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Rudy Nolen, Esq., SBN 59808
Jonathan Saul, Esq., SBN 189271
William Brelsford, Esq., SBN 202839
NOLEN SAUL BRELSFORD
350 University Ave, Suite 280
Sacramento , California 95825
Telephone: (916) 564-9990
Facsimile: (916) 564-9991
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
TREVOR L., TIM C., ANDREW C.,
and ROBERT C.
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF PLACER
TREVOR L., TIM C., ANDREW C., and ROBERT C.,
WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC., WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF P ENNSYLVANIA, INC., CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH?S WITNESSES, SUNSET CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH?S WITNESSES, DEREK PACKOWSKI and DOES 1 through 20, ,
Jury Trial Demanded
Complaint for Damages
1. Sexual Battery
2. Common Law Negligence
3. Gross Negligence-Willful Misconduct
4. Breach of Fiduciary Duty
5. Intentional Infliction of Emotion Distress
6. Fraud - Intentional Misrepresentation
7. Fraud - Concealment
COMES NOW TREVOR L., TIM C., ANDREW C., and ROBERT C., Plaintiffs, in the above-numbered and entitled cause, and files this, their Original Complaint, and allege as follows:
1. Plaintiff TREVOR L., born September 1, 1982 , is and, at all times mentioned herein, was a resident of Placer County, California . At all material times, Plaintiff was also a child entrusted to the Watchtower Defendants' care within the State of California .
2. Plaintiff TIM C., born November 22, 1977 , is and, at all times mentioned herein, was a resident of Placer County , California . At all material times, Plaintiff was also a child entrusted to the Watchtower Defendants' care within the State of California .
3. Plaintiff ROBERT C., born December 18, 1980 , is and, at all times mentioned herein, was a resident of Placer County , California . At all material times, Plaintiff was also a child entrusted to the Watchtower Defendants' care within the State of California .
4. Plaintiff ANDREW C., born July 30, 1982 , is and, at all times mentioned herein, was a resident of Placer County , California . At all material times, Plaintiff was also a child entrusted to the Watchtower Defendants' care within the State of California .
5. Defendant WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC., a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of New York, has conducted business within the State of California through its agents and alter egos and may be served with process through its California agent for service of process James M. McCabe, 4817 Santa Monica Avenue, San Diego CA 92107.
6. Defendant WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF PENNSYLVANIA , a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania , has conducted business within the State of California through its agents and alter egos and may be served with process at its offices located at 1630 Spring Run Road Extension, Coraopolis , Pennsylvania 15108 .
7. Defendant CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of New York , has conducted business within the State of California through its agents and alter egos and may be served with process at its offices located at 100 Watchtower Drive, Patterson , New York 12563-9204.
8. Defendant SUNSET CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES is a business of unknown legal status located in Rocklin, California, and is authorized to do business in the State of California.
9. Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI was, at the time the acts described herein more fully below, a resident of the County of Placer, California . His current whereabouts is unknown.
10. Plaintiffs allege on information and belief that at all relevant times, defendants DOES 1 through 20 inclusive, are individuals and/or business or corporate entities incorporated in and/or doing business in California .
11. The true names and capacities, whether individual, corporate, associate, or otherwise, of defendants DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, are unknown to Plaintiffs who therefore sue such defendants by such fictitious names, and will amend the complaint to show the true names and capacities of each DOE defendant when ascertained. Plaintiffs allege on information and belief that each defendant designated as a DOE is legally responsible in some manner for the events, happenings, and/or tortuous, and unlawful conduct that caused the injuries and damages alleged in this complaint.
12. The Defendan t entities are collectively referred to herein as the "WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS" and each is the agent and alter ego of each other and operates as a single business enterprise. Each of the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS was acting within the scope and course of his or its authority as an agent, servant, and/or alter ego of the other and each of them engaged in, joined in and conspired with the other wrongdoers in carrying out the unlawful activities alleged in this complaint.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
13. Plaintiffs have been damaged in an amount exceeding the minimum jurisdictional requirements of this Court.
14. Venue is proper in Placer County, California because Defendant SUNSET CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES has its principal place of business in Placer County and because most of the acts or omissions that give rise to Plaintiffs claims occurred in Placer County, California .
FACTS COMMON TO ALL CAUSES OF ACTION
15. Elders, Ministerial Servants, Pioneers, agents, volunteers and other leaders and representatives of the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization have used their positions of control, authority, and leadership within the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization to sexually abuse minors. They have utilized a policy and engaged in a pattern of practice to "cover up" incidences of sexual abuse of children. In instances of sexual abuse by one member of a Jehovah's Witnesses' congregation on another member have been brought to attention of the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS, who failed to notify appropriate legal authorities, parents of victims, and/ or other individuals who could assist and/or protect these victims of childhood sexual abuse, in an attempt to cover-up the instances of sexual abuse and avoid any potential legal liability, thereby allowing further acts of sexual abuse to be committed on minors, including Plaintiffs.
16. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS were notified of the abuse of these Plaintiffs by Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI and had actual knowledge that Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI sexually abused children, but failed to take any precautions to ensure the safety of Plaintiffs and other minor children entrusted to their care and to prevent future acts of molestation. This suit seeks compensation for Plaintiffs, victims of this sexual abuse.
17. All paragraphs of this Complaint are based on information and belief, except for those allegations, which pertain to the Plaintiffs and their counsel. Plaintiffs' information and belief are based upon, inter alia , the investigation conducted to date by Plaintiffs and their counsel. Each allegation in this Complaint either has, or is likely to have, evidentiary support upon further investigation and discovery.
18. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization is a hierarchical structure in which the GOVERNING BODY, which is a small group of men who operate within various entities of the hierarchical structure, which is positioned at the top of a chain of command that extends over each individual member and Defendant entity in the organization, including its worldwide operations. These individuals and entities act as agents, servants and alter egos of each other. Authority for any action by the organization or its members must be derived from the GOVERNING BODY. Any actions taken by members at any level are required to meet the approval of the GOVERNING BODY. Members cannot act independently in any facet of life without express approval by the GOVERNING BODY and the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS or else strict sanctions are imposed.
19. All of the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS are the agents and servants of each other and are vicariously liable for each other's acts. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS are so organized and controlled and their affairs are so conducted that they are alter egos of each other and operate as a single business enterprise and are but a mere instrumentality of the GOVERNING BODY and each other.
20. Through its hierarchical structure, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS are responsible for the development, protection and discipline of its membership, especially the children of members, thereby creating a special relationship between minor children in the organization and the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS. All male members, whether Elders, Ministerial Servants, Pioneers and/or Publishers, are appointed and empowered by the GOVERNING BODY to carry out this responsibility.
21. To further their goals, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS authorize male members to develop special relationships of trust with women, children and families and to assume a role of counselor and advocate for any problems that might arise, including claims of child abuse. It is the responsibility of the Elders and those with responsibility higher up in the chain of command, most significantly the GOVERNING BODY, to investigate and decide if abuse has occurred. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS by reason of their special relationship with victims of child sexual abuse and their families, provide direction and counseling to the victims and their families as to how to handle the acts of child sexual abuse.
22. Despite knowledge of a problem with sexual abuse of minors by leaders and others in the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS have acted with wilful indifference and/or reckless and/or intentional disregard for the interest and safety of the children entrusted to the organization's care. Rather than implement measures to redress and prevent the sexual molestation of these children, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS engaged in a systematic, conspira tori al pattern and practice of suppression of information to cover-up and hide incidents of child molestation from law enforcement and their membership in order to protect those within the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization who committed acts of sexual molestation against children and to avoid civil liability arising from the instances of sexual abuse. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS have likewise engaged in the routine practice of maintaining secret archival files regarding sexual abuse by Elders, Ministerial Servants, Pioneers, and other leaders in the organization. The existence of these files and the contents thereof were not disclosed to or made available to law enforcement authorities or others in order to investigate the crimes of these leaders and others in the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS furthered this conspiracy of concealment, by among other things, failing to properly report complaints of sexual misconduct to law enforcement authorities and failing to remove molesting leaders and others, or preventing their access to children. Molesting leaders and others in the organization were allowed to remain in good standing in the organization and were allowed continued frequent and unsupervised access to children in the organization. At all material times, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS prohibited the victims and/or accusers from warning others or speaking about the matter to anyone under penalty of discipline. Victims/accusers were not allowed to report suspected abuse to outside authorities or to other Publishers within the organization, despite secular laws and duties regarding the reporting of sexual abuse. Violation of this policy would lead to severe sanctions. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS also failed to provide Plaintiffs and their families with any notice or warning regarding the past misconduct of, and abuse by, leaders and others in the organization, including DEREK PACKOWSKI. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS knew or had reason to know that these molesters would continue to sexually molest children.
23. At all material times, Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI was a known child molester and a member in good standing with the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization. He was known by WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS and their agents to be a child molester in a congregation in Des Plaines , Illinois . Despite this knowledge, he was never reported to authorities in Illinois or to the families of the victims of that congregation to protect and prevent further acts of sexual abuse from occurring.
24. Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI and his family relocated to California in approximately 1984 and began attending the Loomis Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. From this congregation, a new congregation was formed known as the Rocklin Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Rocklin Congregation then split and the newly formed congregation was known as defendant SUNSET CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES. While attending the Loomis Congregation, and later the SUNSET CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI was allowed to interact unsupervised with children, including Plaintiffs, from approximately 1986 though 1998. Later, as a Ministerial Servant, he was entrusted with a special leadership role in the organization that further allowed unsupervised contact with children of the congregation.
