Royal Commission findings: Jehovah’s Witness elders left abuse survivors “silenced and unsupported”
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The shocking treatment of

The shocking treatment of BCB and BCG was brought to light by the Royal Commission

The previous two articles in this series have discussed Watchtower policy and scriptural debate. However, this is not some theoretical debate of interest only to scholars and lawyers. At the core of all this back and forth over scripture and law are real human beings.

What is the actual impact of Watchtower policy when put into practice for real abuse survivors?

Two of these survivors were able to give detailed and comprehensive testimony at the ARC hearings, and the submission of the Senior Counsel contains detailed findings related to their experiences.

The Case of BCB

The first survivor was a woman referred to as BCB in order to protect her identity. She described how Jehovah’s Witness elder Bill Neill repeatedly abused her from the age of 15. She outlined the various impacts of Watchtower’s policy on her case in harrowing detail. These included:

  • An instance where, as per Watchtower policy at the time, she was forced by the elders to confront Bill Neill, repeat her accusations directly to him, and hear him challenge and dismiss them – an experience she found deeply traumatic.
  • She was required to describe intimate details of her assault to a room full of men. As a result, she found herself unable to fully detail the worst aspects of her experience.
  • She was given no counseling or support for her extreme emotional trauma, and was simply instructed to read Watchtower literature.

Even though the elders claimed to believe her, due to the two witness rule, nothing significant could be done. Neill did step down as an elder, but the reason was not announced to the congregation. No further sanctions were imposed. Neill remained a Witness in good standing.

And almost unbelievably, BCB was forced to continue attending meetings in Neill’s home.

I’ll say that again.

  • BCB was required to continue attending meetings in the home of the man whom she had stated, and the elders apparently agreed, had abused her.

Additionally, elder Max Horley and Circuit Overseer Doug Jackson sent a letter to the branch described as follows by the Commission:

148  The letter of 1 February 1992 further reported that both Mr Horley and Mr Doug Jackson were ‘impressed by Brother Neill’s acceptance of counsel and his humility throughout the ordeal’ and recommended that he be appointed as an elder again ‘once this has died down’.

Unsurprisingly, BCB didn’t fare well as a result of this treatment. She testified that she’d since had a nervous breakdown and required ongoing expensive medical and therapeutic care to deal with the mental and physical injures Neill’s abuse had inflicted.

Max Horley and Doug Jackson appeared before the ARC to defend themselves. They didn’t impress.

Jackson gave meaningless responses that often verged on gibberish, and a shamefaced Horley, despite attempting initially to defend his actions and Watchtower policy, in the end agreed that BCB had been terribly failed by both.

Here are just some of the Commission’s many detailed findings on the case of BCB. They back up and validate all the claims BCB made (bold is mine):

F6  It was distressing for BCB to be required by the elders to tell of what had happened to her to a group of men, including the man whom she accused of abusing her, and it was not likely to, nor did it, result in BCB disclosing the full extent of her abuse.

F9  The application of the two‐witness rule meant that there was insufficient evidence for the elders to act against BCB’s abuser even though they believed her, which left her feeling disbelieved and unsupported, and it left the abuser in the congregation where he may have been a risk to other children.

F10  Mr Horley telling BCB that she should not discuss her abuse with anyone left her feeling silenced and unsupported.

F13  It was traumatic for BCB and inappropriate of Mr Horley for him to have required BCB to attend Bible study at Bill Neill’s home when he knew that BCB accused Bill Neill of abusing her.

F14  The recommendation of the elders to the Branch Office that Bill Neill be reinstated as an elder ‘once this has died down’ and their expressed concern ‘that there may also be worldly people who also know’ demonstrates that they were more concerned about the reputation of Bill Neill and the congregation than about the risk that he posed to children.

Max Horley departs after giving evidence at the Royal Commission

Max Horley departs after giving evidence at the Royal Commission

 

The Case of BCG

BCG was born into a Jehovah’s Witness family, and had three sisters. When she was 17 her father, a ministerial servant, began to abuse her. Her initial attempt to contact the elders were rebuffed, and when she finally was able to get their attention, her story took a sadly familiar path. Among the indignities the Watchtower process inflicted, BCG recounts that:

  • She was required to confront her father with the accusations, who became so angry and aggressive that he had to be restrained from violently attacking her. BCG found this experience terrifying.
  • She stated that the elders, all friends of her father, appeared to attack her credibility as a witnesses, rather than support and protect her as an abuse survivor. She was left with the distinct impression that they were not impartial in the matter.

One of the most troubling aspects of BCG’s story highlights how elders can act in defiance of Watchtower’s rules with impunity.

