Campaigners against the mishandling of child sex abuse by Watchtower were dealt a huge blow yesterday as news emerged that all charges against alleged Witness pedophile Ronald Lawrence have been dropped.
As reported in the McAlester News-Capital, “Associate District Judge James Bland dismissed the charges based on statue of limitation arguments from Lawrence’s attorney.”
Disputes concerning the statute of limitations were raised earlier in the case, but have been shrugged off by the prosecution as non-applicable.
Prosecutor Danita Williams, of the district attorney’s office for Pittsburg County, argued that “the statute of limitations applies to the time the crime is reported to law enforcement.” But Associate District Judge James Bland has thrown out the charges on this basis regardless following argumentation from Lawrence’s attorney, Warren Gotcher.
The decision means that Lawrence can walk free despite being accused of “11 counts of lewd molestation, five counts of forcible oral sodomy, two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of rape by instrumentation of three separate children from 1977 to 1982.”
Lawrence’s alleged victims will doubtless be distraught that all of these counts have been dismissed on a technicality.
A smaller glimmer of hope remains for them, since the prosecutor’s office has announced their desire to appeal the decision.
But if the decision is upheld, not only Lawrence but also the Governing Body will be off the hook, since they were implicated in a motion by the DA as having involvement in the concealment of Lawrence’s crimes.
Kathleen Conti is a SNAP leader and campaigner for reform regarding statute of limitation rules. In response to this development she said, “This is just another prime example of why the current statute of limitation laws need to be changed. Not only did Ronald Lawrence escape justice for his horrific crimes against these victims but the entire church body especially the ‘Governing Body’ who are accused of covering up and concealing these crimes against children.”
And in SNAP’s official response to the news, Director David Clohessy said, “We are appalled that an allegedly spiritual man would seek to hide behind a technicality like this. If he wants to defend himself, let him do it on the merits, not on the technicalities.”
In SNAP’s official statement, Clohessy also bemoaned the “apparent silence of the Oklahoma Jehovah’s Witness community” throughout this scandal, as well as their lack of initiative.
“Church officials should be using their resources to aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered Lawrence’s crimes. They should be begging anyone with information or suspicions of his wrongdoing to call police and prosecutors… Instead, as best we can tell, they’re doing nothing.”
- McAlester News-Capital article
- SNAP Press Release “Jehovah Witness Predator Escapes Consequences”
- Governing Body stands accused by District Attorney in Oklahoma child abuse case
- Oklahoma police investigating whether elders failed to report serial pedophile
- JWsurvey articles on child abuse
38 thoughts on “Off the hook: Charges against Lawrence dropped as lawsuit is thrown out by judge”
I don’t understand this statute of limitations; it’s got to go, it’s a crime that impedes the survivor’s instincts to protect themselves by telling… I have no doubt someday that statute will be changed. But my question is why can Catholics come forward years and years afterwards and be heard~are those civil suits?
I wonder if there are grounds for a civil route if the appeal fizzles. Still, a bit more digging into this guy’s history should be done.
Is this what it means to wait on Jehovah? If you wait long enough the statute of limitation kicks in? How is that keeping the congregation clean?I bet there is large sigh of relief amongst those who also offended years ago and were watching this trial ,they are home free! This sickens me!
I am so saddened and discouraged by this disheartening news. I really thought we might’ve had something here. It’s situations such as these that make me disappointed in the justice system. From a legal perspective, the judge may have done the right thing, but from a moral perspective, not at all. Should there even be a statute of limitation if it means the possible triumph of injustice?
I certainly hope the DA’s office moves forward with their desire to appeal.
Thank you, John, for all your hard work in keeping me updated.
I can just see it now…jubilation by many JWs declaring that Jehovah has aided the JWs “once again” in the fight against the evil victims who dared to try to malign the GB.
Good point. Like the Catholic diocese lawsuits–criminal charges are beyond criminal statute limitations, but civil penalties can reach from beyond the grave. And, actually, civil suits could have an infinite punitive effect on purse/coffers.
I would also like to highlight that part of the USA is “red state” territory, so guns, bibles and so forth, first, then progressive ideals–it’s conservatives country so an “attack” on any “church” or religious group would go down like lukewarm beer.
Just to broaden perspective on what that area of nation is dealing with:
Total injustice in a society that claims to serve the creator-Jehovah God. Totally saddening to see so-called spiritual men deny psychological “widows and orphans” justice and emotional help. This clearly shows we are dealing with a money-making empire here…NOT a religious organisation as they pupport to be. Total hypocrites, the GB is, with utter dis-regard for the welfare of others.
