Under fire: The Britain branch office (pictured) says it will "review" the six-figure judgment
Under fire: The Britain branch office (pictured) says it will “review” the judgment

The BBC has today reported on a landmark ruling at London’s High Court that sees a victim of child sex abuse as a result of safeguarding failures by Watchtower become the first person to win a civil suit against the organization in the UK.

Our child abuse correspondent, Karen Morgan, who is herself a JW child abuse victim, reported on this case back in March.

Then it was revealed that, if successful, it could open the floodgates for more claims to be brought against Watchtower in the UK – with the organization already under fire with the Charity Commission over its worsening safeguarding reputation.

AO Advocates, the law firm representing the victim (who is being referred to as “C” to preserve her anonymity) also revealed in March that they had as many as six extra clients waiting in the wings if C’s case proved successful.

Well, now C has been awarded £275,000 in compensation from Watchtower, surely paving the way for more legal proceedings against the embattled organization.

Visit the BBC page reporting this story

As heartening as this news will be to the many campaigners who urgently want to see Watchtower protect children by taking child abuse seriously, it is worth reflecting on the heavy price paid by the victim as a result of her ordeal.

Now in her 20s, C was abused between 1989 and 1994 when she was between the ages of just four and nine. The abuse, including rape, took place in her home, in her attacker’s home, in a shed, and in cars. C was told “she was sinning” and “she would not be saved.” Her ordeal has left her so traumatized that she has already attempted suicide and reportedly told her lawyers she didn’t expect to live beyond 30.

C’s attacker, Paul Stewart, died in 2001, aged 72, shortly before police arrived at his home to arrest him for his abuse of her. He was a ministerial servant when he began abusing C in 1989, but was shortly thereafter removed as a servant after confessing to molesting another girl.

Even so, elder’s let him hold on to many of the privileges he’d held as a servant. Thus Stewart was able to exploit the positions of trust given to him by elders in a congregation in Loughborough to carry out his wicked acts.

Reaction

In delivering his verdict, Mr Justice Globe said he was “satisfied” the organization should be “held responsible” for the abuse.

The organization has responded to the verdict by telling the BBC it will review the judgment. Regular readers of JWsurvey will recall that, as recently as February this year, Governing Body member Stephen Lett slammed concerns over Watchtower’s mishandling of child abuse as “apostate-driven lies and dishonesties.”

C spoke to the BBC before the verdict, saying: “These [abuse victims] aren’t apostates, these are people who have suffered from horrible, horrible crimes and had their lives completely wrecked. They’re not out to destroy the organisation… This is a problem that needs to be dealt with and it needs to be dealt with properly because it is only going to get worse.”

The BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman has recognized the significance of the verdict: “This is the first civil case for damages for historical sexual abuse in the UK brought against the Jehovah’s Witness organization, and is thought to be the first brought against any non-mainstream religion.”

And Kathleen Hallisey, lawyer at AO Advocates, has remarked: “This should be a wake-up call to the Jehovah’s Witness organisation that they need to implement better child safeguarding policies that are in line with modern day knowledge about child safeguarding and sexual abuse. And I also hope that it’s a wake-up call to members of the organisation that child sexual abuse is a problem within the organisation and it’s something that they need to do something about.”

We can only hope this story and so many others like it will indeed cause individual Witnesses to either urge reform from within the organization, or vote with their feet.

 

 

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70 thoughts on “Landmark victory sees Jehovah’s Witness sex abuse victim receive six-figure sum

  • June 19, 2015 at 8:01 am
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    Great reporting. At long last…justice for this girl. No more cover-ups WT Organisation.

  • June 19, 2015 at 8:17 am
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    >>>Governing Body member Stephen Lett slammed concerns over Watchtower’s mishandling of child abuse as “apostate-driven lies and dishonesties.”

    It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it. ~Maurice Switzer, 1906

    IMHO

    dogstar

  • June 19, 2015 at 8:43 am
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    Oh yes, they want to review the case!
    Poor them, they are always the victims of this evil system of things.

