On September 26th, 2018, a Montana jury of seven men and two women handed down the largest-ever punitive damages award for a single abuse victim.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, together with the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses were found guilty of both negligence and malice in connection with the intentional failure to file police reports on behalf of plaintiff Alexis Nunez and two additional victims. A combined total of 35 million dollars was assessed following detailed instructions given to the jury by Judge James A. Manley.

Four million dollars was awarded to plaintiff Nunez on the count of negligence, followed by a 31 million dollar punitive verdict, the result of the jury’s decision that Watchtower and its affiliates acted out of malice.

The case, originally filed November 2016, was placed in the hands of a Montana jury after multiple pre-trial attempts by Watchtower to have the case dismissed. In the September 11th, 2018 filing with the court, Watchtower claimed that they are an institution, and institutions are not individuals, or persons – and only persons are mandated reporters. By making this claim, Watchtower used semantics to misdirect the court. It was an outright attempt to avoid accountability for the policies which directed elders to remain silent when they discovered allegations of horrific and repeated sexual abuse of three members of the congregation by one perpetrator.

The statute lists persons (i.e., members of the clergy) as mandated reporters, Montana Code Annotated § 41-3-201, but does not include religions or entities religions use to perform their operations. – September 11, 2018 Motion by Watchtower attempting to halt the Montana trial 

This article is the first in a series of articles documenting the events of the trial which might prove to be among the most significant child abuse trials in modern times.

I would like to thank Neil Smith, Ross Leonoudakis, and Tracy Rector of the law firm of Nix Patterson LLP, whose dedicated efforts on behalf of victims of abuse have sent a powerful message to the corporations whose flawed policies have not only broken laws, but broken lives.

Attorneys for the Plaintiff, Neil Smith, Jim Molloy, and  Ross Leonoudakis
Attorneys for the Plaintiff, Neil Smith, Jim Molloy, and Ross Leonoudakis Smith and Leonoudakis represent the Texas-based Nix Law Firm  in cooperation with Gallik, Bremer & Molloy of Bozeman, Montana

The Opening Statements

[The following account combines the opening statements of this trial with the visual aids displayed by the plaintiff’s legal team for the jury. Every effort was made to reproduce this portion of the trial with extreme accuracy]

Monday, September 24th, 2018

Attorney for the plaintiffs, Neil Smith:

“If it pleases the court, thank you your honor. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll remember, I told you this morning about the different parts of the case. And I told you that during jury selection, that is not the opportunity for us to talk about the evidence (when) you hear the evidence. We are now at opening statements and opening statements provide me with an opportunity to tell you about the evidence that you will hear, and what the evidence will show, during the trial of this case. The evidence in this case will show that this is the case about a church that knew about a known child molester. When I say that the church knew about a known child molester, the church knew who he was, they knew who his victims were, and the evidence will show that they knew the sick things he did. Now, what do we all know about child molesters? We know that child molesters prey on children.

That is their victims. And if we do not protect children, from people we know to be a child molester, children will get sexually abused. You’re going to hear in this case, about how Montana law requires clergy members to report child abuse to the authorities. But in this particular case, the church you’re going to hear about, and their clergy, refused to follow the law. And they refused to follow the law because they favored the secrecy of their church over the safety of children. Now we talked a lot about the mandatory reporter law and what it is, and I want to be clear, the judge will ultimately instruct you on what the law is. And you will see that at some point in the case, you’ll see it come from the court. So I’m gonna put up right now what I expect the court will instruct you as to what the law is. This is what I expect the court will instruct you is Montana’s mandatory reporters’ statute. And here’s the reason I put this up here: I put it up here because sometimes when we talk about the law and what the law is, we get a little intimidated by it, and think “ah, that’s for lawyers.”

By putting it up here right now, so that you can get familiar with it, and you’ll recognize what this is when the court instructs you on the law. So let’s just walk through it – This is what you’ll see. It says:

Montana Code 41-3-201 Requiring Elders to Report Child Abuse

When the professionals and officials listed in subsection 2, and down here in subsection 2 it says professionals and officials required to report are clergy.  All right. There’s some other folks who are reporters, but for purposes of this trial, you need to know, you need to look for this when the court instructs you that it applies to clergy.

It says, when those professionals know or have reasonable cause to suspect, as a result of the information they receive in their professional or official capacity, that a child is abused or neglected, they shall report the matter promptly to the department of public health and human services or its local affiliate.

Alright let’s break that down and look at what the elements are of this lawsuit. We see it, you can look at it and say ok – I know what the elements are that Mr Smith talked about. First element, is that it applies to clergy. And we’re going to talk about in this case who are clergy, who meet that legal definition. The next element you’ll want to be familiar with is when is the law triggered. And that’s this part where it says “when professionals know or have reasonable cause to suspect” and it talks about a child being abused or neglected. So it’s triggered when a clergy member knows or suspects child abuse. The next element, it’s the third one,  – there’s three parts to it – it says “what happens when the law is triggered?” And notice I have underlined, it says: They shall report.   And the reason I underlined that language is because it’s really important because it doesn’t say you might report, or maybe report – it says “You shall report.”

It’s mandatory, and that’s the reason why this is called the mandatory reporter law. It requires that the abuse be reported to the department of public health and human services or its local affiliate. And that makes sense, we report it to someone who can take action. We report it to someone who can take action, and so that kids are protected. Let’s talk specifically about what happened in this case.

You now know in hearing about this case, that this case is about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. You see, the Jehovah’s Witnesses knew that a church member was molesting children. Now Neil, I know you’re thinking – what do you mean when you say that the evidence is going to show that they knew? I want you to listen for these things. The evidence is going to show that the victims reported to the church and to its clergy. They knew because it was reported. I want you to listen to how the church conducted an investigation and confirmed themselves that the abuse took place. The second way they knew.

And then the third thing I want you to listen for (if the evidence comes in this case???) is that the child molester actually admitted to the church that he was a child molester and he molested children. And then another thing I want you to pay attention to, is when you heard somebody say “this is a molester that wasn’t part of our organization” – I want you to listen for this: that known child molester was a member of the Jehovah’s Witness church, and attended that church with his victims. So listen for that as well.

Ok, we’re going to get into the details of what happened, and I need to give you just a little quick background about who the Jehovah’s Witnesses are. We don’t cover everything about them, just what’s important. Alright- So some of you noticed I have a typo here. First of all, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a worldwide global religion. They have eight and a half million followers worldwide. They have a hundred twenty thousand churches. And the organization is run by people who are called “elders” – real important term, you’re going to hear a lot of talk about that, and we’ll talk about who the elders are, and what they do. Here’s what the most important thing you need to know about elders is: Elders are clergy. That’s the most important thing you need to know. And we’re going to be talking about elders; we’re going to talk about the law that applies to clergy, and the thing you need to know is that elders are clergy.

