News Bulletin: Watchtower Faces Dilemma in Sex Abuse Ruling
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Lopez and Zalkin address the media at a press conference

Lopez and Zalkin address the media at a press conference

Regular readers of JW Survey may recall the 2014 landmark court case of Jose Lopez in the US.

The JW Survey coverage of the case can be found here, but to cut a long story short, Lopez had been repeatedly abused by Jehovah’s Witness Gonzalo Campos. Watchtower knew about it. Watchtower did nothing. Watchtower got sued.

Watchtower refused to produce key evidence during the trial, despite a court order demanding they do so, namely their internal records demonstrating that they’ve known about, and covered up, their sex abuse problem for decades. Furthermore, Watchtower’s oldest and longest serving member of the Governing Body, Gerrit Lösch, refused to comply with the court’s demand for his deposition. Lösch stated in court documents that “I do not answer to Watchtower,” and “Watchtower does not have, and never has had, any authority over me.”  Details of this statement were covered in the November 8th 2014 news report from JW Survey.

For those who have been following this issue for some time, Watchtower’s reluctance to release this child abuse data should come as no surprise. When they were forced to release similar documents in Australia in 2015 (under the apparently more compelling threat of imprisonment rather than financial penalty,) these documents resulted in headlines around the world. The Religion had been covering up over 1000 alleged molesters in its ranks since 1950, many of whom went on to be repeat offenders.

So, Watchtower crossed its arms and point blank refused to comply with the US court order. As a result of this jaw dropping and blatant contempt of court, the judge threw out their entire defense, entered a default judgment for Lopez, and slapped Watchtower with punitive damages in excess of $13 million.

Incredibly, Watchtower then appealed this verdict, apparently believing that they should be able to flout the instructions of the US Legal system without penalty.

Appeal Court Rules: Watchtower must produce documents.

lopez-gonzalo-campos

Zalkin, Campos and Lösch

The San Diego Tribune has just reported on the outcome of this appeal, and the results are not great for either side.

Firstly, the appeal court removed the 13.5 million dollar judgement against Watchtower. But if you think that sounds like a victory for Watchtower, you need to keep reading the news report. The appeals court agreed with the original trial Judge that Watchtower absolutely has to produce this data. Their only point of contention is that, rather than simply terminate Watchtower’s defence and hit them with a $13.5 million judgement, the original trial judge should have tried a few less punitive measures first to try and get cooperation.

The other issue discussed was the hotly debated deposition of Governing Body member Gerrit Lösch, whose testimony was deemed relevant to the investigation. Court documents reveal that Watchtower attorneys went to great lengths to disconnect Gerrit Lösch from any responsibility for the actions of the Watchtower organization. In fact, Lösch was compared by Watchtower counsel to the Dalai Lama following a December 2013 hearing. The court stated:

“Watchtower requested permission to submit additional information regarding the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organizational structure, and the role of the Governing Body within this structure, including that Lösch’s role is solely one of a spiritual leader (“akin to the Dalai Lama”) and not “a corporate managing agent.”

Watchtower fought so hard to insulate Gerrit Lösch, that the California Court of Appeals finally gave in and agreed that Lösch was not a “managing agent” for Watchtower and could not be compelled to testify in this case.

However, arriving at this decision was not an admission that Lösch does not manage Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower corporations. The appeals court declared:

“With these principles in mind, we turn to consider the three Waters factors: (1) does the person exercise judgment and discretion in dealing with the party’s matters; (2) can the person be expected to comply with the party’s directive to appear; and (3) can the person be anticipated to identify himself or herself with the party’s interests. (Waters, supra, 58 Cal.2d at p. 896.)

Lopez’s evidence satisfies the first and third factors.”

The court agreed that “Lösch is a long-standing member of the Governing Body, which approves operational guidelines for the United States Branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, including issuing directives for preventing and investigating child sexual abuse within the church.”

So why did the court dismiss the ruling to depose Lösch ? It all came down to the second “factor” – whether Lösch could be “expected to comply”. The documents state:

“However, Lopez failed to produce any evidence on the second Waters factor: whether the proposed deponent can be expected to comply with the party’s directive to appear. Although there was evidence indicating the Governing Body (and its members) asserted authority over Watchtower and could influence its conduct, there was no evidence showing the reverse was true. For example, Lopez proffered no facts to indicate that Lösch receives compensation or other tangible benefits from Watchtower or that Governing Body members had previously complied with such deposition directives”

In other words, the court agreed That Gerrit Lösch controls Watchtower, but the Watchtower does not control and compensate Gerrit Lösch, and insufficient evidence was presented demonstrating that Watchtower could and would compel Lösch to testify in this case, regardless of the fact that he is the senior Governing Body member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (And that he receives lifetime accommodations, unlimited meals, spending money, travel around the world, and health care which would be the envy of the President of the United States).

