The Royal Australian Commission investigates Jehovah’s Witnesses policy on child abuse this week. You can watch it live streaming at this link:
Testimony started Sunday night and featured riveting testimony from authority figures within the JW community. They admitted to not reporting over 1,000 child molesters to proper authorities and hiding them (pedophiles) within their congregations. This is a horrific number considering there are only 68,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia. Consider the fact that two eye-witnesses are needed to establish a molester within the JW community. How many accused child molesters that only had one eye-witness were deemed innocent and remain in good standing as elders or ministerial servants and anonymous with unlimited access to children? We estimate a ratio of ten to one on a conservative level and that would mean 10,000 molesters within Australia. This would mean that one in seven Jehovah’s Witnesses could be an accused child molester. The more horrific part is church officials admitted to destroying records of molesters that would be helpful in police investigations. In the USA this is known as obstruction of justice and considered a criminal act.
Perhaps the most interesting was the testimony of a long time Circuit and District Overseer, after describing his twenty-five years of experience overseeing hundreds of JW congregations he testified that he only had ever heard of one single case of child abuse and that was the one the Commission knew about and had record of. This is once again a classic case of Theocratic Warfare in which misrepresentation and perjury is presented protect the religion from punishment or sanctions. You can read about this at this link:
In addition, when the DO was asked about the one case he personally was involved in he had constant memory loss as to how judicial procedure even worked. To any elder it was obvious he was not being truthful with the facts and hiding what really happened in order to protect the religion and hurt the victim. This has been played out over and over again in depositions given by elders that are coached by the Legal Department on how to commit perjury to protect church interests. These men have no conscience or morals as they go about their testimony to hurt children.
Documents and witness lists can be downloaded from the link above, below is links to the Official Commission website and some press coverage:
Paedophiles repeatedly promoted to positions of authority in Jehovah’s Witness church royal commission told
Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, Angus Stewart SC has told the royal commission that church elders could now face criminal charges. Picture: Jeremy Piper/ Supplied
Officials in the Jehovah’s Witness Church destroyed notes, including those involving allegations of sexually assaulting children, in case they fell into the “wrong hands” — like those of their wives.
Church Elder Max Horley told the child sex abuse royal commission today that it was protocol to destroy notes including those he made during meetings between another elder Bill Neill and the teenage girl who accused him of abusing her.
Mr Horley, a Jehovah’s Witness all his life, said he had not considered it a “crime” for Neill, who is now dead, to have secretly watched the girl showering from the age of 15 and to have tongue-kissed her regularly when she stayed with his family.
Mr Horley had organised the meetings in 1991 after he was told of the abuse which took place at Narrogin in Western Australia but never considered reporting it to the police or encouraging the girl to go to police.
Justice Peter McClellan and Commissioner Helen Milroy at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Picture: Jeremy Piper/ Supplied
He was asked by commissioner Justice Peter McClellan why the notes were destroyed.
“Well, I guess it['s because we don’t want them to fall into the wrong hands and other people to find them and then go through them,” Mr Horley said today.
Justice McClellan: “What are the wrong hands?”
Mr Horley: “Well we don’t want our wives knowing our stuff, what sort of things we are dealing with. We don’t want other people in the congregation coming across that information.”
He denied that the elders wanted to keep such details secret.
The commission has been told that Jehovah’s Witness is a “tightly controlled, rule-bound organisation that seeks to keep its members in relative isolation from the rest of society” and women are expected to defer to the authority of their husbands and children are taught to obey their parents.
Earlier the royal commission heard that the Jehovah’s Witness church repeatedly promoted paedophiles to positions of authority and never reported any case of child abuse to the police.
Church elders could now face criminal charges for concealment of serious indictable offences and failure to disclose sexual offences against minors, counsel assisting the commission Angus Stewart SC said.
The church holds no insurance for child sex abuse and its corporation, Watchtower Australia, in 2008 considered forming a separate legal entity to minimise liability, Mr Stewart said.
One church Elder, who had sexually abused all four of his daughters, was “disfellowshipped” not for his crimes but for “unrelated loose conduct and lying”, the commission sitting in Sydney was told.
Justice Peter McClellan at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing into allegations of child sexual abuse by Jehovah's Witness. Picture: Jeremy Piper/ Supplied
One of his daughters will give evidence that she had to be interviewed by three church Elders together with her father and that instead of being supported, the Elders made her feel to blame.