Ok, let’s shift gears, and talk about who are the defendants in this case. Right. You say hang on Neil, I thought we were talking about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and now you’ve got some different names up here. Let me explain why this is the case. There are three defendants, and I’m going to walk you through who they are and tell you why they are defendants.

The Defendants
The Defendants

The first one is Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Incorporated – that is their full name and it is a mouthful. So everybody abbreviates that they are Watchtower, or Watchtower New York. So when you hear that term, I want you to know we’re talking about one of the defendants. OK, the next one, and you already heard Mrs. DeSoto mention this, is a defendant called the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Another mouthful, and so we abbreviate that as CCJW. When you hear talk about CCJW, that’s another defendant. And the last one is Thompson Falls Congregation, that one’s easy to understand, that’s the local church, here in Thompson Falls, the local Jehovah’s Witness church.

Ok, so you’re next question is, Hey Neil, why are you talking about the corporations when this is about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s a good question. You see, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a big organization, and they have office building headquarters in New York. The evidence will show they have dormitories where they house their elders and feed them and provide them for all their needs. They have to be able to enter into contracts, they have to be able to open bank accounts, and to do that, they had to set up these legal corporations – and that’s their choice. That’s how they choose to run their religion, through these corporations, and that’s why these corporations are defendants. And you’re going to hear, and I’m going to show you and outline, and explain to you how these two corporations, Watchtower and CCJW, and I want you to hear this: These two specifically knew about Max Reyes, right here in Thompson Falls, what he was doing, and who he had been with.

These corporations, all the way in New York, had the exact details, the evidence will show, of what was happening in Thompson Falls; who the victims were. And the evidence is going to show that there were elders in these corporations that knew these things.

Ok, that’s who the defendants are. Now I need to just very briefly talk to you about some important beliefs that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have. Now remember, people can have beliefs, but this case is about the actions they took, the decisions they made, and their failure to follow the law. Two important beliefs you need to know about, of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, first one you need to know about is called the two witness rule. The two witness rule is a belief that they have turned into a policy, and it is their belief that their church can take no action against a member based upon the testimony of one witness. You gotta have two.

I’m bringing this up to you now because the evidence is going to show they applied that rule even in an instance of child sex abuse. When one child is coming forward saying “I’m a victim, please help me”  – the two witness rule says “sorry – you’re only one witness.” That’s why I bring that up, so listen for it.

The Two Witness Rule, And Elders Keep Secrets
The Two Witness Rule, and Elders Keep Secrets

The other important belief that you need to know about is that elders – they keep secrets. They keep secrets, even when the information they know is about a known child molester. So as we go through this case, you’re going to hear, and I’m going to walk you through how this happened, how there is a policy that comes down all the way to the elders right here in Thompson Falls, and it says: You know about child abuse, the very first thing you do – you call the legal department. That’s the first thing you do. And the legal department up in New York, it’s going to tell you what to do. And if the legal department tells you you don’t have to report – you better keep it a secret.

“The other important belief that you need to know about is that elders – they keep secrets. They keep secrets, even when the information they know is about a known child molester.”   -Neil Smith, attorney for the plaintiffs

And that is their policy that elders keep secret. So listen for that as we go through it. We don’t have to get into all their beliefs – those are the two important ones to know about. Okay – now: I want to get into the exact details of the facts of this case, so if you have an outline and an understanding as we go through the witnesses, and to do that the first thing I need to do is tell you who some people are. Don’t be overwhelmed by this, okay – don’t feel like you need to memorize it,

This is a board we’re going to use throughout the trial You’ll always be able to look back on and and go “Oh I forgot who Joni is, I forgot who Max is – you’ll be able to look at this board…

Ok, this is a family tree. And I’m laying this out so when we talk about these names, you understand the family structure. At the top we’ve got Joni and Peter Sr, a married couple. There’s three layers, so we’re going to talk about them as being the grandparents. They had three children, Ivy, Holly, and Peter Jr…

Family Structure of Pedophile And his Child Victims
Family Structure of Pedophile And his Child Victims

The third level is the grandchildren, and that’s where we have Lexi. So this is a family unit over here – grandparents, children, and grandchildren. Over here to the side is Max. He is the known child molester. Why do I have him to the side connected with the dotted line? Joni and Peter divorced. Joni remarried Max. And Max attended the Jehovah’s Witness church with his children and grandchildren. OK – so that’s the family structure that some of the names- don’t worry, every time we come back to these folks, we’re going to put this chart up so that you can remember where everybody is.

Here in green, are some of the victims. When I say victims, it’s the people that Max sexually abused. We’ve got Holly- Max sexually abused her. Jehovah’s Witnesses knew about it. Max sexually abused Peter Jr. He’s not a plaintiff in this case, but he was a victim. You’ll hear evidence the church knew that Max sexually abused him. Then we have Lexi – I introduced you to her today, she’s sitting over here – she was a victim that Max sexually abused.

So, that is the, kind of the background, who we’re talking about, and you know what – I’m going to keep that one up there so as I walk through that, this, you can remember who it is.

All right- now – Neil has been saying that the church knew that Max Reyes was sexually abusing [kids]. They knew because twice- twice they were notified. We’re going to talk about the two times they were notified. saying that

One time they were notified was in 1998. Alright, so in your mind, put it in those compartments – we’re going to talk about the 1998 report; we’re going to talk about the 2004. Those are the two times – alright. As we go through those, let me start by talking about – first- about when and how they learned Max Reyes was a child abuser, in 2004. Start down here at the bottom. This is one of the times they were notified, you start down here at the bottom with Peter.

First thing that happened, you’re going to hear evidence, is that Peter went to elders at the Thompson Falls church, and told them “I’m being sexually abused- I’ve been sexually abused by Max Reyes.” But remember, Jehovah’s Witnesses have the two witness rule, Peter’s just one guy. Peter says  – you know what? Holly – that’s his sister over here – one of the plaintiffs in the courtroom, Holly can be a second witness, she can back this up.

And you’re going to see this board when I walk through this with people involved – they’re going to confirm this. The Thompson Falls Elders, after they heard from Peter, they reach out to Holly, they place a phone call to Holly. And Holly tells them there’s another person Max Reyes, a member at your church, sexually abused me. Not only did she tell them that, she puts it in writing. And I think, you’re going to have a chance, during this trial, to see that letter.