You might say that Gerit Lösch is hiding in plain sight.

governing body members and committees 2014This stance by Watchtower legal counsel amounts to legalized perjury, if there were such a thing. Documents produced by the JW Organization place Lösch at the head of the “Personnel Committee” and second only to Samuel Herd on the “Service Committee” for Jehovah’s Witnesses as of September 2014. This same Service Committee includes subordinates such as Leon Weaver, Jr., a prominent member of the U.S. Branch Committee, whose name appears on multiple legal documents, tying Weaver and the Service Committee to the core administration for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States. In fact, Weaver is listed as the President of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York. Whether the Court of Appeals was made aware of this connection is not clear. One thing that is clear however is the fact that Watchtower’s decision to remove all Governing Body members from their legal corporations in the year 2000 has served to insulate their leaders from the judicial process. This is Watchtower’s version of diplomatic immunity.

It may be of interest to JW Survey readers (and the Governing Body) that the document shown above, along with the leaked Branch Organization manual, were crucial to the 2015 subpoena of Geoffrey Jackson during the Australian Royal Commission on Child Abuse in Sydney. The Australian government was informed of Jackson’s key role in establishing and approving JW policies and was not tricked by the legal tactics used in an attempt to shield Jackson.

Leon Weaver, Jr. Signature as President of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York

Leon Weaver, Jr. Signature as President of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York (2012 Sale of 165 Columbia Heights)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, the case is now going back to the original trial judge, who will attempt to try and subpoena the child abuse case documents from Watchtower with a slightly smaller stick. However, the appeal acknowledges that should Watchtower refuse to comply when the lesser sanctions are imposed, then deploying the huge financial penalty is legitimately right back on the cards.

In other words, Watchtower is faced with the same choice as before: Reveal documents that are assuredly damning to them, or pay out huge sums of money.

The paper quotes Jose Lopez’ lawyer, Irwin Zalkin, as saying:

“From our perspective, this has always been about getting the documents,” he said. He added that Watchtower has produced some prior abuse documents in other lawsuits, but they have been heavily redacted and of little use.

“They don’t want the world to know what they’ve known about child sex abuse within their organization for decades and they’ve been trying desperately to keep that covered up,” Zalkin said.

Additionally, the extra publicity and internet traffic that will now be generated by the ongoing case will only serve to draw more attention to the issue, especially among the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses, whom it’s clear that Watchtower’s leaders are trying to keep in the dark as relates to this.

However, whilst this judgement essentially only serves to prolong and draw attention to Watchtower’s agony, it also serves to delay justice for Jose Lopez, who will need to endure yet more of the trial process before receiving recompense for the damage that the horrendously flawed policies of Watchtower have inflicted upon him.

For those who wish to read the detailed 55 page court ruling, click here.

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35 Responses to News Bulletin: Watchtower Faces Dilemma in Sex Abuse Ruling

  1. M. Rhodes says:

    And what is to stop them from shedding the documents, so that there are only a few? Would they resort to damage control? Have they done this before?

    • John Redwood says:

      Shredding documents would be a disastrous and risky move for Watchtower, since they would likely be held in contempt for destruction of vital documents, and could face extreme negative publicity in the press as well as court ordered penalties. They will need to tread very carefully in this area

  2. Dee says:

    There is already a directive in place to destroy documents and personal notes about molestation cases. The WTS might say, instead of setting a dangerous precedent by producing damning documents, we’ll just keep eating the $ penalties. But the internet does not allow for the Wizard of Oz curtains, smoke, and mirrors trick any more. The curtain has been irreparably rent, and the selfish frauds at the top…revealed like the cockroaches they are.

