There is no longer any room for doubt.
The worldwide policies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses on dealing with child abuse are actively endangering children.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and child abuse: The facts.
In the past three years alone we have seen three damning investigations from two different expert organisations; Case Studies 29 and 54 from the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, and the UK Charity Commission investigation report into New Moston.
The investigations looked into how Watchtower, the organisation which governs the Jehovah’s Witness religion worldwide, handles internal accusations of child abuse.
The investigations report horrifying discoveries, including;
- Child molesters being allowed to confront and interrogate their victims in closed-off religious courts.
- Accusations of child molestation being dismissed out of hand because there were not two witnesses to the attack.
- At least 1006 molesters in Australia never being reported to the police, despite many having multiple accusations and in some cases even confessions.
- Female victims being interrogated by all-male tribunals in oppressive, star-chamber style religious courts.
- Survivors being pressured not to report their abuse so as not to “drag Jehovah’s name through the mud.
- Survivors being cast out of the congregation and shunned, whilst their attackers were forgiven and allowed to remain.
- Survivors being told they must forgive their attackers and share congregations with them.
- Attempts by the Watchtower organisation to deceive and mislead official investigations.
- Attempts by the Watchtower organisation to shut down official investigations.
And these are just the highlights; the list of damning findings goes on and on, recounting a horrifying list of wilful and deliberate actions on the part of Watchtower to withhold information about child abuse from authorities, to enact policies that allow many abusers to act with impunity in the congregations, and to greatly exacerbate the suffering of the abuse survivors.
In the words of Justice Peter McClellan, who presided over Case Study 29 and 54 of the ARC hearings:
We’ve not encountered any organisation that has the flaws of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and child abuse: In court.
Additionally, we have seen multiple court cases where abuse survivors successfully sued Watchtower due to these flawed and dangerous policies. Landmark cases brought by the brave survivors include;
These cases confirmed again the findings of the ARC and Charity Commission reports, and provide legally established proof that Watchtower’s policies are enabling abuse, traumatising survivors, and hampering the authorities ability to tackle the molesters.
And there more many more cases on record as either settled or won, currently in court, or in the pipelines The legal floodgates of decades of past abuse are opening up, but compensating survivors is a poor substitute for stopping abuse that should never have taken place.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Abuse: In the press.
The media have been increasingly realising, and reporting upon, the shocking scale of Watchtower’s abuse problem and coverup.
Googling “Jehovah’s Witnesses child abuse” will render scores of hits from reputable news sources such the BBC and the Times. One award winning investigative website, Reveal News, has dedicated an entire section to the efforts of Investigative Reporter Trey Bundy to uncover and bring to light the shocking depth and scale of this scandal. Bundy shows in detail how, even now, Jehovah’s Witnesses are refusing a US court order to turn over a list of potentially thousands of secret child molesters to the authorities.
Additionally, an international conference was recently held in London, organised by Reveal News, in which professionals from all relevant fields gathered to discuss Watchtower’s child abuse scandal. The information presented there was truly disturbing, and prompted further media reports on the scale and depth of the problem
This simply cannot be tolerated anymore. Urgent action is required from governments to address Watchtower’s failings, strip charity status if necessary and introduce criminal sanctions where appropriate.
In the UK, the government has set up an wide-ranging inquiry into how various secular and religious institutions investigate child abuse, very similar to the landmark Australian Royal Commission which is currently coming to a close in Australia. This UK investigation is referred to as IICSA (Independent Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse) and is expected to produce results similar to the one carried out in Australia.
There is however, one key and shocking difference between the ARC, and IICSA.
IICSA have not announced any plans to investigate the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – IICSA must investigate!
This decision is very difficult to understand, given everything we have discussed above. To make matters even more astonishing, Watchtower has already defied IICSA over the matter or records retention; when IICSA first begin its work, it advised all religious groups in the UK to retain their records on child abuse, in case IICSA wanted to review them.
In a recent BBC interview, legal expert Kathleen Hallisey, who was the first UK solicitor to win a legal case against Watchtower on behalf of an abuse survivor, called for IICSA to urgently address the Watchtower organisation in its review.
I urge you to listen to Hallisey’s interview; she leaves listeners in no doubt as to the urgency and severity of the risks currently posed right now to children in the UK as a result of Watchtower policies.
We at JW Survey agree: IICSA needs to urgently make clear that it intends to investigate the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
We call upon Professor Alexis Jay OBE, who is the current chair of the IICSA, to announce that the Witnesses will be included in their investigations as a matter of urgency.
We pledge to do our upmost to get IICSA to do the right thing, but we will need your help.
You can make a difference!
There are two things you can do right now to pressure IICSA investigate Watchtower.
The first is to click this link and sign the petition that has been set up to ask Professor Alexis Jay, who currently leads the IICSA, to include the Jehovah’s Witnesses in her inquiry.
At the time of writing this petition has over 350 signatures, but this is an effort where numbers count. Ideally, we need to get thousands of signatures to get the attention of the media and IICSA.
Please share the petition far and wide – if possible, please ask your friends and family to sign. Explain to them what we are trying to achieve, and how high the stakes are if IISCA let Watchtower slip away.
You don’t have to be in the UK to sign – signatures are acceptable from all over the world, to let IICSA know the world is watching how it responds to this issue.
- You can also contact IISCA directly
- You can email IICSA at [email protected]
- You can tweet IICSA at @inquiryCSA
- You can contact their Facebook page
- You can write to IICSA in the UK at using the following free post address on your envelope: Freepost IICSA INDEPENDENT INQUIRY.
- You can also, if outside the UK, use the address: Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, PO Box 72289, London, SW1P 9LF
Please outline the reasons as to why you feel the Witnesses should be investigated. Please be calm, and avoid angry or bitter language in your email. Be professional, include information to support your request, such as some of the findings of the ARC or the New Moston investigation. Let IICSA know why Jehovah’s Witnesses are of special concern amidst all the other groups that IICSA needs to consider.
Please help hold Watchtower to account for its appalling neglect and deliberate concealment in the area of child abuse.
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