Alright, so now we’ve got two people that have notified the elders in the local church. And this is very, very important right here, it’s over here in red, and I want you to pay very close attention to what happens here. And the reason I want you to pay close attention is you’re going to hear a bunch of talk during this trial from the defendants about confidentiality.

After Peter and Holly tell the elders what happened, the elders go to the child abuser. They go to Max Reyes. And they tell him what the kids have said. They alert him, they tip him off, they share that information. That’s really important, because they don’t keep the information confidential – they go tell somebody else. It’s also important because Max admits to the elders that he’s a child molester. Keep in mind why I’m telling you this. I’m telling you this because we’re talking about a statute that says clergy shall report abuse. Alright so if we go through this, listen to all the times that clergy know about this. Alright, so we’ve got elders at the local Thompson Falls church that have heard these reports from two victims, Peter and Holly. In 2004 they have an admission from Max. What did I tell you is the very first thing they are taught to do? Call the legal department. And that’s what they do.

They place a call to the legal department. Now, when I say the legal department, I’m not talking about calling the law firm, my firm, or a lawyer here in Thompson Falls for advice. They call the in-house lawyers at Watchtower. Watchtower is their national organization. It’s the people that control the elders and give them their instructions, tell them what to do, control whether they have their position. It is required that the elders do what the legal department says to do.

And the evidence you will hear in this case is that the legal department says “You don’t have to report.” Not only do you not have to report, remember we’ve got our secrecy policy, so if you don’t have to report, you keep it quiet. That’s what the elders do. And they then are instructed to document what they know with their administrative offices over here at the other defendant, CCJW.

So you’re going to hear witnesses talk about witnesses calling watchtower and being told not to report. And you’re going to see, I think, some of the documents that goes to the other defendant, a defendant run by elders, where they document what they know and when they know it.

Through this lawsuit, we’ve been able to obtain some of the defendants’ secret documents, and I think you’ll have a chance to see those as evidence in this case. And as you look at those documents, these are the things I want you to watch for, as you see them. I want you to watch for, does it have the identity of a child molester? Does it have dates? Does it have details about what the guy did? And I think you’ll see that they have that information. Now, this is what happened in 2004. We all know what somebody is supposed to do next. With a law without a law, what do you do? You know, you’ve got a known child molester – you report him. You report him to the authorities so you can prevent other kids from being sexually abused by him.

But that is not what they did. Instead, these three defendants chose, the evidence will show, they made a conscious decision that they were not going to report him. They made a conscious decision to not follow the law. Now, if you heard, during the court’s instructions, one of the instructions that he gave you was that the court has already ruled on 2004. He instructed you during those instructions that the defendants violated the law, and they are liable.

You’ll be asked to decide what damages they caused, by failing to report this guy and for choosing not to follow the law. That is 2004. Ok – talking about two elements…

1998 Abuse Report, Disputed by Defendants
1998 Abuse Report, Disputed by Defendants

Of course, the defendants dispute what they knew, and when they knew. And you’re also going to hear about a 98 report, In 1998 the evidence will show Holly, she was 12 years old at the time. She went to elders at the local church, the local Thompson Falls church, and she told them that Max was sexually abusing her, but she’s just one witness. And so the church took no action, and of course they now say that that never happened.

The reason I put this up here is you’re going to hear that in 1998, CCJW over here did not exist. That’s why we break these into 2004 which the court has already ruled on, and you’ll just be deciding damages, and we talk about 1998 separately,  because in 1998, you only have Watchtower. And what the evidence will show is that Watchtower sent the policies to the elders in Thompson Falls, that told them what they had to do, and they had the ability to kick these elders out if they didn’t follow their rules. Ok, And I put this up here because these elders in Thompson Falls were the people that were the agents, the evidence will show, for Watchtower.

The Abuse Timeline
The Abuse Timeline

That is the 1998 report. Let’s tie this all together and put it in a big picture real fast with our timeline. This is a timeline that begins in 1994, and it goes to 2007. Here’s what I’m showing to you on this timeline. On this timeline, you have first the window of time when Holly was sexually abused. She is sexually abused from 1994 until 1999, that is from the time when she is aged 15, I’m sorry, aged 10 until 15. Her abuse involved every kind of touching, and penetration you can imagine. It occurred on a regular basis. It was intercourse, it was oral sex, it was fondling, from the time she was aged 10 until the time she was aged 15.

The reason I have this up here is so that you can see that during the time that Max Reyes is sexually abusing her, that is when she made the 1998 report.  That’s when it occurred.

Over here, between 2002 and 2007, we have the window of time when Lexi is being abused – that’s our other plaintiff. This is from the time she is aged 6 until age 11. Here’s how she was sexually abused.

Max Reyes fondled her, he forced Lexi to fondle him, and to pleasure him. She’ll give you the details of it. The reason this is up here, report #2 happened while Lexi was being abused. The 2004 report happened during that window of time. And the court has ruled the defendants violated the law right here, and you’ll be asked ‘what damages occurred after, and as a result of them violating the law?’

I point all this out to you because the law is very clear on what clergy members must do when they know a child has been sexually abused. But this law is only enforced through a trial like this, by a jury like you. That law that you’re going to hear about, it has to apply equally to all religions. And it must protect all children from known child molesters.

Thank you your honor.”

[Following opening arguments by plaintiff’s attorney Neil Smith, Watchtower attorney Joel Taylor addresses the jury in defense of Watchtower and the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses]

The Defense Opens

Watchtower Attorney Joel Taylor
Watchtower Attorney Joel Taylor stands in the parking lot of the Sanders County Courthouse

Attorney for the Defense, Joel Taylor:

   “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my name is Joel Taylor. I have been in the courtroom for voir dire, sitting alongside Katie, but I have not yet addressed you. So let me first begin by saying thank you, thank you very much for taking this responsibility to be jurors so seriously. And thank you for having the wherewithal to hear these serious allegations. Now, I just want to express my appreciation for your sacrifice, but also describe a little bit to you who the defendants are in this case. Now, I don’t have a lot of charts, but I am going to use this whiteboard, and hopefully between the whiteboard and the evidence, you won’t need a fancy chart. Ok? And so first let me talk to you about the Thompson Falls Congregation.