  3. ruthlee says:

    Where is Jesus in all of this? The gb should be on their knees praying day and night . Ah but then they will get holes in their expensive suits. This is a truly shameful situation they find themselves in and it has nothing to do with preaching the gospel. Funny that they of all self righteous, self appointed goons should be so sidetracked from their kingdom agenda.Such an unholy alliance with slick lawyers was always going to end in tears. Slow but sure with God’s mill grind. They cannot have it both ways, either the catholic church was mother and she got her comeuppance and justice was served or this organisation is mother and the smashing instrument is about due a smashing time soon. Either way if this org is from god or the devil one thing is sure there has been a hell of a lot of child sacrifice going on over the decades and that will not do. They are acting like there is something to hide. Obviously jesus is on vacation or guiding warwick. He is not giving them any divine revelations at the moment. It is all a mess and a muddle and certainly not clean and upstanding as they profess. ruthlee

  4. Claire Gorman says:

    Oh deary me! Home to roost eh? Yes the world is getting worse. That I don’t deny. Yes the second coming is approaching. Of that I am a firm believer. But not in the way these Shylocks are predicting. Gods organisation, if sprit directed, would not abuse individuals, nor would it try to cover up the charges. The tower is teetering on the brink. I have had testimony from witnesses I still have contact with that Memorial numbers were down. The tower is now asking a pound of flesh on “voluntary” donations and each court case it contests will only drain the coffers further. Good luck with that!! Excellent article, keep em coming!

  5. Big B says:

    It’s a pitiful shame and a miscarriage of justice if the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is allowed to continue playing this “hide and seek” game with evidence that the courts need.

    Frankly, if this game of theirs continues the whole bunch of these low life, Bible thumping, pedophile protecting, rat bags should be found in contempt of court with all of their assets frozen and files seized by Federal Authorities.

    Just wait until this election is over this November and see whether the politicians will devote more time investigating this sham religious Millerite throwback. I know I’ll be writing my congressman and senator about it (Federal and State) with inclusions to JWsurvery.org, by God.

    Thanks once again for the updates “Covert Fade”. Keep up the good work.

    • Big B says:

      Oh, and jail time for contempt of court. Plenty of jail time in a Federal Penitentiary just like that sot “Judge” ‘set up another round’ Rutherford and his gang. Don’t separate them from the general population either.

      After being raped a few times in the showers with no one to help them maybe, just maybe, they will learn what being a victim is and have more empathy for what they have put these child molestation victims through. That would truly be Divine Justice.

      Well one can still dream, can’t one?

    • Outandabout says:

      I don’t know how the American justice system works, but maybe the courts are being careful of setting a precedent if they come down too hard on these Goons.
      The First Amendment is in need of amendment in order to better serve the needs of a modern society.
      It’s totally ironic how the Watchtower can only exist and expand in a Democracy, but as soon as a person is snared by them, they are put under the rule of a mini dictatorship and taught to despise democracy and not only that, taught to hate the armed forces which fought and died to protect the very democracy which allows Watchtower to exist in the first place.
      One of the things which has helped Watchtower to expand in the last few decades is the spread of Democracy around the world. Democratic neighbours are far less likely to go to war with each other. War is becoming un- P.C. Last Days?

  6. Daniel Roberts says:

    Satan would be pretty damn impressed with how insidiously sly and devious the Watchtower and it’s legal team are.

  7. PamelaB says:

    Wonderful article! Thank you so much for sharing! I’m still puzzled as to why these maggots in the governing body are not jailed! For all we know there is still abuse taking place right now! We need to protect the children or anyone else who is being abused! Any other organization would be dismantled fined and there would be an imprisonment imposed! They need to be shut down!!!!….Yesterday!!!!!

  8. gary says:

    Interestingly James 5. 1-7 indicates this would take place before the presence while Paul (2thess2) shows there would be a false presence presided over by a man of lawlessness (1914)
    How scripturally lawlessis it to hide documents relating to child abuse?
    My comment is directed towards those who are JWs.
    Nevertheless it is a shameful situation for those who claim to adhere to biblical standards.

  9. gary says:

    If and I say if you can get a JW to reason, and whichever point or teaching it may be, and the light comes on then the process of free thought begins and the scales, as it were, fall off.
    That’s the reason I post comments from a biblical point of view and not for subversive preaching though being having a belief.

  10. Andrea says:

    That’s very disappointing to hear. They deserved the punitive damages against them. I cannot understand how it’s ok in the US to be in contempt of court, refuse to turn up or provide documents. Losch should’ve been jailed for that and WT fined. I don’t see the problem.
    The appeals court for some strange reason felt that WT needs to be cuddled into providing these documents. Why?! Just because they’re a religious organisation is no reason for them to be treated in a more privileged way than any other defendant. Just awful.
    Hope Jose is up for this battle and wins, again.

