the girl!

    Are those Elders fools? Didn’t they think for one moment that they also had a duty of care to protect the girl? I hope the court really hammers the Org and these so called ‘Elders’.

  9. Ted says:

    On the elders course at the London Bethel in the 70s,
    the class was instructed.- No need to go to worldly law
    courts, when we have a superior judicial system in the
    congregations, a theocratic system !

    I swallowed that piece of crap, and now I want to vomit
    every time I think of it.

    • Fooledmeonce says:

      Yes, we were brainwashed to believe that these moron-elders, Globering Body and all of their titled underlings, were going to “soon rule the world”.
      By highlighting the world’s problems and inadequacies over and over, they conditioned our minds into believing that ‘they’ understood our problems so clearly and that only ‘they’ could solve all of our problems. It’s a classic scheme; by clearly defining someone’s issues you make it seem as if you understand them and can solve their problems.
      Anyways, I think those days are past for the Watchtower Society. Unfortunately we lived through their hay-day, and wasted our lives on this corporation. The good news is that we can now watch these self-righteous men go through real court cases of their own and receive real punishment. Not to say that the public humiliation and shunning weren’t real punishments, it’s just that from a real court of law, hopefully it will sting even more.

      • Winston Smith says:

        It would certainly be a frightening thought to have these morons actually ruling the earth. Can you imagine? It would be worse than the dark ages. I am personally glad that so-called worldly governments are in charge. In most cases, they have more honor and decency than these jokers.

        WS

        • Big B says:

          @ Winston & Fooledmeonce:

          In total agreement with both of you. The ‘no higher education’ policy has had its desired effect. Rather than take a chance on people being educated and leaving J.W.’s they have (G.B.) opted for the uneducated road because in their minds a little contribution is better than no contributions.

          A week after ‘Armageddon’ will not pass when the survivors will realize that none of them are educated enough to refine oil, generate electricity, etc.

          Then the updated kvetching will start. “Remember when we could see movies on T.V. and text on our phones, and drive for miles and mile in our air conditioned cars”. Just replace the Israelite “leeks and watermelons” with the modern conveniences we take for granted. We will be thrown back to the Middle ages after Armageddon. Then what; start over?

          Be careful for what you wish for; it might come true. However, I digress.

          High time more light was shown on this farce calling itself “Jehovah’s Organization”. Time to met out real justice and show the world exactly what these people are, uneducated, cult following, men worshiping, inept morons. Truly, the blind are leading the blinded.

          • Ricardo says:

            In total agreement guys. And it is time for the rank and file witnesses to protest to their local elders and CO’s about the stain this non-action on abuse is causing to the organization, and if they love Jehovah, then to him, too.

            I for one am doing this.

    • messenger says:

      Don’t feel too bad. If their techniques were not extremely effective they could not have fooled so many people, including most of us.

  10. David Gracey says:

    This abuse by Watchtower and church elders needs to end. How long with this religion continue to punish victims and give a pass to abusers? The only way this can end is by brave victims like Ms Fessler coming forward seeking justice in the court system. This all to common behavior needs to be brought to light and end. How can a church that preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ be so uncaring and void of concern for victims of abuse and still call itself God’s Organization? I will answer my own question. It is not God’s Organization it is a publishing company disguised as a religion. Stay away from Jehovah’s Witnesses the destroy families and people’s lives.

    • ruthlee says:

      David they do not preach the gospel of Christ, so it all unravels anyway. I was wondering and hope we see the final outcome. WHO is more culpable? Is it the gb for formulating the policies or the elders for implementing them? If there is a prison term to be served for negligence, who will the axe fall upon? It is falling apart brick by brick. Ruthlee

      • Eyes opened says:

        Hi Ruthlee, Personally I think they are all culpable but maybe the elders more so. The GB for making such unchristian rules and then instilling fear in anyone who disregards their rules. The elders, because no one held them at gunpoint to make them comply. They simply caved rather than using their own conscience and power of reason to stand up and say “no, enough”.
        Shame on them all.

        Regards

        • Winston Smith says:

          True, no one holds a gun to the elders’ heads, but this organization does keep its members in check by holding their families hostage. So for the elder it becomes “do as you are told or you will loose everything.” Now that still doesn’t justify the elders’ failure to comply with legal requirements. Of course, I’d be surprised if they even know what the legal requirements are, as this organization keeps them in the dark. I’d suggest to be recognized as clergy, and to enjoy the legal status thereof, elders should be required to submit to state mandated training and testing, with regular renewals of status. This would be like a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or similar professional. Elders provide a professional service (acting as counselors / therapists) therefore the public should be protected from any malpractice just as with any other profession.

          WS

          • Eyes opened says:

            Good answer. This organization does create a hostage crisis. Your comment about state mandates, etc. is a great idea. Might be tough to implement but, a great idea.