Remember the two witness rule? Well, BCG told told the elders that her father had abused her younger sisters as well her older sister. The elders dismissed this report, stating that the girls were too young to know what they were talking about, and were not witnesses to the same event, even though Watchtower policy at the time would have accepted their evidence as a second witness.

During the hearings, the elders involved (Ron De Rooy, Dino Ali, and Kevin Bowditch) flat out denied under oath that she had made this report to them. Ali in particular was quite adamant on this fact.

To the clear shock of Ali, the ARC then produced a set of handwritten notes, taken from the congregation archives, and written by Ali during the investigation. The notes confirm, in Ali’s own handwriting, that not only had BCG informed the elders as to her father’s abuse of her sisters (a charge her mother corroborated) but that her father had confessed to the abuse before the elders.

Yet, despite having more than enough evidence to act, even under the discredited process of Watchtower, Ron De Rooy, Dino Ali and Kevin Bowditch did not find that BCG’s father had abused his daughters.

Among the many findings on the case of BCG, the Senior Counsel finds: (bold is mine)

F21  The evidence presented to the judicial committee of BCH having abused his other daughters satisfied the Jehovah’s Witness organisation’s own rules with regard to sufficiency of evidence  to establish that BCH had abused BCG, but the elders wrongly ignored that evidence and accordingly failed to uphold BCG’s complaint against BCH.

F23  The elders inexplicably and wrongly ignored BCH’s confession to having abused BCG and thereby, within the precepts of the Jehovah’s Witness organisation’s own rules and procedures, failed to uphold BCG’s complaint against BCH.

F26  The failure by the elders to report BCH’s sexual abuse of BCG to the police had the result that BCH remained at large in the community and a risk to children, and reflects that the elders were not concerned with child safety but rather with keeping their organisation ‘clean’.

F27  The judicial committee’s failure to uphold BCG’s complaint of abuse by BCH conveyed to BCG that the organisation tolerated child sexual abuse within its ranks.

F28  The advice given by the elders to BCG that she not speak about her abuse to anyone had the effect of silencing her.

As a result of this bungled (or worse) investigation, BCG attempted suicide. Her father was later disfellowshipped on a separate charge of “loose conduct and lying,” though a later appeal did confirm the charges of sexual abuse as well.

However, he was still re-instated just three years later.

Upon being informed of this BCG, terrified for the safety of children in the congregation, decided to report her own abuse to the police. She alleges that Ron De Rooy threatened her with disfellowshipping if she did so. De Rooy denied this under oath, just as he denied BCG reporting the abuse of her sisters.

Ron de Rooy on the Witness stand

Ron de Rooy on the Witness stand

 

Among the many damning findings of Senior Counsel on the reinstatement are: (bold is mine)

F31  The decision to reinstate BCH took no account of the risk that BCH posed to children, paid little regard to the fact that he had been disfellowshipped because of child sexual abuse, and was focussed principally on his extra‐marital relationship.

F32  The decision to reinstate BCH took no account of BCH’s failure to apologise to BCG, a factor relevant to consideration of sincere repentance, or of what BCG might have had to say about BCH being reinstated.

F33  The decision to reinstate BCH was disrespectful and unsupportive of BCG.

Nonetheless, BCG took her case to the police. The ARC also found, after testimony from a legal professional involved, that the delays caused by the Watchtower process, and the clumsy nature of the process itself, had rendered much of the evidence inadmissible. Nonetheless, her father was finally convicted on the third trial. What did BCG have to say about this?

245  BCG told the Royal Commission that her experience of the three criminal trials was significantly less traumatic than her experience sitting through the committee meetings.

Today BCG is disfellowshipped, and is currently being shunned by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

A Plea to Elders

It may well be that you are an elder reading this. Perhaps you no longer believe in the faith, but are trapped, not wishing to be shunned by your family and friends. Perhaps you still consider yourself a Witness but believe, as other elders do, that in this specific area the Organization is making a terrible error of judgement.

Whatever the case, if a member of your congregation comes to you with an allegation of sexual abuse, please:

CONTACT THE POLICE

You may lose your privileges of service. But surely that is a small price to pay for being able to look yourself in the mirror and know that, when a vulnerable member of your congregation came to you for help, in the moment they needed you most, you did not fail them.

 

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138 Responses to Royal Commission findings: Jehovah’s Witness elders left abuse survivors “silenced and unsupported”

  1. dee says:

    Isn’t it just grand, God is going to replace the governments of the world (including the Australian government which is now unearthing the WT’s child abuse policy flaws) with the GB past and present who will rule in his kingdom over the WT’s promised paradise earth after all these other governments have been destroyed. LOL.