  11. Willows says:

    The case of the good Samaritan, he came across a man, beaten by robbers and left half dead by the side of the road he was travelling. Other persons also saw the beaten man. What did they do? They crossed over to the other side of the road and left the beaten man. The Samaritan man travelling the same road saw the beaten man stopped and rendered aid. Taking him to an Inn, paying the Inn-keeper accommodation for the injured man, even saying to the Inn-keeper when I return if what I have paid you is not enough I will pay the balance on my return.

    Now who proved to be neighbor to the injured man. The answer, the one who rendered aid.
    Give credit where credit is due, and exposed others as hypocrites. Not worthy of credit because of their actions, walking away when others are in need.

  12. wifibandit says:

    Does anyone know how I can obtain a copy of the full deposition of Richard Ashe, Jr.?

    I have only have seen the clip used by Trey Bundy where Ashe says “ours is a spiritual protection”

  13. AussieneedingComfort says:

    Personally, I hope that the game afoot is that the courts are closing all loop holes that may be used in the future. By going back and offering less severe options, when the WT refuses, again, to comply with the requested documents, and the courts are compelled to use the “heavy hammer” with them, there will be no place the WT can go to avoid providing all requested documents. I am watching this case very closely and expecting that the arrogance and pride of the 7 men will out weigh any sense of decency or justice for the victims and they will go to jail “for their faith” before conceding to the requests of Caesar. At that point the truth of why they have to go to jail will cause the entire org to collapse. May just be wishful thinking on my part…but I am going to watch and see.

  14. Tara says:

    Well maybe Prince will leave them something in his will RIP Prince.

  15. Wip it says:

    That newspaper article is very damming indeed, the rank & file will just keep saying the same thing, satanic lies & propaganda, the ship is sinking

    • Tara says:

      Exactly, Wip it. There is little point saying anything to R&F until they start to see it for themselves. I don’t see anyone now as I haven’t attended a meeting since before Xmas. The elders stopped calling for my report and those that wanted to talk to me – sorry those that wanted to shepherd me got an abrupt ‘no thanks’. So I am on the bad girls list. I’ll wait my times until someone asks the right question. I store up these news reports and like to keep track just in case they want proof. But alas, journalism is a tool of satan used to spread evil lies about the saintly WT and it’s GB. Bollocks I say….. did I say that…. tisk tisk…. bad influence.

  16. wifibandit says:

    In the ruling, pg 47. under “3. Insufficient Evidence Showing Lösch Is a Managing Agent” the court found that Lopez failed to satisfy the 2nd (of 3) Waters factors:

    “(2) can the person be expected to comply with the party’s directive to appear;”

    I believe I can.

    Lösch, as an individual, is a member of the World Wide Order of Special Full-time Servants. He is a member of the US Bethel family.

    As such, he receives his monthly reimbursement, PEA, Health Insurance (compliance with ACA), room and board provided by US Branch (Leon Weaver et al) which is operates under the direction of the GB – as evidenced by their literature.

    Also, as a member of Bethel he has had to sign a form that declares that he follow the instructions of “The Order” (see Bethel application A-8-E):

    “…This means that you view special full-time service as a rare privilege that calls for whole-souled devotion and strong faith and that you are willing to accept whatever assignment you are given by the Order. (Mark 10:28-30) Such assignments could include serving as a member of a Bethel family, as a construction servant, as a full-time commuter, or in another avenue of special full-time service. …”

    The oversight nature of the Governing Body over “The Order” is established in these two paragraphs at the end of the same form (A-8-E):

    “This application is an expression of my personal desire to be a member of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah’s Witnesses (the “Order”). If accepted, I will give my assignment of service priority over all other activities. I will be diligent in taking full advantage of the provisions for study and discussion of God’s Word that are made for members of the Order. I will also share regularly in the field service and in the meetings of the congregation that I attend. I will at all times conduct myself in full harmony with all the regulations that apply to those in special full-time service—such as matters having to do with secular work and the high standards of dress and grooming—as well as the counsel of God’s Word that applies to all Christians. I will be content and satisfied with the modest support that I receive from the Order as long as I am privileged to continue in the Order. Should I choose to leave the Order or should the Order determine that I no longer qualify to serve in the Order, I will not expect any remuneration. (Matt. 6:30-33; 1 Tim. 6:6-8; Heb. 13:5) I recognize that the Order has the right to determine if and when my
    membership should be terminated.