We are fortunate in one way and that is that there is no statute of limitations on GOD’s Law.
The decision means that Lawrence can walk free -I doubt ,that Lawrence can walk free.He needs to pray every day, that nothing will happen with him…
Lawyers / solicitors, are all about winning at all costs. It doesn’t matter if the client is right or wrong. Judges don’t seem to look at the full picture and the reality of the issue. The way judges rule amazes me.
I too am a victim of a miscarriage of justice in a court of law, to see things like this happening globally in the justice system deeply saddens me, and leaves me feeling helpless.
Yes, this is a blow.
If statutes of limitations are the issue, can the law be changed by legislation? I am not familiar with American law.
A civil case will be forthcoming, I hope.
My heart goes out to the victims.
Peace be with you
Never lose heart, there is always the appeal process, during which time even judges will reflect upon their follies.
The hand of God moves in a very mysterious way. I am confident that some how if an appeal is pressed on with, God’s justice will win the day!
Excelsior: Yes, of course the statute of limitations can be changed by the legislative process. But in order for that to happen, there will need to be legislation presented that establishes a clear and present need to amend the statutes in Oklahoma. One case such as this will not be very likely to garner legislative support and even if such a bill was introduced into the legislative process, it might not survive the legislative committee review and come before the legislature for a vote. At very best revision of statute of limitations is a lengthy and slow process, perhaps lasting for decades. In the United States there has been a tremendous need (said by some) to amend the laws surrounding medical malpractice and products liability statutes. The first justification for such change is to reduce the potential liability for the medical practitioner industry from horrendous suits that may in fact not be prosecutable under any circumstances were there not goals of huge financial settlement involved. In the case of products liability, the perennial question that is argued is how old can a product be before its manufacturer can be free from responsibility for its manufacture. These issues have been argued for decades with relatively little movement. The result is that many products have become far more expensive and medical services and insurance costs have skyrocketed which in fact, is one of the primary drivers in “Obamacare”. In effecting a change in the statute of limitations regarding this JW pedophile, the struggle will be long and hard. CAN it be done? Absolutely! WILL it be done? I don’t know but I doubt it, unless there can be found a few dozen more cases like this in Oklahoma that will create an obvious, politically correct basis for legislative action.
I’m not surprised, it is Oklahoma, where the legal precedent was set in 2009 that if a man divorces his wife, she is still his sister.
i completely agree eviebklyn, its sickening.
Don’t worry it isn’t over “until the fat lady sings” And soon the Governing Body who Protects these pedophiles will get what is due them. After as the bible says “nothing goes uncovered” and God Allows a “operation of error” but only for a time.
The Governing Body is and has been allowing this operation of error to exist for to long. Weather it be Media coverage, word of mouth or the actual court case, they are being brought more and more into the limelight or in their case, to be shown in a poor light. They deserve any and all scrutiny in this regard because of their flawed policy on reporting of offenses of this type to the proper authorities.
They are more concerned with protecting their own name rather then seek the protection of innocent children who are susceptible to those they harbor in their ranks who have in the past done such heinous crimes.
No worry’s though as sometimes things have to begin somewhere and once it becomes mainstream its only a matter of time for the tides to turn on this 130 year old religion.
Justice will triumph in the end rest assured!!
There is no shame on the part of those who feel this is the wrong decision. As far as I know, America only has a statutes of limitations on child rape. It is understandable because some accused may even be dead now, but it is also inadequate, such as in this instance.
This man will have to live with his chosen silence and will ultimately have to face a court far higher than any man can conceive.
THE JUDGE IS WRONG IS THIS CASE. THE STATUE OF LIMITATIONS SHOULD NOT APPLY!
US and UK have the same foundations and here in the UK WE HAVE THE JIMMY SAVILLE CASE AND ALL THE SPINS OFF CHARGES FROM THAT GONG BACK UP TO 30 YEARS.
Stuart Hall, who worked for the BBC was jailed for such offence going back almost 30 years I believe.
The world would take a very dim view of US law if this strike down was allowed to stand!
Thank you Cedars for the update. This news makes me sick. Nevertheless, the pressure on these criminals should continue in the form of an appeal, civil proceedings, and writing campaigns to anyone who will listen–the judge, the congregation where this person is still an elder, the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and any witnesses you may know. It’s been my experience that the average JW is not ‘tuned in.’ When you asked them about this pedophile situation, they say they haven’t heard anything or read anything. One JW recently asked me to explain what the Conti case was about. I agree that the statute of limitations probably will be a hard one to change and there are instances when statutes of limitations do serve justice; but this is bigger than Oklahoma.
