Draffenville Body of Elders
This letter is to acknowledge your letter of July15, and your renewed interest in establishing a new judicial hearing. As you may recall my attorney sent you a letter on June 6, 2002 with clear and concise requests for information. In not answering the June 6, letter you canceled a second arranged meeting on June 28, which I readily agreed to, but you failed to confirm in anyway. Due to circumstances beyond my control I am unable to meet on July 24th. I will be happy to reschedule a date acceptable to all concerned.
I noted with interest that Ron Cary from Central City has now been appointed to serve as chairman, has he moved to Draffenville? Does he represent the Draffenville Congregation for the Watchtower home office? This needs to be clarified as I am confused why Ron Cary would be involved as he lives over one and one half hours away from Draffenville. The reason for my concern in this regard is the stated instructions in the elder handbook “Pay Attention to Yourself and all the Flock” it makes this comment in that regard on page 109:
“If a judicial committee is needed, elders who are present at the Kingdom Hall should determine which elders will serve on the committee and which one will be chairman. The elders will take into consideration which elders are best qualified to handle the particular type of case that has arisen. (km 9/77 pp. 5-6)”
Why does Draffenville Congregation need an Assembly Overseer, Ron Cary, when they already have five elders on the “local” elder body? Did the local body of elders call Ron Cary and request him to make the long road trip from Central City? If so I would appreciate an explanation as to why this is needed or who requested Brother Cary.
In the July 15, letter Ron mentioned that he wished to be treated with, “due respect…accorded to the elder who is chairing the meeting.” If find this noteworthy as a fellow elder I make the same request on my behalf. The question is, have I been treated with “due respect” since you brothers at the direction of home office have chosen to press these false allegations against me? To explain, let me share a few examples:
Failing to appear or give notice for
the first prearranged judicial hearing “in writing” when at great
expense I was there in good faith to meet with the committee.
Totally ignoring all questions asked since January of 2001 about serious actions committed against my good name in the congregation and local community.
Attempting to arrange a judicial hearing with a twenty-four hour notice in an attempt to prevent my witnesses from appearing in my behalf.
Attempting to arrange a judicial hearing on Wednesdays in an attempt to impede my witnesses from appearing on my behalf.
Failing to appear for a second judicial hearing that my attorney notified you in writing that I was willing to appear for, but once again you failed to confirm or communicate in anyway.
Harassing my family and myself, by trespassing on my property, making harassing phone calls, sending correspondence, after repeated requests for all communication to go only to my attorney.
In the handbook you use to decide these matters a comment is made in this regard on page 107:
“They must treat every person with impartiality at all times and desire that the spiritually ill become well again, since a failure in this regard is unjust and violates the law of love .I Tim. 5:21; Jas. 2:1-9; 5:14, 15; w77 3/1 pp. 146-52”.
By the actions committed to date by you and other representatives of Watchtower, have you treated me with “due respect” and given any hope of a “fair and impartial hearing”? How in any sense am I being made to feel that you want to make me “well again” if by your actions you show denial of basic human rights? According to our own guidebook it is described as “unjust and violates the law of love”. I would like a specific answer to that question.
Now it appears you want to establish a new hearing with a third chairman officiating. Since you have failed to appear on two previous meetings that were arranged in writing, what reason do I have to believe you will appear for this one? Your actions to date have proven otherwise. Therefore due to the inconvenience you have caused my witnesses and myself by your gross negligence in these matters I must request the following in accordance with “due respect”:
What are the charges against me, please
be specific as I am unclear what this new hearing is about.
For any hearing that you wish to arrange I will require at least a two week notice from the date I receive the letter so as to arrange my schedule to be able to meet.
I request than you not set the meeting for any weekday as this imposes a hardship for my witnesses to be able to appear in my behalf. Therefore I request a Saturday or Sunday meeting only. As you are aware the “Flock” book on page 110 states: “Suitable arrangements should be made as to the time and place of the hearing.” Would that not mean arrangements that are kind to the accused and his witnesses?
I request that the meeting be arranged on a time table after “noon.”
I request that you use no recording devices in the course of the hearing.
I request that no attorneys may be present in your behalf or Watchtower.
I request a basic committee of three with no observers present. According to the “Flock” book on page 109 it makes this statement: “In a complex case, a judicial committee need not be limited to three members; it may warrant having four or even five experienced elders serve.” As this is a simple case of false allegations it would not appear to be to complex for three elders to handle. If you plan to have more than three elders present, I wish to be informed in advance and the basis for that decision. If you fail to do this and upon my arrival, there are more than three on the committee, I will certainly consider that a lack of “due respect” for not informing me ahead of time what to expect.
My witnesses have asked that I act as an agent on their behalf, therefore I request a check in the amount of $2, 945.25 to be sent to silentlambs to assist with travel expenses for my witnesses to return for the new hearing to bear testimony in my behalf. I am sure you brothers understand the difference between “witnesses” and “observers” at a judicial hearing. The “Flock” Book on page 110 states: “If the accused wishes to bring witnesses who can speak in his defense regarding the matter, he may do so.” Page 119: “The accused may also present witnesses whose testimony would have a bearing on the case.” To this point you have denied my witnesses their right to testify according to instructions in our procedural manual by your actions of not appearing at two “arranged” hearings in writing. In addition, your repeated attempt to create a schedule that makes it impossible for them to appear certainly puts forth the appearance of being partial, “unjust and violating the law of love.”