    If only the new system would come right now so that earth’s new rulers (the GB) will have their way and be the ones to call the shots! They can’t wait to get their hands on writing those new scrolls that will be opened in the new system – imagine a two witness rule in paradise to deal with the child molesters who will be resurrected from the dead. LOL.

  2. Doc Obvious says:

    The Watchtower Babble and Tract Society, along with the Jehovah’s Perverts, are well known throughout the world for their bad moral standards. The Governing Body, a.k.a. the Fateful and Deceit Slave Class, were deceiving the world regarding their over a thousand (1,006) pedophiles the world over.

    What has happened over the sixty plus (60+) years from 1950 is a huge disgrace and extremely damning for the Watchtower Babble and Tract Society. The result has been a huge decline in their numbers. The inactive ones are swelling. People have no confidence in the Jehovah’s Perverts religion at all. The Apostate web sites are becoming more realistic and truthful. Mainly by quoting Watchtower literature and showing how outdated their written material is.

    The brochure, “Return to Perversion (I mean Jehovah)” tries, but fails to bring back members. Now, with the recent Watchtower Babble and Tract Society layoffs, we see a rapid decline in the Bethelite population and more room for the Governing Body to expand their real estate endeavors. Hopefully, they can remove all the toxic waste from Warwick and enjoy their brand new lake front property at the expense of thousands of Bethelite who only make less than $200/USD per month.

    • Pow says:

      Just to add to your point,

      The 1006 pedophiles were from the SMALL Australia branch alone…..the world wide organizational number is 100 x that number.

      • Doc Obvious says:

        I know there are more. Watchtower probably trashed the records. The 8 cases in the United States and the 1,006 cases in Australia show a great disparity and raises more questions than answers.

  3. Big B says:

    As always an excellent, informative and forthright article.

    It is my sincerest hope that the majority of the worlds population will give these door-to-door, doomsday evangelists this ARC information on YouTube before shutting the door in their faces. Yes, plant a seed of doubt and maybe one of them will have the guts to investigate for themselves. Yeah, right; but one can always hope.

    I also feel ashamed that it has taken me 55 years to do my own research and get out of this cult along with my immediate family.

    This cult is truly a “spiritual paradise” for pedophiles! Where else can a pervert practice his fantasies and at the very worst be disfellowshipped only to sham repentance and be welcomed back in with open arms! They may even be considered for eldership positions although they had lost them before. Meanwhile they are not listed on any community registry for pedophiles as the Watchtower does not “divulge confidential information”! A pedophiles paradise indeed! Beware wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    To anyone holding fast to this nonsense do to family ties please do the right thing and get out of this nasty, self-serving cult. Set an example for all so you can live with yourself. Anything worthwhile doing, including the correct thing, is always hard; despite the consequences of shunning.

    To anyone reading this please remember that true “agape love”, supposedly what Jehovah’s Witnesses practice, is not conditional on what religion you choose or not choose to practice. If so, then their “loving, life-saving ministry” is verily a sham.

  4. Winston Smith says:

    Congregation elders (even the ones who are not raving lunatics on a huge ego trip) are simply ill-equipped to deal with problems of this magnitude. They have no training in professional counseling and what little training they get from the org is a joke (I can speak from experience, it is mostly learning to follow a bunch of org rules, and what the latest “new light” is).

    Since many elders grew up in the org, they are poorly educated and have a very limited worldview.

    I recall one elder in my circuit realized how poorly equipped he was to deal with the issues in the congregation and so he started taking psychology and counseling courses in order to be better equipped to help the brothers and sisters; he caught all sorts of grief from the other elders in the circuit.

    Matthew 7:20 – by their fruits you will know them.
    Years of these org policies of not reporting child abusers, forcing victims to rely on inept elders, and frowning on anyone seeking professional help has yielded very bad fruitage indeed.

    WS

    • James Broughton says:

      Winston, a good response. In the light of Jon Atack’s book on mind control, we need to remember that elders are under the jurisdiction of the Governing Body therefore they believe they are following correct procedures, until, of course, “new light” is received. Sometimes it takes a respected body such as a Royal Commission to shake things up.

    • Doc Obvious says:

      The only training they get is what Watchtower’s legal department gives them. Lawyers are not the most truthful people in the world. There are no other professional therapists to consider at Watchtower Babble and Tract Society. They consider psychiatrists and others not in line with the Bible. A psychologist and a sociologist would tell Watchtower to can their shunning policy.