    They only want to be the side that shuns, insult, abuse and condemn people. If they are touched with a finger they are victims of people who hates Jehovah.

    I hope that society wakes up and realise that behind the nice appearance there is an organisation that ruthlessly abuse people.

    They split families to justify their strange ideas and ever changing truths (lies).

    I really believe that they hate Jehovah!, Jesus said “Love your enemies” not shun your loved ones. SHAME ON YOU!!!

  • June 19, 2015 at 8:46 am
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    I sincerely hope this case changes the outsiders’ perception of JWs as polite and earnest, albeit nerdy evangelists, into something closer to the cruel and ugly reality.

  • June 19, 2015 at 9:15 am
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    Society are appealing the decision…you would think they should just pay it, accept it and move on but you can’t take money from Jehoover thus the Society will fight this ruling.

    That in itself should be a wakeup call to still ins!

    • June 19, 2015 at 9:21 am
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      Hi – where did you get this information from?

      • June 19, 2015 at 11:01 am
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        Hi Lloyd, it mentions the society will appeal in the BBC article…the BBC have updated it with more info.

      • June 19, 2015 at 11:02 am
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        I’ll quote it for you:

        “The organisation – which accepted that Stewart, who died before facing justice, sexually abused the claimant – said it was “disappointed” with the decision and would appeal.”

        • June 19, 2015 at 11:20 am
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          Yes, I see now. Thanks so much for bringing that point out – I completely missed it! :)

    • June 20, 2015 at 6:57 pm
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      The Watchtower was somewhat successful in its appeal of the Candace Conti case:

      “A state appeals court in San Francisco today upheld a $2.8 million compensatory damage award for a woman who was molested as a child by an adult member of the North Fremont Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregation.”

      “But the appeals court overturned an additional $8.6 million punitive award levied against the congregation and the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters organization in a 2012 Alameda County Superior Court trial on a lawsuit filed by Candace Conti.”

      It appears that the Watchtower will only be liable for a percentage of the $2.8 million punitive award and the North Fremont CA Congregation will be liable for the rest.

      As for this latest judgment in England, the Watchtower will use the appeals process to delay payment and attempt to have the the amount of the judgment reduced.

      http://patch.com/california/fremont/court-upholds-28-million-award-jehovahs-witnesses-molestation-case-0

      • June 21, 2015 at 9:30 am
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        Correction: The sentence in the fourth paragraph above should have read, “…the $2.8 million COMPENSATORY award…”

        “Compensatory damages are damages that are awarded to a plaintiff in a civil law case for injuries incurred as a result of the actions of the defendant, lost wages, lost profits, hospital bills (current and future), cost of home medical care, property damage, mental anguish, loss of friends, loss of respect in the community, loss of reputation, loss of consortium and pain and suffering.”

        “Punitive damages will only be awarded by the judge presiding over the case if the defendant’s act was so horrible and offensive that the court believes it is important to make an example out of the defendant from the case. Punitive damages are meant to be a punishment for the defendant and to deter the defendant from committing the same crime again.”

        http://www.litigationlawfirms.com/resources/lawsuits-and-disputes/litigation/types-damages.htm

  • June 19, 2015 at 9:25 am
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    With is is such great news. I was at the case supporting the victim and it was blatantly obvious that the org was at fault even tho there lawyer tried to rubbish the witnesses. The org’s own expert witness said that saying sorry isn’t enough, and that child abuse is an illness like being an alcoholic…..they may say sorry they won’t do it again….but without help they will.
    I’m so happy that this real problem is being recognised at last.

  • June 19, 2015 at 9:27 am
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    Congrats to C for taking on the WT corp – and winning! No child should have to suffer like she did, and I hope she continues to recover surrounded by kindness and love. Ecstatic that another case has revealed JWs for the despicable cult they are.

