The Friday Column: Watchtower facing financial stormwaters?

JWMazeI honestly thought it was a joke.

When I first saw the image opposite being circulated online, I felt that it had to be a piece of satirical art, created by an Ex-JW. I mean, I knew Watchtower had been increasingly stooping to lower and lower standards with increasing desperation to wring every last penny out of their increasingly impoverished flock, but…come on!

Surely not even Watchtower could be so crass and unsubtle as to create a child’s game where the whole object of the game was to donate money to them!

Turns out, I was wrong.

The puzzle was a genuine piece of Watchtower art, although I was rather amused when former Jehovah’s Witnesses Tony Brock posted a slightly altered version of the game onto Facebook, to present his own suggestion of where the child’s donation might ACTUALLY be going if it made it through the maze:

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Even active and faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses will be aware of the truth of much of this cartoon. The Governing Body have increasingly been flaunting their jewellery, expensive suits and designer watches on their JW Broadcasting appearances, and the extravagance of the new Watchtower headquarters with it’s remote control lake is hardly a secret.

Yet the last item on the list; the increasingly painful legal damages that Watchtower is having to pay, mostly centred around Child Abuse policies, that one that will be unfamiliar to many Witnesses.

Ironically, this unknown and hidden aspect of Watchtower’s financial outgoings might be the one that increasingly comes to dominate their fortunes. According to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Watchtower’s policies and doctrines come together in a “perfect storm” to create an environment for sexual predetors to molest children, undetected and unreported.

The thing with storms is this;

Storms are expensive, y’all.

Storm Damage

Branch committee coordinator Terrence O'Brien was accused of intentionally trying to mislead the Commission

Branch committee coordinator Terrence O’Brien

Day 7 of the Australian Royal Commission investigation into Watchtower saw this exchange between the Head of Watchtower Australia Terrance O’Brien and Justice Peter McClellan about the issue of financial recompense.

McClellan:You know that the Commission’s been looking at the issue of redress, I assume?

O’Brien: I do, yes.

McClellan: And it is fairly clear that the Commission will be recommending a response which brings together all of the institutions where there may have been problems, to contribute their fair share ‐ you understand that?

O’Brien: I recall that from the closed hearing we had with yourself.

Financial Redress has been a key area for the ARC. It’s hard to argue that organisations who failed in their duty of care and exposed children to sexual abuse should not be required to give some measure of financial compensation; not only to address the significant medical costs involved in treating the physical and mental damage suffered, but also to show recognition of the wrong done. The ARC has discussed this idea in detail, even presenting models as to how it might work:

“…relevant criteria could be severity of abuse – 40 per cent, impact of abuse – 40 per cent and distinctive institutional factors – 20 per cent. Other approaches are possible. Average payments of $50,000, $65,000 and $80,000 are modelled.”

In other words, this model suggests that the severity, the impact of the abuse, and the degree of specific failings of the Institution should be taken into account. It then suggests some average payments.

McCellan: Would you recommend that the church join in such a scheme?

O’Brien: I don’t know whether I would recommend that the church join in with other organisations, but certainly that we have some redress scheme of our own to care for victims who are Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I would agree with that.

McClellan: Why wouldn’t you recommend that you join with others so that there is a uniform response across the country?

O’Brien: If I may just indulge, your Honour, when we had the closed meeting with yourself and others, that was a matter that I think it was almost universally felt as a last option by those who were assembled, for a variety of reasons.  I think some may feel that ‐ would it be fair on smaller organisations and unfair on the ‐ or, rather, unfair on smaller ones, fairer on the larger ones?  To manage it I would see it as a much greater difficulty than for the individual organisation to provide their own scheme.

McClellan: You must have a different recollection to me.

This is part of a longer exchange which demonstrated how Watchtower is frantically trying to pour water on the concept of a financial redress scheme administered by an outside authority, with agreed and standardised amounts for victims.

Why would Watchtower be so afraid of a system like that becoming law, as is very possible in the next couple of years in Australia?

Well, remember what O’Brien said: Would it be “fair” on the smaller organisations?

That sounds like a reasonable concern until one realises that Watchtower is a “smaller” organisation unlike any other the Commission have investigated.

