The leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses has begun losing its court battles at last. Failing to cooperate with the “worldly authorities” in California will no longer be tolerated by the court. What this appears to mean, first of all, is that their database of known predators must be turned over, as well as documents having to do with JW internal judicial hearings.
Even the old standby of the “theocratic strategy” – (that it’s perfectly ethical and ok with God for JWs to lie and withold information from non-JW authorities, because such authorities are of this Satanic worldly system of things) – won’t be of much help in this circumstance. Maybe they should hire the U.S. Attorney General; he seems to be good at bad-guy CYA legal work.
Recent decisions in California Courts have ruled in favor of abuse survivors in that state. The Legal Department lawyers of Jehovah’s Witnesses have fought with filing after filing trying to claim “clergy penitent privilege” with information that would lead to the possible conviction or implication of further crimes against children by Jehovah’s Witness child molesters. The secondary issue regards civil damages brought upon victims due to negligence of church officials in not reporting allegations of child abuse putting additional children in danger.
This ruling from the court states simply that the church cannot use “clergy penitent privilege” as a way to protect pedophiles from law enforcement. The ruling further states information stated in judicial hearings of Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as documents generated by those hearings are not “privileged” and will have to be released to the courts as any information that is relevant to the case. In addition, the Legal Department will have to produce all documents related to their abuse policy and how they investigate child abuse allegations. Most importantly the ruling states; “records kept by or under the direction of the Legal Department concerning allegations of abuse,” that directly involves the pedophile database reported by silentlambs in April of 2002. This represents the first official ruling of the court that opens the database for public scrutiny.
This judgment is bitter sweet as in 2003 in New Hampshire silentlambs officials watched as Jehovah’s Witnesses attorneys defended the “religious right” of convicted child molester Paul Berry to prevent further convictions on allegations of his abuse of other children. Thousands of dollars in donations to Jehovah’s Witnesses known as Worldwide Work monies were spent silencing the victims of Paul Berry. Each time you donate to Jehovah’s Witnesses a portion of that money will be spent defending the rights of convicted Jehovah’s Witness pedophiles from their victims. The California case above to date has involved hundreds of thousands of dollars of Jehovah’s Witness donations to stop victims of abuse from getting needed treatment for the crimes committed against them.
The religious hypocrisy of offering articles on abuse issues while secretly protecting pedophiles using “clergy penitent privilege” is far worse than the Catholic Church abuse scandal. This month the Jehovah’s Witnesses are distributing this tract worldwide. They openly condemn the Catholic Church for their abuse scandal and use it as a basis to call them a “false religion.”
Do members realize their Legal Department Lawyer elders are protecting pedophiles in the courts using the money they collect door to door to do so?
At silentlambs we appreciate the determination and courage of abuse survivors in going forward in the courts to bring these criminals to justice. We look forward to the day when the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses follows the example set by the Pope of the Catholic Church and apologizes for their role in allowing policies that continue to hurt children. The “truth” will prevail and no amount of Worldwide Work Donations spent to protect child molesters will stop the real truth of these matters from being discovered in the courts. The pedophile database holds the key to that “truth.”
(Thanks to the Silent Lambs newsletter, and to Brenda and Danny for sending me the item. Thanks to all of the people who have stood up to “witness” and testify against abusers and predators (and their organizational protectors!). Special thanks to attorneys like Love and Norris.)
Suffer the Little Children – BBC-1
Witness for the Prosecution – NBC Dateline (transcript at Watchtower Information Service)
Witnesses Accused of Failing to Report Abuse (Christianity Today)
Sex Abuse: Witness Leaders Accused of Shielding Molesters (Christianity Today)