Only last week, we reported upon the latest development in the lawsuit that abuse survivor Jose Lopez is bringing against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
Lopez was abused by Jehovah’s Witness Elder Gonzalo Campos, and alleges that Watchtower’s controversial policies on dealing with accusations of child abuse (policies which were heavily criticised by the Australian Royal Commission last year) significant contributed towards Campos’ ability to abuse him with apparent impunity.
Lopez’ lawsuit is still underway, but another survivor of Campos’ abuse has also come forward, and put the same allegations to a court of law.
His name is Osbaldo Padron.
As journalist Dorian Hargrove reports in the San Diego Reader, Padron alleges that his abuse occurred in 1994, after the events documented in the Lopez lawsuit, by which point the Watchtower organisation was already aware that Campos was a serial child rapist. Nevertheless, Watchtower elders allegedly failed to involve law enforcement and allowed Campos to continue serving as an elder, thus granting him the opportunity to carry out his attacks on Padron.
As Hargrove reports:
Padron filed his lawsuit in September 2013. Since filing…church officials and their attorneys have stonewalled in turning over documents, despite a March 2015 court order requiring them to do so.
Those who have followed the long-running story of Watchtower’s deepening child abuse scandal will remember this ruling, which took place as part of the ongoing lawsuit from Jose Lopez. Part of Lopez lawsuit alleged that, not only were Watchtower fully aware of Campos’ abusive acts, and had done nothing about them, but crucially that this fit a far larger pattern of such behaviour from Watchtower: a systemic failure to confront child molestation accusations in an effective manner, and a deliberate policy of not bringing such accusations to the attention of the authorities.
It was alleged that documents held by Watchtower prove this accusation; documents that list tens of thousands of alleged Jehovah’s Witness child molesters that the religion has failed to report or act upon, but has instead simply filed away.
The existence of these documents is no longer in dispute. During the Lopez lawsuit, the Judge agreed that these records, should they exist, were vital to proving the degree of Watchtower’s awareness of the problem, and their culpability in ignoring it.
In response, Watchtower’s lawyers admitted that these records exist, but ultimately refused to produce them, even going so far as to refuse a direct order from the court to do so.
Now, it appears that the Padron case will be walking the exact same legal path with one slight difference; in Padron’s case, it appears that Watchtower did actually release some documents, but had carefully redacted them so heavily that they were useless.
He also reports that Patron’s legal team will be going before the court on Friday 29th April to make the following motion (bold is mine:)
In a court motion, Padron’s attorney, Irwin Zalkin, says the court must get tough with the church and issue terminating sanctions compelling church leaders and their attorneys to follow orders. If granted, terminating sanctions would impose fines on the church for each day it fails to turn over the documents. If the documents are still not produced after a reasonable amount of time, the judge could order dismissal of the case and render judgment against the Watchtower, the Playa Pacific Spanish Congregation, and Campos.
So it looks as though Padron’s case is going to walk the same path as the Lopez lawsuit. Watchtower is going to be faced with a choice: Hand over documents that could be as explosively damaging as the documents released in Australia last year that proved the religion had been hiding over 1000 molesters in its Australian congregations…
Either decision is going to come with a flood of harmful negative publicity that will further the strain the credibility of Watchtower leaders like Steven Lett when they claim that such reports of negligence and cover-up are simply “apostate lies.”
One wonders if Watchtower’s Governing Body would be brave enough to repeat this sweeping dismissal under oath before a legal process.
Emmy award winning news website Reveal News is conducting an extensive investigation into Watchtower’s child abuse scandal. Their articles can be viewed here.
The Australian Royal Commission Investigation into The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Official Government website with transcripts and evidence available to download and view, including the transcript of testimony given by Governing Body member Geoffrey Jackson. Video footage of the above testimonies can be found here