            Regards

      • messenger says:

        Legally the elders were required to report, and that might be the case for the WT organization where the report was made, once it was told of the abuse. But from a purely moral, and not legal, point of view I believe the governing body members are more guilty. They fooled all Witnesses; the elders were fooled like everyone else. I’m not claiming the elders are not at all morally responsible. I just believe they are to a lesser degree. If the elders knew they were legally required to report the crime then their moral guilt is greater just like Watchtower’s who knew that, unless they had inept lawyers.

        But one point we shouldn’t overlook is that all JWs were fooled, even the elders. Remember Saul who became Paul.

      • Big B says:

        @ Ruthlee;

        In answer to your question “If there is a prison term to be served for negligence, who will the ax fall upon?” If past performance is any indicator the ax will fall on the idiot elders who implement the G.B. policy. The aforementioned elders will be thrown under the bus by the G.B. who take no responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

        A better question would be how will the ‘sheeple’ find out about the abuses if they are not told as a majority don’t have a computer or if they have one don’t even know where to look online. I’m quite sure at least 80% are completely ignorant about these abuses and other nonsense perpetrated by an out of control G.B.

  11. Lauralou says:

    I really don’t understand parents that don’t report this themselves. My father was an Eldee for years but I can assure you he would have shot anyone that touched me. Period. I understand JW’s are influential in the lives of followers but I don’t know a single witness that wouldn’t notify authorities. Where are they finding these weak, timid Witnesses?

    • Chiafade says:

      You really don’t know what your father would’ve done as a fully indoctrinated JW. It doesn’t mean he wasn’t of good character. A lot of the elders that are involved in these cases are genuine and kind. They are also deluded and misinformed. Which causes them to follow ANY direction from the org. To their peril. As for the other “timid” JWs…That’s the point of the cult indoctrination. It’s to make them that way. How many times does a jw hear the term “sheep like” on a given week? Or in their lifetime?

      As a former elder I’ve seen a lot of things take place that shouldn’t have. I’ve also seen a lot of men say things like your dad “if some one did this and that I’d do this and that”. Only to be confronted with the reality and then renege on their promise because of the guilt indoctrinated into them. “You don’t want jehovah’s name involved in this” is a common guilt tripping and thought stopping phrase that can turn righteous indignation into pacifistic compliance to the cult.

      One of the coordinators that I knew sat on a judicial committee with a man who was a wife beater. Serving on that committee with him was a burly manly man. A huge imposing guy who had a family. A wife and two girls. I was told that the abusive spouse was “unmoved” by their counsel. The big guy was visibly upset by the callousness of the abuser and even pounded on the table with his huge hands. He told him “if I wasn’t a witness I’d reach over this table and wring your neck”. The elders, in all their wisdom, felt that their hands were tied and didn’t have enough info to disfellowship him. They didn’t inform the police. Neither did they encourage the wife to leave her abusive spouse and have her husband arrested. Or at the very least get a restraining order. “The sheep” dare not make a move without consent. The org encourages needing consent without directly saying so in some cases. This outspoken so called righteous man set aside reflecting on the fact that the woman could be his wife or daughters and decided that cult compliance was the right thing to do.

      The power of cult mind control becomes evident in situations like this. Where common decency and ethics can be tossed aside in favor of protecting the reputation of the cult first and foremost.

      • twistedsister69 says:

        LMAO Isn’t it funny (& pathetic) how that big “Rambo”-type guy claimed he wanted to ‘wring his neck’, yet he did not even have the nerve to give the victim some counsel to seek legal aid. I get such a kick out of “macho men”. Reminds me of the other men in MY family. To quote Seinfeld, “Most men talk like Rambo, then act like Bambi. What does that make them? Bimbos!” 😀 😀 😀

      • messenger says:

        That’s the sin of the gb; they convince people including elders that all must follow them or else. Despite the reality that much more than half of what they teach is mere opinions. Group think and belonging to the group is one of their most powerful tools. Folks here have compared it to the book 1984, and there are a lot of similarities- turn in all dissenters, required group think, book bans, thought police, and the mandate to follow the state at all costs.

        • Winston Smith says:

          1984 was the book that finally brought me fully awake. I read that book and realized I was living it.

          WS

      • Bad Penny says:

        Chiafade – Your comment struck a chord with me.
        I was thinking recently about the abuses within Watchtower; abuse of not only children, but wives, and maybe husbands, by their spouses. I saw many cases of unhappy marriages in my time as a witness. One sister was pushed downstairs by her abusive husband – she was subsequently disfellowshipped for leaving him for another man! He remained in the cong. Another sister I was close to confided in me that her husband would drink and speak abusively to her. She would not report it as it may bring reproach on ‘Jehovah’. Another sister was kept in subjection to the point that her bully of a husband would not allow her to learn to drive ….. the list goes on …. there must be thousands of cases, all swept under the carpet to protect the reputation of the cult.