  5. David says:

    The issue is that no single person or religious organisation is without blemish. When a religious claims to be the only right religion and heavily criticise others sooner or later it will be forced to lie or hide things. Russell was right to be against organised religions. No men nor organised religion is right or has the truth, because we are all humans. Who claims to have the truth simply lies. According to the Bible Jesus is truth!

  6. kaput says:

    I am ashamed to say I was part of this organization, although powerless to protest the glaring abuse of mind, body and soul of all who are part of this when I was in – I do hold myself accountable for not leaving sooner and helping friends and family to see through this terrible travesty of human spirit, love and freedom. Please use your God given faculties friends – life is too short!
    To all Elders – the bible warns against doing anything out of egotism – you will not help anyone as long as the organization does not look after the lowly, “perceived as underperforming” publishers and is prepared to write them off. Jesus’ example stands to this day – the GB do not show the traits that Jesus said would identify his true followers.

    Kaput

    • James Broughton says:

      Kaput, there is no need to be ashamed. As in the case of the apostle Paul, his background and previous experience became a powerful tool in the message of truth of which he was not ashamed. Like him, maybe you should acquire a new name. Not Kaput but Mended (or its German equivalent).

      • Kaput says:

        Thanks for that James I did not think of it that way, we definitely need to use our past experiences to help others out of this prison. Yes and I need a new name.

  7. anonymous4 says:

    @ Doc Obvious

    “The Watchtower Babble and Tract Society” — Awesome! 🙂
    After all, they ARE a part of “Babble On the Great”. 😉

  8. Exhausted says:

    You know, I have been watching a lot of shows lately. Ncis, Law and Order, etc., and it seems so simple to me
    That if a predator lurks in the congregation, that he should
    Be made to submit his DNA profile to the people who would matter in such instances and then I bet the bastards would hold off on their unnatural lusts. Make sense??

  9. Exhausted says:

    Also, that would be the unrefutable WITNESS and it
    Wasn’t available when Christ walked the earth. Neither
    We’re blood transfusions, organ transplants, heart and
    Lung machinery, skin grafts, and on and on and on.
    Witnessing a sin does not have to be accomplished by
    Human eyes. it can be accomplished by SCIENCE as it
    Can attest to guilt or innocence. No question about that.
    so come on governing body, put that DNA requirement
    In you’re book of laws. Of course you would have to
    Guilt people into submitting to it because I think forcing
    It is against the law. come on guys, you can do it.
    After all, you scared the entire world of JW s that the
    World was ending in 1975.

    • anonymous4 says:

      Good idea. I totally agree. But you’re probably correct, it probably would be illegal to force it. Might violate bad guys’ “rights” in this upside down world.

  10. Exhausted says:

    Yeah,a true pedophile would shudder at that proposition.
    but come on, once the edict is announced, I am sure there
    Would be those who would deliver.
    After all, what could be lost if you are straight.

  11. Simon Kestral says:

    @Average Joe

    “it is a great relief to know that others …comprehend the major guilt that I still feel for speaking out against those who direct what I feel to be God’s spirit directed organisation”

    Joe, my remarks are not meant to discourage you. They are intended to show you that WT is not ”God’s spirit directed organisation.”

    WT has a good sales pitch: paradise earth and resurrection. But those promises were in the Bible long before WT appeared on the scene. Christian faith does not require WT. Jesus is head of the congregation, not the GB. You don’t need WT to mediate between you and Christ.

    “It’s very difficult waking up … it’s more for my immediate family that I don’t want to disappoint”

    That’s what it comes down to. But many people have lost family for the sake of Jesus. We know what he said about that …

    • anonymous4 says:

      Good points. After all, if it was God’s spirit-directed org., would they be using the cynical manipulation techniques that they do, and covering up the heinous crimes that they do? I respect people’s right to believe, but I believe all religions and cults are man-made.

  12. dee says:

    @Holi Connoli
    Good one Holi Connoli! ROFLOL!

    The new system can’t come soon enough. Castration – what better way to deal with those ressurrected child molesters especially given the fact that it won’t be possible to put resurrected persons to death if they should sin in paradise, since according to the bible: “NEITHER CAN THEY DIE ANYMORE”. Castrate them I say! LOL!

    Luke 20:34-36:

    “The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead NEITHER MARRY NOR ARE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE. In fact, NEITHER CAN THEY DIE ANY MORE, for THEY ARE LIKE THE ANGELS, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.”