  • June 19, 2015 at 9:42 am
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    Thank you C for being brave enough and strong enough to see this through to the end. All my thoughts are with you and it is unbearable what you have had to suffer. You are an absolute star to have come through this and I hope you will be able to see some light and the end of this horrible ordeal.
    So much love and thanks.
    xx

  • June 19, 2015 at 10:33 am
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    Thank you C for being so very brave. You took on the dot org and won. I hope the ordinary rank and file members of watchtower see that this is not “apostate driven lies”. I still fear for the children. This is another seismic event that will rock watchtower. Thanks for the great reporting.

    Best wishes to all,
    Jerry

  • June 19, 2015 at 11:20 am
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    This is great news that justice is served in Great Britain against the cruel cult that allowed and hid this type of behavior. However, I hate that this has happened to “C”. That is an awful thing to happen to any child or person. No amount of money can undo the damage that this person did to “C”. If you are reading this, then peace be with you “C”.

  • June 19, 2015 at 11:24 am
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    WT is like the three wise monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. As wikipedia says, they “deal with impropriety by turning a blind eye.”

    In a large corporation or bureaucracy, the effects of policy are not always readily apparent. It can take years or even decades to connect failure with bad decisions. And the high level of apostate paranoia at WT will keep them blind for a long time.

    They won’t change until the money is all gone.

  • June 19, 2015 at 11:27 am
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    I’m just happy it worked out for her. I just hope this doesn’t add anymore to the Borg’s persecution complex mentality.

  • June 19, 2015 at 1:29 pm
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    Elders need to understand that child abuse is not only sin,
    to be dealt with inside the org. First and.foremost it is a
    “Crime” and any allegations need to be reported to the
    properly constituted authorities. Otherwise they themselves
    could be complicit and liable to prosecution.

    They need also to recognise that their cong, judicial system
    is not the superior arrangement that’s claimed for it, and is
    Inadequate to deal with such cases.

    The claims of the org, that they constantly warn parents to
    be on guard against abusers, are insincere. When they allow
    such people to circulate freely among them.

    Comments that abusing children is an addiction, a disease,
    are no doubt made to try and mitigate it in some way.
    In that case then, a disease carrier needs to be quarantined.

  • June 19, 2015 at 1:59 pm
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    I saw this news break on the BBC website at lunchtime. It was on national radio news by 2pm and on the main news at tea time when the majority of people would be home watching and listening. I hope it’s all over the papers as well, so that homeowners can see the headlines and hold it up for witnesses to see when they call on them this weekend.

    I’m thinking of copying the articles, laminating them and giving them out to passers-by right next to the W/T magazine stand next to the railway station. I’m sure the public would be more interested in that news than the comics that Witnesses are trying to place!

    • June 19, 2015 at 2:28 pm
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      Well done Markw on. I’d like to see the J.W. Apolgists explain their way out of this…..The Org’s whole system is corrupt and wrong, the Winds of Change are sweeping across this Organisation and their child abuse policies which are deeply flawed, one of many cases that will break this year….

      • June 20, 2015 at 1:07 am
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        Thanks, Innocent Son. I believe there are many more cases lined up now that ‘C’ has won this.
        JW Apologists tend to rely on the ‘imperfect men’ and ‘just one or two cases’ arguments, but they can’t deny that the ‘two-witnesses’ policy offers a haven to many of these misfits.
        I remember elders scoffing at the Catholic Priests who had been found out over the years…I wonder what they’re thinking now?
        Let’s hope that many householders see this news and confront the door-knockers with hard-to-answer questions about their policies.
        Will it make much difference to the r&f? I honestly don’t think so, as they will still believe Stephen Lett’s pronouncement in February, about ‘ridiculous’ statements made by apostates about child abuse in the org!

      • June 20, 2015 at 2:22 am
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        There is a thread about it on the Topix JW discussion website. So far no comment from any JW apologists.

  • June 19, 2015 at 5:10 pm
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    Seriously, they can’t just keep blaming apostates! At some stage they should own up to their mistakes.

