Did Watchtower Lie to Elders and Members About Reappointment of Child Molesters?
In January of 2007 silentlambs was contacted by an elder that stated a new BOE (internal body of elder letter) was read to elders in the congregation about re-appointment of child molesters. The elder commented that the new BOE closed the opening for child molesters to ever be appointed to any position of responsibility in the congregation. While this is encouraging, we sent word out for a copy of the letter to confirm the observation. Silentlambs has yet to receive a copy of this letter but it is important to note that if so, this could represent a significant change to current policy in these matters. To understand this you have to go back into the history of the policy on abuse in order to understand it more clearly.
The policy of the Service Department (administrative office for elders) has always been to allow the reappointment of a child molester after twenty years. This policy has been in effect for decades. Members were led to believe in the January 1, 1997 Watchtower article, “Let Us Abhor What is Wicked” that policy had changed, it read,
“For the protection of our children, a man known to have been a child molester does not qualify for a responsible position in the congregation. Moreover, he cannot be a pioneer or serve in any other special, full-time service.—Compare the principle at Exodus 21:28, 29.”
Was this true? Apparently not, for just three months later in the March 14, 1997 Body of Elder letter the following was stated to elders dealing with a fellow elder that was discovered to be a molester.
“Who is a known child molester? The January 1, 1997, Watchtower article "Let Us Abhor What Is Wicked" mentions on page 29 that a man "known to have been a child molester" would not qualify for privileges in the congregation. An individual "known" to be a former child molester has reference to the perception of that one in the community and in the Christian congregation. In the eyes of the congregation, a man known to have been a child molester is not "free from accusation" and "irreprehensible," nor does he have "a fine testimony from those on the outside."
Did you catch it? The word “known” creates a Watchtower loophole that can appear to be one thing but in practice be something very different. Silentlambs has been contacted by numerous Jehovah’s Witnesses expressing outrage when we state that molesters are reappointed. They say the 1997 Watchtower clearly indicates they (child molesters) would never be appointed and that we are besmirching God’s organization for saying otherwise. How do we know that a “known” child molester could be reappointed after twenty years? Well the first clue is with the PR Statement given by the WT PR (Public Relations Department of Jehovah’s Witnesses) website on their policy regarding child abuse. Note this comment,
“In a few instances, individuals guilty of an act of child abuse have been appointed to positions within the congregation if their conduct has been otherwise exemplary for decades. All of the factors are considered carefully. Suppose, for example, that a long time ago a 16-year-old boy had sexual relations with a consenting 15-year-old girl. Depending upon the U.S. jurisdiction where he lived when this happened, elders may have been required to report this as an incident of child abuse. Let us say that 20 years have passed. The child abuse reporting law may have changed; the man may have even married the girl! Both have been living exemplary lives and they are respected. In such a rare case, the man could possibly be appointed to a responsible position within the congregation.”
As you will note not only is the reappointment of molesters mentioned but the actual number of years is stated as well. Read the information closely and you will see an error, then ask yourself: Is an accurate WT definition of a “Known child molester”?
Note the direct definition given in the March 14, 1997 BOE,
“WHO IS A 'KNOWN CHILD MOLESTER'?
If you read the information closely you will see the example offered in the WT PR Statement is not by their definition a “child molester”. In the letter a child molester is defined as, “an adult brother or sister has been guilty of sexually abusing a young child or has been sexually involved with a nonconsenting minor who is approaching adulthood.”
The example given is of two “consenting minors” thus by their definition this individual would have no need to wait twenty years to be appointed but instead be treated as any other typical transgression of sin.
Why then did WT PR work so hard to present a fictitious situation to show how a child molester could be reappointed? The facts show they indirectly wanted to show the twenty year policy in writing as a long standing policy on child abusers. Do you really believe that consenting minors that have sex would not be appointed for twenty years? It would certainly be a very cruel rule to follow and one that has never been followed by the organization to date. If it were applied as a hard fast rule most current elders would not qualify for appointment as a result.
