Ontario JW Gower Palmed pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault. Although the court found he abused his daughter on at least five occasions, Judge Kruzick thought he had already been punished by the civil suit – and after all, he’ll be on a sex-offender registry.
Now a married mother of three pre-teen daughters, Ms. Boer said she hoped her criminal and civil battles would force changes to how Witnesses deal with sexual abuse within their ranks. …
Ms. Boer, 34, was sexually assaulted by her father between ages 11 and 14.
Rather than notify authorities, she claimed in an earlier civil suit that elders told her not to seek outside help or report the abuse. She also said they forced her to confront her father to allow him to repent his sins as outlined in Matthew Chapter 18, Verses 15-18, a process she said was abusive and traumatic.
In 1998, Ms. Boer sued the Jehovah’s Witnesses through the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society for $700,000, saying the abuse and how it was handled by the sect almost drove her to suicide. In June of 2003, Madam Justice Anne Molloy ruled the Witnesses could not be held responsible for all her pain and suffering.
Judge Molloy found the church had not warned her against reporting the abuse, and that only one elder had wrongly applied sect policy by persuading her to confront her father. She did find the organization negligent in allowing untrained elders to hold the meeting and awarded Ms. Boer $5,000 in damages.
“They don’t follow the [written] policies,” said Ms. Boer, who abandoned the faith in the early 1990s.
Spokesman Mark Ruge disputed allegations that the Christian movement tries to deal with abuse away from the prying eyes of outside authorities.
“We abhor any sexual misconduct or abuse, especially when children are involved,” Mr. Ruge said from Georgetown, Ont. “We abide by the letter of the law as far as legal requirements are in reporting to the appropriate child-welfare services.”
How many of these cases will it take to get an action? JWs consider themselves part of a theocratic kingdom, and resist any intervension by “worldly authorities.” For an organziation that will kick someone out for smoking, they are strangely lenient about disciplining their men when they internalize and literalize what they’ve taught them about their authority.
When the Catholics came out with this sort of thing, there were charges, there were new policies. Somehow the JWs are able to send in lawyers who deflect that.
How many more cases will it take before they are held accountable for the so-called “secret” rules that everyone knows?
I applaud you Ms. Boer.