Watchtower: A unique stormfront

sex-abuse-survivorUnlike an organisation that simply reports to the police as soon as it becomes aware of an allegation of child sexual abuse, Watchtower policy not only refuses to do this unless legally required, but also requires the elders to start investigating the allegation themselves to determine guilt in a bronze-age religious court, thus opening themselves up to far greater liability than a regular church or group.

Additionally, it’s been clearly demonstrated during the ARC hearings that the process the elders are mandated to use is virtually guaranteed to cause further needless trauma to the survivor.

Therefore, it’s significantly more probable that cases linked to Watchtower (such as the 1,006 Witness molesters the ARC has already identified) will be eligible for compensation when compared to cases from other organisations of a similar size.

Keep that in mind as we craft a theoretical scenario that admittedly makes a lot of assumptions, some of which will fall in Watchtower’s favour for the sake of fairness.

Lets assume only one victim per abuser (and not, say the four victims involved in the case of BCG, who gave testimony at the Royal Commission). That gives us 1,006 potential claims identified by the Royal Commission.

Now assume that out of those 1,006 potential claims, only half of the victims are found to be eligible for compensation and in a position to claim.

Now assume that only half of those survivors are found to have directly experienced additional trauma due to Watchtowers’s policies, and qualify for a higher sum than a default of $65,000. Lets say the higher figure is $80,000.

So you’ve got 250 times 65,000 = 16,250,000 and 250 times 80,000 = 20,000,000

Now add those two figures together and what do you get?

An eye watering $36,250,000!

And remember, this scenario is making some assumptions that are significantly more favourable to Watchtower than the evidence suggests is reasonable.

Recurring Storms: No end in sight.

Angus Stewart, senior council at the Royal Commission, has delivered damning summary findings detailing Watchtower's mishandling of child abuse

Angus Stewart, senior council at the Royal Commission, has delivered damning summary findings detailing Watchtower’s mishandling of child abuse

But we’re not done yet, because another fascinating glimpse under the hood of Watchtower Australia was given on Day 7 when Watchtower Lawyer Vince Toole admitted under questioning the following statistic about his role at the Watchtower Australia Legal Desk, taking reports of child sexual abuse from congregations across the country.

Angus Stewart SC: You say you’ve done this exclusively for, did you say, two years or two and a half years?

Vince Toole: Yeah, approximately two years, I’ve been taking the calls myself.

Stewart: These are calls about allegations of child sexual abuse?

Toole: Yes.

Stewart: And how many such calls have you taken in that period, would you estimate?

Toole: I couldn’t tell you, but we probably get three, sometimes four, a month.

Again, let’s be generous to Watchtower. Let’s assume four new cases of abuse a month, but say that each of those reports involve only one abuse survivor, and that of those four survivors a month, only two are eligible for and desirous of compensation. Again, lets assume that the $65,000 default sum is the one decided upon every time because by some miracle Watchtower managed not to exacerbate suffering when they indulged in their demonstrably flawed judicial process.

So 2 victims a month is 24 victims a year.

So that’s 24 times 65,000…

…$1,560,000 per year!

Now, there are around 80,000 witnesses in Australia. Remember, that figure will include people who are fading or who have faded, and thus do not donate, as well as rank and file JW’s who are either very poor or simply forget to donate a lot of the time. But assume for argument’s sake that every single one of the 80,000 donates money of around $20 a month.

Divide the arguably conservative sum of $1,560,000 by the arguably generous figure of 80,000 publishers.

$19.5 dollars, right?

That means that if a witness donates $20 a month, almost 1/12 of his entire yearly donation will go simply to paying the annual child abuse bill.

That’s AFTER they spend around two years paying off the initial lump sum of  $36,250,000.

Granted, these figures are theoretical, using models and sums yet to be agreed and passed into law. Much could happen between then and now.

Nonetheless, the scenarios are plausible, and it’s clear if you read between the lines of O’Brien’s testimony that Watchtower also thinks they are plausible, and are very worried as a result.

Which is probably one of the reasons why I strongly suspect that the crazy maze at the top of this article won’t be the last piece of low-brow piggy-bank shaking we will see from an increasingly beleaguered Watchtower.

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109 Responses to The Friday Column: Watchtower facing financial stormwaters?