  • June 19, 2015 at 5:11 pm
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    You are just so on the mark with your reporting on JWdom. Virtually hours after it happening. This brings me back to a you tube video by Louise Good and our friend LEH. Bethel completely refused to send out or discuss there safe guarding policies, and the local elders didn’t even know the document existed. When they were handed an unofficial copy of the safe guarding policy (she got the impression)they were going to bin it. Good on you Wt ( and their minion LEH). I guess it goes to show how far they have come.

  • June 19, 2015 at 5:58 pm
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    Their tactic seems to be to appeal every case that is won against them.

  • June 19, 2015 at 7:39 pm
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    Sadly it is awful cases like this that make the JWs beg for money on jw.org and make cartoons aimed at stealing ice cream money off of their children.
    Quite ironic that they are asking for JW children’s money to help pay for the multitude of law suits they are losing for not protecting JW children properly.

  • June 20, 2015 at 12:38 am
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    ”we have money going out than coming in” best get use it! Ha Ha Ha

  • June 20, 2015 at 12:53 am
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    sorry missed the MORE money going out, MORE jws going out, but a lot more lawsuits coming in.

  • June 20, 2015 at 1:11 am
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    Will Steven Lett now make a new announcement on JW.Org, saying that ‘Actually, the apostates were right…we do harbour child abusers, but we’re going to change our policies and now denounce it as a crime instead of a sin.’?

    No. I think 1914 will be rejected and Tony Tight Pants will announce that he alone is the F&DS before Stephen will broadcast that statement!

  • June 20, 2015 at 1:19 am
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    This comment was made in the Guardian newspaper:

    “The damages and an interim payment of £455,000 towards A’s legal costs will be met by the trustees of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.”

    Does anyone know who the ‘trustees’ are who will have to pay damages and costs? Are these contributions by the children who have to go without ice-cream to pay for the WBTS policies? Or is it someone else?

    Thanks and peace.

    • June 20, 2015 at 5:15 am
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      Markw1509,

      A good place to start is to look on the Charity Commission website, because the WTBTS has Trustees to gain charity status.

      I suspect that it is these individuals mentioned. However, they could be Trustees of one of the many corporations controlled by the WTBTS.

      These Trustees will be listed somewhere, though.

      I hope this helps, sir.

      Peace be with you, Excelsior!

      • June 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm
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        Thanks, Excelsior!
        Always enjoy your helpful, erudite and interesting comments.
        Peace to you too.
        Mark

  • June 20, 2015 at 4:32 am
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    Lets hope that this is the first of of many in the uk.
    I have family who hang on the every word that this corrupt bunch of clowns say.
    The cases that have made the headlines in the US, are basically still unknown to the average JW here, and if it is heard, it’s “just apostate lies!”
    If we can keep these cases coming, along with the ongoing Charities Commission case,we could possibly have a perfect storm of negative press against them that is impossible to ignore.
    My thoughts also go out to ALL of the victims of this cult.
    Be brave.your day will come.

  • June 20, 2015 at 4:39 am
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    JW apologists rant that the abused are only interested in the money, and hate JW and are vengeful, apostates exaggerate and are bitter and hate all JW.

    Yet its these so apostates against the WT that seem to only care about the victims, many of them being victims themselves and who can blame them for being upset and yes bitter at times. But they care more for the JW than these apologists which are way to proud to ever admit that their GB policies have failed to protect the most vulnerable among them.

    Hopefully C will have some sort of validation and this coming from Satan’s world,(WT speak) she got no justice protection from the GB.

    Another brave women and hopefully this may help in some healing.

    And this coming soon after the lying hypocritical speak from Stephen Lett. I hope that at least some JW will have the intelligence and conscience to see through the total dishonesty of Lett.

  • June 20, 2015 at 5:26 am
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    Lloyd,

    Thank you for this article, and also a sincere thank you to Karen Morgan for her continued kindness.

    C

    I am so sorry for the pain you went through and the trauma you face daily. I hope that this victory will give you strength and comfort. You are an amazing, outstanding person, and I wish you all the luck in the world as you live your life going forward.

    All of us want to help you if we can.