What about the policy that after twenty years a child molester can be reappointed? Was it really a full twenty years? An elder discussing this matter with the Service Department in 2000 was told that if the victim forgave him and he had the respect of the congregation, a confessed child molester could have privileges after fifteen years. From this information it appears twenty years is not a hard fast rule in all cases. To back this up note the comment in a “form” body of elder letter that is sent when a elder or ministerial servant are removed after it is discovered they have a recent history of molestation. The following comment is made at the end of this letter,
“After a number of additional years have gone by, you may wonder whether certain privileges can be extended to this brother. If he has continued to build a commendable record, if there are no complaints either by his victim(s) or by relatives, and if the body of elders concludes that no one would find fault with his being given extra privileges of a minor nature in the congregation, you may write the Society and make known your observations and recommendations, indicating how you feel he can be used in the congregation. Explain clearly what the current feeling is toward him on the part of the one(s) he wronged and by relatives, and how the congregation views him now. Direction from the Society should be obtained before certain privileges are extended to him.”
So what does this tell the reader? If the victims are forgiving, along with the relatives, then he could be approved to be used for privileges in the congregation. We know this to be the case for in a letter sent to all elders in the United Kingdom dated 06/01/01 the following is stated,
“There is one exception to the above direction: The elders may have written to the branch office and given full details about a former child abuser who is currently serving as an elder or ministerial servant. In such a case, if the branch office has decided that he can be appointed or continue serving in a position of trust because the sin occurred many years ago and because he has lived an exemplary life since then, his name should not appear on the List, nor is it necessary to pass on information about the brother’s past sin if he moves to another congregation unless contrary instructions have been given by the branch. If therefore, such an appointed man moves to another congregation a letter confirming the move should be sent, addressed to the Society’s Legal Department.”
So here we have clear evidence that child molesters are in fact serving as “elders” and “ministerial servants” in the congregation and are provided with a clean slate of no record following them to new congregations they may move to.
Is this a good policy? If the average Jehovah’s Witness understood the application of “known” child molesters and special confidentiality approvals given to men that hurt children, how would they react? In addition to this what about “unknown” child molesters, that is those men that have their past hidden or do not have “two eye witnesses” to back the victims testimony against them? What is the answer? They are serving in their appointed capacity in a congregation near you.
Perhaps the more important question is in fact, with the writing of the 01/07 Body of Elder letter, is there now a new policy that stops this practice by leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Recently silentlambs received an email from a disturbed person that had been a Jehovah's Witness for many years. An adult friend of the family that was molested as a child had a message sent from her molester.
The woman as a child was molested by this older relative.
Now many years later some of the family started pressuring her to write a letter of forgiveness because according to them, “The molester really "needs" this appointment.”
Recently in the message, she is informed that the molester is coming to town to speak with her directly. She was looking forward to a confrontation, but instead, he sends a relative to her place of business. The relative hands her an envelope. Inside a request for her forgiveness (in letter form) and..... cashiers check for several thousand dollars.
So now we see in practice that WT policy on the reappointment of child molesters is alive and well. Remember the earlier comments about forgiveness of family and relatives? Well in this case an extra kick of money was added to seal the deal. The woman ignored the offer and in this one case a child molester might be prevented from being a leader in the congregation and having further access to young girls. How would you feel about a newly appointed elder that molested a child. Would you want him providing spiritual guidance to your children? This practice is well known among those affected by it. In another example, a current missionary was married and had a child many years ago. After divorcing his first wife he became a Jehovah’s Witness and remarried. They were both pioneers but when they applied for Gilead he was given an assignment. You see, though he paid child support he did not have anything to do with his daughter. The Watchtower Service Department informed him that he must get a signed statement that his daughter “disowns” him as her father and rejected him to be part of her life before he could be approved as a missionary. He obtained the statement and was happily admitted to Gilead. A few years later his daughter died from a medical reaction to the first time she took drugs but that did not stop him and his new wife from serving for over twenty years as special pioneer missionaries in Guatemala as fine examples in Christian living. When their parents got in bad health is it any wonder that they were immediately placed in nursing homes by their loving missionary children? Just another example of how WT policy protects abusers while harming innocent people.
So based on the information considered the facts show that Jehovah’s Witness child molesters are still protected by the pedophile paradise polices of the organization. As a child molester you can go door to door to find new prospects, have all records of your activity with children erased, in a few years be reappointed, and of course have the full legal and financial backing of the billion dollar Worldwide Work donation fund to assist you in court if you are ever accused.
So for any Jehovah’s Witness reading this, perhaps you were not lied to directly but instead you were simply misled as to the facts. You thought child molesters would never have privileges in the congregation, but what Watchtower really meant was “known” child molesters. All those elders, pioneers, and ministerial servants that are unknown or forgiven may be conducting bible studies with your child or taking them out in service this week.
Remember if you do not support policies like this, refuse to donate to the Worldwide Work until they change the protection of pedophiles through the policies of this organization.