Jehovah’s Witnesses defend their treatment of sexual assault cases (original in French)

Source: Les Témoins de Jéhovah défendent leur traitement des cas d’agressions sexuelles | Isabelle Ducas | Actualités judiciaires

As the entire article is in French, the article is translated below:

Jehovah’s Witnesses defend their treatment of sexual assault cases
Isabelle Ducas

Even though the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is very closed and tightly woven, it is also affected by the #moiaussi [#metoo] wave: its lawyers began yesterday to defend in court the practices of the religious group, accused of abandoning the victims of assault to protect the abusers to avoid tarnishing their reputation.

A class action suit filed by a former sexual assault advisor alleges that the movement is imposing on its congregations around the world internal rules that discourage the reporting of sexual assault and harm the protection of victims. “What is exposed is that a system has been set up under the tutelage of the Central College, a group of men who make decisions and issue doctrines that are redistributed around the world,” argued the lawyer who leads the class action, Ms. Sarah Woods, before Justice Chantal Corriveau in the Superior Court.

The religious organization’s policies "hinder denunciation to lay authorities of sexual abuse of minors and maintain a parallel disciplinary process in the form of judicial committees, “a process that is harmful to victims and negligently recidivism,” added the lawyer.

Lisa Blais, who launched the action on behalf of all Quebec victims, grew up in a family member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She claims to have been sexually assaulted by her brother from an early age. She denounced these assaults when she was 16 years old to her parents and “elders” of her religious community, but nothing would have been done to try to punish the alleged aggressor.

Since the organization’s policies on sexual assault would be developed in the United States, at the highest levels, the demand for collective action is directed at US entities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pennsylvania and New York City and more Canadian instances.

DO NOT GO AGAINST JEHOVAH

The court has not yet determined whether the action sought could proceed. The arguments in this regard will be heard in mid-December. But even before reaching this stage, the lawyers of the religious group dispute the fact that US authorities can be prosecuted, saying that Quebec justice does not have jurisdiction over their decisions.

Victims do not agree, saying that all congregations follow the guidelines developed in the United States. “A witness’s non-compliance with the organization’s policies is seen as upsetting Jehovah, the god of witnesses,” said Woods. As a result, central college policies create fear among witnesses and force them to develop an attitude of submission. "

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been the subject of several prosecutions by ex-followers in the United States for their handling of sexual assault cases. In Canada, shortly after the Quebec class action petition, a similar initiative was launched in Ontario.

The religious group issued a statement following yesterday’s hearing. “We are confident that the facts will show that Jehovah’s Witnesses are working to follow the child protection reporting act,” a spokesperson said by email. “For decades we have cooperated with the authorities responsible for the protection of children. And of course, anyone who knows of an allegation of abuse should feel free to go to the authorities at all times.”

“A witness’s non-compliance with the organization’s policies is considered to be upsetting to Jehovah … Therefore, Central College policies create fear within the Witnesses and force them to develop an attitude of submission.” – Sarah Woods, the lawyer who is leading the collective action against the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses (orig. in German)

Original article appears in German; translated through Google Translate:

Victims of sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness religious community have turned to the Report Mainz editorial board. They report that they have been abused as children and that the community has tried to cover it up. Anyone who talks gets pressure and is excluded from the community, so the conclusion.
Around 40 reports of victims of sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany are in the newsroom, including a letter from a young woman reporting that her grandfather, an elder in the community, has lost to her cousins, to a total of ten people, Report Mainz is also the so-called Elder Book of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an internal book whose content is reserved in the religious community only the elders. After that, there must be two or three witnesses who confirm the act. Without such confirmation nothing could have been done, they say.
The article describes how the religious community covers up such cases, which methods are used. A spokesman for the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany denies this and rejects the allegations. Thousands of such cases are reported worldwide.

Content:
Part 1: Sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses
Part 2: Text of the article

Unfortunately reported clearly harmless (Kai Binder) 27.11.2018, 23:23
It’s good that this topic has been researched and sent. Likewise, a fair tenor was cultivated without recognizable prejudices. However, the ultimate problem is that perpetrators whether recognized by ZJ as such (ultimately exclusively by confessions, since it is almost impossible in reality, that there are two eyewitnesses) or just not recognized (no confession and no 2 or 3 eyewitnesses) protected are not sufficiently clear. The question is to which audience this report should apply. Line loyalty ZJ will have switched off the program already at the first set. The mention that former CJs have their say in the report is the catalyst for that. Who did you want to reach? People who
are not ZJ and do not want to convert anyway or ZJ who are in the community and know nothing about it? In the latter they have already failed with the first sentences.

Since you should better research before, how to proceed. Nice that they have mentioned the approximately 1000 perpetrators in Australia. But even there is no mention (or their lack of knowledge about the background), that these are probably documented cases in which a judicial committee (the aforementioned tribunal, which handle the matter internally) was formed. Such a committee is only used and makes a decision if there is a confession or the two eyewitnesses. Despite this documented knowledge, these cases were not reported (as far as the statement, child abuse is considered a criminal offense).

Unfortunately, this approach is typical of the world east; perpetrators are protected in that they keep their misconduct in the smallest circles and concealed to the outside. So nobody else in the congregation can actively protect themselves from such a perpetrator, because nobody knows about it. Not to mention help for the victims. It does not exist. What’s missing: Deuteronomy 22: 25 & 26! No two witnesses in cases of abuse!