    This case will provide a precedent so other brave victims of terrible abuses can receive the justice they deserve. I hope that this is the case.

    Let us hope that the WTBTS comprehend that it is now essential to address the monstrous abuses that it has covered up for so long.

    They need to put in place, and vigorously enforce, a child protection policy that actually protects children and young people from the fiends who want to abuse them.

    Peace be with you, Excelsior!

  • June 20, 2015 at 5:55 am
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    Wonderful news.Let more people come forward now .Girls like C and Brie(another wonderful woman) are really causing the WT a lot of distress.However what else can we expect from a religion which baptized peter sutcliffe (read about it only a few days ago). Nothing about this organization(calling it a religion will be insult to other religions) surprises me any more.

  • June 20, 2015 at 6:18 am
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    They’re very devious on this whole issue. The elders manual
    states that child abuse is a crime, and no cong, sanctions
    will be imposed if the victim reports it to the police.

    If the victim or family though, ask about reporting it, the elders
    are to remain neutral, or passive and leave it entirely in the
    victims hands. So as usual the org, covers itself legally,
    but are disgraced morally, leaving the injured one alone to make
    a very emotional and troubling decision.

    WT articles have counselled against taking other “Christians” to
    “Worldly” law courts, ( claimed to be of Satan’s system ).
    The fact that some of these abuse cases have taken several years
    to come to light, indicates the mental struggle that some victims
    have had. A choice between exposing a criminal or coping with
    guilt feelings by bringing reproach on “God’s organisation”?

    One must wonder, how many such cases have gone undisclosed.

  • June 20, 2015 at 7:38 am
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    Why doesn’t our good organization come out & tell us the truth? I feel there is something they’re not telling us. I mean why do they do those horrible things and try to co er them up in effect losing lots of dollars? They can just say each individual abuser should carry his own burden and corporate with authorities. I think that would save their reputation. What do they try to achieve? What are they not telling us?

  • June 20, 2015 at 10:48 am
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    I agree with Rowland Nelken. However, even when people do see the ugly side of the Watchtower Society they will put it down to persecution by a hostile media. They need to be shown that there is a real alternative.

  • June 20, 2015 at 12:17 pm
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    It is amazing that although these cases are becoming common in the jw.org religion they shamelessly criticise the catholic church for the same thing. They put their reputation above people lives. Thanks to the internet they dark ages tactics are finally exposed.

  • June 20, 2015 at 1:34 pm
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    When their made up kingdom crumbles you’ll be able to look back at these types of rulings and see that this was part of lighting the fuse.

    Since so many apologists are ignoring their strict command to not even visit a site like this and are on here trolling and defending the governing body, I’ll say this preemptively. This is not Satan’s world attacking you. This is accountability for your wrong doing. This is self inflicted because you base your policies, your values on opinions derived from a Bronze Age book of ancient Hebrew fairy tales.

    And you are proven wrong for doing so. If god is backing you then you need to get a better god.

    Because you’re wrong. And being wrong is going to be terribly expensive.

    Anyone care to donate? Now we know why they openly pandered for money.

    • June 20, 2015 at 10:05 pm
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      Jakemon75 says: “Anyone care to donate? Now we know why they openly pandered for money.”

      It’s now easier that ever to donate money to help pay the child abuse judgments. The Watchtower now accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover:

      https://www.jw.org/apps/E_QBrNGR

  • June 20, 2015 at 5:27 pm
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    RC –
    I knew about the serial killer Peter Sutcliffe getting baptised – Did you know that Rose West is also a Jehovah’s Witness?
    Honestly, it makes a mockery of them shunning us poor misguided souls. They prefer the company of people whose wickedness has been proven in law. Protecting paedophiles who claim their innocence is par for the course.
    The two witness rule is so blatantly wicked when it is applied to abuse victims. Cases like this one will hopefully lead to more brave victims coming forward.
    With the Jimmy Savile atrocities still fresh in peoples minds we can only hope that these revelations will prevent honest hearted ones from looking at this damned religion!