25. By 1984, if not before, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS had received non-confidential notice that Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI sexually molested children entrusted to the care of the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization. Despite this knowing this information, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS took no action to report the abuse to authorities, discipline Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI or warn members of the organization of the abuse by Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI, who could take action to prevent further instances of sexual abuse. Instead, with knowledge of Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI's propensity to abuse children in the organization, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS continued to allow Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI to interact unsupervised with children entrusted to the care of the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization. They continued to recognize PACKOWSKI as a member in good standing in the organization and eventually appointed him as a Ministerial Servant.
26. In approximately 1986, Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI began sexually abusing Plaintiff TIM C., who was nine (9) years old at that time.
27. In approximately 1986, Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI began sexually abusing Plaintiff ROBERT C., who was six (6) years old at that time.
28. In approximately 1987, Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI began sexually abusing Plaintiff ANDREW C., who was five (5) years old at that time.
29. In approximately 1989, Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI began sexually abusing Plaintiff TREVOR L., who was seven (7) years old at that time.
30. In approximately 1988, parents of another PACKOWSKI victim (not mentioned herein) actually caught Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI in the act of sexually abusing their child and brought the matter directly to the attention of the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS by and through their local congregation in California . The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS intentionally instructed the victims/accusers to "drop the issue" and consequently PACKOWSKI's conduct was not brought to the attention of the congregation, including Plaintiffs' families, resulting in the inability for Plaintiffs and their families to prevent further acts of sexual abuse from being committed against Plaintiffs following this meeting/investigation.
31. For well over a decade, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS knew or should have known Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI was sexually molesting and physically abusing adolescents under the care of the organization. Nevertheless, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS continued to allow Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI to interact unsupervised in their congregations, also allowing him to continue sexually molesting and abusing Plaintiffs and others under their direct care and guidance. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS failed to notify anyone that Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI was molesting or had sexually molested adolescents. They further failed to take any steps to protect these young victims from his abuse. Instead, they knowingly concealed this information from Plaintiff and others. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS also aided, abetted and ratified the abuse by disciplining the victims who reported the abuse to the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS, allowing Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI to exercise increased power over them and to further exacerbate the injuries they had suffered.
32. Plaintiffs and their families sought the advice, protection and guidance of the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS in their role as advocates and counselors to Plaintiffs and their families instructed them to keep the knowledge of Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI'S conduct within the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' organization and not to disclose complaints to any other congregation members or outside authorities. By so acting, the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS allowed the perpetrator's conduct to continue and ratified his deviant behavior, causing ongoing and further damage to Plaintiffs.
33. The WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS directly and vicariously caused foreseeable harm to Plaintiffs by, among other things:
a. aiding, abetting and ratifying the abuse of children by their own member;
b. blaming, humiliating, sanctioning and/or disciplining victims/accusers of sexual abuse instead of the perpetrator;
c. negligently failing to report such sexual abuse, including the abuse by Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI to law enforcement and governmental child welfare agencies and requiring that members not make such reports;
d. negligently failing to warn Plaintiffs, their families, and others of the risk of Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI'S abuse after they knew or should have known of Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI'S propensities to engage in acts of sexual abuse against children entrusted to the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' care;
e. negligently failing to train its Elders, Overseers, Ministerial Servants and other appointed leaders to identify, investigate, prevent and respond to or report child abuse;
f. negligently failing to adopt adequate policies and procedures for the protection of children and other members and/or to implement and comply with such procedures that did exist;
g. failing to properly investigate matters brought to the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS' attention involving child sexual abuse and/or suspicions of child sexual abuse;
h. negligently failing to provide child abuse victims and their families with any assistance in coping with the trauma of abuse and preventing Plaintiff and his family from reporting the abuse to outside authorities and obtaining outside help to deal with the trauma of abuse;
j. concealing from Plaintiffs and their family that the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS had information that Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI was abusing young children entrusted to their care;
k. negligently failing to undertake a sexual offender evaluation, provide sexual offender treatment and/or obtain psychiatric evaluation and treatment of Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI after they knew or should have known of his propensities to sexually abuse Plaintiffs and others;
CAUSES OF ACTION
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
34. Plaintiffs incorporate herein by this reference and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 33 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.
35. P laintiffs allege that for a number of years, beginning in 1986, Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI repeatedly engaged in un-permitted, harmful, and offensive sexual contact upon the persons of Plaintiffs, as described herein, without Plaintiffs' consent, committing sexual abuse upon the person of Plaintiffs in the State of California as referenced in Code of Civil Procedure § 340.1.
36. Plaintiffs further allege each of the WATCHTOWER DEFENDANTS was in the chain of command and acted pursuant to the authority granted to them as agents and alter ego of the GOVERNING BODY and each other, utilized such leadership and authority to carry out and/or aid, abet, ratify, cover-up, and conspire to cover-up the sexual abuse of Plaintiffs by Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI. Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI is liable for the sexual abuse of Plaintiffs .
37. As a legal result of Defendant DEREK PACKOWSKI'S conduct as described
hereinabove, Plaintiffs have suffered, and will continue to suffer great pain of mind, body, shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life. Further, Plaintiffs were prevented and will continue to be prevented from performing daily activities and obtaining the full enjoyment of life. Plaintiffs have sustained loss of earnings and earning capacity.