    I hereby consent to the collection and processing of my personal data necessary for the evaluation of my application to serve as a member of the Order. I further consent to the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses that administers the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in my geographic area processing and retaining for its use the information found on this application and any additional information that may be submitted in connection with my application by individuals serving as elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses or by me. I understand that the transfer of my personal data to the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses and to the ecclesiastical Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses (the “Governing Body”) in the state of New York, U.S.A., may be necessary for the evaluation of my application to serve as a member of the Order. I authorize the transfer to the Governing Body of the information found on this application and any additional personal information that the Governing Body
    deems necessary regarding my capacity to serve as a member of the Order.”

  17. Caleb & $ophia says:

    What a bunch of slimey, deceitful, lying snakes!

    They sure know how to play their cards. This upsets me.

    Justice will catch up to them. Keep up the good work Cedars.

  18. Caleb & $ophia says:

    Once the media in Mexico & Brazil starts publicizing these lawsuits, the victims in those countries will start coming forward with lawsuits as well. Those countries have over 700k publishers each and it stands to reason that there are many silenced abuse victims there too. Once they realize that they don’t have to suffer in silence and keep their victimization private, more trouble will hit the Watchtower Corporation and the 7 members of the GB.

    So far it seems that only the USA, UK and Australia has been exposing the policies protecting pedophiles of the WT.

  19. Ready 4 to Fade says:

    I just finished watching the movie “Spotlight” about the Boston globe’s work on exposing the Catholic Church. Maddening that Cardinal Law was actually promoted to a new diocese in Rome, Italy. All of the fanfare around the Pope, obviously he is an improvement in his level of tolerance etc. but how can he possibly clean house to the extent needed.
    I digress, sorry, the point is that it was similar internal documents in the Catholic Church that led to their exposure and over $1billion in payouts. I’m not sure of the total tally of priests that were indicted world-wide. Somehow I doubt it is 24,000 like the documents will show in the Lopez case. This could be a huge tipping point.
    I recognize that the Catholic Church did not crumble entirely. There are 1 billion worldwide though, and they are in a culture that emphasizes forgiveness, not holding itself up as the “only truth.”. I don’t see JW.org weathering a similar storm quite as well.

  20. Ready 4 to Fade says:

    I’m surprised at the lack of comments on this article. As far as I can tell in my limited understanding of the court system, and journalism in general, the release of this list of 24,000 pedophiles is the watershed moment that we are all waiting for. We as a community in the U.S. need to do as much as possible to bring attention to this case and others like it, as well as encouraging victims to come forward and seek justice. It is a long process to bring about the changes needed, or perhaps the downfall of this organization altogether, but we must not lose patience with the courts, or lose heart in general.

    • Grace says:

      Ready 4 to Fade,

      I think you have hit the nail on the head. I would say that because WT are so good at dragging things out that they wear the victim down but also everyone else down and they have that never-ending funnel of money that seems to come from the naive & the crooked backing them. It’s just seems so overwhelming at times.

      It’s people like the activists on this website and others that keep this thing alive that helps reinvigorate. I hope that they don’t tire out. I’m only spreading the word here in my little town from my doctor to all of my new found friends (just about anyone that will listen) & they apparently are spreading the word too. My (worldly) niece has come on board & has a friend that is doing a journalism piece about xjw’s in Melbourne. So the truth about this criminal organisation is getting out there, it’s just a slow turning big wheel.

      Good on you Lloyd, you put up with so much crap from others that get jealous but you seem to keep focussed. Your writers put up with crap too but they seem fight on. Kudos to you all & thank you again for all of your hard work!!!

  21. Tara says:

    I would hope here in Canada a similar thing may happen as it is a Commonwealth country, but so far there isn’t even a ripple.

  22. Wip it says:

    I am waiting for more denial from the WT, we had a CO deny it all from the platform, he must know that he was lying to the crowd, they must be getting secret directions from the GB, they can run but they cannot hide, they are getting very vocal on not trusting the internet or the printed word, but the R & F are in a bubble, beyond help,

  23. Jakob says:

    Turn please from Russian into English if you can. Video reveals the mystery of the Babylonian whore. This video should see everything. The information does not contradict the Bible. Sorry for my English.

    https://youtu.be/XAcLVk-zcog

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