      • Ejecting to Sanity says:

        Your comment rings true. I witnessed many examples when seemingly upright, strong elders showed their ‘company man’ behavior and authority.
        Just one incident..
        One elder was a bully to his wife and children. He,was a contractor and many dubs worked with him off and on and knew he had fits of rage, screamed, swore at his film on job sites. God only knows,what he did at home. Oh yeah, he was mean to his fellow Bros when they helped him too.my husband worked with him less than 2 days. He quit the project due to his treatment of his wife. Nothing came of this… ( oh, you know ‘K’, but he’s a great guy and loves Jah so much).
        Well, time passed and 1 night after meeting the wife couldn’t leave her seat as she was quietly crying. Everyone had moved toward the exit to gab and gossip. I went over to sit by her and held her for awhile. She kept crying and just said things like ‘I can’t take it anymore. .etc’.
        So guess who got talked to??? Me!! Congregation Overseer had to visit me and let know that my comfort to her was inappropriate as ‘there’s always 2 sides’. And, I shouldn’t encourage her disruptive behavior.
        Just one incident…not child abuse..but demonstrates the behavior and leadership in our congregation .
        By the way, my hub and I finally walked, the sister was marked, treated like crap and last I herad, she and 2 ofher adult children have left… bully? He’s still rockin the platform with timely reminders

    • Big B says:

      @ Lauralou;

      I would like to think my parents would have gone to the police but they’re both dead so I will never know. However, I agree with you 100%, Lauralou.
      “Where are they finding these weak, timid Witnesses?”

      In a brief answer, they (Witnesses) have become fishers of not ‘men’ but suckers. They find them among the uneducated, the poor, and the impressionable young. The Watchtower has the perfect bait for sucker fish also, the “New Order” (new odor) where righteousness will reign. No more death, hunger, sickness, war, a paradise earth with dancing pandas, etc. a Messianic panacea that will, once and for all, remedy mankind’s woes.

      Unfortunately, that panacea will never come in anyone’s lifetime. Thus the ‘overlapping generations’ FUBAR. Just a quick glance at the 2013, July 15th Watchtower timeline (which threw Russell and his followers under the bus) shows a “RAPTURE” with the remnant leaving the earth before the start of Armageddon is proof enough. Even if Armageddon is only 100 years away (which I personally doubt) then its quite possible none of the great crowd are born yet! Who in the world are they preaching to? Their replacements?

      The problem is this in a nutshell: the weak, timid, Witnesses are that way because “that is the way of ‘meekness’ and we must leave matters in Jehovah’s hands, so let’s keep these things inside the Hall and let the elders do their work. We don’t want a stain on Jehovah’s Organization by reporting to the proper Authorities do we?” Plain old CULT indoctrination, pure and simple.

      God, I almost blacked out typing this stuff! (I shudder to think I actually believed this for over half a century) . To anyone (Jehovah’s Witnesses now or formerly) reading this and thinking things will change in this Organization (read:Cult) you’re only fooling yourself. The G.B. will run this cult into the ground before EVER admitting mistakes or culpability or that they don’t have God’s Holy Spirit, they are just guessing!

      As the pressure increases from governments, poor attendance, poor contributions, negative increases worldwide, etc. the reins of control will be pulled tighter and tighter. Then the real ‘bunker mentality’ will begin as the Organization tears itself apart.

      • messenger says:

        If ther gb ever admitted they didn’t have holy spirit and were guessing ….funny…never going to happen!

        • Big B says:

          Absolutely messenger;

          They (G.B.) will never, ever, in a ‘thousand year reign’ admit the TRUTH about the truth. It’s all Judaeo-Christian mythology, (especially the Revelation written in signs and symbols) smoke and mirrors, and opinions from a bunch of senile septuagenarians; that truly are just guessing.

          They’re probably working on an ‘updated’ Revelation book right now filled with more inane guesses (oops, I meant NEW LIGHT). That will make it, in American baseball parlance, least three swings and three misses at bat. Time for them to go to the dug-out and SIT DOWN!

      • Ejecting to Sanity says:

        I love hearing about the shrinking attendance. Just saying. Lol

  12. Susan says:

    The organization says it doesn’t shun – but we all know that they do. They say that parents and victims are free to report abuses to the authority – but we all know that it is severely frowned upon by the organization to the point where few, if any are ever reported. They are liars and abusers and it is all catching up with them. I hope the jury understands all the facts and throws the book at them.

    • John Redwood says:

      that’s exactly right Susan – there is the “official” policy, then there is what we all know is the truth, the reality of how such matters are treated, from shunning to child abuse handling. We will do everything possible to provide evidence that will convince a jury that Watchtower is responsible for the mis-management of Stephanie’s case, which has caused her so much damage

  13. Sven Grundin says:

    Fine. Can’t wait to see the Watchtower destroyed and shamed. I wasted my 30 best years on them. You can probably understand my feelings right now. Get ’em scumbags up against the wall.

