NEWS BULLETIN: Watchtower Releases Updated Child Abuse Directive to Elders; Lack of Adequate Policy Change Continues To Endanger Jehovah’s Witness Minors

New instructions on child abuse have been released by Watchtower, but do they fix the problem?
New instructions on child abuse have been released by Watchtower, but do they fix the problem?

In a newly released letter to all elders dated August 1st 2016, The Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has once again revised its instructions to elders on dealing with allegations of child abuse.

Unfortunately, the changes are completely inert, failing to address the flaws which have resulted in unprecedented numbers of lawsuits against JW congregations and their worldwide headquarters in New York.

This leaked, internal document is a modification of the October 1st 2012 letter to elders, which served as a guideline for Jehovah’s Witness elders who have come to obtain knowledge of an accusation of the physical or sexual abuse of a minor.

For those unfamiliar with this ongoing saga, Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain a rigidly controlled central network of elders who are required to make first contact with the JW legal department instead of local police or child protection authorities when they become aware of child abuse allegations.

The letter, deceptively titled “Protecting Minors from Abuse” is a 6 page document which contains the terms “legal” or “legal department” no less than 17 different times, and functions as an organizational tool which should be more accurately titled “Protecting the Jehovah’s Witness Organization from Liability and Negative Publicity.”

Legal Considerations

Following a descriptive definition of the term “child abuse,”  Watchtower’s instructions wastes no time reminding elders that they may be obligated to report an allegation of child abuse to local authorities.

obligated to report

This is significant because this statement offers no proactive protection for victims, only a reactive reminder that elders might be forced to comply with state laws. And who is responsible for informing elders of state laws in their jurisdiction? The Watchtower Legal Department.

“To ensure that elders comply with child-abuse reporting laws, two elders should immediately call the Legal Department for legal advice when the elders learn of an accusation of child abuse. (Rom. 13:1-4)” – Paragraph 6 August 1, 2016 Letter.

Using the example of  the United States, it might seem logical that with 50 independent state governments, a centralized legal department would simplify the process for local elders, who are generally uninformed in legal matters. Unfortunately the cold reality is that once the call is placed to Watchtower’s  legal department, the focus shifts from the protection of the victim to the protection of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, and their internal investigation of the accused.

Absolute Right

As stated in paragraph 5 of the Watchtower letter, “In all cases, the victim and her parents have the absolute right to report an allegation to the authorities.”  The term “absolute right” does not originate with Watchtower, but is a legal term defined this way:

“an unqualified right :  a legally enforceable right to take some action or to refrain from acting at the sole discretion of the person having the right” (Merriam Webster)

The term appears in the final chapter of the JW elders’s handbook “Shepherd the Flock of God” under “Clarifications and Guidelines on Handling Certain Matters”

“Child abuse is a crime. Never suggest to anyone that they should not report an allegation of child abuse to the police or other authorities. If you are asked, make it clear that whether to report the matter to the authorities or not is a personal decision for each individual to make and that there are no congregation sanctions for either decision. Elders will not criticize anyone who reports such an allegation to the authorities. If the victim wishes to make a report, it is his or her absolute right to do so.”  – Shepherd the Flock of God, pages 131- 32

Clearly, Watchtower has purposefully muddied the waters of justice by issuing a confusing statement in the very book which should be relied upon to clarify the handling of serious matters. Instead, they obfuscate procedures by suggesting inaction on the part of elders, and shifting the burden of reporting abuse to the victim. There is a substantial difference between never telling someone not to report, and actively telling someone they should report.

In a great majority of JW abuse cases, the victims are underage, emotionally devastated, embarrassed, and completely unable to comprehend or navigate the process for reporting their abuser and the  crime itself. Watchtower has effectively told the victim “We won’t stop you from reporting this crime to the police if you really feel this is necessary; we are required to inform you that it is your legal ‘absolute right’ to do so, but we will not encourage this unless we as the body of elders are legally held responsible to contact the authorities.”

During the April 2013 Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations, held in Victoria Australia (not the 2015 Australian Royal Commission,) Watchtower legal counsel Ms. Rachel Van Witsen regurgitated the “absolute right” phrase multiple times, including the following statement defending Watchtower’s position:

“On that, if I may add, as part of giving that advice, our instructions are that first and foremost is the protection of children in the organisation, whatever that takes. At the moment, because there is no mandatory reporting for ministers of religion in Victoria, then the victim, who has very often had their dignity removed, is then put in the driver’s seat. It is entirely their absolute right, and the elders are directed to tell the victim and their family that it is their absolute right, to report to the authorities, that they would be fully supported whichever decision they made and that the elders are also directed in that advice to fully cooperate with any police investigation.”

Ms. Van Witsen was reminded by the court that the Australian Evidence Act of 2008 makes special allowance for elders of any religion to report details of criminal conduct to civil authorities with no penalty.  Watchtower has flat out refused to comply with this allowance.  This detail was revealed in the exchange between the honorable Nicholas Wakeling and acting Watchtower Australian Branch Overseer Terry O’Brien:

Mr WAKELING — I am trying to be very clear here. If there was evidence of child abuse within the church that you are aware of, would you report that to the police?
Mr T. O’BRIEN — Not if the victim did not want it reported.
Mr WAKELING — No, I am not asking you about the victim. I am asking: would you as an organisation report that to the police if you became aware of child abuse within your organisation?
Mr T. O’BRIEN — We do not have the authority to do that.
Mr WAKELING — And why do you not have the authority?
Mr T. O’BRIEN — Because of the mandatory reporting act.
Mr WAKELING — And why do you say that?
Mr T. O’BRIEN — Because the minister does not have the priority over the victim. It is the victim’s absolute right and privilege to decide whether they want the matter — —

Mr WAKELING — Mr O’Brien, if I may take you to the Evidence Act which we are talking about, section 127 of the Evidence Act states:
“(1) A person who is or was a member of the clergy of any church or religious denomination is entitled to refuse to divulge that a religious confession was made, or the contents of a religious confession made, to the person when a member of the clergy.” The law does not prevent the church from providing information. The law provides an exemption for the church, but the law does not prevent a church in this state from providing information. It is clearly within the province of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, if child sexual abuse is such a significant issue, for you as an organisation to waiver that and to report that.
Ms VAN WITSEN — Absolutely.

[bold and italics ours]

It is clear that Watchtower Attorney Rachel Van Witsen was caught between a rock and a hard place, formally agreeing with the court, while at the same time defending a position which obstructs justice and puts victims at an extreme disadvantage.

She declared that “our instructions are that first and foremost is the protection of children in the organisation, whatever that takes” while simultaneously refusing to do “whatever that takes.”   The international courts of law have come to an agreement that it takes swift and immediate contact with law enforcement and child protective authorities to protect our community and children from abusers, and this action in no way violates the scriptural and religious beliefs of those who belong to Christian organizations.

Congregation Considerations

Following the section on legal concerns, the newly released Watchtower letter focuses a great amount of attention on the internal investigations of any accusations of physical or sexual abuse of a minor. It is significant that an organization which directs so much effort into their internal religious justice system has been the subject themselves of worldwide investigations by the very secular authorities which Witnesses claim to obey.

The Watchtower organization suggests that their own due process protects minors, positing that the reproving or disfellowshipping of an offender warns the congregation about a predator in their midst. However this premise is deceptively weak.  In a great number of sexual abuse cases, the victims have come forward only after extreme damage has been inflicted by the perpetrator on not one, but in most cases multiple victims, often numbering double digits. The Australian Royal Commission on Child Abuse found that of the 1,006 known cases of child abuse uncovered among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia, the number of actual reported victims exceeded 1,730.

Predators associated with the Jehovah’s Witness religion know very well that the lack of cooperation with civil authorities coupled with the infamous JW “Two Witness” rule allows an environment of tolerance to exist inside this religion which has paved the way for many sexual encounters between these predators and innocent Witness children.

What many may not realize is that disfellowshipping for child abuse is a somewhat rare occurrence. [In many cases, elders have disfellowshipped on the grounds of “lying” rather than the actual crime of child abuse.] Obviously most abusers will flat out deny an accusation of abuse, and justice is further prevented because wrongdoing is usually not “established” without two credible witnesses. Aside from the ultra-rare confession of a molester, the only way an abuser can be convicted by a judicial committee would be when at least 2 independent victims come forward accusing the perpetrator of the same crime. Again, this is extraordinarily rare. The fact that Witness victims are effectively discouraged from contacting the authorities makes the chance of additional victims coming forward even more unlikely.

judicial committee

The list of policies and procedures for elders involved in processing an accused child molester is seemingly endless, as evidenced by the release of the new August 1st letter. What is absolutely horrific is that an accused and convicted child molester may not only attend meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but engage in the public door-to-door ministry and become baptized (or reinstated) as an approved congregant.

restrictions

This letter mandates that “restrictions” will be placed on the abuser, stating that:

“The elders will be directed to caution the individual never to be alone with a minor, not to cultivate friendships with minors, not to display affection for minors, and so forth.”

Is this really a restriction? No, it is not. It is a suggestion to “caution” this predator to avoid circumstances that might lead to abuse. Any concerned parent would find absolutely no comfort whatsoever in the knowledge that a Jehovah’s Witness elder “cautioned” a sick individual to avoid contact with their child. Abusers have severe personality disorders and are manipulative and controlling. When a deviant urge rises to the surface, there is no “caution” in the world which will prevent an abuser from manipulating circumstances to his sick, sexual advantage.

It is noteworthy that Jehovah’s Witnesses offer absolutely no professional counseling either to the victims of sexual abuse, or to predators seeking religious asylum within this organization. This is because, as an organization, they support or sanction no approved treatments for either group. In the case of offenders, even the suggestion of obtaining professional help is conspicuously absent from JW policy.  They seem to have no problem reinstating, baptizing, or even offering “privileges” to offenders in some cases, but refuse to encourage consultation with a mental health professional.

No Help for Victims

For as long as I was associated with the Jehovah’s Witness organization, there was a notable reluctance to recommend professional counseling for any individual suffering from mental illness, depression, alcoholism, or the effects of child abuse. They believe the first authority in all such matters is the Bible, but only as interpreted by the Jehovah’s Witness Governing Body.

This is yet another obstruction of justice, particularly for victims of child abuse who, more often than not, have already been denied civil justice or the benefit of child protection advocates.

Just as with their reluctance to contact the police when learning of alleged abuse, they are equally remiss in establishing a welfare plan where victims can make contact with appropriate professionals who are trained to deal with physical or sexual abuse. The only mention of professional counseling occurs in section 11 of the Watchtower letter, which says:

“In addition to the spiritual shepherding provided by the elders, the victim or her family may desire other assistance. For example, the victim or her family may decide to consult a mental-health professional. This would be a personal decision for them to make.”

Once again, “spiritual shepherding” comes first, and is performed by window washers, carpenters, contractors, and other men who have absolutely no qualifications to handle counseling of any kind. Making matters worse, they are by design always men, further exacerbating an already sensitive situation for female abuse victims.

The suggestion that victims “may” decide to consult a mental health professional, and that this would be a “personal decision” demonstrates the well known opposition among Jehovah’s Witnesses to opening their minds and deepest thoughts to “worldly” individuals and persons they would refer to as “so-called experts” who do not have the “best interests” of Jehovah’s Witnesses at heart.

Evidence of this position can be found in countless Watchtower and Awake! articles, such as the September 8th 1986 issue of the Awake! which covered the subject of mental illness:

“Medical science today is likewise limited. True, one can take reasonable steps to attain a measure of relief. But rather than getting trapped on a treadmill of searching for an elusive cure, some may simply have to learn to live with and endure the problem.”

The August 8th 1982 Awake! magazine article titled “Making Wise Health Decisions” stated:

“A wise objective is to try to go through as much of life as possible free from pills or therapy. The number of persons who can say they live a pill-free life is becoming increasingly smaller”

Non-Jehovah’s Witness Parents Excluded

The Jehovah’s Witness organization governs its members on the principle that families should all accept the “truth” and describes anyone who has not accepted this religion as an “unbeliever.” It stands to reason that if a husband and wife do not share the Witness theology, this detail would be irrelevant when it is discovered that one of their children has been abused. However, Jehovah’s Witness leadership makes no mention of the involvement of a non-Witness parent during an abuse investigation, either in the updated 2016 letter to Elders, or in the elders handbook “Shepherd the Flock.”

“In the case of any discussion with a child abuse victim who is still a minor, an elder should never meet alone with the minor but
should always involve another elder and another adult member of the congregation, preferably the minor’s parent(s).”  August 1st 2016 Letter to Elders, Par. 11

This is a very subtle point, but the use of the term “preferably” opens the door for the involvement of a non-parent in cases where one of the parents is either deceased, the accused, or a non-Witness. This is a reminder that the investigations performed by JW elders have no relevance in the real world, and are only used to execute their religious tribunal.

A non-Witness parent is likely already aware that his presence at a JW judicial meeting is completely undesired. He is deemed worthy of death according to the Watchtower. When discussing the consequences of marrying an unbeliever, the May 1st 2002 Watchtower says:

“God’s view of marrying an unbeliever is expressed at Malachi 2:12: “Jehovah will cut off each one that does it.”  Christians are urged to marry “only in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39) Under the Christian system of things, a believer is not “cut off” for marrying an unbeliever. Still, if the unbeliever stays in his or her unbelief, what will happen to that one when God shortly brings this system to an end?—Psalm 37:37, 38.”

In case you are unfamiliar with the Biblical term “cut off,” it means execution by God. Watchtower emphasizes that in pre-Christian days, marrying an unbeliever would result in death. They harness fear in the 21st Century by stating that the same behavior will result in death by Jehovah at Armageddon.