    • Pow says:

      Be careful Dee, they would probably castrate all the men and F.G.M. the woman, instead of deal with the real culprits. There is definitely a history of resorting to rash tactics to deal with one problem by legislating rules in completely unrelated areas…forbidding to marry in the 30s, beards in the 20s, higher education 50s, masterbation 60/70, rock music 60, rap music 90, Internet 90, organ transplants 60/70, jury duty 60, divorce/porniea 70, and so and so…..some of these positions obviously were changed or dropped , others just modified..many were a knee jerk reactions to a perceived problem.

  13. Pow says:

    Just to clarify, its a frightening thing to comprehend justice in the hands of religious zealots, whether they be Jewish, Isis, Christian or JWs….

    • anonymous4 says:

      Well said.

      @ dee
      Wow, I never realized the implication of that text. So I guess taken at face value it does mean that resurrected persons can’t die, even if they disobey. That, of course, makes no sense, as it is totally incongruous with biblical doctrine. Another reason I don’t believe the bible or any other “holy” book. LOL
      PS: I’m sure WT has already found a way to “INTERPRET” (read: “TWIST”) that verse (no doubt under the guidance of “Holy Spirit” LOL). Maybe they claim it only applies to “144000”, though it clearly specifies ‘those worthy of gaining THAT SYSTEM OF THINGS and THE RESURRECTION’, and ‘children of the resurrection’. More babble from Babble On the Great, anyway. 🙂

      • dee says:

        @anonymous 4

        Good points.
        Also, what’s more, the test at the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign which the WT claims will determine who will live forever (Revelation 20: 7-10) will be meaningless for persons who have been resurrected. Whether or not persons who have been resurrected pass that test is neither here nor there since resurrected persons CAN NO LONGER DIE.

        The only persons whom this test will apply to are the JW Armageddon survivors since they, although having lived 1000 years (without any freak accidents happening?), can still die. Interestingly, according to WT theology, the number of persons who will fail the test and be destroyed will be “as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:8), a large number. What a pity, the JWs managed to make it through Armageddon but a large number of them will fail this final test and be put to death.

      • dee says:

        According to WT theology the resurrection of the 144,000 commenced in 1918 and will conclude at the outbreak of the Great Tribulation (I suppose any of the 144,000 who are on the earth at the time of the outbreak of the Great Tribulation will be raptured) – that is, the heavenly resurrection of the 144,000 occurs in THIS system of things not in THAT (post Great Tribulation/Armageddon) system of things to which the resurrection spoken about at Luke 20:34-36 pertains.

        “All the evidence indicates that this heavenly resurrection began in ****1918****, after Jesus’ enthronement in 1914 and his riding forth to start his kingly conquest by cleansing the heavens of Satan and his demons.” Revelation, Its Grand Climax At Hand! p. 103

      • dee says:

        Therefore, the resurrection of Luke 20:34-36 does not apply to the resurrection of the 144,000 since the resurrection of the 144,000 occurs in THIS system of things according to WT theology.

        • Winston Smith says:

          Yes, current watchtower dogma is that the application of Luke 20:34-36 does not apply to the 144000 but to the other sheep. Even though they say that virtually everything else in the New Testament applies ONLY to the anointed. Completely inconsistent. They arbitrarily pick and choose what they want to apply to whom.

          The whole concept of two distinct classes of individuals is completely out of harmony with the scriptures. Nothing more than a Rutherford brain-fart.

          And yes, the JWs also believe any remaining anointed will be raptured during the great tribulation, but they dislike the use of the word “rapture.”

          WS

  14. anonymous4 says:

    “Poets, Priests, and Politicians
    Have Words to thank for their Positions
    Words that scream for your submission…”
    The Police
    “De do do do, De da da da”

  15. holy Connoli says:

    @dee. I remebr when I was a JW Elder that scripture would often come up for debate that you quote in Luke

  16. holy Connoli says:

    @dee. Many JW”S would debate it for hours if it meant the earthly resurrection or the heavenly etc. It would go on and on and sometimes get loud and argumentative.
    They would get all worked up about it with some strong opinions. I would say what does it really matter right now? I guess we will find out so quit squabbling !It is good not o know everything right? That is a Major negative point about the WT that has caused them so much trouble. They feel they HAVE to be right about all things they say instead of sayin we don’t know and your eternal life is not dependent on some doctrinal view point. Look how many problems they have bc of their position on Blood? The 2 witness rule? Shunning? 1914? 607 BCE? The Generation teaching ( backward double flip! ) F&D Slave etc. We could go and and on.I have concluded in my life that we don’t need to know everything nor want to know everything. It isn’t that important. That “WE MUST BE RIGHT” mentality is what makes the WT look stupid and crazy.Especially when they are so WRONG all of the time.lol

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