Her father blamed her for seducing him.
In 2004, the father was convicted and jailed for unlawful and indecent assault and attempted rape.
Mr Stewart said the church’s own files reveal 1006 allegations of child sex abuse made against church members since 1950 but the Jehovah’s Witnesses dealt with them using “Biblical standards” and not the police.
They only believed victims if the alleged abuser confessed or there were two “credible” witnesses despite there rarely being witnesses to sex assaults beyond the victim and the perpetrator, Mr Stewart said.
“(There will be) evidence that the Jehovah’s Witness Church believes that loving and protective parents are the best deterrent to child abuse,” Mr Steward said.
He said the church believed the end of the world is near.
“Documents will be tendered which show that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the only way to finally end child abuse is to, as they put it, ‘embrace God’s Kingdom under Christ’ and to ‘love God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself’ so as to be saved when the end comes,” Mr Stewart said.
Counsel Assisting Angus Stewart SC at the public hearing into allegations of child sexual abuse by Jehovah's Witness's.
The church has 817 congregations across Australia with over 68,000 members, a growth of 29 per cent since 1990.
It deals with claims of sexual assault by having two Elders speak to the victim and the alleged offender but they can’t take any action unless it is proven to the Biblical standards.
If the Elders believe there is proof, they can form a judicial committee to determine “firstly if the individual is guilty of violating God’s laws and secondly, whether the individual is genuinely repentant,” Mr Stewart said.
Over the past 65 years, the requirement that there be two or more witnesses to child sex abuse has prevented at least 125 allegations of sex assault from proceeding to a judicial committee.
Since 1950, 401 alleged child sex abusers have been disfellowshipped, 78 of them on more than one occasion.
Another 190 were “reproved”, 11 of them more than once. This is a lesser form of discipline and allows the abuser to stay in the church.
In the same time, 28 alleged abusers were appointed to positions of authority and of 127 alleged abusers deleted as church leaders, 16 were reappointed.
The hearing is set down for two weeks.
Jehovah's Witnesses did not report 1006 alleged sex abusers to police, royal commission told
July 27, 2015 - 12:15PM
Social Affairs Reporter
The Jehovah's Witness Church in Australia received allegations of child sexual abuse involving more than 1000 of its members over a 60-year period but did not report a single claim to police, a royal commission has heard.
Instead, the church, which has almost 70,000 active members, followed its policy of handling allegations internally.
The opening day of the hearing into the Jehovah's Witnesses at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told that church elders blamed at least two victims for their sexual abuse.
The commission heard that alleged abusers could be cast out of the church if claims were proven but a requirement that at least two witnesses give evidence to an internal judicial committee meant many alleged perpetrators were not questioned.
Counsel assisting the royal commission, Angus Stewart, SC, said the church had recorded 1006 cases involving individual perpetrators within the organisation since 1950.
However, the church had a strict policy of not reporting allegations of abuse to secular authorities.
The commission heard that the church abhors child sexual abuse, which it recognises as a "gross sin and crime".
"Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the only way to finally end child abuse is to, as they put it, 'embrace God's kingdom under Christ' and to 'love God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself', so as to be saved when the end comes," Mr Stewart said.
When church elders received a complaint about abuse, they could cast out a perpetrator if the allegation was proven.
The commission was told that since 1950, 401 members had been cast out or "disfellowshipped" but more than half were later reinstated.
Almost 60 people have contacted the royal commission regarding allegations of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses, with two due to give evidence.
One survivor, using the pseudonym BCB, will tell the commission she was molested by a church elder in Western Australia from the age of 15.
The commission will hear that when she disclosed the alleged abuse, she was forced to confront the perpetrator, who joked about his conduct.
Mr Stewart told the commission that church elders considered the "spirituality and the seductiveness" of the complainant in determining the complaint.
A church elder told the woman, now aged 47, she would "drag Jehovah's name through the mud" if she gave evidence to the royal commission.
A second abuse survivor, given the pseudonym BCG, will give evidence she was molested by her father, a church elder.
The commission will hear evidence that church authorities made her directly confront her father about the allegations and his response was to "blame her for seducing him."
She later contacted police and her father, given the pseudonym BCH, was sentenced to three years in prison for unlawful and indecent sexual assault.
The hearing continues.
Child sex abuse royal commission hears Jehovah's Witnesses failed to report 1,000 alleged perpetrators