JWs, in complete denial over child sexual abuse, are to be sued

JWs, in complete denial over child sexual abuse, are to be sued February 5, 2020

AS A consequence of its refusal to acknowledge child sexual abuse within its ranks, and engage with victims, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the UK are to be sued by least 20 former members.

Thomas Beale, a solicitor representing some of the former members, said they had decided to seek compensation after asking the group for an apology only to find it:

Denying what has happened or refusing to engage.

Those taking the legal action say the organisation is “vicariously liable” for the abuse they say they suffered.

One victim of abuse, John Viney, above, last year revealed in a video that the cult had actually claimed in its official magazine, The Watchtower, that any abuse within its ranks was committed by “professed” JWs, not real ones.

This prompted him to travel to Cardiff in Wales to ask JWs attending a “Love Never Fails” conference in the city what the difference was between “professed” and genuine Witnesses. He was stonewalled. What’s more, his approach so upset JWs manning an information stall that they abandoned it!

Viney, according to info beneath the video, is

A former JW of 50+ years and elder of 20+ years.

Viney, who says he was abused between the ages of nine and 13, by “a distant family member who was an active Jehovah’s Witness”, added children were still being abused and the religious organisation was “inadvertently” protecting their abusers. He told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme:

The way that Jehovah’s Witnesses handle matters within the congregation, it’s a closed shop. I know for a fact now that there are parents that haven’t done anything about the abuse of their children by others because they don’t want to bring reproach on Jehovah’s name.

Viney’s own daughter, Karen, was abused as a child – and has since spoken out about it publicly. But when she left the organisation, Viney disowned her – something he has regretted ever since.

When I was an elder and a dad, I put being an elder absolutely first. And that was a mistake.

Viney said he had eventually reported his own abuser to the police, in 2019, after years of being too “ashamed”, only to be told the man had gone on to abuse other children and died in prison.

Emma’s abuser was jailed for two years. But, she said, following his release, he had been welcomed back into the organisation.

Labour’s Sarah Champion, the chair of a cross-party group of MPs looking at adults who experienced child sexual abuse, said she had “very serious concerns” about a convicted child abuser being allowed “back into a community where they have access to vulnerable people”.

She said she had met elders who:

Believe that there is more than enough safeguarding in place… [but] couldn’t think of an example when they would go to the police about their concerns.

She said JWs regarded child abuse as:

A sin that they need to deal with internally. That’s really concerning to me.

The Charity Commission has been investigating the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation since 2013. A spokeswoman said the inquiry remained ongoing, but would not comment further.

A Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman said:

The only way that a child abuser can gain access to children in a religious organisation like ours, which does not have any programmes that separate children from their parents, is through parents themselves

He said that for “decades”, the organisation had educated parents “about the dangers of child abuse and how they can protect their children” and parents and victims were informed they had the right to report the matter to the authorities.

Earlier, the BBC reported that JW leaders have been ordered to pay £62,000 in damages to a former member who was raped 30 years ago by Mark Sewell, above.

A “judicial committee” of the group’s elders found the allegations against Sewell “not proven” in an internal inquiry in 1991.

But High Court judge Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled in the victims favour.

Sewell was jailed for 14 years after a trial at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court in 2014 convicted him of raping the woman and indecently assaulting two other people.

The woman, who is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness, said she suffered from depression as a result of the rape.

She said a “proper” internal inquiry had not been conducted and said leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses were “vicariously liable” for the rape.

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, which is based in New York and is the worldwide governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the trustees of the local congregation the woman had been a member of, refused to accept they were vicariously liable for the rape.

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  • Raymond Metcalfe

    As a former Jw elder or as the JW would call me a mentally diseased lying apostate I found the story very moving but it made me very angry because of the complete refusal to acknowledge the problem and do anything about it.If you have not seen it yet there was a lengthy report on the Victoria Derbyshire programme yesterday 4 feb. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I think that as it becomes known that people are taking a stand and reporting these awful crimes more and more will come to light. I am fortunate in that I left of my own accord and have no family who are JW and after movibg a few times I am unknown to the local JW which as proved amusing on occasion when I have spoken to them in the street.. Many are shunned by family and friends children cut their parents dead in the street grand parents are prevented from seeing the own grand children. I expect that most of you are aware of these practices but to be on the receiving end can have a detrimental effect on your mental health most jw are very nice ordinary people until you challenge there rules until you ask them to account for their protection of peopofiles There will be a two part programme in the US on oxygen this weekend to. Sorry to go on a bit of a rant

  • Jim Jones

    According to my readings, the JWs are almost as bad as the RCC when it comes to kiddie raping. They just haven’t committed all the other RCC crimes . . . yet.