Link: https://www.swr.de/report/im-namen-des-herrn-sexueller-missbrauch-bei-den-zeugen-jehovas/-/id=233454/did=22650586/nid=233454/1d4gkkr/index.html  [Im Namen des Herrn – Sexueller Missbrauch bei den Zeugen Jehovas]

Legislative Pressure and Culture Change among Jehovah’s Witnesses

by Harvinder Singh, University of Birmingham, UK

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, or as they are more commonly known as Jehovah’s Witnesses have been criticised by the Australian Royal Commission in 2015 for their handling and practices of child safeguarding. This centralised international religious organisation defends its practices with first-century biblical principles, claiming that it possesses spiritual truth. My study tests the hypothesis of whether this religious organisation adjusts to local variations of child safeguarding laws in the United States of America, England and Australia. This organisation’s local adaptations to child safeguarding laws in these three countries are a challenge to their universal truth.

The methodology of my enquiry includes an analysis of textual sources ranging from WatchTower’s child safeguarding policy, letters, magazines and civil court cases concerning child abuse, in addition to the findings of the Australian Royal Commission and the response submitted on behalf of WatchTower. My exploration of civil court cases and the elder’s correspondence documents in section 5, offers an insight into where WatchTower has adapted their previous doctrinal practices of requiring a victim of child sexual abuse to confront their abusers.

My study finds that WatchTower has adapted its child safeguarding practices by introducing new methods which no longer requires victims of child sexual abuse to make an allegation by having to confront their perpetrators. In addition to this, victims of abuse can now be accompanied by a support person of any gender to make an allegation against a perpetrator of abuse to an elder. Thus, the analysis of this enquiry has established areas of WatchTower’s theocratic position which has been adjusted due to local legal pressures in these three countries. The legal framework of this dissertation has demonstrated that the elders responsibility to safeguard children vary due to the local legal requirements.Thus, states in America and particular provinces in Australia require different responsibilities from elders, in the form of acquiring background checks and adhering to mandatory reporting legislation. Of which, WatchTower confirms that they are willing to comply with. This study finds through the double hypothesis that if there are local variations from the global Jehovah’s Witnesses’ instructions, there are local legal requirements in these three countries. Where there are no local legal requirements, this study also finds that there are no local variations in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ documents and practices. This thesis finds that this religious organisation does not respond or adjust its doctrinal practices of child safeguarding in the face of criticism and recommendations of scholars, the mass media and the secular courts unless legislation requires it. The findings of my study therefore urge legislators to set clearer legal expectations for clergy penitent privilege. I argue that a Jehovah’s Witness elder and the penitent child abuser should both enjoy the privilege of confidentiality. However, on the contrary, any other elder who becomes aware of such abuse outside of that privilege, should be required mandatorily by law to report it to the authorities to ensure that children are protected from sexual abuse.

[Editors: Note Harvinder Singh’s Academic Paper on Jehovah’s Witnesses, PDF 76 pages]

Harvinder Singh, (BA, MA)

School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion

Department of Theology and Religion,University of Birmingham

Clergy Abuse

In light of the news surrounding the sexual abuse of children by members of clergy or religious organizations across the country, the Department of Justice is gathering information from the public regarding complaints of this nature in California.

Source: Clergy Abuse

Why I am a SCAARS Supporter (B.P.)

by B.P. in Illinois

My father was a man of great integrity who abhorred religious hypocrisy. In his youth, he boldly marched in front of churches in Brooklyn, NY, with a sign that read, “Religion is a Snare and a Racket.” He never backed down from speaking against the piousness of the clergy or the sins they committed in God’s name. As a matter of fact, it was his favorite subject!

Therefore, I was raised with the conviction that devotion to God and to truth was to be first in my life. Whenever I had any questions, Dad would always tell me to do the research. He was convinced that he had found “the truth” and it could stand up to any scrutiny. “Don’t take my word for it – look it up.” he’d say.

Sadly, my father died in 1988, before the Internet made it so easy to do research. If alive today, I think he’d be appalled to learn that child sex abuse had infiltrated powerful religious institutions. I can just imagine his anger to find out how religious leaders covered-up this crime, and that perpetrators were protected by using spin and legal posturing.

Like my father advised, “Do the research to find the truth,” that’s what I did when I began to question the structure of religion; claims of ecclesiastical privilege, along with what I saw as an immense misuse of power.

After discovering that many religions were founded not on candor with transparency, but largely on “malfeasance of office” and sanctimoniousness, I realized that a secret and dangerous culture developed over the centuries. This has culminated in some of the most scandalous cover-ups we’ve ever seen in our time.

Events of the past have proven that appealing to the clergy’s moral principles and humanity has not worked in changing their culture. Therefore, it is our belief that the best way to end sexual and spiritual abuse is by effective action to change secular laws. For instance, if Grand Juries were convened in the 50-states, (similar to the Australian Royal Commission), more crimes would be uncovered which would force institutions into supporting the weak and taking humane actions toward the injured. It is only then that healing of the innocents can begin.

As I became acquainted with the founders of the SCAARS group (Stop Child Abuse – Advocates for Reform and Safety), I realized that we were kindred spirits. Years before the #MeToo Movement began, these courageous people showed their devotion to justice in behalf of those less fortunate, by exhibiting a spirit of activism both in word and deed. Like my colleagues, I have never been sexually abused, but feel the need to speak out with them on behalf of those who have.

As a Victim’s Advocate and a Mandated Reporter, I’m committed to the cause of helping individuals crushed by religious institutions that abuse power. And I am honored to champion truth-telling and to help bring about cultural change with my friends at SCAARS. If my Dad was still alive, he surely would be proud of all of us who are determined defenders of truth and advocates for reform.

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia Launches Hotline for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Clergy

WASHINGTON – The Superior Court Division’s Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section and the Victim Witness Assistance Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia are launching a hotline and e-mail address for survivors to report child sexual abuse by clergy, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu announced today.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia Launches Hotline for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Clergy