Roger, I was hoping that a Federal appeal would be the way to go.
I agree that it would be hard, and may not pass all the hurdles before becoming law.
That is no reason to not start the process. The crimes that this individual has been accused of are vile in the extreme. There should be no time limit in cases of child abuse.
Now there is a cause that you and many others can contribute to.
If you are of a religious disposition, I can think of no better way to honour the sacrifice of Jesus Christ than to pursue justice and safety for children.
If you are not, then it is the human thing to do.
Peace be with you
Is this guy still an elder?
According to the latest newspaper report he is, but I would rather not state that in my article just in case they don’t have up-to-date information.
This man still an elder? Doesn’t that just say it all!
Yes, this man is fine elder material!!
Congratulations, WTBTS! You have disgusted me yet again! Just when I think that all the horror has been exposed, lovely Christian men like this are allowed to continue in positions of power!
May your God have mercy on you, WTBTS. Because I have none for you.
Peace be with you
Disgusting, simply disgusting!
I think the best thing that can be done at this point is the publicity.
The more stories like these are posted the more tarnished the image of the F&DS gets. Who wants to go the this areas hall with this man?
Ill be sure to post it to my facebook to let everyone know what is going on.
The WT is turning into the catholic church more and more everyday.
And, that’s not valid assumption as the statutes vary from state to state, and this case is at sovereign state level not sovereign federal level. It also varies by the action of grievance, and heaven forbid it happen on sovereign First Nation territory, which opens another can o’worms.
Laws and regulations can vary from state to state and even times, county(parish) to county–drinking a beer in one county is legal, while it was not in next county.
Recall that California tried to restructure statute of limitations recently, too, and failed. Big unofficial amicus curiae to the Watchtower–RCC, and a formal and informal lobbying giant. Depending on the ethnic make-up and location of legal jurisdiction the range of influence favoring the aforementioned giant deepens–French, Spanish, German/Polish, and Irish influences with deep Catholic roots.
Nuances in the legal game.
Carol White, thanks for jogging my memory about the Stuart Hall conviction in U.K. Here’s a case we can wrap our hopes around.
Im new and finally have ”some” courage to speak up , so Hello all ….
@Jbob ..also did’nt help that Brown is a HUGE catholic and kicked it to the curb. I guess he did’nt want to mess his chances on going to heaven ..hopefully he will not be reelected this year and another go of it can occur.
Would’nt surprise me if he’s still an elder . Remember the nice loop hole they get? ….holding those secret sins for 3 years with out it being common knowledge and you can still be A ok!….. insert sarcasm here….
Add to that , that the states statute of limitations is even longer …he passes with flying colors!! No conviction and he may still get to take the spiritual lead ..I just threw up in my mouth thinking about it.
The justice system in America is rigged in favor of the accused. Sorry to say, but we should have seen this coming. How sickening.
I despise pedophiles!
Faithful Witness, I share your repugnance at the verdict.
However, you are conflating a bias to the accused with the statute of limitations. The courts have to be mindful that a crime must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s there to safeguard against false accusations and provide as fair a trial as possible. Long may that be the case.
An expert on law was on radio 4 on the UK, talking about low conviction rates for abuse victims. He said that a not guilty verdict does not mean that someone is innocent. It means that the case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
That this man has escaped justice is repugnant and infuriating. But there must always be a fair trial for all parties.
I called for action on amending the statute of limitations in regard to rape and abuse victims in a previous post. We are all agreed that this man should face justice for his actions.
Peace be with you
If elders hours are high enough, they must get certain legal “privileges”
Off-topic comment from Ernesto deleted per our posting guidelines.
I see Ernesto’s post has been removed.
However, if what he says is honest and correct…It will be good for the world to Share The Truth!
Child sexual assault is an act of Satan and hes been doing dirty for years. Any support of this is from Satan. This Jehovahs witness man getting away with this is no surprise because Satan has a strong desire to see children raped and molested so of course he will make sure this continues. It is sad that those who are involved in this abuse claim to be christian ‘followers of Jesus’..Any who support this is not a follower of the true God .They cant be because it goes against whats right in Gods eyes. So, Yes Satan supports his own and he will continue because he loves seeing children get raped and BONUS for him when a human loves what he loves also claiming to love God:(. Everyone who loves whats right can be confident that soon God will act against this unjust world.
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
Oh just when it looked like we might have some good news.. Just when i thought there might be some justice in the world
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