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JW Child Abuse: An Insider's Insight

Aug 25, 2001 00:48

I post the following at the request of Barbara Anderson.

As a result of the newspaper report calling attention to my actions I feel compelled to provide further information that has come to light and deserves full exposure.

The Society is very much aware of my intentions, because of a private e-mail I innocently wrote someone was forwarded to the Society without my permission. You can read it in its entirety, below. I wish to provide some background first, as to the reason for writing in the first place.

I learned that a male Jehovah’s Witness raped the daughter of a “Witness” friend when she was nine years old. Last year, the then 18-year-old victim pressed charges and in February 2001 the pedophile went to jail.

The case is typical. Years earlier when the mother of the victim found out about the rape, she went to the elders as she was instructed to do. As any good Witness would, she believed that they would do the right thing. Did they?

There is no record of a report by the elders to the authorities, even though the state they live in requires reporting molestation by anyone, including ministers. This lack of follow through served to protect the perpetrator, and he continued molesting before relatives of another victim notified the authorities.

Phoning my friend and hearing the whole sordid molestation story, I decided to break my long silence and told her of my decision to talk to NBC Dateline about pedophilia (child molestation or abuse) within the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses. Later, I decided to write an e-mail suggesting my friend to also speak to Dateline.

Soon after, our local circuit overseer was somehow informed of my involvement with Dateline. The CO called my husband, suggesting he stop me from talking to Dateline, clearly telling him that he would lose his position as an elder if he did not stop me.

Within a few weeks, my private e-mail was sent to the Service/Legal Department of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, which problem previously would have been handled by the Watchtower Society of New York Inc. Without permission, a relative of my friend, an elder, had sent the Society, the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Patterson , NY , a copy of the e-mail. A full copy of that e-mail is reproduced below for you to see its contents.

“The Society” acted by means of the Christian Congregation. A copy of my e-mail and a letter of inquiry were sent to the congregation elders where my husband serves as an elder. The letter of inquiry asked the elders whether I had propagated my views locally. The only answer and reply from the body of elders had to be a very clear “No.”

Last week, when I was at Erica’s trial, another letter arrived from the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses requesting that local elders arrange to meet with me. For the record, I refused that invitation. Also, my friend turned down the invitation to appear on Dateline.

Would you like to know what heresy could prompt such heavy-handed responses? Read for yourself. Publishing this once-private e-mail I hope will also be informative to others who have been injured by policies of Jehovah’s Witnesses through their hierarchy of overseers and corporate entities such as the Christian Congregation of JWs, the Watch Tower Society of Pennsylvania and Watchtower Society of New York, whose inadequate and unenlightened sexual abuse policies result in the protection of pedophiles, even if unknown or not deliberately.

Its purpose is also to entreat individuals who have been harmed to come forward and demand change.

I urge you to write letters or make phone calls to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, and to news media and to anybody who will listen, to protest the Watchtower policies which gravely injure children, their families and at the same time protect criminals.

I believe that Elders of Jehovah's Witnesses have no business deciding who is criminally guilty or not guilty of the charge of molestation, or to access the genuineness of a child’s charge, or that of a family member in a child’s behalf. They are simply not qualified, no matter how many counseling sessions they have had with their traveling overseers or in their training sessions.

The first order of business is the protection of children, not the “purity of the congregation.” The Society’s press releases have called molestation a “serious crime.” They have not acted consistently with that clear recognition. Their actions belie their words. They must ACT accordingly. They must treat this matter as they do other “serious crimes.”

Crimes should be placed in the hands of Caesar, the Superior Authorities, of Romans 13:1-6. “For it is God’s minister for you.” Secular authorities quite properly view it as their prerogative to examine charges and judge matters. Elders must not under any circumstance interfere with the absolute right of the family or family members to report to the proper authorities. Rather, they should proactively encourage such reporting. The Authority of Romans 13 could extend to the family physician, social services, school officials, health officials, including authorized mental health specialists—and obviously the police.