  14. Gwen Little says:

    Oh dear, there’s doesn’t seem to be any wiggle room for Watchtower on this one. They couldn’t possibly be able to drag it out either, surely! They have gotten away with tiring other victims out with lengthy court delays while misusing members donations to fund the delays.

    Also, what really upsets me as well with this whole thing is that the Elders are doing a job that Law Enforcement Officers take years of training & experience to do with their “investigations for a J.C.” and the added abuse that the victim has to endure with their “reproof” is just another silencing technique. When the victim has been labelled as “bad association”, the rest of the congregation then steers clear of them. The Australian Royal Commission explained to me that this is a deliberate form of silencing the victims.

  15. Tara says:

    I hope 12 good men and true destroy the WT. Enough is enough. Well done Stephanie for coming forward. Brave young lady. We stand with you.

  16. concerned_jw says:

    I would have never thought I myself would know any victims personally, but it appears they are coming out of the woodwork now.
    I have now learned that some of my friends and family are victims, that were never reported to authorities, one of the accused was disfellowshiped and later reinstated some years ago.

    I hope it goes to the police, because I believe they dont know.

    • Big B says:

      @ concerned_jw;

      So glad you found us. Welcome.

      What really bothers me is not only are these perverts ‘reinstated’ after being dis-fellowshipped but even then the elders do not report them to Child Protection Services.

      Even if reproved or dis-fellowshipped the congregation does not know for what reason. Thus the wolf still remains in the sheepfold and runs free throughout the community. Everyone in and out of the congregation loses.

      How about this as a solution; reporting the pervert by the parents to the proper authorities then allow them to get to the truth by investigation when or if found guilty, dis-fellowship them permanently. Then truly, we will let matters (of their survival and repentance) rest in Jehovah’s hands. Why should I or anyone suffer perverts sitting next to me in the congregation? Really no one knows who they are sitting next to do they? Just another reason I left.

      • Winston Smith says:

        @Big B
        Your comment “Why should I or anyone suffer perverts sitting next to me in the congregation?” really resonated with me.

        When I was “in” I recall some of the people at the hall really creeped me out. They were the type of people that, left up to my own free will, I really never would associate with. But they were our “brothers” so we had to “love” them.

        While trying not be judgemental, some of these folks were really just gutter people. But they had be dunked in magic water, so we had to let our guard down with them, usually to our own detriment.

        I truly believe in someone rising above a bad situation and bettering themselves, but these folks hadn’t done that. They just went through a procedure set up by a cult. As an elder, I later learned that many of them were practicing drug abuse, child molestation, incest, theft. And here I am with my young children, exposing them “Brother” or “Sister” so-and-so, who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children.

        WS

  17. Cherie says:

    She is very brave. I hope she gets the justice she deserves.

  18. Sharon Christensen says:

    Stephanie….this will not be an easy thing to do…but far more easy than the abuse you were subjected to by your abuser…And even worse by those elders! I want to throw up because it brings so much back for me…this religion disgusts me! I have been through similar things…I know how they twist and turn and before one knows it they have all fingers pointing at the victim as guilty party…especially if one goes to…”Satans” world for help! You are brave for doing this….and know they are a grt many of us going to be there with you even if not in person…in thought…we will light our candles for you…go girl…you are going to inspire many a person who has been victimized to be brave and speak out…lotsa love..Us here in Manitoba, Canada….

  19. Tera g says:

    Omg this one got me. I’m beyond shocked. Worst case of victim blaming/shaming I’ve heard of so far. I hope they pay and it breaks them. So sorry Stephanie, I hope for solid justice for you

  20. ScotWm says:

    Finally, a trial date has been set for this case. Watchtower lawyers have stalled long enough:

    “The case was brought in 2013 by Stephanie Fessler, who claims she was sexually abused 30 to 50 times from the ages of 14 to 16 by a middle-aged woman in another congregation.”

    “The Witnesses’ parent corporation, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, had won a motion in a lower court to move the case from Philadelphia to York County, which currently has the largest backlog of civil cases in Pennsylvania.”

    “A panel of judges in Philadelphia has ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses used an “abusive tactic” to delay a trial in which a woman accused the religion’s leaders of covering up her abuse as a child.”

    https://www.revealnews.org/blog/another-judge-criticizes-jehovahs-witnesses-court-tactics/

  21. margaret lankester says:

    I

  22. Winston Smith says:

    Because she was baptized at 10, the elders viewed her as fully competent able to make her own decisions and that may be their reasoning behind treating her as an adult and reproving her, rather than treating her as a child and a victim. That’s twisted of course!

    I think it should be illegal for a minor to make the kind of commitment that is embodied by the JW concept of baptism. When my minor child wanted to get baptized, I tried to reason with him that he was too young to drive a car or to get married, so how could he be old enough to make this decision. After all, Jesus did not get baptized until he was 30. The logic went right over his head – of course it did, because he was still a child!

    WS

  23. Wow it’s dejavu for me I was publicly reproved for the exact thing when I was 14 years old! Kim Sanchez

    • JP says:

      Kim, do something about this, please.