The Thompson Falls Congregation was established in the 1950s, and in fact we see some of the members here right now in this courtroom. These are regular Montana folks, they work in the mill, some of them are loggers, and some of them do home repair, some are carpenters, and they’re trying to care for their families, and they decide that they want to draw close to God, and they accept the faith known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. And then they formed this congregation, and they fellowship and worship together.

Now, I don’t have a lot of charts, but I am going to use this whiteboard, and hopefully between the whiteboard and the evidence, you won’t need a fancy chart. – Watchtower Attorney Joel Taylor 

Now one of the hallmarks of what the Thompson Falls congregation does is that they go door to door. And they knock on people’s doors, they knock on may of your doors, you know, sometimes it’s at an inconvenient time, but they do it only because they love you. And they do it because they believe that salvation is through Jesus Christ. And they want to tell other people about it. Many of you are bible readers, and you know that when Jesus was on the earth, that’s what he did. He talked to people who were not of his faith, about his own faith. And that’s what Jehovah’s Witnesses here in the Thompson Falls Congregation endeavor to do. They come from T Falls, Plains, they also come from Trout Creek, and Hot Springs.

Presently as I mentioned, the congregation has about 70 members. Now in addition to the congregation, you’ve heard about two corporations. One of them is called Watchtower, and the other is called Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or CCJW. Those corporations assist the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And so, just like some of you might be Pentecostal, or otherwise you might be Baptist, you might be Catholic, so Jehovah’s Witnesses is a faith, but then there are corporations that assist the faith. And those two corporations, Watchtower and CCJW do that.

CCJW did not exist prior to 2001, but today CCJW is primarily used as a non-profit corporation that communicates with congregations. Watchtower is primarily the owner of property, and is also a printer. That’s probably why you’ve seen those journals that the friends here from the Thompson Falls congregation are often putting out and asking you if you’d like to read them. So those are just a few of the defendants, and a little bit about them. I should tell you this though, that as with most religions, the structure of many religions is confusing. And so, throughout our conversation and throughout this trial, you may hear terms that you don’t understand, and I’m going to do my best to make sure that I explain those religious terms to you.

In fact, there may be occasions even when counsel for the plaintiff uses a term incorrectly. And you may hear me object. But that’s only to make sure that we identify which victim that we’re talking about. You may even hear from the witnesses, some of whom are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they may confuse which corporation…sometimes these things are confusing, but ultimately at the end of the day, you’re going to know who did what, and when.

Before we go any further, I think it’s important that we acknowledge the harm that the two plaintiffs have suffered. It is beyond question that child abuse is an abomination. It’s beyond question. It’s a serious and gross sin, against God, and against the victims. There’s no question about that. That is a bible teaching. While we acknowledge the heinousness of the sin, Thompson Falls, Watchtower, CCJW, deny responsibility.

And as we go throughout this trial, you’re going to see that the responsibility really does lie, not with these individuals. So what are we asking of you jurors over the next two or three days? We’re simply asking, not for the benefit of the doubt, My clients, they don’t need the benefit…of a doubt. They just ask that you reserve judgment until you’ve heard the entire story.

Sometimes when we hear stories, for example, you might hear a story that begins “Once upon a time…” And right away your mind can take you to the end, and you say “well, they lived happily ever after.” Well, this trial is not really like a fairy tale. It’s more like a complex novel. It’s going to take a number of turns and twists, and all we ask is that you reserve judgment until you’ve heard all of the evidence. And then at that point, the judge will charge you as to the law, and you will be able to… make a decision.

Joel Taylor, for Watchtower, quotes Proverbs 18:17
Joel Taylor, for Watchtower, quotes Proverbs 18:17

And that’s in line with something the Bible says. In the book of Proverbs, the Bible says that “The first to state his case seems right, until the other party comes and cross-examines him.” So you need to hear the whole truth. And unfortunately in that opening, you did not hear the whole truth. And as you listen to the plaintiffs, although they’ve been injured, you’re not going to hear the whole truth. What you’re going to hear is embellishing around the edges. And it may even go to the point of outright spin. And you’re going to hear facts taken out of context You’re going to hear memories that were not what it were, what they were, when they occurred. And you should reject it.

You know, today there’s a lot of misinformation out there. If you watch the news media, they take one fact, and depending on their political leaning they take that fact and they change it. Some people refer to that as fake news. We don’t listen to fake news when it comes on the television, and we ought not listen to it in this courtroom…  

Watchtower Attorney Joel Taylor compared the victims’ account of abuse to the storied exaggerations of catching a fish. (photo © https://www.prawnsoda.co.uk)

And you should hear the whole story before you make any decision. In fact, sometimes people can just exaggerate because of the passage of time. For example, maybe you’ve been fishing down in the reservoir, right – and you go down fishing in the reservoir with your buddies, you catch a ten-pound pike. And then five years later that ten-pound pike is now 20 pounds. Ten years later that pike is now 30 pounds. But lo and behold, someone says, “you know I have a photograph of when we went fishing.” And when you compare the photograph to the story, you realize that the person, their memory has been affected by the passage of time. And in this case, we have documents, we have evidence to show that memories have been affected by the passage of time.

For example, Let’s go back to the chart they talked about – 1998. The weight of the testimonial evidence will show that the meeting in 1998 didn’t occur. Holly claims that in 1998, she went to Mr. Herberger’s home, to complain about sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. That’s what she claims. She says that when she went to Don Herberger’s house in 1998, she went to him as an elder, in the summer of 1998, and she also claims that she took her sister Ivy with her as well. She claims that she took her younger brother Peter as well. She also claims in her testimony that her aunt Iris drove her over to Don Herberger’s house.

“You know, today there’s a lot of misinformation out there. If you watch the news media, they take one fact, and depending on their political leaning they take that fact and they change it. Some people refer to that as fake news. We don’t listen to fake news when it comes on the television, and we ought not listen to it in this courtroom…” – Watchtower attorney Joel Taylor

So now, let’s unpack this 98 meeting. Here are the problems with the 98 meeting. In the summer of 1998, Mr. Herberger was not an elder in the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He wasn’t. He just wasn’t an elder. What is more, you’re going to hear from Peter,  Holly’s sister, he’s going to say he never went over there. What is more, You’re going to hear from Iris, and Iris is going to say that never happened. They’re going to say that. Now in 1998, Holly alleges that after going over Don Herberger’s house, he took her to meet with two elders. And then the three of them met at the Kingdom Hall after one of the meetings. You’re going to hear the congregation testify that that meeting never occurred, and that no one ever met with Holly.