  • Jennny

    Someone on P/NR said they told JWs who came to their door, ‘Sorry no children here’. I was keen to try it and after some months, 2 came to my door and I said it. She replied ‘Oh the bible’s not just for children.’ I said I couldn’t join any group that abused and then covered up the abuse of children. She was flummoxed and said ‘we’d never do anything like that.’ I told her to google it and shut the door. A week later, Christmas Day afternoon, many of us here go for a walk on our local promenade, and there they were again with their stand. Familes passed by with children trying out shiny new bikes and scooters and dolls’ buggies. I so wanted to go over and ask why they thought this was an appropriate time to be there. ‘Here, kiddies take this tract, join us and Santa will never bring you another present ever again and all the fun and fantastic celebrating you’re enjoying will end for good. And should you have an accident on that new skateboard, be prepared to bleed to death, no transfusions allowed.’

  • Kaja

    The only reason JW and Catholics get into so much trouble over sexual abuse is that that keep records and send them up the chain of command (Watchtower Society for JW, Diocese for RCC). The others like Southern Baptist and other Evangelical/fundamentalist have a doctrine of ‘local autonomy’. In other words, cover it up locally as best you can and don’t tell us big shots what’s going on because we don’t want to know (and get sued for covering it up). There, fixed the problem.

  • Kaja

    I had interest in their religion about 45 years ago. My best friend got me interested when he got involved. My friend got baptized held on for 18 years until leaving. The first thing I asked a elder in the congregation during a bible study was ” If I proved with the bible that you were wrong, would you/they correct their doctrine ? He emphatically said yes’. Well, I’m the questioning type (take a look at my comments on Discus) so you can imagine why I didn’t last – or get baptized. The straw that really broke the camel’s back was Tyre, Lebanon. During a bible study, this elder – who had been all over the world as a missionary- went over the destruction of Tyre (Ezek.26) and how she would be destroyed, never rebuilt and be a bare rock where fishermen dried their nets. The elder told me he had been there and that Tyre was just as described. I took his word on it but you can imagine my surprise when I saw Tyre in the evening news as a hot point during the Lebanon war of the late 1970’s. I went to the library and looked up Tyre only to find that it was a city with 50 000 inhabitants (now down to 12 000 because of the war). Some ‘bare rock’. I was out by then so I never got to confront the elder. Also, during my time with JW I announced that I was going back to college to finish my degree. Another elder invited me to his house for dinner after this announcement got around. The dinner was actually an attempt to discourage me from going back to school because it would be for nothing as the ‘end’ is right around the corner. He suggested that I clean phone booths for the phone company (no joke). I ignored his ‘advice’ and went to the university to finish my degree – the smartest move I ever made. This elder is now very old, in poor health, and disabled. He still waiting for the ‘new system’ 45 years later. Although JW are ‘out there’ by many standards, I think the Trump Evangelicals may even have them beat now days when it comes to crazy.

  • Raging Bee

    Their stance on transfusions is especially sick — especially when they show pictures of the kids who died because they (or their parents) refused a transfusion, under the headline “THEY PUT GOD FIRST.” Like, why does any God need to be “put first” ahead of children who need life-saving medical intervention? Wouldn’t a wise and merciful God say “Women and children first”?

  • Milo C

    Oh, I’m sure they have. Just on a smaller scale because it’s a smaller organization. There is certainly corruption at the top. Ex-JW Critical Thinker makes some informative videos about it. One of the things they do is to encourage members to open new Kingdom Halls (their version of a church). New Halls are built by donated labor and usually on donated land, at very little cost to the Org. Then they redistrict and move people around so that an older Kingdom Hall doesn’t have enough people attending any longer, and they sell that land with all profits to the Org.

