The article below relates the recent ruling of the Minnesota Court on the lawsuit involving Heidi and Amber. If you read the ruling carefully you will note that the basis of the decision was not that the abuse did not occur but instead a technicality as to how the matter was viewed by the court. By the same line of reasoning if a Catholic priest simply molested a child at his home then the church would not be held liable as it did not occur in the church itself. Does that make sense to you? We feel it does not and for those reasons the matter will now be appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court and hopefully logic will prevail.
It is interesting to note the Annandale Congregation chose to make an announcement on Thursday night regarding the courts ruling. It was presented as a great victory for Jehovah's name to those in attendance. The facts show that the abuse did occur; was covered up, and the pedophile went on to molest more children. Who established these facts? The testimony of the elders of the Annandale congregation in the depositions they delivered to the court. The Watchtower directed the elders in their course of action that put more children in danger and allowed refuge for a child molester that remains a active Jehovah's Witness in good standing and calls in the door to door ministry on the unsuspecting public in the Annandale area. So while admitting that they allowed children to be raped on their watch the elders of the Annandale congregation deny any wrongdoing in that they followed Watchtower directives. The Watchtower denies any wrongdoing in their policy that allowed these young women to be molested but admits the crime did in fact happen. The offer no assistance to the victims in any way to compensate them or assist them in recovery for the abuse they suffered.
Do you think "Jehovah" is really proud of the way they have represented his name? Do you think "Jehovah" needs protection of legal technicalities to prevent His organization from spending one dime to help abuse survivors while shoveling thousands of dollars to law firms of donated funds to find loopholes that leave victims with not help or support?
While the elders of Annandale brag to members about a "minor" court ruling, in time the truth of these matters will be proven before a judge and jury. When this occurs there will be no place to vindicate the name of Jehovah for those that have hurt children.
Annandale church isn't liable in abuse suit
A Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in Annandale, Minn., isn't liable if one of its members sexually abused two child congregants more than a decade ago, a Minnesota Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday.
Though congregation elders had received a prior complaint of abuse and didn't immediately report it to authorities, according to the ruling, the organization wasn't responsible for protecting two of its members who claim they were abused by the same person later.
The two girls, now adults living in Twin Cities suburbs, sued in 2002. They claim they were abused in the late 1980s and early 1990s and argue that they followed the organization's doctrine to report their concerns to elders -- not law enforcement or anyone else. Elders at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses congregation told them to stay silent or risk losing membership, they claim.
The women say the organization's rules prevented them from protecting themselves and gave the organization a legal duty to protect them.
But in an opinion written by Judge Robert Schumacher and decided with judges Bruce Willis and Wilhelmina Wright, the court ruled that the organization didn't have control or custody of the girls when the alleged abuse happened. Incidents were alleged to have taken place on a snowmobile, in an automobile and at the alleged perpetrator's house, not at a Jehovah's Witnesses function or on the organization's property, the panel reasoned.
St. Paul attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who is representing the two women, said the ruling came as "a deep disappointment" and he expects his clients will appeal.
Anderson said he thinks the ruling gives Jehovah's Witnesses the freedom to live by their own laws and not the rule of mandatory reporting.
"I'm concerned that if somehow they can't be held to account for failure to report child abuse, what is the significance of having the law?" Anderson said.
An attorney for the Jehovah's Witnesses congregation couldn't be reached for comment.
Pam Louwagie is at email@example.com.