Summary of Changes

It has been nearly four years since the release of the October 1st 2012 letter to elders, and while Watchtower policy on handling child abuse allegations has remained stagnant, for legal and administrative reasons the JW organization has seen fit to publish the following changes as noted in the August 1st 2016 letter

  • The term “two witnesses” has been eliminated, but the policy itself has not changed
  • The statement that the “branch office” determines who shall be deemed a “predator” has been eliminated
  • The direction of what to do when an adult has been viewing child pornography has been eliminated
  • The statement that the Watchtower “branch office” determines whether an abuser shall be known as a “child molester” has been eliminated
  • Internal investigations with a victim do not need to proceed in the presence of the accused molester
  • Elders are instructed to DELETE paragraphs 20 and 21 of chapter 12 of their Shepherd the Flock elders manual

With reference to the last item, Watchtower has eliminated some grossly damaging direction, particularly regarding how it handles the testimony of the accuser (the victim) It part, the 2012 letter stated:

“The following questions should be answered with regard to the accuser: (1) What is the level of maturity of the child or youth? (2) Is he (or she) describing conduct that one his age would not normally know about? (3) Is the child or his parents known to be serious, mature? (4) Is his memory consistent, or is it
intermittent, or does it involve repressed memories? (w95 11/1 pp. 25-26) (5) What is the reputation of the parents? (6) Are they spiritually and emotionally mature? After carefully considering the matter, the branch office will then give you direction as to what information about the allegation should be shared, if
any, with the elders of the new congregation.”

Not only did Watchtower refuse to defer accusations of child abuse to the proper authorities, it scrutinized the victims, suggesting that some might be immature, have faulty memories, unstable parents, or may even be guilty of fabricating their claims.  These disgusting and inappropriate questions have disappeared from the written edicts governing Jehovah’s Witness elders, but you can be sure  that they will be asked in private when the legal and service departments are contacted by elders.

Internal Investigations

While the changes to the 2016 child abuse handling letter are primarily omissions, one addition is the newly minted policy which states the following:

“Elders should remember that during the investigation
process and during the judicial committee process, a victim of child sexual abuse is not required to make her allegation in the presence of the alleged abuser.”

Jehovah’s Witness children have been traumatized by the very thought of revealing that someone touched or abused them, let alone reliving this horror in front of a group of Witness elders. Even worse, they were until now required to face their abuser in a religious tribunal.

While some might argue that eliminating the “face your abuser” madness is a step in the right direction,  we must not forget that the victim must STILL spell out the details of their sexual abuse to Jehovah’s Witness investigating elders. Unless the victim is a minor, the new Watchtower directive STILL requires full disclosure to the very same men who preach that Armageddon is around the corner, and who would deny a life-saving blood transfusion to an innocent child.

The nature of these judicial proceedings is embarrassing, humiliating, and enormously stressful for the person required to recount the sordid details of the physical or sexual abuse. Remember, the men in the room are tradesmen, salesmen, pin-stripers and plumbers – anything but qualified therapists.

We must not forget that elders are required to contact the JW legal and service departments first in any cases of abuse, which means that their policies have remained essentially the same; Witness  elders almost always get the first crack at interviewing the victims of child sexual abuse.

This is a significant obstruction of the child protective and civil processes which govern most countries. From the moment abuse is mentioned or reported, only trained professionals should be consulted. There are severe consequences which result from the unethical and unprofessional mishandling of abuse allegations.

In a 2013 paper on the subject of forensic interviews, the US National Institutes of Health published a paper describing the implications of multiple interviews and the fragility of victim testimony:

“Sexually abused children may have trouble disclosing1 their abuse despite the fact that the child’s history may be the most important part of the diagnostic evaluation and may lead to conviction of the perpetrator(s) (Berkoff, Zolotor, Thackeray, Shapiro, & Runyan, 2008). The Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) model suggests that children react to their sexual abuse in the form of secrecy, helplessness, entrapment and accommodation, delayed and unconvincing disclosure, and retraction (Summit, 1983). Sense of responsibility for abuse, shame and social stigma, and fear of the consequences for the perpetrator, self, siblings, or non-involved parent all may hinder a child’s ability to disclose (Goodman-Brown, Edelstein, Goodman, Jones, & Gordon, 2003; Summit, 1983). Older children may further fear a parent’s incarceration, siblings’ removal from the home, or the loss of financial security (Block, Oran, Oran, Baumrind, & Goodman, 2010). Thus, children might not disclose abuse that has occurred for any of several reasons.”

The conclusion any reasonable person would reach is that the victim of child abuse is often in an extremely fragile state, and the interviews conducted with such persons need to be performed only by educated and qualified child protection agents and the special victims departments of law enforcement. Elders who intervene and interfere under the premise of spiritual guidance or internal investigations may cause irreversible damage to the victim, and obstruct justice.

How Have Other Religions Responded?

In noticeable contrast with the gross mishandling of child abuse cases by Jehovah’s Witness elders, other religions who have experienced similar tragedies have learned their lesson, apologized, and have put in place effective policies which favor the protection of children and have instituted a zero tolerance policy for child abusers.

For example, the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Baltimore Maryland has published a FAQ page on its web site titled “How the Church Responds to Sexual Abuse Allegations.” 

Their published policies include the following statements:

“The Archdiocese of Baltimore is committed to healthy ministry, and seeks to utilize only competent, qualified, and responsible personnel. All clergy and Archdiocesan employees as well as all volunteers who work with children undergo criminal background checks. They also receive training on how to create a safe environment and how to recognize and report abuse. Children – including those in Catholic schools and religious education programs – are educated about healthy relationships and boundaries in the context of Catholic moral teaching.”

By contrast, the Jehovah’s Witness organization continues to appoint elders and ministerial servants (deacons) to positions of responsibility with absolutely NO BACKGROUND CHECKS whatsoever. Any male Jehovah’s Witness can work his way into a position of authority in the congregation, receiving no professional training, and has no authority to vet fellow appointed elders and servants.

The site further states:

“The Archdiocese complies with Maryland laws requiring that suspected child abuse be reported to civil authorities. Under Maryland law any person who has reason to believe a child has been subjected to abuse must report the suspected abuse to civil authorities, even if the potential victim is now over 18-year-old and even in cases where the alleged perpetrator is deceased. If Church personnel are suspected of abuse, then the suspected abuse must also be reported to the Archdiocese’s Office of Child & Youth Protection.”

Jehovah’s Witness elders continue to evade the responsibility to report abuse to civil authorities proactively, only doing so under duress.

How does the Catholic Church currently help victims?

“The Archdiocese of Baltimore has long been committed to the treatment and healing of those who have been harmed through abuse. We apologize and offer counseling assistance and pastoral services. The Archdiocese also recognizes the importance of offering support to family members. We do this for as long as it is helpful, and regardless of the age of the incident. We provide this support regardless of lawsuits and statutes of limitations. We have paid $2.8 million in victim counseling, and more than $7.6 million in direct payments to victims/survivors. The Archdiocese continues to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to assist victims and protect children.”

While the Watchtower organization continues to malign all other religions as corrupt and “false” – one can’t ignore the candor of the Archdiocese, which has simply stated  that “We apologize” and follow up by offering counseling and financial settlements to victims. What this means is that the Catholic organization has acknowledged that they were wrong, and they have taken responsibility for failing to protect children.

What is their current policy for handling accusations of abuse?

“Today, as it has done for many years, the Archdiocese offers assistance and healing to a victim who reports an allegation of abuse. The Church immediately reports the matter to civil authorities. When given permission by the local authorities, the Archdiocese conducts an investigation, presuming the accused is alive, and remains in ongoing communication with law enforcement. If the allegation is deemed credible, the accused is permanently barred from ministry and from serving in any capacity on behalf of the Archdiocese or any Catholic institution.”    [bold is ours]

While JW Survey does not endorse or recommend any religion or set of beliefs, we applaud those organizations that have at the very least, apologized for their mis-handling of child abuse accusations, and have taken drastic steps to reverse the processes which caused the problem in the first place.

Filing immediate reports with the civil authorities and permanently banning any individual who has perpetrated a crime of sexual misconduct proves that change is possible no matter how large the organization or how widespread the problem was.

As I write this article,  Jehovah’s Witnesses are facing a tidal wave of litigation and negative press due to their destructive organizational policies. In the end, they will find that they did not serve themselves very well.  Their legal departments worldwide are being taxed, and they are forced to retain outside counsel from third party law firms to defend themselves in the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK and numerous additional countries.

Watchtower continues to amass a vast database of child abuse reports within their organization, but has refused to produce these documents under court order, and has exhausted every possible legal strategy to insulate their organization from accountability.

At this moment, the Superior Court of California has levied a $4,000 per day fine against the Watchtower organization for failure to comply with the court’s discovery order. This fine has been deemed by the court as a “lesser sanction” designed to motivate Watchtower’s compliance, and is a very small fraction of the terminating sanctions which will be levied in a matter of weeks against this organization.

All of this is the sad consequence of unyielding and disastrous policies which have crippled the lives of countless abuse victims, and is being financed by the unsuspecting members of the Jehovah’s Witness organization, who have little knowledge of the legal perils of their religion.

The JW.ORG web site news section features frequent articles on the legal battles being fought in defense of their religious freedoms, but never once have they posted a story explaining their highly publicized battles on the subject of child abuse.

Even the elders who carry out these policies and orders have almost no understanding of the underlying meaning of all of this.  They follow directions, completely trusting the Governing Body and its legal department.

I take no delight in reporting on these issues, as they expose a systemic crack in our society which has permitted Jehovah’s Witnesses to exploit legal loopholes to elevate their internal justice system above the very secular authorities which  they claim to respect. Witnesses state that they obey civil leaders except when their laws conflict with God’s laws, yet obedience to child protection laws violate no Christian principles.

Watchtower has fought so hard to protect their secretive database of child abuse accusations that it raises suspicions of not only how many cases appear on that list, but whose names might surface once this list is exposed. The fallout might just be more than this organization can bear.

 

Pride is before a crash, And a haughty spirit before stumbling

                                                –  Proverbs 16:18

 

John Redwood

 

 

 

 

 

For a thoughtful and eloquently detailed analysis of this new Watchtower letter to elders, please visit the Cedar’s channel:

 

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.

129 thoughts on “NEWS BULLETIN: Watchtower Releases Updated Child Abuse Directive to Elders; Lack of Adequate Policy Change Continues To Endanger Jehovah’s Witness Minors

  • August 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm
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    Thank you for an excellent, well researched and though provoking article John

    • August 4, 2016 at 7:36 pm
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      Hear! Hear!

  • August 4, 2016 at 4:25 pm
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    This is so sad

    These children are being held prisoners to pedophilia….too young too timid to be able to fend off assults

    And the adults responsible go free to assult even more

    I am a survivor of childhood rape and a victim of the REASSULT at the hands of elders

    All i can do now is pray for the elders and pedophiles victims

    And believe you me…..i now always pack a chambered sidearm whenever i venture out in public….all because of the fear i now live in because of the perps and elders who revictimized me all those yrs ago

    • August 5, 2016 at 6:02 am
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      Since Australia was and is a British colony, I think The Honourable Peter McClellan could do an outstanding job filling this job vacancy. He has the experience and the know how on dealing with institutions who need a push in the right direction. I just hope Watchtower did not burn any bridges in Australia. That would be bad.

      • August 5, 2016 at 6:30 am
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        I thought the same thing. McClellan would be awesome. Can you imagine the look on Jackson’s face lol.

  • August 4, 2016 at 5:19 pm
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    John, I cannot even imagine the time and research it must have taken you to write this in-depth article. It is so clearly an act of love on your part and I humbly thank you for your personal sacrifice.

    It does not go unnoticed or unappreciated by those of us who were victims of sexual child abuse.

    Watchtower is really really good with their smoke and mirrors.

  • August 4, 2016 at 5:23 pm
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    And you’re right. How can a carpenter,plumber,i.t. text,pioneer, help a child….. by quoting Scriptures. They sound like a bunch of _ _ _ _ _! I agree ,the only thing they are trying to protect is themselves from a lawsuit. They show that they have more love for the predators than for the child or any victim. Just like the free-range Masons they protect their predators and not the victims also. The victims can’t win for losing. If you can’t get any justice/help from the Mason hall you shonuff want get it from the kingdom Hall.

    • August 5, 2016 at 6:46 am
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      Is there a sexual scandal with the Masons? I haven’t heard of this before but I’m curious about it now.
      I do beleive that a even a few decades ago, most organizations didn’t know, and didn’t want to know, that this stuff was going on. They really didn’t understand how to deal with it. (This doesn’t excuse them and it in fact shows just how stupid they really were).
      The Masons require a man to be at least 21 years old and they do not allow women into their lodges. I’m not saying that a Mason couldn’t be a predator, but he wouldn’t be a predator in the lodge. I also don’t know if the Masons have some kind of internal court system like the JWs do. So any Mason that was preying on children should have been caught and dealt with by the police and courts, I’m assuming.

      • August 5, 2016 at 8:58 pm
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        I have a theory and this is pure speculation, but I think that there may have been some tie between Charles T Russell and the Masons. There was so much Mason symbology in the early Watchtower publications. I tend to think that Rutherford decided at some point to sever all ties with them, which was when he declared all their symbols “pagan.”

        This is only a conspiracy theory at best. It would be interesting to try to find some evidence making a clear connection. See more at http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/davinci-freemason.php.

        WS

  • August 4, 2016 at 5:39 pm
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    Excellent write up John. The direction given to elders in the past was laughable when it came to reporting where it was required. We were told to skulk down to a phone booth at night in a different justification from where the incident occurred and make an anonymous phone call to the local (note ‘wrong jurisdiction’) police department providing as little information as possible to comply. So technically the incident was reported, in reality it was about as useless a report as one might actually make. It seems that the changes that were made are to further shield the WTS from liability under the guise of protecting the victim.

    • August 4, 2016 at 5:40 pm
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      Jurisdiction, not justification (damn spellchecker)

  • August 4, 2016 at 5:48 pm
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    In every congregation there are well-meaning but bumbling, inept, inexperienced, clueless, naïve, and incompetent elders. It is sickening to think they can ‘forgive’ some pedo and blithely let him stay in the congregation. The new directives to always call the legal department before breathing shows how much the Society trust their own appointed elders!!! Oh I forgot, they are appointed by God’s Holy Spirit

    • August 6, 2016 at 11:50 am
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      We must remember that the justification Watchtower gives for having woefully untrained, unprepared, and uneducated men handling all “judicial” matters is that they have been appointed to their positions by the holy spirit. Since the spirit is supposedly guiding their deliberations, the congregation can have the utmost confidence in their findings and will enjoy the protection the holy spirit will provide.