They’re also going to testify that their church practice would have been to make a notation of any meeting involving serious sin, and that there is no documentary evidence. You’re also going to hear the representative for Watchtower testify that in 1998, if an allegation of abuse had come up, they would have called the legal department right away. And that the legal department has no records related to any call from 1998. And that’s because…the 1998 meeting never happened.

And of course, CCJW could not have participated in the 1998 meeting – it didn’t exist until 2001. Now, let’s talk about 2004. They are correct, the elders were alerted to a serious sin in the congregation. In 2004, Peter came forward to the elders. At the time, and you did not hear this in the opening, at the time, Peter was 17 ½ years old when he came to the elders in 2004. And he told the elders in a confidential setting, that he will testify himself, that he intended the communication to be confidential. That his stepfather, Max, had abused him four and a half years earlier. That’s what his testimony will be.

See, we don’t want you to operate under the impression that some little children came to the elders, and they were told about the abuse and the elders looked the other way. No, no – Max was 17 ½, I’m sorry, Peter was 17 ½ when he came to the elders. He’s going to tell you that he wanted elders to handle the sin, that’s what he wanted. But child abuse is unique, and I’ll explain it to you this way.

(Joel Taylor writes on whiteboard)

Unlike some sins that happened, and we’ve all made mistakes, child abuse is a sin and a crime. It’s both. It’s both a sin and a crime.

(Taylor continues to write on whiteboard)

And this is what the plaintiffs will confuse repeatedly, and they’re not going to want you to understand this, but as it relates to the crime, Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the law. As it relates to the sin, they follow the bible. Now some sin is not a crime. For example, you’re drinking in your home to an excess, and you get drunk a lot, and it’s always in the privacy of your home, why it’s a sin, you just follow the Bible, elders might give you some scriptural guidance and counsel. But other sins are both sins and crime. And when Jehovah’s Witnesses deal with child abuse, they follow the law. So when Peter comes forward in 2004, the elders contact the legal department.

You have to ask yourself, why would they contact the legal department? Well, they contact the legal department because they want legal direction. These reporting laws are quite complex. And they change often. So there is one central location to call and ask and find out what my obligation is under the law. And so elders called the legal department, and they got direction on the law.

Now, it is true, it is true, that the judge has ruled that the exception does not apply. But this explains why the elders did what they did. And I’ll read to you the exception under Montana’s law. You might have noticed a chart that had Montana’s law – well it did not include the exception. This is the actual language of the exception. “A member of the clergy or a priest is not required to make a report under this section if the communication is required to be confidential by canon law, church doctrine, or established church practices. Now we all have our own individual beliefs what should happen when there’s an allegation of child abuse. We might feel, “well look-  report everything.”

Well honestly, that is an oversimplification of a very complex problem. One, not every victim wants it reported, because victims are concerned about being re-traumatized by a criminal justice system that at times doesn’t even believe them. And so, you can over-simplify and say “We must report.” But I tell you, anyone who says that has never spoken to a victim.  Because victims are individuals, they all have their own feelings on the matter. And so, here’s what happens in the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses: If the law says report, Jehovah’s Witnesses report. In the absence of a law that says report, Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the Bible. And the Bible says that parents have the right to choose what’s in the best interests of their children. Parents have that right.

Well at 17 ½, Peter was already capable of determining what was in his best interests. After he made his report in 2004 to the elders, he moved out. In fact, he moved into the home of another member of the congregation. And then about a couple months later, he moved in with his sister Ivy. That’s what happened in 2004. When that occurred in 2004, there were no children in the home. It was Max and his wife Joni. Now in addition, in connection with this 2004 meeting, contact was made with Holly. Indeed it was. And in the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it differs somewhat from the Catholic model. The Catholic model, there’s a priest and a penitent. But in the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have a communal approach to handling serious sin.

And what do I mean by ‘communal approach’? Well the Bible says that in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom. And Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have a paid clergy. So Don has a regular job. And he volunteers as an elder for four or five hours of each week. Don has a secular job. The other elders in the congregation have secular jobs. They are not paid clergy. And so, we make sure that in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom, so that we bring at least three other elders together to make sure that they handle the serious wrongdoing in the congregation properly. And so, when we do that process, it’s considered confidential. Except, if the law requires a report. If the law requires a report, we report. But in the absence of a directive saying report, we defer to parents and victims to know what’s in their best interests.

We do not try to insert ourselves into their decisions. We respect their individual right to choose. It’s not a policy of secrecy. It’s about respect, and understanding that not all victims are the same.

Now, interestingly, you’ve heard testimony today that when Holly came forward in 2004. It was because she wanted it reported. Well, you know, interestingly, the elders asked Holly to write a letter so that they could confront Max with those allegations, with a view to removing his membership in the congregation, because he had committed serious sin. And we have the letter, and I’ll show you the letter.

(Neil objects, discusses whether or not that letter has been admitted)

Joel Taylor: This is not evidence

Judge: discusses contents …Do you anticipate objections?

Joel Taylor: There was no objection on the uh…

Neil: I have no objection, the jury’s seen it now

Judge: As long as you’re not going to oppose it…

Joel Taylor continues:  

“And so this is the letter that Holly wrote to the congregation in 2004. And it speaks to this issue of whether or not the 98 meeting actually occurred. So in 2004, obviously at this point, you weren’t told this, but in 2004, Holly was 20 years old. And she was living in Nebraska when it came to the elders’ attention. So Peter was 17 ½ moving out, Holly was 20 years old. Now Peter said, when he came forward, that the abuse had happened four or five years ago. And Holly admits that her abuse that happened ended in the 90s. And so this is 2004. She addresses the letter to the body of elders in the Thompson Falls congregation. She was asked by Don Herberger to write the letter. He called her in Nebraska and asked her to write the letter because they were evaluating Max’s membership in the congregation. They were doing so in a confidential setting.

In the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we hear from the accused, we hear from the accusers, and any eyewitnesses. And those communications are established church practices that we maintain confidentiality on, unless, unless, the law says report. Otherwise, we defer to the parents. Now look at this letter, it says: “As you are aware, I have recently disclosed information regarding the sexual abuse received from my stepfather Max.”

“Recently disclosed” – see, when she wrote this in 2004, the fish was this big. (Shows hands)

When she filed this lawsuit, the fish is now this big (shows hands spread wide)

She’s saying, she’s going to tell you now that when she says she recently disclosed, she meant 1998. Now, all it takes is the smell test. She says ‘I have recently disclosed that Max was abusing me.’ Going further, she says it started when Max and Joni got married. That’s when it started, 1994. And he began to do these horrible things, she says, ‘being as I was too embarrassed to tell anyone…’ – too embarrassed to tell anyone; now you heard Mr. Smith say that in 1998 she was telling the elders. But her letter in 2004 says “being too embarrassed to tell anyone.”

