UPDATE ON TRIAL COSTS
The judge has final made her decision on costs.
I pay all legal costs for both sides because the amount of the win $5000.00 was less than their first offer to me. Apparently this is the law. Because of this, even though I won in court, I pay everything, in the amount of a quarter million, 250,000. There's justice for you. Once again the victim pays. This legal system is not fair. So the organization that protects child abusers makes money off of me.
Woman who won $5,000 in a sex abuse suit against church must pay legal costs
TORONTO (CP) - A woman who won $5,000 in damages after accusing the Canadian wing of the Jehovah's Witnesses of negligence over their handling of sexual abuse has been ordered to pay the group $142,000 to cover its legal costs.
Justice Anne Molloy ruled Monday that Vicki Boer has to pay legal costs to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada back to the year 2001 even though she won the case. Watch Tower must pay legal costs before 2001.
Boer also owes her lawyer about $92,000.
Reached at her Fredericton home Monday, Boer said she "didn't think this is the way the justice system would be."
"I thought even if I won a small amount, even if I won this victory, that I would not end up having to pay for the rest of my life."
Boer refused a settlement offer of $20,000 that Watch Tower made in 2001.
Under an Ontario Courts of Justice Act regulation, even though Boer won her judgment, it was less than the total legal costs of Watch Tower and costs of the offer, and thus, she must pay the legal costs.
"To win such a small amount was difficult," Boer said. "But because of the way the legal system is, if the judgment amount ends up being smaller than the original offer, then you pay everything."
"If I had more money, I would certainly appeal it," she added.
Boer's husband, Scott, said he didn't know if the family will appeal.
"We've pretty much exhausted our finances pursuing the case this far, and now we're to the point where we simply couldn't afford an appeal," he said.
"We going to simply have to accept the judgment and if we have to declare bankruptcy for a victory, then we have to declare bankruptcy."
Vicki Boer, who says she suffered sexual assaults between the ages 11 and 14, sought $700,000 from Watch Tower and three of its elders in a 1998 civil suit that claimed they were negligent and breached their duty.
No criminal charges were ever laid in the assault allegations, but Molloy's written civil judgment said there was "no material dispute as to the general background leading up to . . . this matter," and that "the plaintiff was sexually assaulted by her father."
In the civil suit, Boer claimed that rather than immediately notify the Children's Aid Society, elders told her not to seek outside help or report the alleged abuse. She also said they made her confront her father to allow him to repent his sins in accordance with biblical principles.
Boer said the confrontation was traumatizing and led to a rocky path in her adult life, which included a nervous breakdown and being ostracized by family, friends and other people in her southern Ontario community of Shelburne, about 100 kilometers northwest of Toronto.
While victims of sexual abuse normally aren't identified in public, Boer agreed to allow her name to be published as part of her effort to raise awareness of what she has alleged was abuse within the confines of the church's congregations.
When Boer left the faith and married outside the religion, she lost contact with her mother. Even as her mother was dying in hospital of cancer, she was not allowed to visit and never was not able to reconcile with her before she passed away.
"They took away my childhood, they took away so much from me," Boer said Monday.
"And now the justice system makes it so they can take the rest of my dignity and what I have left in my family, and take away that little bit more."
© The Canadian Press, 2003
PRESS RELEASE - For Immediate Release
Canadian abuse victim forced to pay $142,000 to Jehovah's Witnesses
Toronto, Ontario -- A judge's ruling regarding costs in the Vicki Boer trial has been handed down today. Victoria Boer is a former Jehovah's Witness that sued three church elders and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, the religion's governing body, for the injurious manner they handled her claims of abuse that she suffered when she was as young as 11 years old
In her original decision, Her Honour Justice Molloy ruled that the Watch Tower Society was negligent in the manner in which they treated Ms. Boer. She awarded Ms. Boer $5,000 as a result of the Watch Towers callous treatment when she brought forward her claims of abuse. Of primary focus in the negligence was the forced confrontation between Ms. Boer and her abuser, in front of 3 elders of the Church. None of these elders have any secular training in dealing with victims of sexual abuse.
In the surprise decision released today on costs, despite her ruling of negligence against the Watch Tower Society, Her Honour Justice Anne Molloy found Ms. Boer liable for all court costs incurred after 2001. In 2001, the Watchtower Society offered Ms. Boer $20,000 to settle this matter out of court. They later made a substantially higher offer to settle in the range of $50,000 but it included a strictly worded gag order.
Vicki Boer commented regarding these offers, "It has never been about money. If it were, I would have taken the offers. It is about a victims right to tell their story and to let people know how the Jehovahs Witnesses treat victims of sexual abuse. The refusal of the offers was also based on the advice of legal counsel."
