2015 saw one of the most memorable and revealing moments in recent Watchtower history when The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held live hearings into Case Study 29.
The subjects of the case study were the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their parent organisation, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
What was uncovered shocked even the legal experts. Over a thousand unreported child molesters in Australia alone since the 1950’s. Practices of forcing an abuse survivor to confront their abuser. Institutional dismissal of any abuse claim, no matter how credible, unless there had been two witnesses to the act.
And not to forget: The systematic destruction by Elders of documents relevant to the accusations of abuse, including notes taken during their judicial investigations and judicial committees, and related congregation records, all under the direct orders of Watchtower.
This process rendered such information useless to any law enforcement investigation that may follow, and made headlines around the world due to its obviously negative implications for Watchtower’s handling of child abuse.
Has Watchtower learned lessons from the painful and damaging revelations made at the Royal Commission?
It would appear not.
In fact, in the area of records retention, they may have just committed a terrible legal error that may result in criminal charges being brought in the UK.
BBC: Watchtower in UK illegally destroying records
Following in the steps of Australia, the UK is launching its own far reaching enquiry in to child sexual abuse. Known as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (more commently referred to as the Goddard Enquiry, after Hon. Dame Lowell Goddard DNZM who is charge of the process), one of the first tasks the Enquiry undertook when set up in 2015 was to send a letter to all organisations that it intended to investigate, ordering them not to destroy any records.
Watchtower was among the organisations on that list.
However, just a few months later, Watchtower sent a letter to all its UK congregations ordering them to do exactly what Hon. Dame Lowell Goddard DNZM had instructed them not to do:
This letter soon leaked online, coming to the attention of human rights activists who then brought the matter to the attention of the media. Concern quickly grew over this apparent attempt to destroy the evidence before the Goddard Enquiry could see it, so much so that the much respected UK Broadcasting organisation BBC 4 covered the story in its flagship Sunday program.
The report is available to listen to here, but here are two points of note taken from the report:
- Watchtower has often cited the Data Protection Act as the reason for this destruction, yet a legal expert interviewed for the program states that such a destruction process is demanded nowhere in the act. Indeed, the act is intended to protect such data, not force its destruction. When Watchtower cites the act as an excuse for such a policy, they are therefore presumably either mistaken, or are attempting to mislead.
- For Watchtower to order its congregations to destroy such data, after a legal body such as the Goddard Enquiry has explicitly ordered them not to, could result in criminal charges.
What you can do to help
The Goddard Enquiry has only just began, and already Watchtower has fallen upon the wrong side of it, demonstrating that the Governing Body and senior leadership of the organisation appear to have learned nothing from the debacle of their appearance before the Australian Royal Commission into Childhood Sexual Abuse.
Indeed, it is hard to think that Justice Lowell Goddard and her team will not have paid attention to the work of the Australian Commission and be well aware of Watchtower’s failings. If the Governing Body were hoping to use the UK enquiry as a chance to put things right, they are certainly off to a less than successful start.
But this is where you come in.
If you live in the United Kingdom, you have a chance to help the enquiry, to help the abuse survivors desperate for justice, and also to help the unaware local elders whom Watchtower has just thrown into the firing line by giving them illegal instructions.
Human Rights and Cult Awareness Activist Louise Goode is running a campaign. The objective of the campaign is to notify local UK members of parliament of Watchtower’s illegal activity in this matter and, crucially, to notify the local congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses that they have just been given illegal instructions that have criminal sanctions if followed.
Please see the video below for information as to how to get involved. (Note that it is possible to become involved without disclosing your identity to Jehovah’s Witnesses, though you must be prepared to disclose your identity to your local MP)
Not only will this campaign further bring to light The Governing Body’s immoral and illegal response to the Goddard Enquiry, and possibly preserve data vital to the enquiry that might otherwise be lost….
…it will also help the local UK Elders.
Most Elders know nothing of the Goddard Enquiry or the instructions given to Watchtower, forbidden as they are from viewing news reports “hostile” to the organisation. They only know they have orders from Watchtower, and have no idea these orders are illegal.
They have no idea that they might be facing criminal charges.
If you are an active Jehovah’s Witnesses, and are reading this, please seriously consider making your body of elders aware of the Goddard Enquiry’s orders. At least then they will be able to make a fully informed decision as to whether they will comply with Watchtower’s illegal and arguably immoral order, or whether they will make a conscience based stand, and refuse.
Far more importantly, you will be helping the brave abuse survivors obtain justice, and will be helping to increase pressure upon the Governing Body stop placing the reputation of their organisation above the safety of the children inside it.
28 thoughts on “Watchtower News Bulletin: BBC reports Watchtower illegally purging child abuse evidence”
Yes, yes, and three times for emphasis YES!
Can you ask those on Facebook with UK fb friends to share this? Trying to think of other ways to get the word out…
I have been passing the video of the child abuse on to UK fb friends when they make comments about the JW’s leaving the Memorial invite. I use their private message so I cannot be id’d by anyone who is a witness. So far the response is positive and they are shocked that it is going on. Now I can also pass this BBC report on. A rolling stone gathers no moss as they say.
Fantastic news. The organization views itself as being above scrutiny and above the law. We may get treated to another spectacle akin to the ARC yet.
No one should need to “get the word out”. The disgust I heard from many JW’s regarding the greed and corruption at “big business” being caught creating deceitful books, destroying evidence to obstruct justice by the law, etc should be echoing throughout Kingdom Halls at the slightest hint of impropriety and “cover up”.
But, because JW’s follow orders and don’t think, they need a shock to be made aware of the harm they’re causing if they follow orders. If a JW had extra-marital sex and destroyed love notes or evidence, they know it’s wrong and deceitful but flip this script and fill in elders and it’s carte blanche.