So now, what you’re hearing today, is that pike weighs 60 pounds.  But in 2004 when her memory was fresh, before she had any idea of suing, for money damages, it was ‘I have just disclosed this.” That’s what she says. And then she goes on to describe the abuse. She explains that “many times I have tried to tell my mother what was happening, but she was quick to defend him.”

In addition, on the last page, she says “I want to thank Jehovah’s shepherds” – shepherds is another term for elders – “I want to thank the elders for looking after his flock, and for taking care of this situation.” The language and tone of this letter is very different from the allegations you heard. In fact this letter was the first notice that the congregation in Thompson Falls had ever heard of Holly being abused by Max. Because the meeting in 1998 didn’t happen.

Now, why would you ask this question, why does there need to be a 1998 meeting? Here’s why: Because Holly’s abuse ended in 1999, and the law says, generally speaking, that you need to know something is wrong in order to prevent it. So, according to her testimony, the abuse ended in 1999. Now, if the congregation did not learn of it until 2004, which is what her own words suggest, then there was nothing the congregation had to do, could have done, or otherwise. So this 1998 meeting is for one singular purpose, one singular purpose.

(Joel Taylor writes on the whiteboard, 1998 at the top, 2004 in the middle, and $$ at the bottom. He circles 1998, then draws an arc from 1998 down to $$)

Re-Creation of the handwritten whiteboard “exhibit” used by Joel Taylor

That’s what it’s for, that’s what it’s for. It didn’t happen, it didn’t happen. And her own words show evidence of that. Her own words. She never disclosed that abuse before, and at the time she disclosed it, she was already an adult, living in another state, and married. And, as a result, the elders handled Max, and removed him from the congregation, in accord with following the Bible, in connection with the sin.

So this case is not about Bible principles, or a two-witness rule, it had nothing to do with that. By the time the elders learned of the abuse, they had already been four years removed from Peter, and at least six years removed from Holly. Just keep those things in mind as you deliberate and as you hear evidence in this case.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about Alexis, or Lexi. Lexi’s here too, and Lexi is a victim. There’s no question about it, that Lexi’s step-grandfather took advantage of her. And her testimony is that from 2002 to 2007, her step-grandfather abused her. That’s her testimony. We have no reason to doubt the truthfulness of what she says. We don’t. But here’s what you were not told. According to Holly’s testimony, and according to Ivy’s testimony, Ivy has always known, since 1998, that Max attempted to fondle Alexis, or Holly rather.

So, now understand, Ivy is Alexis’ mother. And in 1998, she says “I knew that Max attempted to fondle my sister.” And in 2002, she lets Alexis go and visit with Max… Mom does that. And then, it continues from 2002, 2003, and then in 2004, Peter comes forward to the elders for the first time, and explains what happened. And Holly comes forward to the elders for the first time – and then Max is removed from the congregation. Peter goes to live with Ivy, tells her “Look- step dad abused me too!” Of course, Ivy is already aware that Holly has been abused by Max. And, Ivy continues to let Alexis go and visit with Max, for three more years. Three more years. Mom- fully aware that Max had a propensity to abuse children, and she just lets her go and visit with him. Ivy had the ability, Ivy had the knowledge, but more importantly, Ivy had the responsibility to Lexi to stop this abuse. All she had to do was not allow her to visit with her step-grandfather.

But she continued, and as a result, Ivy is responsible for the harm that came to Lexi. I think all of you would agree that parents have to care. And in this case, a parent did…not…care. And as a result, the child was harmed. Now, there’s much more to this story, that we will discuss. You’re going to hear testimony about the statute of limitations, and the judge is going to instruct you as to the law. And you’re going to become aware that sad and as tragic as it may be, Holly has always known about her abuse, and the connection between it and her emotional challenges.

You’re going to hear from Holly’s first husband; he’s going to testify…


Neil Smith: Your honor, object based on spousal privilege, her husband cannot testify

Judge: It does sound like privileged communication counsel

Joel Taylor: Your honor I’m sure he was in Nebraska, which law are we applying?

Judge: Well, we’re applying Montana evidence law

Joel Taylor: Your honor, he can testify as to what she told him before they were married

Judge: Let’s not get into..

According to Watchtower, the victims’ stories were grossly exaggerated, like a 10-pound pike growing to 60 pounds     © https://internationalfishingnews.blogspot.com

Joel Taylor: You will hear evidence that Holly has always known about the connection between her abuse and her emotional damages…  Even if you could come up with some type of claim at law, the statute of limitations has long since expired. So, pay attention for those details. Just allow yourself to hear the whole truth, and as you sit there right now,ask yourself, how much did I just learn that the plaintiffs did not tell me. Ask yourself that. Because you will hear more, because we’re determined to tell you the whole truth, the pike really was just ten pounds.

And then you will see, that neither Thompson Falls, Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor Watchtower, is liable for the injuries that these plaintiffs have sustained.”

By mid-afternoon, Monday, September 24th, the selection of a jury, along with opening statements from both sides was complete. The stage was set for the remainder of the trial. As the burden of evidence lay with the plaintiff, their witnesses were called first. The first witness to be called was Watchtower representative Doug Chappel.

Check back for future JW Survey articles for a detailed account of witness testimony and the ensuing jury verdict.

When laws are broken, lives are broken.

Additional Media Coverage and reports:










Jehovah’s Witnesses Must Pay $35 Million to Abuse Survivor

Mark O'Donnell

Mark O'Donnell is a former Jehovah's Witness turned whistleblower after discovering the disturbing child abuse epidemic within the religion. His story, along with the revelation of a secret database of child molesters were featured in the March 2019 online issue of the Atlantic Magazine: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/03/the-secret-jehovahs-witness-database-of-child-molesters/584311/ O'Donnell continues to investigate allegations of child abuse within the Witness organization, and works with law enforcement, attorneys, and survivors of abuse, writing about his findings on jwsurvey.org and other outlets.

113 thoughts on “Jehovah’s Witnesses Found Guilty of Malice And Negligence: Victim Awarded $35 Million in Montana Lawsuit

  • December 9, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Well, what a year for Watchtower! The year started with out of court settlements in the Campos cases (the two settlements estimated at $20 million each). Later that was followed by the $35 million court fine in the Montana case. Then there was Leah Remini exposing the Witnesses. Now we hear that last month the Dutch police raided the Netherlands branch office, 2 kingdom halls and 4 houses after the branch said it would give no cooperation whatsoever to the authorities investigating 9 child sex abuse cases going through the courts. To top the year off, the Swedish government fined the Witnesses for showing the scary videos at the regional convention (for which a rating was necessary because it was the public showing of videos with children present).