  1. Will says:

    Today’s NY Post is reporting WT will be getting roughly $700 million. I am so glad I was cheap with the WT when I was in.

  2. Freed Mason says:

    Before hitting the kiddies up for cash its maybe time for GB 7 to stop the “showy display of ones means” and pawn out those $15000 Rolexes, $17000 Gold Apple Watches, flashy pinky rings and EFT the proceeds at the next meeting.

    If you are going to meet up with Jesus and the Big Man you will have to explain the example you have set for others to follow:

    Quoting the “Silver Sword” 1 John 2:15-17:
    ” (16) because everything in the world–the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life–does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.”
    and the other scripture about storing treasures in heaven.. need I say more??

    • Holly Chu says:

      @Freed Mason, No you need not say more, you are very eloquent, but I have a Scripture as well,
      Matthew 7:22,23….”Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name……(23) Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

  3. Twmack says:

    Fantastic response for the need of volunteers to work
    on the 4 year project of constructing the new Warwick
    Headquarters. 3,800 Bro’s, responded, so many that
    a shift system had to be organised to prevent them
    getting into each other’s way.

    The generosity of the R & F is beyond question, they
    were asked if they were able to pay their own way to
    the site. Many specialised skills and professional
    know how was needed. Skills that would not have been
    available if the AW, of May 1969 p15, had been followed.–

    “As a young person you will never fulfil any career that
    this system has to offer”.

    No doubt the new building will be a solid construction
    that will last for many, many Generations, the org, is
    renowned for taking care of its assets, it’s property.

    “Could this be our last Memorial before Armageddon”?
    Oh please! “Pull the other one it’s got bells on”.

    • Minion says:

      TW,

      Let me get this right, all 3,800 volunteers paid there way to arrive at the new Mecca.

      And have been sacrificed to the god of this world Satan.
      The Mecca is located over a toxic waste dump.
      All will develop uncureable cancer and will die.

      Hail and praise Satan! the words and song of The Watchtower Corporation the evil slave.

      Peace out,

  4. rob says:

    The leadership at the watchtower are shrewd and arrogant and know exactly what to say to get the herd to follow. Dangling the carrot, using manipulation and then using guilt are all tactics that obviously work. For those that do not follow, they use shunning from family and friends to keep control.

    They really are masters at using people.

    But one day, hopefully, they will be the ones who face judgement and are held accountable for their actions.

    • Minion says:

      R,

      The Watchtower Corporation is due accountability, or lack thereof, this is an excerpt of the San Diego newspaper 3 hours ago.

      Lopez’s lawyers put on a six-day trial in front of the judge, without Watchtower’s lawyers there to offer a defense. In the end, Judge Lewis handed down a default judgment of $10.5 million in punitive damages and $3 million in compensatory damages against Watchtower.

      Watchtower also had to pay more than $37,000 in sanctions, mostly to cover the travel costs for the deposition that never happened.

      Watchtower appealed.

      The appeals court gave a mixed-bag opinion Thursday.

      The three-judge panel rejected Watchtower’s claims that the prior abuse documents shouldn’t have to be turned over.

      However, the appeals court disagreed with the judge’s order for Losch’s deposition, saying Lopez’s lawyers did not prove that he was key to the case as a leader in the governing body.

      The court also took issue with how quickly Lewis terminated Watchtower from the court proceedings, saying she should have first tried less-punitive sanctions to see if the church would comply with her orders.

      The case will now go back to Lewis to give Watchtower another chance to turn over the requested abuse documents. If, after further warnings and lower-grade sanctions, the church still doesn’t comply, the case could end again the same way.

      Attorneys for Watchtower did not return requests for an interview Thursday.

      Lopez’s lawyer, Zalkin, said Thursday that the court’s opinion could have a big impact on his case and other similar lawsuits against Watchtower being fought in California and around the country.

      “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.

      Previous
      $13.5M for Jehovah’s Witness sex victim
      “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.

      Last April, an appeals court overturned an $8.6 million punitive award against Watchtower in a similar 2012 lawsuit filed in Alameda County by a woman who was molested by a church member. The court ruled that the church had no obligation to warn the congregation that the member had admitted to previously molesting his stepdaughter. The court did uphold $2.8 million in compensatory damages in the case. End of commentary.