It was so much easier being young and naive–everything was “black and white”–right or wrong. Yet now doing the “right thing” often is the “illegal thing” and doing the “legal thing” is “not the right thing”. Following religious laws–church laws–can lead to direct conflict with government laws, including privacy rights.
Once more, I will underscore it, it is not enough to trust that “biblical principles” and “golden rules” will get one through the jungle of proper conduct. One ‘bad apple’ (or more) –an elder with a pedophile habit or his buddies seeking to “protect” and “shield him” (doing the right thing instead of the legal and biblical thing)–has brought this adversity upon their heads. It is also not enough to trust that sundry branch correspondents will align their advice to sound legal, moral and scriptural advice. A written and trained “code of action and conduct”–a check and a balance, if you please.
I wonder if Canada will finally join in with an inquiry of its own….is anyone looking into that here yet?
I’m in Canada Tracy. I hope so.
I hope so too! –
Me too :)
JBob so true your last paragraph I do not want to go into details here but my awakening fully came when I saw with my own eyes the abuse of disabled children in my kh and the closing of ranks by the big boys. When this axe falls we will have no pity because they showed no mercy. God whoever he is cannot be mocked he will have justice served and exposure of wicked false Christians in any organisation they choose to hide amongst. That is how he is not partial there will be no protection no matter how loud they shout they have the “truth”. God will have his name cleared and for those who don’t believe, the justice system may be slow but they eventually apprehend and/or judge murder cases that seem to go cold. It is all a matter of time, but eventually people are named and shamed so why Jw’s think they are any different puts them squarely under a god delusion. That’s what I think. This cleaning house cannot come soon enough. Also the arrogance of these pseudochristians brings to mind “pride before a fall”, the bigger they are the harder they drop. Sharpening my claws as I speak . If I have my day in court NO HOLDS BARRED! ruthless
“This cleaning house cannot come soon enough.”
— Well said, ruthlee
I would love to testify in court how all JW’s used as Character Wtinesses for Canadian court cases are prepped with the correct answers for Ceasar. Yes, some had to be prepped to lie, Cautious as serpents, yet innocent as Doves was often used to encourage and justify an ‘alternate’ answer.
What’s going on? Every time I begin to watch the video it cuts out with just a grey exclamation mark appearing! Is it my pooter or is something happening on the JWSurvey website? I’d be glad to support Louise.
P.S. Typing is also affected badly!
You might need to upgrade your version of java or flash, or possibly try a different web browser? If typing is affected in other applications it might be a separate problem from your video playback.
Thanks once again
I do appreciate it
Thankyou for this info…they burned all the records of my husbands abuse to me…so I know they do this sort of thing…will do all we can to help out…shake the blankets hard ,…and watch the “dust mites”…squirm!!!! :))
I went to the police and a solicitor about my husband’s abuse, that’s the correct route, and the record is still there. It didn’t even enter my head to go to the elders instead? They neither have the power or the authority to deal with criminal acts. They don’t have legal permission to keep private discussions on record ( thank goodness ) except child sexual abuse claims, they legally have to keep them now. Any parent or guardian who does not go to the relevant authorities with information they have on child sexual abuse but only has a chat to the elders about it should be ashamed of themselves. I’m so glad I’ve always followed the guidance and advice in the literature about protecting our kids from people outside AND inside the congregation, it worked for me in 32 of studying with Jehovah’s people, I have never heard or read anything that encourages us to go to the elders with criminal cases, or discourages us to go to the police, just the opposite in fact, but then, considering they are only shepherds, I wouldn’t expect to read or hear anything like that, they are not the police, regardless of how many people like to think or believe they are
I am in MB., Canada…It would be so awesome to find out all in Canada…we have abit of shakeing to do to get the “dust” out in this part of the earth…and believe me…there is …”dust”…every cong. has that …”rug”…they keep their dirt under and pretend it does not exist.
I’m not sure if writing to our Premiers or to the province child abuse authorities would work. If we Canadians can come up with a response like Louise then perhaps we can start getting voices heard. It seems there are a few of us dotted around but we live in a huge country…. would letters to Trudeau work?
Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
Requires excessive admiration
Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
Is the Watchtower narsisstic?
Keywords: The link with narcissism
Watchtower is indecorous. Instead of hiding behind laws and litigators, they need to assume the position and get the much needed legal smack down they rightfully deserve. Great article.
What an excellent article and very topical. With the Memorial coming up soon, JWs will be even more active in inviting people to their Kingdom Hall so it will pay to be vigilant.
MP’s …Shelters…Womens shelters, I found put a person in touch with all kinds of people in Legal Depts., RCMP, Counsellors, Abuse survivor grps etc….It is here where I found…the help I needed to cope with my child abuse issues, wife abuse issues…and then…they said my case unique…Escape from a controlling religion! Believe me…once I turned to the “world”, I got the support I needed….and that is when…The Religion I held so dear…well it was an eye opener to say the least…the place where they claimed a person could be safe and happy…turned out to be the most vicious and feared thing for me, I still have ntmares about some 20yrs latter! They will try everything to scare you to remain silent! Just..smile and wave boys…..smile and wave…put on a fake smile, take a pill…and bk at it…I am rebel now..lifting the rug, showing the dirt and doing so in…”Tight Pantz!!!”. Spanx is awesome fab!!!! :)
Does any have a link to the acual letter from the watchtower to the elders. I’m trying to find it online but can’t.
On the attached video by Louise Goode she says to contact her through facebook in order to download a copy of the letter.
Alternatively, please look at this link to an exjdub forum, scroll down and you can see the letter in full on ”The girl next door” post.
Would love to hear how Louise gets on with this appeal.
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