      An impartial investigation into how men are selected for congregation offices would reveal that holy spirit isn’t involved at all. Rank and file Witnesses don’t undertake such investigations, so they go along with whatever decisions are made for them, whether that is done locally or globally in the case of the Governing Body. Witnesses are also told they must never question or challenge these ex cathedra decisions lest they fall under suspicion of promoting apostasy and thus be subject to disfellowshipping and shunning. Small wonder that this corrupt and abusive system of handling child abuse and other wrongs has persisted for decades!

    • August 7, 2016 at 8:24 am
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      @ KTMmadBrit:

      That is another good reason for my leaving! You can’t be sure who you are sitting next to at the Hall. I personally know of one person who is back in the congregation after being disfellowshipped three, that’s correct… three (3), different times. When does enough become enough already? How can the congregation be kept clean with repeating offenders reinstated?

      Disfellowshipped murders in prison awaiting the death penalty can be and are reinstated. Is there any crime or perversion committed that cannot be forgiven multiple times and be allowed to return in good graces to this stupid cult?

      Even Jesus said, as a parting shot to the adulteress who was saved from being stoned, “he that is without sin cast the first stone”; “Go and sin no more”. John 8:7-11 In other words ‘I’ve covered your behind this time but don’t mess up again.’

      Even if you don’t believe this verse certainly Hebrews 10:26,27 leaves no doubt about the continued practice of sin; “If we deliberately go on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins remains, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume all adversaries.…
      http://biblehub.com/hebrews/10-26.htm

      But they keep letting the repeat offenders and sexual predators return. No wonder the WTBTS has so many problems. The elders can’t keep the flock protected by the continued following of policy’s of letting wolves in.

  • August 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm
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    If you have a robot mind, then all of the legalize and shifty loop hole play, in that letter…..along with the childish amount of naivete that’s being espoused ( pedophiles self policing themselves )….You know for a fact it will certainly go over their ( elders ) heads….and don’t forget, the back up parachute of holy spirit!!!….so if they or the org miss something then surely holy cannoli spirit will pick up the slack….so don’t worry rank and file, they’ve thought about everything! Your children are safe!….not.

  • August 4, 2016 at 6:18 pm
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    I have a question I would really like answered. When an accusation of child sexual abuse is made, two elders are instructed to ring the legal desk. What I would like to know is exactly what the legal desk then says to those elders. I imagine they are given quite a bit of advice, but what IS that advice?

    • August 5, 2016 at 6:32 am
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      Probably, ‘don’t do anything, say anything, write down anything, until we have looked into all the loop holes we can find to get out of it.’

    • August 7, 2016 at 8:10 am
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      An ex elder answered that on the BBC documentary I believe. He’s now out and an activist, I forget his name, but he’s the one who discusses the database of offenders bethel maintains. Anyway, he describes the instructions he got from bethel as simply “if the accused is denying it, be a faithful brother and leave it in Jehovahs hands.”
      In other words…..drop it.

  • August 4, 2016 at 9:45 pm
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    Thankyou for taking the time and effort to collate the reference material into one place, and for logically examining the watchtower’s latest obfustication of proper treatment of victims of child abuse within their ranks. It is as always revolting that their response still so under-whelming, and pathetic how they have to be forced into every slight change.

  • August 4, 2016 at 11:22 pm
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    Did anyone else happen to read paragraph 10 titled Congregation Considerations? “a minor who is a willing participant and who is approaching adulthood” ummm, I don’t know where you live, but where I live it is illegal for an adult to have sexual contact with a minor even if the minor was a “willing participant” no matter how “close” to adulthood they are. Just another example of the org showing disregard for the law. I am not too familiar with this subject, so correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t it sometimes the case that a person who has been abused can appear to be a willing participant because they don’t understand how a normal, non-abusive relationship should be? Or because they falsely believe that is the only way to show love or affection? I guess according to the org it’s not important to focus on why an adult was engaging in this type of behavior with a minor instead let’s determine if the minor liked it or not. I am so disgusted!

    • August 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm
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      Statutory rape? if sentenced, a somewhat lengthy prison sentence? its a felon, correct ?
      and you stay on a list of being a predator for life? or am I way off course here –

  • August 4, 2016 at 11:55 pm
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    Thanks John. WT has no idea of the force which makes someone a child-abuser. They haven’t a clue and still do not educate themselves in this regard. No abuser can ever be given a responsible job in the congregation nor be allowed in the door to door work. If the abuser were truly repentant he would not argue with this. Families should be warned and a repentant abuser would accept this.

    So sorry to all the victims, especially those who suffer more from elders. We’ll have to keep on making this public. Wish I could do more.

    • August 5, 2016 at 8:49 am
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      Yes, you can. Here in Nigeria, there is a popular website called nairaland.com, that a lot of Nigerians have access to. I don’t know of your location, but I’m making things like this know.

      Though none of the topics have hit the front page for all to read, but at least more people are getting access to the information posted there and hopefully, one day, it will. Maybe you can try something like that. The WBTS or GB will have to be accountable for all of their actions

  • August 5, 2016 at 2:07 am
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    Very good job!!!!
    Honza

  • August 5, 2016 at 2:40 am
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    All of this could be avoided if they practice what they preach and “come clean”. Why can these arrogant men not just draw a line under historic ineptitude pay out the damn cash and move on . After all it’s only money, all the rape victims won’t get their virginity or sanity back. So the greedy org could just give them cash and it will all go away like a magic pill. I am being sarcastic but honestly why are they hanging onto a shot reputation when they could buy their way out with OUR dedicated funds. Has this crackpot religion been reduced to slick lawyers and cheat thieves. Any one of us who are victims of rape were cheated of a prize we were not ready to give away, and were constantly reminded of gods standards that we fell short of and are now insulted by these very smart lawyers who would much rather save their org a heap of cash than buy off a few whining rape victims. I realise lawyering is not about justice but getting the best for your side. Is there one just one lawyer in Brooklyn who would do the right thing. It only takes one to publish that list and get the snowball rolling. I think they will be calling for the rocks to fall over them when they are named and shamed. Let me spell it out to those who read our naughty site what happened because most bethel ites had no kids so they won’t get it. We are fighting for children who are Christian and under the protection of Christ at the time of their defilement ant jehovahs witness policy celebrates the defiler not the Christ. A shameful , shameful indictment now either they admit this heinous miscarriage of justice and walk away.with some semblance of conscience or go to gehenna with a long list of child defilers around their necks. Final reminder it’s only money the org is protecting, not the private parts of children.Ruthlee

    • August 5, 2016 at 6:09 am
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      You raise a good point Ruthlee. What (or should I say where) are the ethics of the lawyers representing the Watchtower? Yes, I realize that the stereotype is that all lawyers are unethical swine (one joke goes, “what’s the difference between a dead dog lying in the road and a dead lawyer lying in the road? There are skid marks in front of the dog”). But the reality is that ethics are part of legal training and lawyers found to be unethical are disbarred.

      I have heard that some of the lawyers at Watchtower have had their law degrees paid for by the org (or in reality by the window washers and toilet cleaners who financially support the org). But many I am sure got their law degrees and licensing prior to joining. Don’t they have a crisis of ethics with what they see? Is the JW brainwashing so effective that even trained lawyers will act unethically based on the whims of the GB? Or is there a requirement for members of the legal dept to have already been broken morally/ethically to blindly serve the GB? Makes you wonder if there is not just one member of Watchtower legal dept with some remaining scruples who might blow the whistle?

      WS

    • August 5, 2016 at 11:53 am
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      If they admitted to this, then they would be admitting, in public, that they are not only far from infallible, but are responsible for deliberately hurting people. So …why follow them? How will anyone believe, after such an admission, that the JW religion is spirit-directed and chosen by God after they have admitted to deliberately covering up crimes?

      This is why they are holding fast to antiquated and harmful policies. If they get accused by others, they can always deny and claim “persecution” by the “world”. But, they absolutely cannot EVER admit they were wrong.

      Otherwise, they lose credibility. This is also why they go back and change their literature and lie about not making false prophecies. So, we will probably never get an apology, since they will never admit to being wrong.

    • August 6, 2016 at 7:29 am
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      Ruthlee, Winston, Anonymous,
      Appreciate your comments. Seriously.

      I think the Organization is trying to tread a knife’s edge here. They know changes are going to be forced on them, so they’re making some (very minor) adjustments in a desperate effort to make the problem go away. In doing that, they’re trying to accomplish three things:
      -Appease the ‘superior authorities’ and keep their tax-free status.
      -Avoid bad publicity so that non-Witnesses will still open their doors.
      -Avoid a huge scandal so that current Witnesses will not be shaken and leave.

      The problem, as mentioned by many others here, is that taking baby steps in this matter does not help the majority of children. Instead, it shows an unwilling cooperation on the part of the Organization, and that looks really bad!

      The ARC pointed out the lack of substance in the policies regarding abuse, which in turn highlighted the delusion Witnesses believe that they’re doing their best to protect the kids. I’m afraid it would take a massive (repeat: MASSIVE) amount of bad publicity to convince Joe Witness that he is deluded and something really wrong is happening. The Organization doesn’t want that, so they deal with the minor amount of bad publicity that comes from taking baby steps and make sure to let the authorities know they are ‘actively’ addressing the problem.

      So far, they’ve managed to keep a somewhat low profile, which I think is an unfortunate consequence of their small membership and the well-publicized Catholic scandal, which numbed many people to the seriousness of sexual abuse.

      I feel like I’ve said a lot, but in proofreading my comment I find there’s nothing new here. The Organization will continue to do the least amount possible to get what it wants. I only hope that one day they lose their hold.

  • August 5, 2016 at 3:26 am
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    The organization cannot and will not admit that they are wrong. To do this is to put in question everything they teach, to put into question that they are the “Faithful and Discreet Slave”. They really do teach that they are infallible through the back door by using the “light is getting brighter” doctrine. I thought that humility was one of the most important qualities for Christians to have? They show a total lack of humility which is the opposite of the teachings of God and Christ. To apologize is to admit one is wrong but far better to humbly apologize and correct the mistake than continue down the WRONG path. Eventually this lack of humility or what is called PRIDE will lead to their crash and fall. It’s just a matter of time.

    • August 5, 2016 at 6:09 am
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      I agree. Jehovah is putting the spotlight on Watchtower’s bad 1970’s policy and showing the world’s justice system just how bad they are out of alignment. It’s time to clean house.

      • August 6, 2016 at 6:10 am
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        Personally, I don’t think the house can be cleaned. It is infested and needs to be burnt to the ground.

        WS

    • August 5, 2016 at 6:35 am
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      If they admitted they were wrong, the next question that may arise in the minds of many it would be: “How can I be sure you will not even wrong in OTHER matters?”. Then full speed ahead, head down to ruin!

    • August 5, 2016 at 1:33 pm
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      The first step in being humble, and this is a trait I saw in those reviled “Reverends” and “priests,” is that one who is called to minister is humble in realizing they are a broken vessel, yet called for a greater purpose through grace and renewal. Thus, whatever is uttered comes from the Word, and if persons choose to listen to the Word, then bravo, another win for G*d, not a win for “me”. Thus, pastoral view is “we are in this together,” but when denominations are organized and depend on fiscal flows, then the black/white thinking creeps in because I need more listeners to survive. You’re either with me, or against me–and, careful to note how some groups apply that “he that is not with us is against us” (Mark 9:38-41; Luke 9:50; Matt 12:30a?) verse. Circle the wagons to protect the “greater cause” rather than focus on needs of individuals.

      http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2001403
      w01 6/1 pp. 12-17 “If God Is for Us, Who Will Be Against Us?”

      9:49, 50—Why did Jesus not prevent a man from expelling demons, even though the man was not following him? Jesus did not prevent the man because the Christian congregation had not yet been formed. Hence, it was not required that the man physically accompany Jesus in order to exercise faith in Jesus’ name and expel demons.—Mark 9:38-40.
      w08 3/15 p. 30-p. 32 par. 11, “Highlights From the Book of Luke”

      The issue with these referenced views is that reality–yes, that awful and disgusting thing the Watchtower followers abhor–indicates that until the Councils of Trent, Nicea and Chalcedon, a standard Christian viewpoint had not congealed and was a very splintered theology and mythology accommodating mystery-styled practice to the hierarchical group that emerged with wealth and political clout to assemble what is the standard canon and foundation beliefs held as standard Christianity today.

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/pagels.html
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnostic_Gospels
      http://www.philosophyforlife.org/stoicism-and-christianity/
      http://quatr.us/philosophy/epicureans.htm

  • August 5, 2016 at 6:13 am
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    I do not know if anyone else noticed this but the Watchtower leadership and Donald Trump seem to be alike in many ways. The Donald, this past week, talked too much and his own party wants to disown him from their party. Watchtower keeps talking, wants absolute control of people, and is entitled to money. Maybe it is a New York City thing. I don’t know.

    • August 5, 2016 at 1:43 pm
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      The Watchtower alone can fix you..

      It must be something in those Catskills and Adirondack waters.

    • August 8, 2016 at 7:35 pm
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      There is a indirect connection between JWs and Mr. D. Trump. The daugther of Mr. Trump is Ms. Ivanka Trump. Her husband Mr. Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of D. Trump, is the CEO of the companies that bought majority of the JW’s New York properties. Mr. Kushner is speaking to JWs from their web pages: https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/united-states/video-jehovahs-witnesses-sale-brooklyn-move/

      What do you think? What is the link between the “wicked rulers of this world” and the “holy tabernacle of Jah”?

  • August 5, 2016 at 6:31 am
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    Unbelievable. The WTBTS continually prove they really do NOT care about victims of child abuse, they only care about protecting their own ASSets!

    What the direction should be is this: “To ensure that elders comply with child-abuse reporting laws, two elders should immediately call the police or child protection authorities when the elders learn of an accusation of child abuse.”

    But it isn’t.

    Let’s review: It’s a cult!

    • August 5, 2016 at 9:39 am
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      It’s not a cult.

      It’s a business organization, or more precisely, disorganization. There is discipline in keeping records and tracking things, but a lack of discipline in establishing policies in light of changing social environment.

      However, I understand part of the reason for going back to legal department–in USA, and abroad. Child protection laws regulating mandatory reporting by clergy vary from state to state, country to country. And, it’s a very complicated issue regarding the “sanctity of confessional” and legal obligations. The snap call is turn it over to authorities, but there is the small and rare issue of “witch hunts” where an accuser has a vendetta then magnifies an incident into a false accusation.