    • Big B says:

      @ Kinberly Sanchez;

      Bless your heart. My dear we are all behind you. Take this matter up with the authorities before the statute of limitations runs out. See an attorney immediately! Don’t let the perpetrator get away with this, they (he/she) must face justice. You are probably not the only one affected as perverts like this do not stop with just one person. They’re sick and keep on doing their vile deeds until they’re caught and jailed.

      We are all with you 100%. God bless you, stay strong!

      • outandabout says:

        So right Big B. If people had of had the courage to come forward in the first place, none or very little of all this abuse may have happened. The abuse was allowed to flourish because of the silence.

        Kimberly……if you are able, please report your story, if not for yourself then for all the silent sufferers and future victims.

        The general public are quite unaware of what being a Witness can be like. Witnesses are generally seen as nicely dressed, harmless deluded folk who mean well and are tolerated as such. It’s time the truth came out so that people can make an informed choice at least. It won’t come out unless people speak up.

        • Chris Monk says:

          outandabout

          It’s not as simple as your comment about reporting implies. What we all need to understand is that sexual abusers are often masters of manipulation; they are all bullies; and reporting sexual abuse as a victim is in itself traumatic. Many victims, and I’m speaking from personal experience here, are also so traumatised that the only “solution” is to block out the rape/abuse. So though it is important that individuals can find the courage to speak out and report their abuse, for me the onus is on all of us to speak out against all sexual crime and the attitudes and general ignorance that still enable it in society in general and among JWs in particular. I don’t here wish to offend you; just want to make it clear that we should never make victims and survivors feel they carry the blame for sexual abuse continuing, which your comment does promote, unintentionally, I’m sure.

  24. messenger says:

    Today’s study article in the WT directed us not to drink to the point of almost being drunk. But more importantly, it warned much more against deception. For those who wish to read, I cut and pasted that part.

    Some of the provable lies told in the not to distant past are:
    1. Anthony Morris III claiming he had written documents in his hand, which proved his controversial comments were not merely his own opinions during his USA zone speech.
    2. Steven Lett saying WT has no problem with sexual child abuse and the stories that claim it does stem from apostate lies.
    3. Brother Jackson under oath at the RC stating his organization does not believe in spanking disobedient children.
    4. A representation made to the RC that brother Jackson, a gb member, does not set or know much about WT policy.
    5. Brother G. Losch, a gb member, telling a superior court that he has no control over WT and WT has no control over him.
    6. Brother Lett asking for increased donations to accomplish the projects scheduled for the service year-while impling kingdom hall construction- but some months later firing workers to make better use of funds, even though a freeze on construction was also implemented. So, what did you really need the extra money for WT? hall construction or possiblya pedophile defense fund?

    It’s pretty easy to prove that all or most of these were outright lies or deceptions. But this outright dishonesty calls into question everything they (gb) say, every interpretation, every application of scripture that is not outright apparent. And most of all it calls into question their credentials and claim that they are “the faithful and discreet slave” as defined by WT.

    “When the Truth is found to be lies, and all the joy within you dies.” Jefferson Airplane

    Watchtower December 2016 study edition
    Why do you want to be honest?

    “17 Consider, for example, the matter of being honest. Honesty is basic to Christianity. (Read Proverbs 14:5; Ephesians 4:25.) Satan is “the father of the lie.” And Ananias and his wife lost their lives because of lying. We do not want to imitate such ones—we avoid lying. (John 8:44; Acts 5:1-11) Is that, though, as far as our honesty goes? Actually, our honesty should reflect our deep appreciation for God’s undeserved kindness.

    18, 19. How does being honest go beyond simply not telling outright lies?

    18 To lie is to say something untruthful. However, Jehovah wants his people to go beyond not telling outright lies. He urged the ancient Israelites: “You should be holy, because I, Jehovah your God, am holy.” Then he gave examples of being holy. In part, God said: “You must not steal, you must not deceive, and you must not deal falsely with one another.” (Lev. 19:2, 11) Sadly, a person who makes it a point never to tell outright lies might still resort to deceiving others, dealing falsely with them.

    19 For instance, a man tells his boss or fellow workers that he cannot be at work the next day or that he must leave early because he has a “medical” appointment. In fact, his “medical” appointment is merely a brief stop at a pharmacy or a quick visit to the doctor’s office to pay a bill. His real reason for not being at work is so that he can get a head start on a trip or so that he can take his family to the beach. There may have been a grain of truth in his mentioning a “medical” appointment, but would you say that he was being honest? Or was he being deceptive? You may know of similar instances of deliberate deception. Perhaps this is done to avoid punishment or to profit at others’ expense. Even if no outright lie is told, what of God’s direction: “You must not deceive”? Think, too, of Romans 6:19, which says: “Present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.”

    • twistedsister69 says:

      Oh Brother (rolling eyes). Like this is a big issue for them? Telling a tiny fib so u can get a little time off to prepare for a family outing? Stop that despicable behavior right now, Charles Manson!

