|A Brother Writes
|A JW writes to question the recent abuse settlements
RE: CHILD ABUSE AND SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS
I am writing regarding the above issue regarding child abuse claims made against the society and the much publicized settlements made recently.
Some background to the matter as it stands is that I used to attend regularly at a local Christian congregation and was married to a sister whose Grandfather (and also Elder) subjected her fleshly sister and herself to years of systematic sexual abuse. The effects took their toll on their mental health and certainly led to a tumultuous marriage for us both affecting us spiritually.
They were not the only victims, however he did spend a short period of time in prison for his appalling crimes against my ex wife and her sister. Six months after he was released from prison he was reinstated and further became in good standing before the congregation holding meetings at his home - some of who attended those meetings were children. The congregation were not warned and the matter for years was swept under the carpet without any preventative or protective action being taken. This is despite elders contending that they have a strong policy against child abuse.
I was always told by the body of elders that this matter was exceptional but given recent events and information received from lawyers, support groups and the media, this has been misrepresented entirely. I would therefore invite your comments as to why your elders made such misrepresentations when sexual abuse within congregations was and still is a considerable issue both in the UK and USA.
If this misrepresentation was as a result of the body of elders not being aware of such matters I invite your comments as to why they were not made aware as surely this would assist in protecting congregations from the risk of abuse.
As someone who made regular donations and someone whose family are still attending meetings and make regular donations can you confirm whether or not contributions received at congregation level have been used to make settlements and if not where the funds for such settlements have originated from.
Can you also confirm whether or not at the date of this letter and at the date of the response to this letter there are or have been any other claims made against the organisation in relation to similar issues of sexual abuse?
Be assured that I am not trying to make trouble nor am I aware of any legal action being threatened or case being asserted by my ex wife, her sister or other family but I am concerned that I was led to believe throughout my childhood that the organization was a safe haven from spiritual depravity and yet whilst there have been numerous instances in your publications where you have criticized the Catholic Church for instances of child abuse, you appear to be having the same problems.
I was also dismayed to hear that the cases settled were conditional upon a gagging order (or confidentiality agreement) whereby the victims are prevented from speaking of their abuse; I would invite your comments as to why you believe this stance to be appropriate when I was always led to believe that the society was transparent and that Jehovah hides nothing. If this was the result of legal advice I would invite your comments as to why morally you chose to use this strategy when the Catholic Church openly admitted their wrongs and made an unreserved apology to their victims.
I am deeply troubled spiritually from this news and would welcome your reassurance in writing.
I thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.