      With this letter and previous policies, a false accusation results in sanctioning by JW authorities, but if law enforcement and legal system involved, then false accuser could be subject to civil and legal penalties–which isn’t a bad thing.

      And, unfortunately, no justice system has perfection, because whether there is circumstantial or eye-witnesses, all systems are subject to biases and flawed recall.

      Yet, in the archdiocese concessions and remedies guidelines, it notes, “educated about healthy relationships and boundaries in the context of Catholic moral teaching”. Difficulty recalling if ever there was a Watchtower pub that strongly suggested a child’s right to say “no” to an elder or anyone who violated their body–establishing boundaries that even a parent couldn’t/shouldn’t cross? It’s there in the Pentateuch and Torah but scriptures also raise Lot sleeping with his daughters, and Ibrahim taking his sister as wife, so…

      • August 5, 2016 at 10:39 pm
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        Sorry, JBob, it is a Cult……and a business organisation. Google ‘identifying a cult’ and start reading. It’s all there, loud and clear.

        Cults don’t necessarily have to be religious. A car dealership is a harmless cult. You are fed positive information about the product and made to attend product launches and watch product video’s. You are expected to dislike and make jokes about the opposition. You are expected to love and push the product and even if you think the product is a piece of trash, you must keep quiet about it and toe the line or risk being seen as disloyal and fired (shunned)
        I know, I was there.

  • August 5, 2016 at 8:37 am
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    I truly wish that just one of the GB or the lawyers in this religion would wake up one morning and look at themselves in the mirror and say -” Today I am going to make things right – I will make sure that justice is served for the innocent victims that have suffered because of our flawed policies – Today I am going to speak out against this injustice – regardless of the consequences to me or the organization”

    Unfortunately so far they probably only look at themselves in the mirror and admire themselves and relish in the fact that they are adored by about 7 million people worldwide.

    But I believe that the day of reckoning is drawing closer for this organization.

    • August 6, 2016 at 7:42 am
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      Rob,
      If one of them did that, they’d be erased from existence. The Organization would silence them, demonize them, remove all references to them, and then pretend they never existed.

      Based the experience of Raymond Franz.

  • August 5, 2016 at 9:48 am
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    This updated letter, I feel is an attempt to impress the lawful
    authorities and to preserve their tax exemption status.

    But like their previous communications it fails to deal
    with the fundamental necessities. Until the statement that
    “Victims have an absolute ‘Right’ to report abuse” is changed
    to- “Have an absolute ‘Obligation’ to report abuse. —

    Then this latest letter is useless. And dangerous people with
    a dangerous obsession will remain at large to cause further
    harm not only among children in the congregation, but in the
    wider community also.

    The elders need to be bypassed altogether, they’re just an
    obstruction. Pedophilia in a civilised society is recognised
    as a “Crime” and qualified criminal investigators need to
    be brought in.

    We had some good bricklayers and carpenters and even
    window cleaners on the elder body of my former cong.
    But when my house was burgled, I called the police
    not the elders. Pedophilia many would agree is a much
    more serious crime than burglary.

  • August 5, 2016 at 10:16 am
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    The article brings up the archdioses of Baltimore and you use that as an example of how Watchtower should set the standard. But you have to remember that instance is confined to one state’s jurisdiction and the laws of one state. Watchtower has to make policy for 50 different states with 50 different state laws and their rules of evidence. I brought this up before, sometimes if an elder reports it directly it can negatively effect the outcome of the case for the state. Lets take Wyoming for example. In Wyoming the state law calls for any person who has a suspicion of child abuse to report it. Except it does give this rule when it comes to evidence: Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-3-210
    Evidence regarding a child in any judicial proceeding resulting from a report made pursuant to the reporting laws shall not be
    excluded on the ground it constitutes a privileged communication [and the privilege of confidential communication may not be
    claimed]:
    • Between husband and wife
    • Claimed under any provision of law other than § 1-12-101(a)(i) [regarding attorney-client or physician-patient privilege] and §
    1-12-101(a)(ii) [regarding privilege of a clergy member or priest as it relates to a confession made to him or her in his or her
    professional character if enjoined by the church to which he or she belongs]

    So here the Wyoming Rules of Evidence prevents prosecutors from using informaiton gathered from a priest-penient communication as evidence against a defendant. That is why Elders need to call Legal is because there are 50 State laws plus the District of Columbia, plus, Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Marshall Islands and a number of other territories that have different laws and different rules of evidence that only a licensed lawyer can understand and give legal advice too.

    • August 5, 2016 at 10:47 am
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      That’s why the Federal government needs to address this issue. With every state with their own version of laws on Child Sex Abuse, it seems that the President has to use one of his executive privileges and institute a much needed law reform on CSA.

      • August 5, 2016 at 11:30 am
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        That is what I have stated in the past but on this website all anyone wants is Watchtower to be shut down. If you actually care about child safety you need to get state legislatures to codify in statutes that there is no privilidge but you guys don’t want that. You want to keep this as a subject to go back and forth with Watchtower. Constantly, I hear about the Royal Commission in Australia. First of all it is not a court that can impose fines or damages against anyone, it is like a blue ribbon commission here in the United States, they hear facts and then makes recommendations to the Legislature. Consistently Watchtower Australia talked about if the laws in each Provence were changed then they will comply with that. You want Watchtower to comply with laws that do not exist.
        Second I constantly hear that the elders do nothing about anything or that they discourage people from reporting. It is impossible to prove a negative. I can’t come up to any of you and tell me prove that you never cheated on your mate, that is an impossible thing.

        • August 6, 2016 at 6:21 am
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          “but on this website all anyone wants is Watchtower to be shut down. If you actually care about child safety you need to get state legislatures to codify in statutes…”

          Ahem, JWs are not allowed to vote. Are you suggesting that we use the political system to try to influence change? You speak like a JW apologist, John Doe. Are you suggesting that getting involved with politics to improve the safety of our children is acceptable? Are you actively pursuing this course?

          WS

    • August 5, 2016 at 11:49 am
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      John Doe

      You are mistaken, as the law does not equate priest-penitent communication with priest-victim communication. When an elder or priest is made aware of child abuse by a friend, relative, or the victim herself, they are obligated to report the matter to authorities and in no way is the information they received construed as a confession. As you are aware, Watchtower attempted to use this defense in Delaware, and it was rejected.

      JR

      • August 5, 2016 at 11:56 am
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        What i stated was that is why elders are informed to contact Legal because laws differ by states. And yes if the conversation occurs during the official duties of the elders the privileged still applies because the communication is still a protected communication. Second the Delaware ruling is not a binding precedent on any other court outside of it’s jurisdiction. A court in California is not bound by a ruling from a court in New Jersey that is not how law works. Each state is separate from each other when it comes to jurisdiction and precedent.

      • August 5, 2016 at 12:09 pm
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        Most states do not confine priest-penitent communication as just confession but any communication between with spiritual responsibilities and a member of their congregation. The Conti appeals court wrote:
        However, the public policy to protect the confidentiality of penitential communications that underlies the privilege and reporting statutes militates strongly against imposition of the duty claimed here to inform congregations of such communications.   When the clergy member privilege was codified in Evidence Code section 1034, the California Law Revision Commission commented:  “The extent to which a clergyman should keep secret or reveal penitential communications is not an appropriate subject for legislation;  the matter is better left to the discretion of the individual clergyman involved and the discipline of the religious body of which he is a member.”  (7 Cal. Law Revision Com. (1965) p. 202.)   Courts should likewise be wary to intrude in this realm.

        • August 5, 2016 at 12:40 pm
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          John Doe

          Under what circumstances has the proper application of child abuse reporting resulted in the negative outcome of a state case of abuse? This appears to be your only argument, and it is extremely weak, since we have seen no evidence that the proper and legal reporting of child abuse has caused harm to an individual or justice. The laws are designed to protect children, and were NOT designed to shield religious organizations (or secular organizations) from due process. I do admire your tenacity, but your arguments are a desperate attempt to defend the absurd. Perhaps if jw.org permitted comments, you would enjoy counting your field service time on the organization-approved site instead of an apostate site, for which your participation would result in severe discipline.

          JR

          • August 5, 2016 at 2:07 pm
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            My reasoning actually holds water. In the State of Michigan the Appeals court ruled that a confession made to a Reverend about a sexual assult could not be admitted into the court.
            One law firm reported on this issue the following way
            “During the preliminary hearing at the district court level, the prosecution called the pastor to testify regarding his conversation with the defendant. The district court judge that allowed the initial testimony said that he did not think that the communication at issue fell within the religious “definition” of a confession, and thus should not be privileged. At the circuit court, the judge made it a priority to say that the communications between the pastor and defendant were privileged under MCL 727.5a(2) and should not have been admitted in court. The court of appeals then upheld the ruling of the circuit court in regard to the admissibility of the pastor’s testimony.

            The Court of Appeals held that MCL 757.5a(2) was the appropriate source of the clergy-communicant privilege, and emphasized the importance of the pastor acting in his role as a pastor when the communications were made. Had the pastor been speaking to the defendant as a friend or a relative, it is likely that the communication would not have been protected by the privilege.

            This ruling by the Court of Appeals is significant in that it affects every religious institution and clergy member in Michigan. This ruling should serve as a reinforcement of the privilege of clergy to speak to congregants in their role as clergy without fear of being called into court to testify about the conversations.”
            http://www.daltontomich.com/michigan_court_of_appeals_protects_clergy_congregant_privilege/

            In New Hampshire State Supreme Court Decision Linda Desclos v Southern New Hampshire Medical Center. The court ruled that privileged information with regards to the psychiatric health of a patient is not admissible even though the evidence is relevant.
            The court ruled:
            “Super. Ct. R. 35(b)(1) (emphasis added). Accordingly, the trial court applied an
            incorrect standard for discovery of privileged material. Relevance alone is not
            the standard for determining whether or not privileged materials should be
            disclosed. Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. v. Home Indem. Co., 32 F.3d 851, 864 (3d
            Cir. 1994); Alcon v. Spicer, 113 P.3d 735, 741 (Colo. 2005); Gould, Larson,
            Bennet, Wells & McDonnell, P.C. v. Panico, 869 A.2d 653, 659-660 (Conn.
            2005); R.K. v. Ramirez, 887 S.W.2d 836, 842 (Tex. 1994). “

          • August 5, 2016 at 2:58 pm
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            John Doe

            You are citing a case where the pastor’s testimony which is in question was clearly an application of confessional privilege between a clergyman and a defendant, NOT a victim of abuse. If you wish to argue your case, you will need to cite cases which specifically address the report made by a victim of abuse to an elder or clergy member. Please do not obfuscate by attempting to infer that courts treat abuse complaints the same as confession.

            JR

      • August 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm
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        Also I just re read the decision in the Delaware case. First this was a rejection for a motion for summary judgement. The court never ruled that Watchtower violated the rules. The reason for the denial was that the judge felt that because the adult member and the juvenile member were both disfellowshiped that there is a possibility of them not making a confession of the incident therefore would not fall under the privilege exemption of 16 Del. C 909. The judge ruled that there is matters of facts that must be decided in this case, though in my novice opinion of reading other Federal and State Opinions the court will be reversed on appeal because the court has no jurisdiction to look into the internal disciplinary actions of a religious organization.

        • August 5, 2016 at 3:48 pm
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          Before people start accusing me that I don’t know what I am talking about in the Delaware case. Here is a reference to the inability of secular courts to interfere with the internal disciplinary actions of a religion. The Delaware denial of summary judgement probably won’t hold up on appeal.

          A communication made as part of the discipline enjoined by the cleric’s denomination
          would also likely be “necessary to enable” a cleric to serve as a cleric.8
          This element poses the
          danger, however, of improperly invoking the court’s consideration and determination of a
          religion’s parameters. In civil matters, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly
          instructed that our secular judiciary must avoid resolving controversies about a religion’s or
          church’s internal governance or operating procedures. See Hosana-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran
          Church & School v Equal Employment Opportunity Comm, 565 US ___; 132 S Ct 694; 181 L Ed
          2d 650 (2012); The Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for the United States of America &
          Canada v Milivojevich, 426 US 696; 96 S Ct 2372; 49 L Ed 2d 151 (1976).

          • August 5, 2016 at 8:56 pm
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            I dont really understand your argument. Basically you are saying there has to be a law in place mandating that these crimes be reported why? Because JW lack conscience and compassion and cant make a decision on their own? They have to as usual “be told” what to do by yet another law in order to do something?

        • August 5, 2016 at 4:02 pm
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          John Doe

          With regard to the Delaware case, Watchtower is not a defendant, although Watchtower attorneys Liguori and McNamara argued for the 2 defendants (elders) and the local congregation, which is subject to Watchtower’s rules. There are 2 conversations in question, one between the abuser and the elders, and the second between the victim and the elders. Watchtower could attempt to argue a defense in the case of the first conversation, claiming privilege, although as the court made clear, the conversation was clearly a disciplinary hearing which resulted in the disfellowshipping of both the perpetrator and the victim.

          What is of interest is that among Jehovah’s Witnesses, a perpetrator has no expectation of privilege since his spiritual crimes most often result in a public disfellowshipping announcement. The details of the disfellowshipping are often public knowledge, which is the opposite of clergy privilege intent.

          As for conversation #2, the victim was indeed disfellowshipped as a result of his admission of sexual activity with the abuser. He was treated not as a victim, but as a guilty party, and the elders violated state law by failing to contact law enforcement. The Watchtower attorneys failed to present evidence that conversation #2 falls under the 909 exemption for reporting.

          And let’s face the facts – does anyone believe that these elders had the 909 exemption in mind when they met with both individuals, disfellowshipped both of them, then went about their lives without phoning the police or CPA? Of course not. They were simply men with no knowledge of the law carrying out disciplinary action against 2 baptized Witnesses. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but Watchtower bears a very large responsibility for not educating these elders in the proper way by informing them of their moral and legal obligation to phone the authorities.

          In the end, that would have been the right thing to do, the law would be upheld, and this court case would not exist.