  25. Doc Obvious says:

    Thanks Lloyd Evans for pointing out the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall situation. I looked it up and what a sad representation by Watchtower Babble and Tract Society.

    The more court cases in the United States judicial system only reveals the true nature of this religion. Greed.

    Watchtower Babble and Tract Society is run by physical men. Not spiritual men. The Watchtower legal department strutting their muscles only shows how materialistic this religion is.

    Pharisees. Pharisees. Pharisees.

  26. twistedsister69 says:

    New Light:
    Turns out the “Garden of Eden” story is an allegory foreshadowing events in our 21st Century. “Adam” represents mankind. “Eve” represents womankind. The “Serpent” is the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, who promises humankind that if they consume the deadly fruit (WT Doctrine) ‘their eyes will be opened’ and they ‘positively will not die’.

    • dee2 says:

      Strange how the WT demonizes Christendom’s going to heaven-immortality of the soul teaching by claiming that this teaching supports/perpetuates Satan’s “lie” to Adam & Eve that they positively would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit.

      Yet the WT is in fact also supporting/perpetuating Satan’s positively will not die “lie” by teaching people the very same thing that they will not die but will instead live forever on a Paradise earth.

      The only difference between Christendom’s teaching and the WT’s teaching is the destination – earth not heaven. So the WT is also perpetuating Satan’s positively will not die “lie” just like Christendom.

      • dee2 says:

        In the case of Christendom people do actually die before they enter heaven, however in the case of the WT, people won’t die at all, should they survive Armageddon.

        So who is really perpetuating Satan’s “you positively will not die” lie?

  27. Freedom says:

    May the floodgate of law suits be opened wide against JW Org.

  28. twistedsister69 says:

    The crazy conspiracy theorist in me has been itching to bring this up. And since it’s late at night where I’m at, and there’s nothing else to do here in my zombieproof bunker, here goes:
    As any loyal Trekker can tell you, the Ferengi are an alien race whose primary motivation, down to the man (or woman), is FINANCIAL PROFIT.
    Now compare these photos:

    http://www.reasoningwithjehovahswitnesses.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Geoffrey-Jackson.jpg

    http://jwsurvey.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/sanderson-smug.jpg

    http://images2.fanpop.com/image/photos/9300000/Quark-ferengi-9330446-581-740.jpg

    Could it be possible, however unlikely, that Mark Sanderson & Geoffrey Jackson are … FERENGI???

  29. twistedsister69 says:

    The GB could take a lesson in “shepherding” from one of the organizations they despise so much, the U.S. military.
    PS I love listening to these guys. It totally blows away the whole “Top Gun” mythology. BTW This gentleman now tours as a Motivational Speaker. I think he trained for it, ’cause sometimes he actually sounds like a preacher. lol

  30. messenger says:

    Sunday during our public talk the speaker commented that ancient Jews had a lot of laws and rules to follow in the Mosaic law, but we (JWs) don’t have laws, and he claimed we just follow principles. There are so many serious aspects about this whole situation, yet hearing or seeing some of the statements is just downright funny. How could anyone sitting in a KH that is a JW not know that they are required to follow a lot of WT rules and laws, not just live by observing principles? And the speaker-elder making that claim didn’t appear to be ignorant, uninformed, unreasonable, or stupid. If he isn’t any of those then what must he have felt like to be on stage, in front with all eyes on him, and tell that lie. And he stayed for the WT study after which discussed lying and deceiving others.

    • Ricardo says:

      This has often been a subject of discussion in our post-meeting forums. We sit around talking about how stupid do they think we are. The next tactic will be for us to ask the speaker after the meeting how stupid does he think we are. Maybe this will psyke him out and he will stop giving such a stupid talk.

    • JBob says:

      @messenger – oh poor naive young messenger…
      There really aren’t any laws — policies and procedures. Unwritten rules, too. No laws.

      Did some greybearded, robed gent stroll up to you and state these laws, ‘thus saith the Lord J*, thou shalt not wear facial hair’ or ‘thou shalt not wear jeans in field ministry’?

      [shrugging] Laws? what laws? Guidelines, policies, and cultural norms.

      • Ricardo says:

        @JBob
        Messenger will no doubt enjoy replying to you, he is a man of deep wisdom, but I want to get my 2 cents in before him.

        JBob, did you put in your field service report in last month? What if I no longer want to report my field service because I feel it is unscriptural: never did I hear Jesus say anything about reporting field service. Will the elders let that pass? Or will they be on my back to put in my report? If I don’t put my report in, will I still have responsibilities in the congregation?

        Putting in a report is more than simply a guideline, a policy, a cultural norm. It is something which has become a rule.

        What book can we study with someone? One sister was studying a book different to the recommended ones. She was told she could not count that as a study. This doesn’t seem to be a principle. Fairly clear this is a rule.