Ms. Boer further comments on today's decision awarding costs to the Jehovah's Witnesses, "It's sad when the legal system finds an organization guilty of negligence and then punishes the victim. This legalistic decision will now affect my whole family. Physically and emotionally I paid for the abuse, and now they want me to actually pay the Society that helped protect an abuser. Paying them is akin to justifying their sick policy..."
Between the costs incurred by her own lawyer and now the award of costs in favor of the Watch Tower Society, Ms. Boer will owe in excess of $220,000; $140,000 of which is to be paid to the Watch Tower Society for their costs.
The Watch Towers in-house legal department, W. Glen How & Associates, is run and operated as part of the Churchs Religious Order. All the lawyers and secretaries that are part of the religious order (Religious Order of Special Full Time Servants and Bethelites) have signed a vow of poverty and volunteer their time. In return they are provided room and board within the churchs headquarters in Georgetown, Ontario just north west of Toronto.
John Saunders, a researcher for W. Glen How & Associates in the early 90's, gave testimony during the trial last October. Ironically during an interview he gave after testifying, he commented, "Even if the Society were to win this case outright, I would hope they would do the right thing and not further injure a victim of childhood abuse by pursuing costs. People dont donate money to the Witnesses so they can turn around and attack, retaliate and intimidate survivors of childhood sexual abuse inside the court system."
Neither side has released a decision regarding appeals."
The following is an email sent to me by a friend in Canada I think his words best express the feelings many have.
I just got off the telephone with Scott Boer, Vicki Boer's husband and before that Vicki. Her honour, Justice Anne Molloy, has just ruled on the legal cost issue in the Boer case.
Her Honour has ruled that Vicki has to pay legal costs to the Watchtower back to the year 2001 even though she won the case. Watchtower has to pay legal costs before 2001.
The reason for the judgment seems to be found in that there was an original offer by the Watchtower of 20,000 dollars back in 2001 for what the Watchtower elders put her through in the "confrontations". Vicki refused the 20,000 dollar offer on advice of counsel but it was considered the "official" offer.
The Watchtower then made a second offer that I guess was not an "official offer" of 56,000 dollars with an apology to Vicki but it was rejected on advise of her lawyer and also and more importantly on the advise of a pre-trial judge (different than Judge Molloy) because the Watchtower wanted to "gag" Vicki and her immediate family.
So today, the Judge ruled under a Ontario Courts of Justice Act regulation that even though Vicki won her judgment, it was below the total legal costs of the Watchtower and costs of the offer, and thus, Vicki has to pay 142,000 dollars to the Watchtower legal costs and I suspect her own lawyer's bill of 92,000. I don't know too many people in the real world who have that kind of money. Vicki of course wanted her story to be made public including to her family to show she wasn't lying and to help other survivors. What a price to pay for a young innocent rape survivor who wanted to alert the public and survivors as to what has been going on and wanting to prove to her Jehovah's Witness family that she was not making it all up.
So Vicki speaks to try and tell her story in public on how she was treated by her dad and the Watchtower and she wins against the Watchtower a sum of 5,000 dollars. And what does the Watchtower do? They nail her to the wall for over 140,000.00 dollars.
I remember a person who I consider a good friend once telling me that the Watchtower never uses the courts to hurt other witnesses or sue others including Jehovah's Witnesses. I also remember reading article after article in the Watchtower magazines, official doctrine of the Governing Body, that teaches how JWs should never take other JWs to court over disputes and should never ever seek revenge either through the courts or other avenues. I remind you that Vicki is still a JW in good standing and this is exactly what has happened here on the full knowledge and support of the Canadian Bethel (Jehovahs Witness Canada Headquarters) in Halton Hills and Governing Body. (Brooklyn New York Headquarters)
I wish to also remind all that we are dealing with a rape victim/survivor who still is considered to have some serious mental illnesses. I have observed first hand what can happen to people like Vicki in set backs like this. The Watchtower also knew exactly what I know and even had stated publicly that they as an organization were very "compassionate" to all these rape victims within their Kingdom Halls. For anyone with even "half of the compassion" that would mean you would know that you could really do a lot of further mental damage to a rape victim/survivor by seeking monetary revenge from the victim the way the Watchtower did in this case by seeking legal costs.
I strongly suspect Vicki is thinking that she was just raped again. I suspect this is going to be very painful and I would urge all to support her in this mess. I am very proud of what she has accomplished in exposing what has gone on and I know it there will come a day thanks to her that young children and women may actually be properly protected in this organization.
In conclusion I hope that those who are JWs or those who think of becoming JWs think long and hard about this and the organization they belong to. This is exactly how the Church of Scientology and other destructive groups go after those followers who do not conform all the while hiding/denying this information to/from the rest of the rank and file and "love bombing" new people who they are trying to recruit.