          JR

          • August 5, 2016 at 4:10 pm
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            A communication made as part of the discipline enjoined by the cleric’s denomination
            would also likely be “necessary to enable” a cleric to serve as a cleric.8
            This element poses the
            danger, however, of improperly invoking the court’s consideration and determination of a
            religion’s parameters. In civil matters, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly
            instructed that our secular judiciary must avoid resolving controversies about a religion’s or
            church’s internal governance or operating procedures. See Hosana-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran
            Church & School v Equal Employment Opportunity Comm, 565 US ___; 132 S Ct 694; 181 L Ed
            2d 650 (2012); The Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for the United States of America &
            Canada v Milivojevich, 426 US 696; 96 S Ct 2372; 49 L Ed 2d 151 (1976).

            So even if disciplinary action is convened from the conversation it is still a privileged communication. And courts have long held that they have no rights in determining if a religions discipline is right or wrong.
            People constantly sue Watchtower over a public reproof or a disfellowshiping but each time it is dismissed in the US because Watchtower can decide who is a member and who is not and can decide how to discipline within their interpretation of the scriptures. Even in the Anderson suit the Federal Judge wrote even if the body of elders conspired against you and lied, that he had no jurisdiction to intervene within internal discipline of a religion.

  • August 5, 2016 at 11:22 am
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    Oh my, do you think any GB members will be on that secret list?! I hope it gets exposed, sooner rather than later.

    Also, does anyone know what typically happens when an elder contacts the legal department after an accusation of child abuse? What direction are they usually given?

    • August 5, 2016 at 11:54 am
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      Also, if there are victims in his congregation or any other he attended, will WT give up those names?

      • August 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm
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        The names of sexually assaulted victims are generally withheld from public during legal proceedings in USA, especially if minor, but the names exposed publicly would be the persons accused of molestation.

        And, the sticky issue too is whether the minor is of the age of consent (which can be 14yo in some states).

  • August 5, 2016 at 11:55 am
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    Why don´t WT reognize that some of the victims are boys? In serveal places in this papers they write about “the victim and her parents”. Many of those victims are boys!

    • August 5, 2016 at 1:50 pm
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      They might be afraid of any homosexual implications. For many years WT has talked about gay priests in the Catholic Church and now WT has to deal with the reality of gay elders. WT is very meticulous about wording, so there has to be a reason. Only a crazy theory of mine

      • August 5, 2016 at 1:55 pm
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        Point of order, molestation of boys or young men doesn’t mean the predator is solely “homosexual”–interested in sex with adult males. Here it’s a dominance issue and some pedophiles are married (to a woman), with children.

  • August 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm
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    John Redwood:

    In People v Bragg COA 305140. Which you say does not apply in the case of the victim you have to read the decision just not what you want out of it. I have read the decision and the following parts apply to communication that a victim has with a cleric.

    “Defendant’s statements to Vaprezsan fall within the statutory scope of privileged and
    confidential communications under MCL 767.5a(2). The communication was necessary to
    enable Vaprezsan to serve as a pastor, because defendant communicated with Vaprezsan in his
    professional character ”

    “The communication between defendant and Vaprezsan served a religious function—it
    enabled Vaprezsan to provide guidance, counseling, forgiveness, and discipline to defendant.
    Vaprezsan testified that he wanted “to get [defendant] some help,” and the first step necessitated
    that defendant admit his actions. Vaprezsan averred that he “consoled” defendant and counseled
    him as “a loving broken hearted minister.” ”

    “The record clearly establishes that defendant’s communication to Vaprezsan falls within
    MCL 767.5a(2)’s scope. The communication was therefore privileged and confidential.
    Vaprezsan was not permitted to divulge the content of the communication at the preliminary
    examination and the circuit court correctly precluded any further use of that evidence. ”

    And the following is more to your assertion that communication between a cleric and a victim is not privileged.

    “In criminal matters, “[w]aiver [of a privilege] is the intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a
    known right or privilege.”

    So it does require the waiving of the privilege the the privilege holder. So yes if the victim tells the elders in a state that there is this clergy-pertinent privilege that I want you to tell the police the elders don’t have a leg to stand on, but unless the victim or whoever tells them that, they are bound by the privilege.

    • August 5, 2016 at 4:34 pm
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      And the need for victims to give permission even against sexual assault cases are not unprecedented. The following covers sexual abuse advocates or domestic abuse advocates but it shows that State Statutes does recognize that victims do require the release of the privilege before testimony can be given. The following comes from Washington State Law Chapter 5.60

      (7) A sexual assault advocate may not, without the consent of the victim, be examined as to any communication made between the victim and the sexual assault advocate.
      (a) For purposes of this section, “sexual assault advocate” means the employee or volunteer from a community sexual assault program or underserved populations provider, victim assistance unit, program, or association, that provides information, medical or legal advocacy, counseling, or support to victims of sexual assault, who is designated by the victim to accompany the victim to the hospital or other health care facility and to proceedings concerning the alleged assault, including police and prosecution interviews and court proceedings.
      (b) A sexual assault advocate may disclose a confidential communication without the consent of the victim if failure to disclose is likely to result in a clear, imminent risk of serious physical injury or death of the victim or another person. Any sexual assault advocate participating in good faith in the disclosing of records and communications under this section shall have immunity from any liability, civil, criminal, or otherwise, that might result from the action. In any proceeding, civil or criminal, arising out of a disclosure under this section, the good faith of the sexual assault advocate who disclosed the confidential communication shall be presumed.
      (8) A domestic violence advocate may not, without the consent of the victim, be examined as to any communication between the victim and the domestic violence advocate.
      (a) For purposes of this section, “domestic violence advocate” means an employee or supervised volunteer from a community-based domestic violence program or human services program that provides information, advocacy, counseling, crisis intervention, emergency shelter, or support to victims of domestic violence and who is not employed by, or under the direct supervision of, a law enforcement agency, a prosecutor’s office, or the child protective services section of the department of social and health services as defined in RCW 26.44.020.
      (b) A domestic violence advocate may disclose a confidential communication without the consent of the victim if failure to disclose is likely to result in a clear, imminent risk of serious physical injury or death of the victim or another person. This section does not relieve a domestic violence advocate from the requirement to report or cause to be reported an incident under RCW 26.44.030(1) or to disclose relevant records relating to a child as required by *RCW 26.44.030(12). Any domestic violence advocate participating in good faith in the disclosing of communications under this subsection is immune from liability, civil, criminal, or otherwise, that might result from the action. In any proceeding, civil or criminal, arising out of a disclosure under this subsection, the good faith of the domestic violence advocate who disclosed the confidential communication shall be presumed.

    • August 5, 2016 at 5:11 pm
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      John Doe

      First, in the Bragg case I must remind you that Bragg was the defendant, and nothing you posted from this case involved the victim. You seem to be interpreting the law on privilege yourself instead of letting the court interpret the law. If you find a case involving victim privilege, let me know.

      Second, you stated that ” if the victim tells the elders in a state where there is this clergy-pertinent privilege that I want you to tell the police the elders don’t have a leg to stand on” – what exactly do you mean that the elders do not have a leg to stand on? It seems you are implying that the victim is willing to speak to the elders about an alleged abuse, but for some undisclosed reason is unwilling to speak to the police about the matter. You then imagine that the matter somehow enters a court of law, and the privileged communication between the victim and the elders is deemed inadmissible. Please tell me, when has this EVER happened?? How did the case enter the courts? With all due respect, your postulation is a bit of a fabrication not grounded in reality.

      JR

      • August 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm
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        You want the court to say on all fours that a victim has to give permission to a cleric to remove the clergy-penitent privilege. Precedent does not require a precedent on all fours but a case on point. The Michigan court said that:
        “In criminal matters, “[w]aiver [of a privilege] is the intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a
        known right or privilege.

        It takes a actual waiver of the privilege for the privilege to be removed from the clergy member. And second it happens all the time that abuse victims tell someone they trust but doesn’t want to get the police involved. Statically there are far more sexual abuses in the community than what is reported because victims feel ashamed of what happened or they don’t want to get someone in trouble. You act like that is beyond the realm of possibilities when every statistic says differently.

        I am presenting you with facts and with courts opinions and all you come back with is that does not apply in this case because not every detail is the same. If not every detail is the same there would never be any precedents in courts. You have to take that is as close as possible to what you are dealing with. And again the Michigan court ruled that privilege requires an actual waiver of that privilege for it to be broken.
        And second if in a state where the priest-penitent privilege exist and it is reported by the clergy member the DA may not choose to prosecute because they know the law so there would be no direct precedent.

        • August 5, 2016 at 5:52 pm
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          John Doe

          If you had read my article you would already know that I acknowledged the incredible trauma faced by victims of abuse, and I cited a lengthy quote from the National Institutes of Health to back this up. Because of this trauma, only qualified individuals should be involved, including law enforcement and child protective services professionals. The consultation with Jehovah’s Witness elders serves to A) facilitate congregational judicial action and B) facilitate “spiritual” assistance, which in the case of Witness elders, involves a few scriptures, a pat on the back, and the worthless counsel to “leave matters in Jehovah’s hands.” Both goals accomplish more harm than good, and in many cases re-victimize the victim, forcing them to recount the sexual or physical abuse which took place. The men listening are ill-qualified tradesmen and window washers with zero qualifications or training.

          I will put it to you again – when has there ever been a case involving waiver of privilege for a victim of sexual abuse, where the lack of waiver has prevented the authorities or a DA from proceeding with their case?

          There is no question that many victims have no desire to be dragged through criminal or civil proceedings, and it is their right to divulge what did or did not happen to them. But clergy members or other individuals who learn that a crime has been committed are obligated by law nearly everywhere to come forward and report child abuse when an allegation has been made. Thankfully, not only Watchtower, but all institutions are governed by the same requirements to report abuse, and we are beginning to see justice for victims along with the protection of potential victims by the sanctions brought against perpetrators and the organizations who have shielded them from prosecution.

          JR

      • August 5, 2016 at 5:26 pm
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        Also i showed you proof that in the State of Washington a sexual abuse or domestic abuse advocate needs to have the victims permission in order to testify. Why would the Legislature of Washington codify that rule if in fact it is a reality that victims don’t necessarily want things that they told in confidence repeated in open court. Or that in fact victims themselves choose not to testify even or even want to proceed with prosecution because it happens. Again you just come back with this is what should happen. If you truly want changes and just not use it as a way to attack Watchtower then get state legislatures to change the privilege statutes. If you are unwilling to do that then i think it is clear you just want to use this as a pulpit for your attack against them.
        And let me say this. I wish Watchtower would change certain policies but I don’t live in a dream world where everything should happen because I want it to happen, either I will try and make changes the right way or leave it alone. If you want true changes, write to your state legislative rep asking them to change the privilege law so that anyone can testify about what they hear or see. It worked once before when Legislatures adjusted the statutes of limitations for sexual abuse but that is not what you want. You want this as a cause. You want this to be in the headlines as much as possible not for the victims’ safety but for your own sake.

        • August 5, 2016 at 6:14 pm
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          John Doe

          I think you are missing the point completely. The article and similar articles imply that Watchtower policy is the problem, not the current legislation in most states. The Governing Body and its legal department has engineered policies which have done irreparable harm to countless victims of abuse. Our job is to create awareness and inform the public as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses of matters of which they are generally ignorant. Once aware, they can make their own informed decision and vote with their feet to stay or to leave.

          It seems we are doing our job very well, and it is notable that even a Watchtower apologist such as yourself has a problem with “certain policies.” If you object to the facts presented on JW Survey, you are welcome to spend your time over at jw.org – but I will warn you, they wont let you comment there.

          JR

          • August 6, 2016 at 7:42 am
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            And you are missing the point in fact because you are not recognize that we live in a world of laws and in a court system with Rules of Evidence that dictates that kind of evidence is allowed in a court. You don’t want Watchtower to abide by the same laws that everyone else has to abide by you want them to abide by your own set of laws written just for them. That isn’t how due process works, everyone has to abide by the same rules.
            Second you talk about how the Elders and Watchtower should have no part in this process which is your right to feel that way. But lets use this as an example. Lets say a child sexual abuse is reported to the police and either the DA decides not to prosecute or there is no conviction. Then in your scenario the person then will have no reproduction in the congregation and they could do whatever they want because the Elders should not be allowed to do anything with these types of cases.
            Third in your article you immediately say that the reason they say preferably the parents is because they don’t want non witness parents involved. In reality the reason stated in earlier points in the letter is because often the parents is involved. Statistically 30-40% of victims is abused by a family member. And even if the parent is not involved it is easy for a parent to make excuses for another family member that abused the victim. Even in the Conti case Kendrick abused his step daughter initially which proves why the direction is that it is not always the parent because why would it be if it is the accused. You just immediately attribute nefarious actions no matter what they say.

          • August 6, 2016 at 10:09 am
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            John Doe

            As already explained, we absolutely DO want Watchtower to obey the law and rules of evidence. The laws are for the protection of children and must be obeyed, or there will be civil and criminal penalties. This is exactly why Watchtower is facing prosecution and civil suits at this very moment. Second, if the DA does not prosecute a case, it’s for good reason, including lack of evidence. A clergyman is legally allowed to offer comfort to the victim of a crime, but should never interfere with an investigation, or obstruct justice by intentionally failing to contact police and CPA when an accusation is made. Finally, we already know that children are sometimes abused by family members, but don’t confuse the term family members with the term parents. statistics are different for each group. But one thing is certain, as I have made it clear, Watchtower makes absolutely no reference or provision for families where one parent is a Witness and one is not. If you had any connection to the JW organization you would know why.