I request that ALL COMMUNICATION go through my attorney. It is no doubt at the advice of Watchtower Legal you have chosen to ignore my repeated demands in this regard, but irregardless you must STOP HARASSING me. If you do not I will be forced to look to “Caesar” for redress in this regard.
I am saddened to have to make the above requests but your actions have had the affect of “beating your brothers” by harassing my family, arranging judicial meetings which are stressful to face, and not making appearance, inconveniencing survivors of abuse who traveled great distances to meet with you and provide testimony.
In his February 7, 2002 letter to Richard Greenberg of Dateline, JR Brown made this statement:
“We therefore do not view them as adversaries, but as individuals whose views and opinions should be heard within the framework of the congregation, or church, and not in front of a nationwide television audience. Our Governing Body is willing to resolve differences of opinion within the framework of the congregation and according to scriptural principles.”
So is this the way “our Governing Body resolves differences of opinion”? They send out-of- town elders to establish a judicial committee with false allegations and disfellowship all who appeared on the program? Does this not confirm exactly the allegation I have made since day one, that is, when victims of abuse speak up they are silenced with the threat of disfellowshipping? Is it not the cowardly course to disfellowship brothers and sisters in back rooms rather than face legitimate allegations in a public forum? It seems “our Governing Body” is perfectly willing to authorize JR Brown of Watchtower Public Information to slander those who appeared on Dateline by stating they were being disfellowshipped for “other sins” not related to speaking out on child abuse to nationwide newspapers. Could it be that “our Governing Body” lied to JR Brown and Richard Greenberg? Could they be lying to you?
I know the questions above are troubling as they have troubled me greatly over the course of the last year. It is for that reason I have requested to have a meeting with the Governing Body “within the framework of the congregation and according to scriptural principles” on September 27th of this year. Since they and the Service Committee are well aware of my request to meet with them in a FED-Xed letter dated June 6, 2002, why are they authorizing you to have a judicial hearing? You might want to ask them that question. Would it not make better sense to resolve our differences at that time? On the other hand if you are aware of my meeting with the Governing Body, then I would welcome an explanation for the inconsistency of your actions. According to instructions in the “Flock” book, on page 110: “If the accused repeatedly fails to come to the hearing the committee will proceed with the hearing but will not make a decision until evidence and any testimony by witnesses have been considered.” To date you have refused to meet with me with conduct unkind and unloving to my “witnesses”. In your last letter you failed to inform me of what the “new” charges were since a “new” committee has been formed with a “new” chairman. How can I appear before a judicial committee when I am not informed of the charges against me?
The “Flock” book also states on page 118 under the heading, “Before forming a judicial committee”: “A person who becomes a witness to a serious sin should encourage the wrongdoer to report the matter to the elders. He may encourage the wrongdoer to seek help from the elders and confess; and if the wrongdoer does not do so, the witness will then inform the elders. (w85 11/15 pp.19-21) If there is no response from the accused, two elders would attempt to discuss the matter with him. If he denies wrongdoing, so that it is only one brother’s word against another’s, leave the matter in Jehovah’s hands. (1 Tim. 5:19, 24, 25)” To date, no person has confronted me with any actions of “wrongdoing” or even suggested in anyway I have broken God’s Laws, no elders have spoken to me about any so called “witness” who is bringing charges against me. I deny ANY wrongdoing, faced no witness, faced no accusation, according to procedural guidelines, why has a judicial committee been established without following directives of the “Flock” book?
It is also started in the “Flock” book on page 109: “Before forming a judicial committee, elders determine if the accusation has substance…’There must be either two eye-witnesses or a confession of wrongdoing.” As I am totally unaware of ANY law of Jehovah that I may have broken, are you brothers going to provide eye-witnesses to establish my supposed wrongdoing? Are you brothers going to serve as eye-witnesses against me? If so, how can you be an impartial judge and testify against the accused? If there are no additional eye-witnesses and I am denying all allegations, why are we not “leaving the matter in Jehovah’s hands?” Are you brothers willing to “wait on Jehovah” or could you presumptuously be moving ahead of God’s arrangement? Or does the directive to “wait on Jehovah” only apply in the case of child molesters?
I realize you brothers are “caught in the middle” so to speak, but I would encourage you to think seriously about pressing this matter at this time. I am willing to meet and am traveling to Brooklyn, New York as an evidence of my sincerity in wanting these matters settled. I will be glad to meet with you, I simply request “due respect” as you have failed miserably in that regard up to this point. Think about these things brothers as many children will either benefit or suffer from the actions you choose to take. As the “Flock” book states:
Elders called upon to care for this responsibility must exercise heavenly wisdom, have good judgment, and be impartial. (Deut. 1:13, 16-18) A sound knowledge of Jehovah's righteous laws and principles is necessary.(Ps. 19:7-11) They must weigh matters carefully, realizing that certain factors make situations differ from one another.
Instead of looking for rigid rules for guidance, elders should think in terms of principles; judge each case on its own merits. Before handling a judicial case, elders should carefully review Units 5(a), 5(b), and 5(c). They may also need to do research in the Society's publications and recent correspondence from the Society to find information that may apply or be helpful. Elders can be confident that with accurate knowledge, with experience and discernment, and with the help of God's spirit, they can judge in righteousness, wisdom, and mercy.
I encourage you brothers to consider these matters carefully and make a decision that will benefit the flock. As fellow elders is that not what we are required to do? I await your quick response to this letter and send my warm Christian love.
Very Truly Yours,
William H. Bowen