As you can appreciate there is so much information coming out of this investigation, it’s difficult to know where to start with reviewing it. I would like to begin by focusing on day 3, part 1, which sees Mr Dino Ali on the stand. He is one of the elders who dealt with the case of BCG.
I would love to know what advice/direction the elders have been given prior to this investigation. To me, the elders seem extremely unprepared and very out of their depth.
They are a far cry from the elders who sit in judgement on Judicial Committees and speak eloquently with authority and confidence from the platform.
The other thing that strikes me is the Commission seems to have a lot of the original paperwork, including notes taken by elders at Judicial Meetings. During my own case, the Society and the elders were asked to provide all paperwork related to the case, but they claimed paperwork was destroyed. Maybe in Australia the elders are more organized.
Back to Mr Ali who struggles to interpret his own notes that he took at the time (although I do wonder whether his struggles are related to the fact his own notes are about to drop him right in it).
Ali’s own notes clearly show that more than one child had been abused by their father, and that the elders were told about the abuse at the time of their investigation. However, the fact there were at least two witnesses as required by JW rules was not enough for the elders. It beggars belief, and I find myself saying out loud, “what the hell were you thinking?” I just cannot figure out what goes through these elders’ minds.
After countless judicial meetings, no action was taken against BCH (the father) until it transpired he had been involved in immorality with an adult female. This called for another judicial meeting where his immorality was the focus of the discussion.
At this meeting, the abuse of his daughter was again discussed. His notes state that BCH admitted to everything, and he stated that whatever his daughter BCG had said about him was true. It was only at this point that he was disfellowshipped. So at this point the elders had an admission at last, so there should have been no reason why BCH could not have been disfellowshipped for the abuse.
But no! Mr Ali claims that as this meeting was concerning immorality, then that’s all they could deal with. Also, and this is the killer, Mr Ali suggests that they couldn’t accept that admission as the elders felt it might not be true! Absolutely ludicrous.
So BCH gets disfellowshipped for immorality, but still no action is taken by elders on the child abuse claims. Let’s not forget that, at this stage, all four daughters and even the wife of BCH had all told the elders of the abuse that had taken place.
We then come to the letters sent by the elders to the Branch. The letters contain lots of information about the immorality, but no mention is made of the abuse. Mr Ali claims that at that time the guidelines did not require reporting of child abuse. He refers to the older version of Shepherd the Flock of God. What screams out at me here is: did they really need to have it in black and white in order to report it to the Branch?
Mr Ali is asked if he recalls BCH actually admitting to the abuse. His response: “Well I was only there as a bystander, I wasn’t directly involved.” He goes on to say that he “can’t remember,” which seems to be a common claim among these elders when asked any awkward questions.
Now here’s the clincher: Ali is asked the question I’ve been waiting for. Did he consider reporting these matters to the police? His answer: “No.” Even after the confession, they still did not feel any need to report to the police. Why? “Well, we were still trying to find all the facts on pornea which he was guilty of and we didn’t have the direction in order to do that.”
So in other words, because someone on the end of a phone didn’t say it’s a crime and needs to be reported, the elders didn’t report it. But it’s OK, because the elders tell the accused he/she is never to be on their own with children anymore, and they are not to have children staying overnight. They feel that is enough.
The next part of the questioning turns to the fact the elders had a full confession from BCH, and yet they still did nothing. Mr Ali goes back to his terrible explanation that they had to be sure BCH was being truthful in his confession. He claims that BCH may have only confessed to molesting his daughter to get out of the situation. Now, I don’t know what situation BCH found himself in at the time, but I’m struggling to think of ANY circumstances that would mean a father would falsely say he had been molesting his daughter?
So BCG claims to have been molested by her father, her father admits to molesting her, but the elders still weren’t sure. They were also worried that he may deny it later and they would find themselves stranded. We are supposed to share their concern about what would happen if they had gone to the police and then he had changed his mind. How would they live with themselves? Absolutely farcical!
The questioning moves to the suggestion that no one wants to accept that elders and ministerial servants would carry out child abuse because they are appointed by the Holy Spirit. Mr Ali denies this is the case, and he then describes being an elder or servant as the same as being a ‘Slave’ – claiming it is not a dignified position at all. You have to just laugh at that statement. He will not admit that it may have been a mistake to appoint BCH as a ministerial servant.
Mr Ali spent sleepless nights after hearing what BCG went through with her father. However, this did not prompt him or any of the elders to actually do anything. In fact, the four girls remained at home with their father until he later moved out. So these men appointed by Holy Spirit allowed four young girls to remain in the same home as their father who had abused them physically and sexually.
Let’s not forget that their mother was also aware of what was going on, and she too did nothing. So wouldn’t it have made sense to go to the police and allow them to properly investigate the crime? Mr Ali doesn’t seem to think so, as in 1988 they were following the old guidelines and it’s completely up to the victim to report.
The Judicial Committees are clearly designed to assist the wrongdoer and not the victim. The hope is that the wrongdoer will see their mistakes and repent and come back to Jehovah. Mr Ali feels they are well equipped to deal with the victims of child abuse. His reasons? Publications, circuit overseers, and the ability to ring the Bethel.
Elders also follow up by reading scriptures with the victim, but only within the committee meetings. The elders never told BCG that they believed her, or that it was not her fault. Mr Ali also claims that he was unaware of the gossip in the congregation that BCG was telling lies. He also doesn’t recall BCG had attempted suicide after these events.
The similarities between this case and my own experiences are scarily similar. I was subjected to countless meetings with elders, some on my own, some with my dad, and some with my abuser. I received NO support whatsoever outside of those meetings. My abuser was never disfellowshipped for what he did to me, he was disfellowshipped for admitting to being drunk and belligerent.
I too was called a liar by my congregation at the time, and also a trouble maker. Listening to this case takes me back to my own experience, and when I hear the victims describe how they felt, I know exactly what they are talking about.
Surely Jehovah’s Witnesses must realize how ridiculous their policies are when they watch this Commission? It’s sad, but I suspect your average Witness has no idea of these developments. Even if they do, they will view it as persecution and not see it for what it is – sorely needed exposure of a damaging organization that is failing children.
- Jehovah’s Witness culture creates a ‘perfect storm’ for abuse
- Elders shamed under questioning by the Royal Commission
- Australian Royal Commission hears that 1,006 alleged child sex abusers were covered up by Watchtower
- Media reports on the Royal Commission
- JWsurvey articles on child abuse
Watch an updated playlist of Royal Commission footage…