            JR

        • August 5, 2016 at 6:21 pm
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          John Doe,
          I appreciate the amount of time you have dedicated in researching past legal precedent to defend the Watchtower’s legal standing in this issue (John Redwood, kudos to you as well for your well thought out responses) but I fear you are missing the point. Remember, we are not just talking about any old corporation who is using the legal system to defend its actions – we are discussing a religion, not just any religion, but one who claims that it teaches the truth and is the ONLY religion on earth who is representing the Almighty and whose members will be the only ones saved from God’s wrath in the end. Therefore it doesn’t matter what any human law says, they are accountable to the Lord and as such they should be acting in a way that is above reproach both legally and spiritually. Even if the law changed today and sexual abuse of minors became legal, that still wouldn’t change God’s view on the matter and as His claimed representatives on earth, the Watchtower org’s view on the matter should not change and their actions should align with the bible FIRST. That is why the members and participators on this site are dedicated to “shut down the Watchtower” as you put it. Because it does not matter if they are well within their legal right to continue on their current course. They are falsely misleading many people and have caused irreparable emotional damage to countless of individuals whose only “crime” is that they want to serve God and live their lives according to His principles who are desperately searching for the truth. We understand more than most that it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that this organization is not what it claims to be, and we are here to hopefully prevent others from making the same mistake that we had in following them. In the end it is up to you to decide, but as you are well aware, being a witness is not something you can do “part-time”. Either stick with them and avoid us “apostates” as you are told, or step into the light with us. The truth, the REAL truth, has been with us all along – Matthew 7: 15 – 20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

          • August 6, 2016 at 8:37 am
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            First of all. All religions claim to be the only true religion on the face of the earth. If they didn’t believe that then they would belong to a different religion. Second my points were that Watchtower has to abide by the laws of the states or countries in which they live, that includes the rules of evidence. Lets take the fact that I gave evidence that sexual abuse and domestic abuse advocates in the State of Washington, need permission from the victim to give testimony. If the victim does not give the permission to testify whatever that advocate says is inadmissible and cannot be considered by a jury for a conviction or acquittal. And of course what those advocates do is among the most noble things that people can ever do for work. So in like manner Watchtower has to abide by the laws set out by the states that they reside in and again that is 60+ jurisdictions and rules of evidence that have to be considered. That is why Watchtower tells Elders to call Legal so that a lawyer can look at the law in that jurisdiction and can determine what is needed in order to protect people. You want a very cut and dry thing, if X happens this is what should happen after. The law does not work like that.
            Lets consider even your assertion that if laws of age of consent was gone that Watchtower should still report people to the police because of it being a higher standard. Report them for what. Police can only investigate actual crimes and the courts can only adjudicate actual crimes. If in a state the law is written that the age of consent is 16 and a 40 year old has sex with a 16 year old yes that is disgusting and reprehensible but it is not illegal, and if you call the police on the 40 year old you know what they will say to you. There is nothing we can do about it. In US jurisprudence there is the requirement of both mens rea and actus reus, which means one both needs the mental capacity to commit a crime and that one actually has to commit an actual crime.
            And well thank you for admitting that the people on this site want Watchtower just to be shut down. John Redwood keeps saying that no one on here wants them to be shut down but obviously that is false.

        • August 5, 2016 at 8:26 pm
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          This practice of requiring the victim’s permission for details revealed in a “safe haven” also published in a public forum was established over years by women’s groups who were outraged at the “raping again” of the victims in court. Likewise, sexual abuse victims–thankfully, I am not one–face similar issues where the details of what happened are required to be revisited and revealed to an audience, even if limited to the respondent and court officers.

          This has focused on the cleric right to maintain internal administration of the religion, and not secular counselors or advocates who receive information regarding abuse. As John Doe has described in the USA and other countries where respect for “freedom of religion” is right of individuals, courts and legislatures are excessively and painfully detailed at circumventing violations of the First Amendment. Even Executive Orders are subject to this scrutiny by courts, so the suggestion that a president can waive a wand and alone make the situation resolve isn’t assessing the total environment and impact of constitutional and legal components.

          • August 6, 2016 at 11:07 am
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            Hi John Doe,
            Actually, most religions do not make the claim that they are the only true religion. I found that to be pretty shocking considering it was the exact opposite of what I was told growing up as a witness. I soon learned it was just one of the many lies I was told about “Christendom”. Some do make that claim, but I have learned to be cautious of any organized religion making that statement. Jesus said that only He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no man can come to the Father except through Him. So in my opinion any religious organization or preacher etc. that teaches that the only way to salvation is through their teachings and joining their group, should cause your bull**** alarm to ring. Our power as Christians (power to do all that He asks us to do, not like super magic powers although that would be cool) comes from our relationship with the Lord, so many false prophets try to disconnect us from Him and point us to themselves which weakens us and empowers them, but I digress. Yes, I completely understand that that the Watchtower has to abide by the laws and the rules of evidence. But wouldn’t you agree that no matter what the laws are, they are always going to be inferior to the laws God has set out for us to follow? They were written by imperfect men who do not always have the best intentions. However, the laws of our Father were written in love, not to lord over us, but to protect us and as His followers we should strive to imitate him in all manners. Any religion, but especially one that claims to be only true religion, should be the shining example of following God’s laws and principles. Even if they have reached the limit of what they can do according to the legal system, there is still more that they can do to “keep the congregation clean”. 1) Parents should be warned about a potential child abusers in their midst 2) Anyone accused of abuse should not be put in positions of authority or given “privileges” as a precautionary measure. I realize this may seem unfair to them at the time, but they should take comfort in the fact that they can resume their privileges once they reach paradise or whatever. 3) Anyone in a position of authority who will be around children (MS, Elders, even pioneers IMO) should be background checked. This is a VERY common practice in most churches to background check anyone who will be around children and it serves as a protection to the congregation. 4) anyone who was hurt by the org’s policies should be given a sincere apology at the very least and financial compensation for their pain and suffering. However, it appears that the organization is more concerned with protecting themselves and doing the bare minimum according to the law, then protecting God’s children, showing true Christian love, and letting their “light shine” among men as His chosen representatives.

            Finally, John Redwood is correct, most people on this site are more level-headed than I am, and the Watchtower’s destruction is not their goal. I can only speak for myself, but I would destroy the org brick by brick with my bare hands if I could. I suppose I should just rely on His word though and trust in Him. Romans 12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

            I feel better already, that’s the power kicking in I guess :)

  • August 5, 2016 at 8:37 pm
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    For all my parents twarped credulity I do have to say that if we had ever so much as had been touched they would had killed with bare hands. Sure the probably let us die if we needed a blood transfussion but this would had pushed them past the edge. And still they new about cases where children had been molested and never raised the alarm. Everything was hushed up and handled by the elder henchmen. Disturbing.

  • August 5, 2016 at 8:56 pm
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    Regarding: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are facing a tidal wave of litigation … Their legal departments worldwide are being taxed, and they are forced to retain outside counsel from third party law firms …”

    This is probably the most important aspect of the entire article. So far, Watchtower’s legal strategy has been to stall, lie, withhold evidence and appeal unfavorable judgments. We can only hope that Watchtower assets are being strained to the limit.

  • August 6, 2016 at 10:52 am
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    Let me ask everyone here that feels that Watchtower should be shut down or held accountable because of what you feel is their complicity in sexual child abuse. What do you want Watchtower to do going forward to protect children? Do you want background checks on all members of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world? What about countries with age of consents, such as Korea at 14 years old, which is low? What do you want Watchtower to do in countries like Liberia that does not have a robust criminal justice system and records of sex offenders, which would rule out background checks? What would you constitute child abuse because technically an 18 year old having sex with a 17 year old where the age of consent is 18, the 18 year old is a child abuser? What happens when a person is acquitted of sexual abuse by a court is it no longer the Elders problem?
    Now before you answer these questions remember that sexual abuse is a real problem in organizations that already do background checks, like the military, schools and even law enforcement agencies.
    I would like to hear actual answers and not just that they should do more. You want changes but have you actually thought of the logistics of changes around the world.

    • August 6, 2016 at 11:31 am
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      John Doe

      I agree, we need to hear from our readers.

      And In never denied that there are readers who wish that the Watchtower should be “shut down.” I just happen to not be one of them. I believe in freedom of religion, so long as the religious beliefs do not indoctrinate or cause harm to its members or anyone associated with the religion. Watchtower is not going anywhere soon, as it carries the inertia of more than 100 years of growth, and many followers cling to their fellowship with each other, as a brotherhood. I was part of the brotherhood for 46 years, and I care for everyone individually. I have friends at every level of the organization, right up to corporation members and governing body helpers. I have communicated with some of them with regard to child abuse issues, and I know their positions.

      Watchtower is in a difficult and self-inflicted spot right now. They want to have meetings, assemblies, and “educational programs”, but do not want to submit to background checks for any elders or servants. They want to exist as an independent theocracy , taking advantage of the freedoms they have in most countries, while denying their own members the same freedoms of religion without severe consequences for leaving this religion. Non-attendance at meetings brings about almost instant disconnection from the brotherhood, and speaking out against the religion results in public humiliation by disfellowshipping.

      Everyone has a role to play in making the world a better place – some are activists, some are journalists, some are inventors and engineers, and some are attorneys. Those who write for Survey are activists who wish to inform and educate, and allow the public to make their own informed decision.

      Regarding the 17/18 year old question, this has already been addressed by the courts as well as Watchtower policy. I would suggest that you study this for yourself. It has no bearing on our discussion, as we are positing that whatever the law demands, Watchtower adhere to that law, as well as subject elders and servants to criminal background checks. If these men have nothing to hide, there should be no objection to this.

      Problem is, Watchtower knows it has men with criminal backgrounds serving as elders and servants, and they do not wish to upset the apple cart and expose these men. Just 2 days ago, yet another former elder was arrested for child molestation, and the elders knew about this since 2007/2008. Police are now looking for additional victims. Why? Because elders failed to report this to the police, placing many additional children in harms way.

      http://orangecountyda.org/civica/press/display.asp?layout=2&Entry=4889

      JR

    • August 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm
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      As John Redwood noted in article, this issue is bigger than you and me, as it involves not only religious establishments, but athletic associations, college athletic departments, charities, public schools and dating back to the 1970’s and 80’s childcare facilities.

      Childcare facilities were notorious for not requiring background checks.

      But, the issue for JW’s would be that ANY baptized initiate is considered ordained, so would background checks be prerequisite for baptism? Some groups ordain pastors but have very decentralized authority, the Watchtower is very centralized.

      Also, would these reporting laws apply to every member of the group or only the elders, ministerial servants, and other oversight roles? Sometimes members confide in another trusted member (their peer or someone who has more years within the group), would the law require those individuals to call the law enforcement? or child-protection agencies?

      Where does it end–if I see some parent wailing away on their rug-brat at a convention, can I call the human and social services to report child abuse? Is Watchtower obligated to let authorities through the gate? Is any religion obligated to do so?

      So, as stated over and over, child protection is at state level and not Federal because social services is administered at state level not Federal (in USA). Statutes of limitation on sexual assault and abuse are also on a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis, but news bulletin–so are vehicle registrations, banking and insurance.
      https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/statutes/manda/

      In the case presented by John Doe, Delaware, these are the state requirements as summarized, supplemented by state and federal definitions of legal terms; as you can see, it gets murkier as we dive into this because it involves the legal authorities and law of the land making a judgement call on who is and who is not a “clergyman” or assigning the term to groups which wish not to use it, in the case of Watchtower, Inc.

      And, clergy-penitent for USA purposes,
      “Clergy-penitent privilege and mandated reporting[edit]
      In U.S. practice, the confidentiality privilege has been extended to non-Catholic clergy and non-sacramental counseling, with explicit clergy exemptions put into most state law over the past several decades. In most states, information gained within a confession or private conversation is considered privileged and may be exempted from mandatory reporting requirements.[6]:2”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priest%E2%80%93penitent_privilege#Clergy-penitent_privilege_and_mandated_reporting

      Clergy
      “Rule 506 (Communications to Clergy ) of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides:
      (a) Definitions. As used in this rule:
      (1) A “clergyman” is a minister, priest, rabbi, or other similar functionary of a religious organization, or an individual reasonably believed so to be by the person consulting him.
      (2) A communication is “confidential” if made privately and not intended for further disclosure except to other persons present in furtherance of the purpose of the communication.”

      Delaware
      Professionals Required to Report
      Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 903
      Any person, agency, organization, or entity that knows or in good faith suspects child abuse or neglect shall make a report. For
      purposes of this section, ‘person’ shall include, but not be limited to:
      • Physicians, interns, residents, nurses, or medical examiners
      • Other persons in the healing arts, including persons licensed to render services in medicine, osteopathy, or dentistry
      • School employees, social workers, or psychologists
      • Hospitals or health-care institutions
      • The Medical Society of Delaware
      • Law enforcement agencies
      Reporting by Other Persons
      Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 903
      Any person who knows or in good faith suspects child abuse or neglect shall make a report.
      Institutional Responsibility to Report
      This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.
      Standards for Making a Report
      Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 903
      A report is required when the reporter knows or in good faith suspects child abuse or neglect.
      Privileged Communications
      Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 909
      Only attorney-client and clergy-penitent privileges are recognized.
      Inclusion of Reporter’s Name in Report
      Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 905
      Although reports may be made anonymously, the Division of Family Services shall request the name and address of any person
      making a report.
      Disclosure of Reporter Identity
      This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

    • August 7, 2016 at 8:30 am
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      Background checks of those who hold positions of trust ie. Elders and ministerial servants.

      Direct reporting to the authorities immediately any so much as suspicion of abuse.

      Refer victims to PROFESSIONALS for counselling.

      Women to serve as elders, it is completely inappropriate to force a victim to detail abuse to a panel of untrained men.

      • August 9, 2016 at 12:31 pm
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        women as elders…that’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a while. Those old guys on the GB would sooner abandon the blood doctrine, start saluting the flag, and set up a college fund for jw kids before they EVER put a women in a position of authority. Good idea though :)

        • August 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm
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          women in a position of authority, not “a women”. sorry, can’t type and laugh at the same time. Can you imagine, women on the stage teaching, being elders, and wearing pants?! Oh the horror!

  • August 6, 2016 at 11:59 am
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    As someone who has been tried by a judicial committee, I want to comment on a point John made in his excellent piece. Judicial committees ask the kinds of questions that go beyond getting at the truth. In my case, I believed many of the questions I was asked were prurient in nature and were put forward merely to satisfy a disgusting and wanton curiosity that was pornographic in nature. That was hard enough for me to endure as an adult man. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying that would be for a child to endure and all the more so if that child was forced to recount these details with their assailant present.

    • August 6, 2016 at 1:22 pm
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      Great points Quendi.

      I am sorry for what you went through, but sadly as you know you are one of tens of thousands who have gone through this. The trauma of the interrogation is for many as bad as the abuse itself. The madness needs to stop, and qualified individuals need to help those victimized. Most JWs including elders have no idea what the issues are until they are faced with them head on, and their lack of training and qualifications jeopardizes the victims, who are already in a fragile state.