I believe there are those at bethel who have similar feelings but are afraid to speak up for fear of lack of support.

Herewith is the e-mail forwarded to “the Society” that prompted the actions above from the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The text below is entirely unaltered from its original other than the names.

Dear -------,

Maybe you don't want to talk to me after reading the newspaper articles I e-mailed you. [About Bill Bowen's resignation as an elder because of disagreement with how Jehovah's Witnesses deal with the problem of pedophilia within its ranks.] Perhaps what I have embarked upon is frightening to you. After all, we were trained not to run ahead, or to criticize God's organization. The training was meant to control us, to think for us. Is this the theme of the Bible? Do we allow injustice because we are told that it is not for us to be involved in the fight for truth and righteousness. I can't help but remember what Jesus told the seven congregations in the beginning of the book of Revelation. He condemned some of the congregations for allowing wickedness to exist. He scolded, he berated Christians for their apathy. We have this example of how not to be, so It is time we stand up and be counted by Jehovah God as fighters for righteousness and for justice for his little ones.

Remember Matt. 18:1-6. Read those verses in different translations and the same thought comes through loud and clear: those who cause the little ones to stumble or sin will have a mill stone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea. Children who are molested, who are raped, are stumbled. They have lost their innocence and it affects them for the rest of their life.

When I was fighting for a change in the WT's policy regarding molestation in the organization in 1991-92 in Bethel , your dear child was being molested by a man who would never have been trusted by you if the Watchtower's secret policy was not in existence.

I know that you and all the other JWs who might watch Dateline interview me will be shocked by what I have to say about the indifference and outright hostility by the leaders of Watchtower towards the victims of sexual abuse that I saw in Brooklyn . I can say before God that these men have blood on their hands for the misery and suicides that took place because of their protection of pedophile elders and ministerial servants.

I can prove what I say. If all of the details don't make it on Dateline, because there will be so many others speaking out, I guarantee you, my information will make it into Time or Newsweek. Watchtower is in deep trouble and they were warned over and over that something like this would happen, but their arrogance knows no bounds.

They will reap what they have sown and they sowed a whirlwind that shortly will begin to blow back in their faces.

I gave your phone number to the Dateline producer who I'm working with. Please think how important it is for you to speak out about the damaging effects the policy of the WT caused in your family and all the other families in your town. I hope you read Silentlambs.org. [site on the Internet.] When the camera crew from Dateline read the victims' stories, two of them cried.

The last thing in this world I wanted was to go public about the results of an awful policy that certainly God has to hate. I can't imagine a loving mediator, Christ Jesus, not caring what happens to the children all in the name of protecting God's organization from reproach.

If you decide to speak publicly about your girl's nightmare of a childhood, Dateline would accommodate you and hide your identity, if you desired. Here is your chance to expose horrific wrongs that were done by predators and some misguided people. Think of all of the children you will have helped if you speak out. If the elders had done the right thing so long ago; if they had obeyed State law and the law of the Bible in Titus 3:1 "Continue reminding them to be in subjection and be obedient to governments and authorities as rulers..." so many children in your congregation wouldn't have lost their innocence during the past ten years.

You're a gutsy gal. Stand up and be counted for your child's sake. If you don't, in the future you may live with regrets. Take the power and control in your hands that is offered you, which was taken away from your daughter, and talk to [producer’s name excised] from Dateline. His number is [name snipped for privacy].

I spoke up and I anticipate the loss of loved ones over this, but I'm doing it for the victims. I'm doing it for my grandson, xxxx. To think he is not safe from being molested by cunning predators within the organization is more than I can bear. I will not go to my grave knowing that I could have spoken up and saved more children from molestation, but didn't. I made my choice, now it's up to you to make one too.

My heart goes out to you and if I have put you in an awkward position, I apologize. But my Bible trained conscience made me do it.

Love,

Barb

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