The Times news organisation, one of the most prestigious and widely read news outlets in the UK, has today carried an article by lawyer Kathleen Hallisey calling for urgent action to address Watchtower’s worldwide ongoing sex abuse scandal.
Hallisey is extremely qualified to write on this issue. Her bio at the end of the article states:
She is a senior solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp, specialising in child abuse. She acted on behalf of the claimant in the landmark case of A v Watchtower  EWHC 1722 (QB), the first judgment against the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the UK for historical sexual abuse.
What she says should therefore be taken very seriously.
Describing the issue as being “On a scale which may be comparable to the Catholic Church, Savile or the Football Association,” Hallisey outlines the facts that have now become familiar to anyone who has been following the developments of this story. Says Hallisey:
This is not a new issue. In 2002, the BBC Panorama programme Suffer the little children focused on allegations of sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Former members of the religion claimed that the organisation maintained a database of alleged paedophiles, ie a list of names against whom complaints of sexual abuse had been made. Survivors from the US and UK were interviewed. Their stories were tragic in the way that all such stories are. But the details about how the organisation is alleged to have dealt with their claims were particularly disturbing. After summoning the courage to report the abuse to the leaders of their congregations, they claim they were only asked if there was a second witness to the abuse, and it appears none of their complaints were reported to the police by the organisation.
Hallisey then goes on to outline the continuing failure of the Watchtower organisation since 2002 to implement any effective changes, and goes on to show how the organisation fails both the abuse survivors and the surrounding community in a tangible and very disturbing way.
Lastly, she gives and urgent call for the Government to take action include the Witnesses in the upcoming UK Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and also references the Charity Commission investigation currently taking place into Watchtower over this issue.
Personally, I echo the call Halliesy makes:
We need to do more to tackle sex abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This is not about religion or arguments over Biblical doctrines.
This is about organisation that is registered as a charity in many countries that is collecting data on the identity of unreported dangerous criminal predators and failing and in many cases actively refusing to pass that information on to the authorities whose job it is to keep us safe from such people.
This is a major public safely issue.
Watchtower’s actions leave dangerous predatory criminals at large.
We call for urgent, direct and robust action from the Governments and from law enforcement to address the specific issue of Watchtower’s conduct in this area.
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Follow Kathleen Hallisey on twitter @khallisey16