      When I look back on the elders who served in my congregation, I am appalled at the backgrounds of some of these individuals, who as you say are supposed to be appointed by “holy spirit.” One elder (the service overseer) was a terrible example of a minister; he showed up for service every Saturday with NO return visits, and just sat in the car while everyone else did the work. He also filed for bankruptcy and had his wages garnished from the company he worked for, despite being an able-bodied individual who could have made a good living. A second elder had homosexual experiences when he was young, forced a girlfriend to obtain an abortion (before becoming a JW) and has an ongoing “problem” with pornography which has has admitted to myself and at least one other brother. A third elder has an explosive temper and yells at his wife in public frequently. My wife went with this couple to the 2014 international assembly and was frightened out of her mind by his behavior during and after the assembly. A fourth elder has a similar violent streak and actually showed me the permanently destroyed passenger side door panel he demolished in a fit of rage. He has no education, yet serves as a “faithful” elder and was school overseer for many many years, despite being one of the worst speakers in the circuit. A fifth elder covered up the scandal involving his daughter (who faded long ago) and protected her from being disfellowshipped for fornication despite her close connection to several Witnesses. A sixth elder (no longer an elder, but a MS) recovered from multiple scandals including one involving underage pornography, and is one of the most haughty individuals I have ever met, which is absurd considering his personal failings in life. These are just a few of the men serving in my old congregation, and it doesn’t even scratch the surface when compared to what has happened in surrounding congregations where I live and around the country.

      One thing for sure, there are no secure checks and balances which prevent deviant individuals from becoming elders. I spent many years as a servant, and was being directed on the path to becoming an elder, but I had no respect for an arrangement where I knew full well that I became a servant with no background check or any other real means for vetting me; it just seemed too easy to say yes and accept these responsibilities. Elders and servants simply have to answer a brief question or two right before the announcement is made (such as the question of whether they have ever been guilty of child abuse) – and they can lie about this without anyone knowing different. The loopholes for corrupt individuals becoming elders are so large that it is no wonder some people refer to the JW organization as a pedophile’s paradise. It’s absolutely true, and I have witnessed this for myself.

      Then, as you say, these men become the ones asking the prurient questions to victims of abuse (or those accused of sexual misconduct) – and once they sit on these committees once, the next one and the next one becomes easier and easier until they have become desensitized to the seriousness of what they are involved in. Yes, you are right, there is no “holy spirit” involved in these appointments or the decisions rendered by their committees – it’s just a phantom belief which exists in the minds of Witnesses and is used to justify the actions of uneducated and unqualified individuals.

      JR

      • August 6, 2016 at 2:09 pm
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        Who shot JR? or, to the point, who put the vinegar in JR’s Cheerios?

        As I dropped out, I realized this point that the “holy spirit” magic was not operating as described in mythology with this group. I think that is the fragile thread some JW’s cling to and hide their better judgement to maintain “the dream of something better”. The humble JW who does their family worship, reads their Bible, may not understand every letter of the Watchtower literature, yet is obedient to rules that come down deserves better (even Catholicism and other Protestant groups admire this adherence to structure).

        On this point, “One thing for sure, there are no secure checks and balances which prevent deviant individuals from becoming elders” this is where the Watchtower (which boasts of being on the cutting edge of legal defense of freedom) drinks it’s own bath water. Reality tells them it isn’t so, yet the rules and practice do not setup checks and balances to flush out deviant individuals that do make it through a gate-keeper vetting process.

        Ideally, a young man — single or married — would be nominated by his local leadership, or preferrably, he (or she) puts forth their request due to a “calling”, the name propagated up through the CO to HQ where extensive background review would happen. Much like government official appointments with a law enforcement agency performing a background check.

        After the background check a lengthy training program to prepare the applicant for leadership role. And, the program could offer specialization–managing, teaching, shepherding, or counseling. An intensive training program with continuing education not just the weekend group sessions currently held for MS and EBs.

        Consider that this group puts its missionaries and marketers through months of training, if not years.

        When a JW has an issue, secular assistant groups and points of contact will often suggest talking about a crisis with your pastor, if a person hesitates to accept professional psychology or counseling assistance. They typically have in mind the role typical pastors and some priests perform in referring persons to further help. That doesn’t typically happen for a JW in crisis–it could result in judiciary process, sanctioning, and decline in status. Thus, no “safe haven” where one feels comfortable discussing issues, if you’re aware of how “the game” is played.

    • August 9, 2016 at 12:46 pm
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      I’m sorry you went through that Quendi. I was never called to a judicial committee while I was in, so I had no idea what they were like until I left and heard experiences like yours. They truly have set up a pervs paradise.

  • August 6, 2016 at 12:22 pm
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    dear jon doe for my twopence worth I would like the tower to fall the business to fail and all their prophecies to come true so we all go to lala land with our pandas. If the society would just stop telling lies and just advertise their wares in the marketplace I’m sure some dim fools would bite. Us all who have been damaged by this crazy pseudoreligion would like some compensation even if we gave it all to a charity of our choice. It’s not money it is principle we who 100% believed all that doctrine rubbish want it all to end. Well I do. I do not believe one iota of their doctrine from 1914 being the big jc coronation to the overlapping generation aka creative accounting. So why on earth would I trust them with secular policies if they can’t get the theology right. They have no clue on the bible so have no clue about child protection. Hell our lot cannot even organise the FS maps properly!!!! I think ive made my point . Jezebel needs to drop… Ruthlee

    • August 7, 2016 at 7:37 am
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      Ruthlee! The territory maps! Oh, the memories!

      Do I do both sides until we get to that street? Or is it right side only?
      What does orange highlight mean?
      Did I just do a Do Not Call?
      Wait a minute! I just did this street with So-And-So last week! She said it’s on her card!
      Oh no, I just dropped it between the console and my seat!
      Is she allowed to write on the back? I though only an elder could do that?

  • August 7, 2016 at 7:24 am
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    John Doe & John Redwood,
    Since you requested responses from the readership…

    Child sexual abuse within congregations should have been addressed long ago. The reason it has grown to noteworthy proportions is due to the Witnesses’ mistaken prioritization of principles, namely:
    -Keeping Jehovah’s name clean
    -Maintaining the Organization’s ‘spotless’ reputation
    -Protecting the abused child
    -Maintaining confidentiality
    -Moving the ‘sinner’ to repentance
    -Protecting other children (not victims)
    -Being obedient to the ‘secular authorities’

    These principles all appear positive, but when a conflict arises, the Organization will put Jehovah’s name and its own reputation ahead of any of the others. That means if there is a conflict, as in an abuse case, the child will lose.

    Like I said, this all should have been a non-issue long ago – the parties involved should have been encouraged to report the crime to the police. But the stance taken by the leadership was to protect Jehovah’s name, protect their reputation, and ‘help’ the victims by focusing on a future paradise where “the former things will not be called to mind”. To compound the inadequacy of this solution, the indoctrination of the parents in some of these situations leads them to keep things quiet and preserve the peace in the congregation. This is at the expense of the child victim and is a subversion of the parental responsibilities, truly a disgusting result of the high control exerted on the faithful.

    To answer your question John Doe, I don’t think more laws or background checks is the answer. As you say, these measures don’t prevent the crimes from happening in other organizations.

    Instead, I think the high control needs to be broken. Parents need to be free to protect their kids, not guilted into protecting the Organization. Crimes should be encouraged to be reported. The congregation should be available to assist the victim’s recovery through recognized channels, perhaps assisting monetarily. Take the opportunity to give freely what they received freely.

    These are based on the principle of helping the children. As the Witnesses don’t handle principles very well, I don’t believe any of these things will change. The Organization will continue to do what it wants and trample all the peons along the way. It is for this reason I yearn for the dismantling of the current Organization. If it’s replaced by one that is not so controlling but still guides the faithful to a sense of true worship, I will be happy for them.

    I’d like to make one last comment. Laws are not a substitute for principles. Principles override laws. The principle here is: Protect the children. Its simple, really – just protect the children. If you spot a weak area, change it to protect the children. Why fight against this?

    Jehovah doesn’t need protection. The children do.

    • August 7, 2016 at 4:18 pm
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      @ Telescopium;

      Well said and well delivered. Principles outweigh written or oral laws hands down. Protect children, report the perverts to the proper authorities and if found guilty, in a court of law, disfellowship them accordingly. The two witness rule be damned! Were two witnesses required when a woman was raped in a field? No; her word was inviolate and overrode the word of her attacker. The perpetrator was found guilty and punished by stoning; period.

      Could not the scriptural reference below be applied to a molested child as well as to a betrothed damsel? Were two witnesses required? The WBTS (i.e. ‘governing body’) are not very savvy or as knowledgeable Biblically as they want everyone to believe, are they? And they keep calling themselves ‘spirit begotten and appointed by God’s Holy spirit, really?

      Deut. 22:25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.
      Deut. 22:26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
      Deut. 22:27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

      http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/dt/22.html

      Following this simple example would get them off the 2 witness rule, but do they use it….Noooo?!

    • August 8, 2016 at 8:31 am
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      Telescopium,
      The issue with their misplaced priorities stems from their faulty premise that they are the only true religion on the planet. “We are the only true religion, therefore we don’t have the problems other religions do.” Thus when a problem arises that only other religions have to deal with, “we have to suppress the problem and pretend it did not occur or was not as bad as it sounds.” Related to elders who are abusers: “Elders are appointed by holt spirit, therefore elders cannot be child abusers, therefore the victim is lying or mistaken.”

      It’s all an extreme form of cognitive dissonance.

      WS

    • August 8, 2016 at 8:15 pm
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      I’m going to take a step back since I’m looking at this beast of child sexual assault from close-up vantage, meaning I have been focused on the Watchtower’s woes with abuses. But, this issue is global–universal. It has impacted universities, childcare facilities, churches of all denominations, and families. The cover-up has also had its own flavors in all of these institutions, as well. The motives may seem very self-serving, but often were rooted in sincere thoughts of “helping” the victim and the predator by not “bringing them more adversity” and “not letting one bad decision ruin their lives”.

      Again this goes back to the psychology of groups, or group-think. Issues that organizations and groups with freedom to accept secular training and counseling have addressed by building-in compensating policies that counter group think.

      By example, when corporations with founders at the helm were revealed to be making substantial loans of funds to individuals out of earnings, this “helping hand” was revealed to harm employees’ retirement savings and firms’ reputations. Yet, the actions were sometimes taken as “wanting to do right by someone, or for someone”. Thousands of victims were created. Likewise, the Watchtower’s local leaders and upper leaders thought they were doing the right thing to protect predators and abused victims from a government system that had not yet created rules and laws to handle child abuse allegations. Yet, these thoughts did not consider the thousands of victims being created by not isolating problem individuals from children, or creating its own internal policies to protect women and children, and young men from abuses.

      But, there’s also the case that predators and victims ignore what used to be standard policy, if not written, that men and women never kept company without a third-wheel, or never be alone in a room without a third-wheel (that two-witness rule). Obviously, predators will not listen to those rules, and this is where the Watchtower appears to believe in its own “magic” because it assumes predators would fall in line with the rules–everyone was trustworthy, etc. Not the case.

  • August 7, 2016 at 8:25 am
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    As an ex JW who was victim to prolonged sexual abuse AND who now has a criminology degree and works with the offender population ….thank you for this article.

    I would like to expand on the point made regarding elders being untrained and I’ll equipped of a)handle these investigations and b) counsel victims. Their lack of knowledge and training is also present by the fact that even if they reprove or disfellowshipp then reinstated a ‘repentant’ sex offender, they are still allowed or again permitted to be in field service. In other words, they are permitted to go out into the community and knock on doors. Even if they are accompanied by an elder in service, this shows a lack of understanding of how a pedophiles brain works. Obviously, if the offender while on services comes across someone and thinks “me likely” they can make mental note of the address and return on their own time. Duh. In this sense the elders are acting more like wing men, taking their single buddy to the club to pick up chicks. Totally endangering the public as wellong as the children in the hall who meet multiple times per week in the presence of said offender.

    Additionally, you often hear the argument made by jws that they do “more” for abuse victims then “most” other religions. Wrong. While jws still don’t encourage external counselling by TRAINED professionals, even the Catholic Church has taken accountability for their past and now pays for victims counselling.

    These two issues pose tremendous risk to the public, the congregation, and a victims mental and emotional well being. Elders are not equipped to handle any of this and this is why first and foremost it should al ways be reported to the authorities.

    Sex offenders are not easily rehabilitated. It is their innate nature to offend. Beware.

    • August 7, 2016 at 8:34 am
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      I apologize for all the terrible spelling errors above. I typed it quickly and my auto correct appearsize to have corrected incorrectly! Lol

    • August 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm
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      Trish,
      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      I would like to ask, in your experience working with offenders is it possible for a sexual offender to be 100% rehabilitated?

      • August 7, 2016 at 1:11 pm
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        It depends on the nature of his/her offending. But generally speaking in terms of pedophilia….not without extensive and consistent life long professional intervention. This is not to say it can’t work, but it certainly cannot work by someone simply saying “now brother ____ remember, you should not be alone with children.” And considering it handled.

  • August 7, 2016 at 7:13 pm
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    Let me chime in once more on this topic. I won’t go into all the details but I know a Witness who sexually abused one of his daughters. That led to his being disfellowshipped by the congregation elders and imprisoned for his crime. Upon his release, he requested and eventually was granted reinstatement although that did not happen until more than two years had passed.

    The congregation was never alerted about this man’s criminal history and he seemed genuinely remorseful but since I have no experience in this field I cannot say any more than that. The elders told him that he could have no contact with children but then, in a decision that I still can’t understand, REQUIRED him to engage in the door-to-door work. To his credit, he objected, telling the elders that this would put both him and any children he encountered in peril. That made no difference to his judicial committee. The requirement stood.

    No good reason was ever given for this except that the elders claimed to have consulted the Society and received their orders about his case. The WTS speciously reasoned that since Christ commanded his followers to ‘preach the good news’, there was no way he could remain a Witness and not participate in the canvassing work. How’s that for perverted, upside-down reasoning?