      Message to The Watchtower Corporation, “your following the steps of the wicked congregations spoken in Revelation.
      I know your wicked and evil deeds”

      It’s true or its not.

      Peace out,

  5. label licker says:

    While we were in the cult, we had our wills made out to the Watchtower. When we saw how the elders protected a man who was beating his wife, smashing in her car by hand while drunk, committing adultery, waving fully loaded guns in his wife’s face threatening to kill her and using a worldly teenage employee to forge legal documents using his wife’s name then we stopped going to the meetings in Elmira, On. Even asking why an elder is allowed to remain an elder after finding out his fifteen year old daughter is having a baby and the father is a worldly fourteen year old kid, all we got for an answer was the elders don’t even have any say on what pedo’s can do to the kids in the congregation. Making excuses and putting the blame on the org’s sick rules for their laziness as elders.
    I do have my judicial meeting all on tape so they didn’t df me but put me on public reprove for supposedly discouraging all of this guy’s family members to pioneer six years previous. Half a year later none of them were pioneering and two months later two of the twenty-five year olds were made elders. One who was still going to college taking a four year course and told by the po to keep it quiet that he was going to college. The org would rather keep someone who’s getting an education quiet than to expose pedos. Sick sick cult!
    To bad for Watchtower for we have no kids and our money was willed to them. I don’t think a few million dollars is something to protect pedo’s over or allow a guy who was reinstated after seventeen years of being df’d be allowed to do what he did after he was reinstated. Thank god we saw that bright light and the real truth was revealed to us. Now our wills are made out to helping sick kids and the poor.

  6. Twmack says:

    Minion.
    Let me get this right, all 3,800 volunteers paid there way to arrive at the new Mecca.”

    Hi minion.- Volunteers were asked, if they were “Able” to pay their own travel
    expenses, which is very subtle. Instead of the org, paying as a matter of policy,
    it puts the onus on the volunteers, either to find their own funds or, take from
    JHVH, by asking the org, to pay ( As they would view it ). I can’t think that any
    would take the second option.

    I was invited to attend courses at Bethel on two occasions, and each time
    I was asked if I was able to pay my own way.

    Things seem to be well organised at Warwick. 40 buses to transport workers
    to and from the site every day. Also 8 temporary dining rooms to feed the
    hungry workers.

    I only hope at the end of their contract the volunteers won’t be invited to
    contribute toward the cost of the food they’ve consumed. Which is exactly
    what the classes I attended at Bethel j invited to do. Even though
    we had lost a months wages by being there.

  7. Vidiot says:

    Ho… lee… f**k.

    No wonder the Org has been trying to scrape together as much funds as they can.

    This isn’t gonna be a one-time-only thing… they’ll have to budget for abuse-related payouts for every single year here on in (and not just in Oz, I’ll bet).

    And when they start coming up short, they can kiss their charity/tax-exempt status goodbye.

  8. Wip it says:

    Satanic Propaganda, that’s what they say, a good friend of mine has uncovered for himself the WT are on the stock market,he approached the local elders & quizzed them, he was told that the internet lies, so now he is writing to the 7 dwarves, dangerous game my friend, more talk, more bad publicity

  9. kathy says:

    the thing with the molested is not stopping the religion , every group has problems , what the religion Jws is doing is they share with each other thier talents and machines and lives to helps other, where christians are failing to do this, the JW group offers lawyers free doctors free, machinery free, if yoru car breaks down you can call abythwere in the little book they give you and they come tot get you, they offer services in trade for thier religion , their beliefs , they offer a way of life that makes it hard for the property to get out of , you can throw the truth at people but for the mos they will trade thier soul for free items to make it in this world , the true God want us to grow up and make our own way but with him in it God wants us to ask , so ask God to fill yoru needs not a society that makes you stay in it or else, this is not Jesus , He told us to love , His father tells us to love, The whole concept of the bible is to live well respect work love and help , many JWS do not wan this line placed on them , they like the Jws because they take care of them almost in whole and this makes it hard onthe children ,Jesus said flesh and blood do not enter into my kingdom, Jws make it sound like you will not die but live inthis perfect world forever , King James Bible
    Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.1 Corinthians 15:50

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