    We still have the continuation of the Canadian $66 million class action case resuming next week and the 2018 Annual service report next week.

    Surely 2019 can’t be as interesting as this year.

  • December 9, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Ricardo, well done, i have been out and about over recent times & don’t usually check this page, what i can say is that i have had a very good break from the Goon show at the meetings, we helped our son go through some crap where he lives, as a consequence of young people enjoying them selves many were deed & some reproved, a few elders were removed,jumped due to the actions of their children, quite a big uproar in the Bay side of Brisbane, we actually threatened an elder over his treatment, ie: bullying and harassment, we reminded these people that the law takes a very dim view of such treatment & the next phone call may be from legal, or worse a current affair TV program. & yes 2019 will be a very interesting year for them, more lies to tell & hide behind.

    • December 11, 2018 at 4:50 am

      @Whip It, sounds like one hellava party.

  • December 12, 2018 at 3:33 am

    How much of that will be paid out? Little to nothing. Large money verdicts awarded make the news but through appeals and back and forth rancorous exchanges out of court it will get whittled down substantially. Maybe 1% will get paid out. Those verdicts are mostly symbolic.

  • December 12, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Ricardo…..your earlier description of a bad year for WT sounds as if the one true religion is being persecuted and therefore a sign of the last days.
    Witnesses will not be stopped you know. They alone have the truth. Just look at the way they were persecuted during the holocaust and survived. Do you need a more proof than that.
    Along with the 6 million Jews killed, there were other groups who ‘stayed strong’ and died as well, for example, Gypsy’s, Communists and dare I say it, Homosexuals. Imagine that, aye….a handful of JW’s standing strong beside Homosexuals, etc, and then the JW’s today talking about the holocaust as if it was all about them and as one of the ‘proofs’ of how ‘right’ they are.
    Don’t expect reason from religious fundamentalists. They don’t look for truth. They look for confirmation that what they have been told is correct. Confirmation bias rules them.
    I have an inkling that Jesus was a Jew………

  • December 12, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    You can blame the Judge for the WW2 persecution, so its all nonsense as well, saw a good video on you tube from Kim & Mike, about the updating of security at the Halls, camera’s & locked doors, if you are late then you are locked out, they are ramping up the fear for when the Authorities turn on them, quite silly,

  • December 16, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Jehovah’s Witnesses Found Guilty of Malice And Negligence…” What about Malawians whose story is old only by Jehovah. He says, “A group of Witnesses are taken to the area branch of the Malawi Congress Party, where their assailants strip both men and women. Then they bind them together to try to force them to have copulation and thereby commit adultery. One sixty-year-old Witness is bound in this way to a young Witness girl; another young man is bound to his own sister; even a menstruating woman is thus bound to one of the male Witnesses.” (https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/101975882?q=%22to+have+copulation%22&p=par) ! I think sexual sadomasochism rejoices the heart of Jehovah.

  • December 19, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    I hear the new figures have been leaked for the 2018 service year report. Peak publishers increased by 122,000 to be 8,579,909. How is that possible? After the Russia ban the numbers should be falling.

    Also, has anyone got any news on the Canada class action case? There was some hearing on the 17th and 18th December in regards to it.

    • December 20, 2018 at 1:51 am

      @Ricardo, I wonder how many jws know about any of these court cases. 3 weeks ago my wife’s cousin and her husband visited my place and I brought up the $35 million Montana court case at the breakfast table and the look on both of their faces was astounding – it was like they were looking for a quick exit/escape hatch to get away from me. The husband quickly got up and went to help out in the kitchen and his wife closely followed. Both of them graduated from the ski school in America and went to China and has been there for one year prior to visiting my family here is oz land. My wife and her mother are also hard line believers, needless to say I was the only one still siting at the breakfast table having breakfast.

      • December 20, 2018 at 3:10 am

        @Freedom, can you tell us anything about how the preaching work is going in China? I always seem to hear that nothing much is being accomplished and the Witnesses there are having a great bludge. Anything you can add?

        • December 21, 2018 at 9:01 pm

          @Ricardo, according to my visitors, witnessing is still not accepted formally (door to door) only informally such as at a park, shopping centres and public
          places etc. The witnesses are not permitted to approach the public and commence preaching. The public must make the initial approach and the conversation must not start immediately about the bible and/or God.

          • December 21, 2018 at 9:31 pm

            @Freedom, quite a contrast to the other churches which are having phenomenal growth.

  • December 20, 2018 at 9:36 am

    I am curious if the North American Catholic Clergy abuse findings will have an impact of the JW abuse. Quote on our local world news page

    ‘Larry Antonsen, a Chicago leader of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Madigan is doing the right thing and needs to continue. He said Illinois should convene a grand jury with subpoena power, as in Pennsylvania.

    “There’s more that needs to be done. The Catholic Church does not do a good job of policing itself, and you can’t expect them to do that,” Antonsen said. “It’s hard to know what to believe because so much of what they’re doing is in secret and not out in the open, but this is a step in the right direction.”

    A leading attorney who has represented survivors of abuse called for the additional names of priests to be made public.

    “The Illinois Bishops must release these names immediately so that survivors can heal and no other kids are harmed,” said Minneapolis-based Jeff Anderson.’

    I wonder if this sort of reporting will impact the JW’s or will they just be shaking their heads and crying shame on the Catholics without looking in their own back yards?

    • December 20, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      So far the Watchtower and its affiliated corporations have stubbornly refused to release the names of suspected child abusers that they have on file. They have been willing to risk millions of (donated) dollars in court fines and judgements, not to mention much adverse publicity, by blocking release of these documents. Until these cases change from civil to criminal and the authorities can obtain search warrants to enter Bethel (as happened recently in the Netherlands) I seriously doubt they will cooperate.
      BTW, they just sold their last property in Brooklyn for $91 million. ( https://therealdeal.com/2018/12/19/heres-how-much-fortis-paid-for-its-jehovahs-witnesses-site/ )

  • December 24, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    2018 service year report is on jw.orgy. Worldwide a 1.4% increase, although the increase was 5,000 less than last year, adding 111,612 publishers. Australia had 1% increase. Big increases still in Angola, Brazil, Congo, Nigeria and Zambia. However, Mexico has come to a complete halt, and Poland, Ukraine and Venezuela slid backwards.