    The elders did stipulate that he could never work alone but only with a congregation elder and that if a child answered the door, he was to immediately step away and let his partner handle the call. Nevertheless, this episode shows the complete disregard and utter contempt for the law the WTS has. Not only is the congregation kept in the dark, not only is this man put into what at best is a very compromising position, but the community is also exposed to danger.

    At first I could not understand how and why this situation was created. But then I remembered that this is the same organization that has lied about its membership in the UN; encouraged bribery and lying on the part of Mexican Witnesses with respect to military service while simultaneously forcing Malawian Witnesses to undergo the most inhumane treatment and persecution for their refusal to purchase a government required ID/party card; and allows its leadership to live high on the hog while many rank-and-file members lead a hand-to-mouth existence. Seen in that light, I shouldn’t have been surprised by their actions in this case.

    • August 8, 2016 at 6:48 am
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      Unreal! Hats off to the brother for saying he couldn’t do the d to d. For the elders/Org. to force that on a person who knows his limits and, lets face it, could have him thrown back in prison is disgusting and a breach of his human rights…. I know many will say an abuser has no rights and that in many cases is true. I also know of those who have made a mistake, served their time and turned themselves around. It happens. This Org. is so guilty of breaking human rights and condoning abuse by their failure to look beyond their own mind control tactics it appalls me.

    • August 8, 2016 at 4:48 pm
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      They are more concerned about growing their numbers and publishing their literature than protecting children and the public. Upside down priorities again.

      WS

  • August 8, 2016 at 12:04 am
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    Jehovah’s Witnesses say: “Christians . . . are the votaries of a sex cult.” (sh chap. 5 p. 102 par. 8)! We need to understand that sex is used as the most important tool they use to recruit “Prudes” and “Perverts” chocked by sex.

    *** w63 10/1 p. 582 Maintaining a Right Standing with God ***
    In time immorality became the way of life of the Israelites. “They continued committing adultery, and to the house of a prostitute woman they go in troops. Horses seized with sexual heat, having strong testicles, they have become. They neigh each one to the wife of his companion.” They became just like animals, not even feeling shame for their promiscuousness.—Jer. 5:7, 8.

    • August 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm
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      Haha! That 1963 Watchtower perfectly describes the singles crowd at circuit assemblies!

  • August 8, 2016 at 4:23 am
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    About twenty years ago or so, a young couple got married in our Kingdom Hall. Shortly after getting married, the husband started beating on his wife and even almost choking her to death. Her mother took her to the hospital more than once because of the beatings.

    The husband was disfellowshipped but nobody ever knew why. Her mother and sister told me why and they told others why and what had happened and the sister and the mother were both reproved for “gossiping” but the authorities were never told because the elders told the mother and sister not to report it because it would get in the newspapers and bring reproach on “Jehovah”, so they never reported it to the police.

    The young sister divorced her husband and he remarried and carried his abuse into his next marriage and almost killed his newborn baby by throwing the baby across the room.

    This is what happens in the Watchtower Society. They might not come right out and say that we can’t report abuse, but they sure don’t “encourage” it either and that abuser goes on to hurt more and more people, either in the organization or out and the abused victim’s hands are tied when it comes to even warning others.

    The Society isn’t concerned about “Jehovah”. What they care about is their reputation. They want the public to think that if they join up with the religion that they will be safe from such people, unlike in the world so the public and even those in the congregations are kept in the dark when it comes to any abuse within the organization.

    They want the congregations to think that abuse is “rare” within the organization and as long as the Witnesses aren’t allowed to discuss it with each other, they will always remain in the dark and the Society will never let the rank and file know what is really going on worldwide.

    • August 8, 2016 at 6:32 am
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      I guess they are carrying out a kind of research on human behavior (especially sexual behaviors) and telling the truth and letting rank and file know what is really going worldwide would bring biases in the research.

      For instance, no woman would face judiciary committees if they knew the questions they are asked to answer for a “genuine repentance”!

      “[…] They might ask if the man fondled your breasts or your vagina, if you fondled his penis, if you had oral sex or anal sex, if you changed positions during sex, if you were penetrated with the man’s fingers, if you had an orgasm and how many, and anything else they might think of. You’ll be expected to answer these questions in detail and if not, it will be assumed that you’re hiding something or not repentant of your sexual conduct, and you’ll be disfellowshipped.” ( https://jwvictims.org/2015/02/07/women-do-you-really-know-what-it-means-to-become-one-of-jehovahs-witnesses/ )!

  • August 8, 2016 at 7:17 am
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    I haven’t read all of John Redmond’s replies to John Doe but apart from the fact that John Doe has no moral basis, certainly no scriptural basis, there is this.

    Some interesting points about Elders in this article….see underlined points..

    Convicted molester sentenced to 45 years to life
    10:52 PM PDT on Friday, June 27, 2008
    By TAMMY J. McCOY
    The Press-Enterprise A Murrieta man used his daughter’s slumber parties to satisfy his perverted desires, a judge said Friday, then ignored calls for mercy and sentenced the 50-year-old father to a prison term of 45 years to life.
    “The court has little doubt that if released he will move immediately to molest little children,” Judge F. Paul Dickerson III said. “The court feels there are other victims out there who have not come forward.”
    Dickerson said he was compelled to impose the harshest penalty, given the pain defendant Gilbert Simental inflicted on the girls and the peril he would pose to children if released.
    In April, a jury at the Southwest Justice Centre in French Valley convicted Simental of molesting two sisters, then ages 9 and 10, on separate occasions in 2005 and 2006.
    The Press-Enterprise does not routinely publish the names of minors who are victims of sexual abuse.
    Prior to sentencing, defence attorney Miles Clark and eight of Simental’s friends and relatives asked the judge to be lenient with Simental, repeatedly describing him as a good man who made a bad mistake.
    “Continuing to love in the face of something terrible . . . that’s what is important, that we continue to love one another,” Simental’s 22-year-old son, Alex Simental, said. “I ask for your mercy.”
    Later, the father of the two victims expressed anguish and rage that his daughters were sexually violated by a family friend.
    He applauded his daughters for having the strength to endure so much, including testifying before a jury of strangers about intimate facts that children should not have to discuss.
    “My daughters . . . in time will recover from their ordeal,” he said.
    During his trial, Simental admitted that he twice molested the younger girl but he denied abusing her older sister.
    Leaders of Simental’s congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses contradicted his statements and testified Simental, during the course of their religious inquiry, admitted touching both girls.
    Prior to the trial, the case broke new legal ground in California about when statements made to clergy members are deemed confidential, prosecutor Burke Strunsky said.
    “This case makes a bold statement to any religious organization that we are not going to allow you to abuse confidentiality privileges in order to suppress the confessions of child molesters,” said Strunsky. “The stakes are way too high.”
    Elders John Vaughn and Andrew Sinay balked at testifying against Simental, when subpoenaed by Strunsky. They cited the confidentiality afforded by the penitent-clergy privilege.
    Dickerson ordered them to testify after finding the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ judicial committee system is not designed to keep information confidential.
    As a result, the penitent-clergy privilege does not apply since state law protects statements made to clergy members who are required by their faith’s practices to keep them secret.
    While Simental did not make a statement on his own behalf Friday, he said he did not get a fair trial when interviewed for a pre-sentencing report filed by Deputy Probation Officer Julia Meeks.
    “The jury was made up of mostly women, so there were lots of emotions,” Simental told Meeks. “I’m sure as much as he (the judge) tried to be a good judge, I think he was biased.”
    Simental will be in court July 28 in connection with another molestation case against him involving another girl.
    Reach Tammy J. McCoy at 951-375-3729 or [email protected]

    • August 8, 2016 at 4:54 pm
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      Hopefully this case will set some precedent for when elders are called upon to testify in future cases.

      WS

  • August 8, 2016 at 10:36 am
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    Dear John Doe, I browsed all your comments on this topic and what I get out of it is this: The elders can hear a JW confess to the crime of sex abuse against a child and if that is a state that doesn’t require the reporting of the crime to the authorities, then the elders don’t have to report the crime. Is that what you are saying here, that it isn’t the fault of the Society since they aren’t breaking any laws of the land by not reporting in a state that doesn’t require the clergy to report the crime?

    Do you honestly feel that even when the crime of sex abuse or rape of a child has been confessed to, that the elders will not stand up for the child and report that crime to the authorities and give the child the feeling of being listened to?

    What if the crime happened in her home and it was her father or step father or her uncle or a close family friend from the Kingdom Hall and she tells her mother but her mother listens to her husband or the other person and takes his side against the child and tries and explain to that child that that person didn’t mean to hurt the child and he will never do it again and how sorry he is and so on because of all the tears from the accused?

    That child tells her mother and the dad or uncle or whoever even confesses and goes before the elders and gets off because he was “repentant”. You know as well as all of us here, that the elders will not go to the authorities because they don’t want the name of Jehovah’s Witnesses being put in the paper and dragging Jehovah’s name through the mud.

    Are you saying that that those elders don’t have to tell the authorities to get that child out of that home? Is that what you are trying to tell us here?

    You know as well as all of us here, that if that man isn’t disfellowshipped for his crime, that he is still in good standing and that congregation will not stand up for that little girl. Is that okay with you because the laws of the land don’t require those elders to report that crime to the police?

    What if that little girl doesn’t have any other witnesses to what happened to her? Why should it matter to you what the laws say about the victim’s “right” to report the crime? That little child will be shamed into not reporting it to the police. She will have her mother or father and the elders all telling her how terrible that will be to drag Jehovah’s name through the mud by reporting it to the police. How can a child stand up against that?

    It should be up the elders to report that crime to the police to protect that child and give her peace of mind, thinking she has an advocate on her side that will listen to her even if the mother wants to take the side of the abuser. I can hear him now saying to that woman: “She threw herself at me by the way she was walking around in the shower naked like that” and that stupid woman will listen to the creep because she doesn’t know how she is going to take care of her family if the creep goes to jail.

    Have you any idea how much it hurts for a little girl to be raped? It is like having a knife cut you open. That is how much it hurts. You must be a JW lawyer to be so insensitive to the pain of children being abused and raped and only be concerned about the Society’s loss of money for the compensation to the victims who come forward.

    • August 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm
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      In my state, if any healthcare worker becomes aware of an accusation of child abuse, they are required to report it to the authorities without delay. Why should it be any different for clergy or JW elders?

      WS

      • August 9, 2016 at 4:13 am
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        In the United States, any time a teacher knows of the abuse of a child in her care, she or he is required to report it to the authorities. The same holds true for hospital workers. That abuse can be as simple as seeing bruises on a child. The child doesn’t even have to say anything. If children have bruises or unexplained broken bones, there will be or should be an investigation.

        Many times children tell their teachers or the authorities of abuse and the authorities don’t do anything to investigate and those children end up dying because nobody took it seriously. That is when it hits the papers.

        The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society should be the ones in the forefront of protecting children like Stephen Lett said last summer but instead they stand in the way of protecting children and Stephen Lett’s eyes said it all.

        He was PRETENDING to be incensed in calling the reports lies, that Watchtower protects pedophiles, when just a couple months later, the Australian Royal Commission put Geoffrey Jackson under oath and he had to admit that child abuse was a problem in the Organization when and not even one of those 1006 pedophiles was reported to the police during those sixty years, showing that Stephen Lett was a bald-faced liar and the Watchtower does protect pedophiles.

        That latest letter to the congregations does nothing to protect their children because there are so many loop holes in it.

        That letter is just a red herring to throw off the governments, making the governments and the elders reading that letter, think that the Society has the best interests of children so that they can get out of future lawsuits and keep their charity status.

    • August 9, 2016 at 12:24 pm
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      John Doe, I admire your persistence. You may be able to separate the moral issue from the legal one, but the WTBS cannot because they are a religion. Why should they be able to stand on the moral high ground whenever they are passing out new rules for the congregation to follow and interpreting scripture, but only pay heed to the nation’s laws when they are trial? Are they a business or are they a religion? They can’t decide to be “no part of the world” only when it suits them. It would be nice if the law was cut and dry, but it’d be even nicer if this religion would start acting like the chosen ones of God they claim to be.

      • August 9, 2016 at 2:56 pm
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        Oh and John Doe, you say that you aren’t working for the org, and I believe you. If you were working for them I would say to you or any of their leaders that if you want this community to stop holding you accountable to the scriptures an only focus on the laws on the books, then fine. You then must stop preaching this whole “we are better than everyone else” and “only we have the truth” nonsense, and finally admit that you don’t have the market cornered on biblical truth and that you are only a group of imperfect humans interpreting the bible as you see it. If you don’t want to be held to a higher standard, then don’t make the claim that you are the only standard. But we both know that will never happen. The org needs to learn that it can’t have its spiritual exclusivity cake and eat it too. As long as they are making the claim that they are the true religion, we will be here to hold them accountable to that claim.   

  • August 8, 2016 at 11:50 am
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    Last paragraph, Caroline SAYS IT ALL. Ruthlee

    • August 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm
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      Well said, Caroline. Absolutely, every word.

      I’m calling for more women in positions of power. The world would be a better place. There are just some things a man cannot fully understand, or just refuses to……..

      Jehovah is a pig and he has only himself to blame.

  • August 9, 2016 at 4:35 am
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    There is no way these guys are guided by the holy spirit. Just company policies like any other multinational company.

  • August 9, 2016 at 12:31 pm
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    I noticed what Caroline said earlier about Stephen Lett’s lying eyes and remembered immediately my own thoughts on the eyes of David Splane as he was attempting to explain the overlapping generation recently. That guy was struggling to believe his own lies alright and he obviously thought the audience might be struggling as well and he wasn’t taking any chances with that so kept throwing in the majic JW phrase ‘war, earthquakes, famine, at times which to me, seemed a little out of place given the topic, but to the indoctrinated JW, would be welcomed with a sigh of relief just knowing that all was well, Armageddon is just around the corner and David Splane was going to tuck them all in with their teddy bears and all doubts forgotten.

    It’s pathetic. When we were children we looked up to our Mothers and believed every word she said and felt safe and secure and defended her totally. We eventually grew up to realize our mothers had faults like everyone else. The Watchtower is like a mother to the followers. Little by little the dependence grows and the wicked Watchtower takes full advantage of that for their own needs.

    It is a cult, after all. What do we expect.

    Oh, and don’t forget…people do actually die as a result of being in this cult.

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