        A study should be held three times before it can be counted as a study. Principle or rule?

        And a rule that really erks me, cos the brothers and sisters feel they need to talk to someone before going to rural areas to preach: the preaching time is only counted from when you talk to the first person. So some brothers call up their grandma who is not a witness, tell her they are going preaching…yahoo, can count the time now, and then drive an hour to the territory. What a bunch of pharisees, with rules for this and rules for that.

        Think about it, JBob. It’s not hard.

        I was doing return visits in another congregation’s territory. The elders from that cong complained to my elders about it. Rule? Principle?

        I didn’t get my RP hours in by 1 hour (839 instead of 840). The elders tols me I should step aside from being an RP. So, RP and AP hours…rule or principle, JBob?

        • messenger says:

          Hi Ricardo, I think JBob was just being funny. But after I read you attended a university I think it’s possible your elders nailed you for that.

          • Ricardo says:

            But messenger, I regular pioneered while I went to uni. That’s one of the times the elders allowed me to pioneer.

            Going to uni was not a problem. I could pioneer then. It was my negative attitude toward the elders that was wrong. I couldn’t auxilliary pioneer for 1 year until I had fixed that up. As you can see, that discipline fixed me right up. I think the sun shines out of the elders’ bottoms now.

            JBob just being funny? Well, it was worth the rant.

      • messenger says:

        Right JBob…a law of this type is just a policy that can be enforced with negative consequences.

        How about this one: If you attend a university with the intention of obtaining a degree YOU can’t carry the microphone at the hall….Ahhh that might be a plus, I no longer have to work…but it might be a minus, because listening to the program without movement causes me to dose off.

        But how about this one: If you vote you’ll get kicked out the church and condemned….ooch..what a consequence for voting; what if there was a law I vote, do I still get spanked?

        You had a good one: If you wear jeans to the Hall we won’t baptize you. Och two burnt legs and a burnt body for wearing jeans….och…condemned again…this time for wearing jeans….How about spanks(or might be spanx, dunno I don’t wear them) in public? Better not be in the Tony Morris group.

        Interesting that a lot of us who see the fallacy in these rules find a bit of humor in that situation, though the serious issue they pose is really oh sooo serious.
        best wishes!!!

        • Ricardo says:

          @messenger
          In Australia we have to vote, it is the law. However, from the platform an elder in my congregation said that going to the voting booth would be a betrayal of our Christian stand.

          I wrote to the branch about that, whether it was okay to go to the voting booth and make a donkey vote, or whether it was a betrayal of our Christian stand. Unfortunately, the branch felt it best to ignore me. So I never found out what the rule was. To donkey vote or not to donkey vote?

          Personally, it didn’t really matter to me, because I’m not even a registered voter, which of course is against the law. Oh well, I don’t think I’ll miss out on everlasting life for not obeying the law.

          • Caroline says:

            Ricardo, you need to look up the article “How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view voting?” in the 1999 Watchtower November 1 issue on page 28. In part, I am quoting exactly from the magazine:

            “In view of the Scriptural principles outlined above, in many lands Jehovah’s Witnesses make a personal decision not to vote in political elections, and their freedom to make that decision is supported by the law of the land. What, though if the law requires citizens to vote? In such a case, each Witness is responsible to make a conscientious, Bible-based decision about how to handle the situation. If someone decides to go to the polling booth, that is his decision. What he does in that polling booth is between him and his Creator. The November 15,1950, issue of the Watchtower, on pages 445 and 446, said: “Where Caesar makes it compulsory for citizens to vote…(Witnesses) can go to the polls and enter the voting booths. It is here that they are called upon to mark the ballot or write in what they stand for. The voters do what they will with their ballots. So here in the presence of God is where his witnesses must act in harmony with his commandments and in accordance with their faith. It is not our responsibility to instruct them what to do with the ballot.””

            That elder who said it was a betrayal of our Christian stand to even go to the booth was talking out of his a***.

            You should look up that article and show it to him and demand that he gets up there next week and make a correction to your congregation.

            I would bet he is young and has not kept up with all the thousands of little laws that Witnesses are supposed to keep up with and probably there was nobody in that congregation who even remembered that article anyway.

          • Caroline says:

            Ricardo, even though that Watchtower made it look like it was up the Witness what they will do in the voting booth, Witnesses will still be judged harshly for even going to the voting booth. That is a fact.

            The Watchtower speaks out of two sides of their mouth. What they put in writing and what they actually do is two separate things. It is an unspoken rule that Witnesses won’t vote, no matter what they put in writing.

            I brought up that article about voting when the elders came to visit my husband before he died and that elder/pioneer brother tried to shame me for even suggesting that we could go to the voting booth.

          • Ricardo says:

            @Caroline,
            I am very well aware of that article, and mentioned it both to the elder himself and in my letter to the branch.

            I even raised my hand to comment in the meeting after he made that comment. I was holding the microphone and standing up in the middle of the congregation with my hand up. However, as that elder was conducting that part of the meeting, he repeatedly refused to ask me. I think that was plain to everyone.