  • June 20, 2015 at 5:41 pm
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    just asking –
    ‘Why doesn’t our good organisation come out and tell us the truth’?
    Because they are a bad organisation who have told us lie upon lie. The chasm is now too great to cross.
    To admit that 607 is the wrong date for the destruction of Jerusalem (check it out on historical websites) would mean having to admit that 1914 is wrong as well. They will never do this. It is a foundation stone to their faith.
    Too many people would abandon them. The money would stop coming in. The results would be disastrous. So they have to keep supporting the lie, and let’s face it if you tell a lie often enough people will believe it!
    Every Jehovah’s witness is living proof of this.

  • June 20, 2015 at 6:19 pm
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    I phoned up my old man saturday morning ( his an elder )asked if he was going door, to which he said yes, then asked if he saw the news on bbc, ¡ got ” yeees ” so i called him the devils addvocate. For some reason my phone went dead. lol

  • June 20, 2015 at 6:56 pm
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    Then as i walked through town to meet my sister, to my amazment there were two jws with a trolley. I couldnt help but say ” after yesterday ( there faces dropped like lead ballons ) do really think youve got much hope ? ” All i got back was ” urrrgh ”

  • June 21, 2015 at 6:39 am
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    There was a comment on this on JW talk – they know whenever they hit the headlines – field and cart service will be bad – you dhould see them at oxford circus tube – people ignore them. They only ask them for directions to places.

  • June 21, 2015 at 8:22 am
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    Great article. Thank you, Cedars.

    I have a dream that, someday, the number of lawyers in the Organization will outnumber R&F. A man can dream…

    “I believe in monsters and things that go bump in the night… May they rot in hell, along with their attorneys.” Law & Order

  • June 21, 2015 at 8:54 am
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    There is a thought that has been bugging me, and I wish I could discuss it with a JW.

    I think any JW would agree that pedophilia is a crime (I hope). I think they would agree that the Organization has a procedures for handling this internally. I think they would agree that it is not always the case that these are reported to the authorities (e.g. the police). So, based on evidence, there are some pedophiles who may be disfellowshipped but are not behind bars. Correct?

    Do the JWs not understand that even if they are able to keep their Organization “clean” that this does nothing for the rest of the world? If they are not reporting these offenders, are they not turning a monster lose out into the world? JWs are quick to say that they go door-to-door because they want to save lives, but do not seem to take the steps to protect their fellow citizens. Is this not the very definition of hypocrisy?

  • June 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm
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    jws have no shame or feelings for these poor tortured souls, even after being publiclly humillated they just stand there with a witchtower and count time.

  • June 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm
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    Stephen Lett’s rant against ridiculous “apostate driven lies and deceptions” applies to congregation elders. A former elder from the Oakley, CA congregation read from a letter bearing the letterhead of the North Congregation of Fremont CA Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was a letter of recommendation which introduced known child molester, Jonathan Kendrick to the elders of the Oakley congregation:

    The former elder read, “There’s no indication at all that he’s guilty of child abuse. If you read it, it very specifically says he’s a very interesting individual who has taken the lead with some young ones in the congregation and helped them from veering off course. That’s not a child abuser, that’s a recommendation. That’s a very specific recommendation. Oh, relax. He’s good with kids.”

    In the Candace Conti case, the court determined that the Watchtower is under no obligation to identify child molesters who are lurking in congregations. However, there is a big difference between remaining silent and giving a child molester a glowing recommendation. Jonathan Kendrick later married a woman in the Oakley congregation and then went on to sexually molest her underage granddaughter. (It was this event that prompted Candace Conti to pursue her legal case against the Watchtower.)

    In this instance, ridiculous apostate-driven lies and deceptions originated with the elders of the North Congregation of Fremont.

    http://jwsurvey.org/cedars-blog/stephen-lett-slams-apostate-driven-lies-and-dishonesties-concerning-child-abuse-record

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/leaders-jehovahs-witnesses-cover-child-sex-abuse/

    (The letter praising child molester Jonathan Kendrick appears 6 minutes into the video.)

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