  • Stephen Mynett

    You may see my reply if it can get past the Disgus PC wall. There will soon be nothing we are allowed to post on this site.

  • Freethinker

    It appears that every cult like religious organization has the child abuse baked in. The more restrictive the rules, especially around sexually and the repression of its various forms, the higher the likelihood of molesting of children it would appear at least anecdotally.

    Someone should do a PHD on this direct relationship.

  • Jim Jones

    It’s power.

    “Nothing discloses real character like the use of power. It is easy for the weak to be gentle. Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power. This is the supreme test. It is the glory of Lincoln that, having almost absolute power, he never abused it, except on the side of mercy.”

    — Robert G. Ingersoll, about Abraham Lincoln

    (And to really test a man, give him power over women or children).

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    In some places statistically you are in more danger in a jw congregation than a catholic one

  • Broga

    Perhaps they are better are hiding them?

  • Broga

    Excellent suggestion. I have long thought that where celibacy is claimed the priest will crumble in some way leading to suffering both for the priest and his victims.

  • persephone

    As a ex-JW who got out as an adult, I want the organization to burn. They’ve sold their extremely valuable real estate in Brooklyn and are hiding the money, knowing they’re going to keep getting hit with lawsuits and criminal charges.

  • persephone

    Parents joined when I was 12. Got pushed to be a good JW. Hated every minute. Got baptized so they’d leave me alone. Went out witnessing as little as possible. Finally left when I was 23. Disfellowshipped and shunned. Every day I succeed is another win in my book.

  • Broga

    I would call you a man with the courage to abandon, in the face of massive opposition, what you saw was utterly bad and unacceptable. Far from being “mentally diseased” (a catch all meaningless phrase which covers anything that the accuser dislikes) I think you behaved with sanity and maturity.

    “Good people do good things and bad people do bad things. It takes religion to make good people do bad things.”

  • persephone

    And your parents will starting beating you, because spare the rod, spoil the child. You’ll also be ostracized pretty much everywhere, like school. Forget fun books or TV or movies; they’re worldly and take your attention away from what’s important: Armageddon due any day now, which we’ve been claiming for almost 150 years, but this time we’re totes right.

  • Broga

    Great! I cannot know how hard that it but I can try to understand.

  • Kaja

    Exactly !!!

  • Kaja

    I’d say the same goes for religion. If there were no consequences for your behavior, good or bad (i.e. everyone just dies – no afterlife, rewards, or punishments), how would you behave during your time on earth ? Even someone with ‘character’ may just be acting against their true desires if they think god is watching and will deal with misbehavior later. In other words, good behavior out of fear, not out of empathy or compassion. Would this change if they knew they would never be held accountable nor rewarded ?

  • Kaja

    Why am I not surprised ? Although I have no affection for JW (I’m an ex-almost JW from 45 years ago), I’m willing to bet that many Evangelical (Falwell, Graham, Paula White types) and Catholic higher ups are hiding money and sexual abuse cases as well. They’re just better than JW at covering up/avoiding the light – except for some Catholic leaders that got sloppy. I will say one thing positive about JW – they’re not trying to take over the government and impose their will on the rest of us.

  • Kaja

    Had a friend who, after 18 years in JW got out. About 15 years after leaving ( and 15 years of too much partying), he ended up with cancer. As a result of chemo, his platelet level dropped to the point where he needed a platelet/blood transfusion. After all of that time out of JW, he refused a transfusion – even though by JW standards he was eternally doomed anyway. Fortunately when he felt bad enough and thought that he would die, he accepted the transfusion. I remember him telling me that the transfusion would ‘change his personality’ which he wanted to avoid. Of course, this was some nonsense that he read in JW publications all of those years ago.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    They are now trying to take over all the kingdom halls in the uk to take them out of the hands of the local congregations. Who have saved and built them themselves

  • persephone

    Do you know what the reasoning is? Quick sale?

  • yep they are building a legal war chest, as these cases are just the tip of a very large iceburg.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    It happened in the us a few years ago and the reason seems to be more control over the members and money all congregations in the uk have to send there money to hq in London and only keep a small balance for themselves for running costs