    • December 28, 2018 at 6:32 am

      There are no leaders in Christ’s true church. That’s why his church members could be in most sects or apart from them. Because his church consists of people that follow him not rulers in their group. Christ said there are no rulers among them. And so did Paul. The hierarchy that exists in most churches is unchristian as it goes against Christ’s teaching that we are not rule makers and leaders of Christians.

      JOINING a church to become part of that is something Christ wouldn’t do. He didn’t do it. Instead he was born into that situation. He walked away from that by teaching against it. And since he abandoned it they killed him. Does that sound familiar? The apostasy Christ and the apostles warned about was not the misinterpretation of scriptures as WT taught us the church apostasy was. Instead it was setting up rulerships by men in high seats of authority in their respective religions, who in those positions and with their human natures were destined to become the wolves in sheep’s coveting. And that explains your abusive elders and the abusive WT organization.

      Read Galatians and Romans and you’ll see I’m correct about this. The great apostasy that was prophesied to come had to do with church hierarchy. e. g. “forbidding marriage, the eating of certain foods”. “abusive to the sheep” not because of misapplied scriptures but because of the authority they assumed giving them the power to do it.

      Christ taught all Christians should work to support themselves and that they should share in worshipping God together. He foresaw something different would become of the religion he started. And it did. WT has only contributed to the problem not. solved it as it claims.

  • December 28, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Should read wolves in sheep’s covering above.

    Topix shut down. So if any of you see commenters using the names Pruffsammy, Samson, or rsss11 on another website please let me know. The three attempt to define Christianity based on a person’s beliefs about the trinity, immortal soul, and hell fire doctrines. And they stay up night and day 7 days a week doing it. I sometimes attach comments to theirs expose their misunderstanding of what Christianity is.

    Thanks in advance.

  • December 30, 2018 at 4:53 am

    Such a con. They will pay anything to cover their corruption

  • December 30, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Hi messenger. Are you suggesting the Bible was hijacked in the first century by unscrupulous people who happened to be literate and smart enough to be able to turn the Bible to their advantage and thus giving themselves enormous power and a lifestyle which enabled them to live like Kings? As time passed, would the success of those hijackers be seen by other switched on people who then decided to ride that gravy train? Given that power corrupts and folks were mostly illiterate and lived in what today would be described as third world conditions, would it be possible these ‘hijackers’, living like Kings and determined to keep it that way, kept people in the dark about the true meaning of the Bible by twisting and corrupting scripture whenever they needed to steer the audience. I guess after a while these hijackers would be convincing themselves they are the closest thing to God and so convincing their gullible audience of the same thing.
    When people are living in wretched conditions they’ll grab on to anything in the hope of a better future. Add ignorance, fear, misinformation and superstition to the mix and you have an audience, then make sure they bring their children up from birth in the same mold and you have a business…… an immoral one.

    • December 31, 2018 at 4:18 am

      Yeah I was suggesting something like that. The New Testament claims the Jewish system of laws was given to teach us people could not treat each other fairly even when governed by laws given by God. So hijacking lives back then in that system occurred too.

      To get the picture of what God wants we have to look exclusively at what Christ did, said, and how he lived. ALL the writings of the apostles have to be understood interpreting those through that lens.

      Look! Here is an example of why. Some apostles’ writings say to be obedient to those taking the lead among you (Christians). But Christ told the apostles there are no leaders among them and their only leader was Christ. Apostles also made similar statements about the whole church. Because of those different statements some church members started to stress what Paul wrote about being obedient to those taking the lead claiming that gave them authority to make rules and rule Christians, even though Christ said they should not rule each other. So in that way they hijacked the Bible as you wrote, and in doing so set themselves in the seat of Christ over his church.

      Another example is how WT interprets Matthew 24 : 45 – 47. The only consequences listed in that parable occur to the slave Christ was speaking about. Because of that it should be clear to a reader that the purpose of the parable was instructing that slave to act a certain way in order to receive a positive consequence. WT turns the purpose of that parable around and claims its purpose was to instruct others to follow that slave, even though in it Christ does not lay out any consequences for people who follow him or don’t follow him. It’s another example of a group of people hijacking the Bible to make slaves out of people to follow them. I don’t believe all pastors do so, but without knowing how every Christian religion operates my guess is most religions do it even if all their pastors don’t.

      Those that will kick you out for not following their beliefs do it. How do I know? Go back to Christ as the proper example. How much did the thief on the cross know when Christ assured him, “Today you will be with me in paradise”? The man knew nothing. He just believed. So this kicking people out a church for not having the same beliefs about what scriptures mean has to be against God’s will.

      Okay, here’s the last one. Jehovah’s Witnesses will retort that Christ said , “The hour is coming and it is now when true worshipers will worshipwith spirit and truth.” But they major on the minor points, or should I say points that have nothing to do with salvation like the trinity, immortal soul, or hell fire doctrines instead of the major points that effect salvation. Even though they qoute the major points and play the hypocrite in their pretense of ignorance. For instance, WT will quote John where Christ said he is the Truth, or where he said love fulfills his law. But at the same time WT will kick you out if you believe Christ has no beginning. They play the hypocrite to rule people as you say, because that misconception about what is necessary for salvation could not all be attributed to ignorance.

  • January 4, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    does any one know why the WT have to pay that quantity of money? I mean I read is the 3% of companies net worth. But I don’t understand why. Please your help I am trying to help my father, I need to tell him the money that the WT have

    • January 4, 2019 at 9:04 pm

      @DTJ, I also didn’t understand. I think this is an opportunity for Messenger to explain how the $35 million figure came about, compared to 3% of the company’s net worth.

      • January 6, 2019 at 2:50 pm

        The plaintiff in that case obviously received two types of damages. Compensatory, designed to compensate for financial loss and/or suffering, and punitive designed to punish the defendant who was WT.

        The plaintiff’s attorney has to petition the court and get approval to seek punitive damages, because certain criteria has to be met. If a defendant is found guilty of malice that criteria is met.

        We normally think of malice as having to do with hate or dislike. But that’s not the legal definition. If the defendant was knowingly committing a crime with disregard for the safety of others and someone is harmed the legal definition of malice has been met. An example I read in a law dictionary spoke of a company that piped harmful chemicals into the air in its manufacturing process. Children in the neighborhood became sick. The company was founded guilty of malice since it knew the chemicals were harmful. Punitive damages usually exceed compensatory damage awards.

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