Sixteen Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits against Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Settled
Largest Deal Ever in Denomination’s History Includes Controversial Gag Order
One of the Predators is A Fugitive & Was Profiled on “America’s Most Wanted”
Nation-wide Support Group Blasts Secrecy & Wants To Help Others Who Are Wounded
At a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will disclose and discuss a child molestation settlement (allegedly in the millions of dollars and the largest-ever) against the Jehovah's Witnesses. All but two of the 16 victims are Californians. One of the predators, a San Diego native, was on ‘America’s Most Wanted.’
They’ll also discuss a nationwide outreach effort to find and help more men and women who have been sexually abused by Jehovah's Witness officials.
Outside the __ County Courthouse, ADDRESS (corner of __), in San Diego (BILL-PLS GET TH IS FROM OUR SAN DIEGO LEADER PAUL OR MARY GRANT 626 419 2930)
Several clergy molestation victims including a Long Beach woman who is the long time western regional director of a nationwide support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAPnetwork.org)
Attorneys for the victims are Greg Love and Kimberly Norris of Ft. Worth Texas (817 560 5600).
Six years ago media was first alerted that Jehovah’s Witnesses have a policy that endangers children. Since that first report in which William H. Bowen reported a fellow elder in Kentucky that was a confessed child molester and who remains a Jehovah’s Witness in good standing to this day, over 6,000 abuse survivors have come forward to say they too were molested and silenced by Jehovah’s Witness policy on child abuse.
Dateline, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, BBC, CBC, New York Times and over 30 countries have aired documentaries that identified child rapists who enjoy sanctuary in Jehovah’s Witness congregations. In 2007, fugitive Rick McLean (a San Diego native and long time resident) was featured on America’s Most Wanted and suspected of molesting over 30 children while protected as a Jehovah’s Witness.
In the last five years, more than 40 lawsuits against Watchtower (the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters/administrative arm in NYC) have been filed by members to seek justice for the way they were treated by church policy when they were molested as children. Attorney Jeff Anderson successful in over 600 lawsuits over abuse states, “When victims are forced to sign gag orders it is a continuation of the coerced code of silence from church hierarchy. Jehovah’s Witnesses silenced molested kids before the elders and now they are doing it in the courts.
After a five year court battle Watchtower is finally admitting they have hurt children. Material will be provided to assist Nashville Jehovah’s Witness sexual abuse survivors at the press conference.
Rick McLean info, http://www.silentlambs.org/rickmcleanamw.htm
Contact: William H. Bowen of Paducah KY, founder of SilentLambs.org 270-527-5350 cell, 270-703-2257
Mary Grant of Long Beach CA, SNAP western regional director 626-419-2930 cell
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director 314-566-9790 cell
Statement by Bill Bowen of Paducah Kentucky, founder of SilentLambs.org, a support group for those molested by Jehovah’s Witnesses. . .270-703-2257
Sex abuse survivors through litigation have forced Jehovah’s Witnesses to admit their policy on child abuse is not working. Watchtower policy has silenced thousands of victims and continues to strangle their ability to cry for justice and healing.
One month ago, we were informed about settlements in some of the more than forty recent civil sex abuse lawsuits against the Jehovah's Witnesses. We learned that 16 victims were paid the largest settlement in history of Jehovah’s Witnesses but forced to sign a gag order that forbids them from speaking about their abuse. We find this bittersweet. On one hand, we're glad a few victims are finally getting some financial help. On the other hand, we're sad and worried because they've essentially been forced to give up their right to protect others by speaking out about their abuse to the public.
In 2002, US Catholic bishops publicly promised that the church would never ask for gag orders when compensating abuse survivors. Five years later, Jehovah’s Witnesses do just the reverse. They keep putting innocent kids and unsuspecting families at risk of horrible crimes because they value their secrecy and reputations more than they value children's safety. Jehovah’s Witness kids that experience abuse need to have freedom to speak. It is time to step up and do the right thing instead of protecting the reputation of the church.
Watchtower's secrecy and recklessness gives dangerous men like Rick McLean continued access to youngsters. McLean was recently featured on America's Most Wanted as one of the 15 most wanted fugitives in this country. Four of his victims were part of the sixteen lawsuits recently settled and silenced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Because Watchtower officials never reported McLean and his crimes to law enforcement, he remains on the run and in fact might be molesting kids right now. Watchtower has a long-standing and ridiculous policy of not reporting molesters to police, requiring two eye witnesses before an abused child is believed and insisting that untrained individuals do internal investigations. This keeps kids vulnerable and predators free.
Watchtower has attacked and ousted members of conscience who have spoken out on to protect kids. They have protected child molesters by maintaining a secret database of more that 25,000 molesters that they do not shared with law enforcement. Finally, when a few victims find the courage and strength to speak up, get help, warn others, and seek justice in court, church officials silence them with hurtful gag orders.
Why did they settle? Last fall, a California court ruling would have required Watchtower to open their pedophile database. To prevent this information from becoming public, church officials chose to settle these 16 cases. They do not want anyone to know how much damaging information the database contains.
This is an international problem that needs to be addressed by one of the wealthiest religious groups in the world. At silentlambs.org, we want victims to know that, now more than ever, they can speak out, get help, expose molesters and protect others. Now more than ever, the legal climate has changed and is changing, so they have a better chance to get justice in court and deter others from hiding sex crimes.
We are announcing a worldwide campaign to reach Jehovah’s Witness sex abuse victims. We are asking that this downloadable “Service Bulletin” be placed in every Kingdom Hall (JW CHURCH) around the world and delivered to any Jehovah’s Witness that you may come in contact with. By doing so you can help victims find healing and protect children.
Texas Potter Cnty (1 victim) #91048C Oregon, Marion Cnty (1 victim) #06C15281
Settled 02/15/07 Settled 02/14/07
California, Napa Cnty (2 victims) #2622191 California, Napa (1 victim) #2623929
Settled )2/13/07 Settled 02/13/07
California, Placer Cnty (1 victim) #SCV16600 California, Yolo (3 victims) #CV031430
Settled 02/13/07 Settled 03/02/07
California, San Diego (4 victims) #GIE034558 California, Tehama (1victim) #52594
Settled 02/26/07 Rick McLean’s victims Settled 02/13/07
California, Tehama (2 victims) #52598
Sixteen victims of mishandled sexual abuse cases all settled within two weeks by Watchtower with gag orders that prevent abuse survivors from speaking out.
(Please post on information board)
For all Jehovah’s Witnesses Worldwide
Has your child been physically or sexually abused?
Silentlambs is happy to announce that through the efforts of our organization precedents have been established in the courts to force Watchtower to provide verification of their international policy of silencing victims and covering up child abuse. In 2007 Jehovah’s Witnesses chose to settle with sixteen victims of their policies on child abuse instead of facing a jury with the evidence against them. For any Jehovah’s Witness victim in the area there is hope that you can have justice. We strongly encourage you to contact silentlambs to establish if Watchtower can no longer escape justice in your case as well as for the thousands of kids that they have harmed by their policies on dealing with abuse.
Seek assistance from those who care,
It's time to protect children it’s time to stop being a silent lamb