            I got in contact with my CO friend who was visiting Australia at the time and we prepared a letter which I sent to the Australia branch requesting clarification. I sent a follow up letter after 3 months, and another after another 3 months. I even had another brother in the congregation send a letter. But there was no reply to any of these letters.

            It seems that is a common response by our leadership: when in a corner, keep silent.

  31. JasonWade says:

    Will there be a live feed of these court proceedings?

  32. Mstp1982 says:

    Thank you for posting these stories, shedding light on a bedarkened organization. I know they will continue to help many wake up and help prevent at least some damage from being done.

  33. Motley Fools says:

    She will lose and join all the other losers already on here. Later suckers!!!

    • Ricardo says:

      The compassion you have shown is quite overwhelming! Reminiscent of the care the Governing Body is showing. Your real name is not Geoffrey Jackson, is it?

    • messenger says:

      Poor judgment buddy. Her case should win, whether through a settlement at the last minute, or with a court ordered judgment. Her elders, and the WT, have already broken criminal laws by not reporting. Because they are already guilty of breaking those laws it shouldn’t be difficult at all for jurors to find them guilty of contributing harm to the girl; because if their actions didn’t cause harm then what would be the purpose of the laws they broke? That law, like all laws, are written to prevent harm. She will have to prove how their lawless act caused damage. That should be easy to do. She was abused by the woman for another year after she notified the elders. The age of consent in her two states is 16. So, if she had sexual contact with the older woman while she was 15-before turning 16- it is considered statutory rape. Those rapes would have been prevented since she told the elders before she was 16 if they would have reported their knowledge of the claim she made to proper authorities. If she was molested for a year after her claim, and the molestation stopped when she was 16, then she must have told them while just 15. But the abuse continued. If the continued abuse occurred while she was still 15 I don’t see how WT can win. I see them attempting to settle.

      She does not have to convince all jurors to win.
      She will need 5 out of 6, or 10 out of 12 jurors to decide her way. The question is not if she wins but how much she wins. I hope her lawyer filed a motion for punitive damages if one needs to be filed in such a case to collect those.

    • jasonwade says:

      The fact that the org tried to cough up $100,000 toi make this go away already proves they know they are guilty. That was a quick try at a payoff.

      Would you offer to pay someone anything if you knew you were in the right?

  34. Ricardo says:

    Yesterday the Australian Royal Commission revisited the abuse in the Catholic Church. Victims gave TV interviews. One said, “The Catholic Church is dragging God through the mud by having allowed this abuse.” Another said, “Where is Christ in this? Christ is in the court, bringing punishment on the abusers.”

    Soon it will be the Witnesses turn to face up (March 20th). Well may the same things be said about our organization. The GB is dragging God’s name through the mud. (I wish we were still called Bible Students.) And Jesus, who loves little children, is certainly not holding the congregation elders in his right hand under full control. No, no, no, he will be with the judges, asking the Australia branch why they have changed nothing.

    Thank goodness for Satan’s wicked world, or we would have no justice in our organization.

    • Meganekko_85 says:

      Not trying to burst your bubble Ricardo but I’m sure a lot of these abused kids prayed to God for the abuse to stop. It would be very hard for an abused child to then believe that Jesus and God loved them.

      • Ricardo says:

        @Mega
        That’s what makes our organization so reprehensible. Bring on the Royal Commission Inquiry to put heat on these guys in the GB and Australia Branch who have put so much heat on us rank-and-file witnesses. We are not at all impressed with the deceit and lying with which our leaders answered the first enquiry. With pleasure I will watch my leaders sweat while they give nonsense answers this time again.

        Let the world see they can give it out in spades, but they are very sensitive to any criticism aimed at themselves. Our leaders are a bunch of bullies, supported in their place by a bunch of bullies.

        In contrast, Jesus was a man of love. The only time he used the stick was when he was belting the money changers. He didn’t beat up his own worshippers.

  35. Thomas says:

    Any news about this Fessler’s trial ?

  36. Jason franklin says:

    Thanks so much for providing the information on this . I was raised as a witness and they have destroyed any chance of ever having a normal life. With friends and especially my family who are all still witnessses . As well as being raised as a witness my family also felt the need to keep me sheltered from anyone who was not a jw by homeschooling me . So you can only imagine how tuff my life was . I have been on my own since age 15 when I ran away from home and to this day never returned. I’m 40 years old now and have been on my own without support or love from anyone. To this day I still have no relationship with any family, and have never been able to form any loving relationships with anyone . It’s a sad existence and it’s a miracle I’m still even alive . I have had other people tell me I should sue the jws and my family for all the mental damage they have done to me but for some reason I never have . It’s nice to read about things like this and know that these people are finally being brought to justice for their crimes which are more than any of us will ever know.thank you . My name is Jason .My email is jasonfranlin797@gmail.com