JW Child Sex Abuse Cases Settled with Gag Order!

JW Child Sex Abuse Cases Settled with Gag Order!

Press Release:

Sixteen Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits Against Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Settled
Largest Deal Ever in Denomination’s History Includes Controversial Gag Order

One of the Predators is A Fugitive & Was Profiled on “America’s Most Wanted”

Two Organizations Urge All Faith Groups To Stop Requiring Secrecy in Settlements

The Nation-wide Support Groups Prod Witnesses & Victims To Come Forward & Get Help

At a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will disclose and discuss a child molestation settlement (allegedly in the millions of dollars and the largest-ever) against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. One of the predators was recently on ‘America’s Most Wanted.’

They’ll also discuss a nationwide outreach effort to find and help more men and women who have been sexually abused by Jehovah’s Witness officials, and publicly urge all faith groups to stop requiring abuse victims to sign gag orders.

Thursday, May 10, 10:00 a.m.

Outside the Davidson County Courthouse (in courtyard), 200 James Robertson Parkway in Nashville, TN

Several clergy molestation victims and advocates from five states, including – a Kentucky man who is the founder of a nationwide support group for Jehovah’s Witness victims & Tennessee leaders of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,

Over a five day period in February, 16 civil child sex abuse lawsuits against Watchtower (the Jehovah’s Witness headquarters in New York City) were quietly settled in three states (CA, TX and OR). The victims involved were essentially coerced into signing ‘gag orders’ that prevent them from discussing the cases. (Copies of the 16 dismissal notices and of 1-2 of the actual lawsuits will be provided.)

One Jehovah’s Witness elder who was sued was long time San Diego resident Rick McLean who was featured on America’s Most Wanted in March. He is suspected of molesting more than 30 children.



Victims groups and veteran clergy sex abuse attorneys (like Jeff Anderson who has filed 1,500 such lawsuits in the past 20+ years) are highly critical of gag orders because they keep the identities of predators secret and make it harder for victims to heal from the devastating effects of childhood trauma.

Attorneys for the victims in these cases are Greg Love and Kimberly Norris of Ft. Worth Texas (817 560 5600). Jehovah’s Witness officials JR Brown and David Semonian and church lawyers Philip Brumley and Mario Moreno can be reached at 718-560-5600 or

The denomination was prompted to settle the cases because of an adverse court ruling last October in California that would require them to turn over deeply-held secret records about abusive Jehovah’s Witnesses.


A similar news conference is being held today in San Diego at 1:00 p.m. (Pacific time) outside a downtown courthouse there. (For details: Mary Grant 626 419 2930, Paul Livingston619 847 3998)

Six years ago a Kentucky man – William H. Bowen – reported to fellow Jehovah’s Witness church officials that another elder was in fact a confessed child molester and remains a Jehovah’s Witness in good standing to this day. Bowen was then ostracized
by fellow church members, went on to start a now 6,000 member support group for those abused and silenced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. That group, SilentLambs.org, now has 6,000 members.


Contact: William H. Bowen of Paducah KY, founder of SilentLambs.org 270-703-2257 cell, 270-527-5350

Mary Grant of Long Beach CA, SNAP western regional director 626-419-2930 cell

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director 314-566-9790 cell

Statement by Bill Bowen:

Sex abuse survivors through litigation have forced Jehovah’s Witnesses to admit their policy on child abuse is not working. Watchtower policy has silenced thousands of victims and continues to strangle their ability to cry for justice and healing.

One month ago, we were informed about settlements in some of the more than forty recent civil sex abuse lawsuits against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We learned that 16 victims were paid the largest settlement in history of Jehovah’s Witnesses but forced to sign a gag order that forbids them from speaking about their abuse. We find this bittersweet. On one hand, we’re glad a few victims are finally getting some financial help. On the other hand, we’re sad and worried because they’ve essentially been forced to give up their right to protect others by speaking out about their abuse to the public.

In 2002, US Catholic bishops publicly promised that the church would never ask for gag orders when compensating abuse survivors. Five years later, Jehovah’s Witnesses do just the reverse. They keep putting innocent kids and unsuspecting families at risk of horrible crimes because they value their secrecy and reputations more than they value children’s safety. Jehovah’s Witness kids that experience abuse need to have freedom to speak. It is time to step up and do the right thing instead of protecting the reputation of the church.

Watchtower’s secrecy and recklessness gives dangerous men like Rick McLean continued access to youngsters. McLean was recently featured on America’s Most Wanted as one of the 15 most wanted fugitives in this country. Four of his victims were part of the sixteen lawsuits recently settled and silenced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Because Watchtower officials never reported McLean and his crimes to law enforcement, he remains on the run and in fact might be molesting kids right now. Watchtower has a long-standing and ridiculous policy of not reporting molesters to police, requiring two eye witnesses before an abused child is believed and insisting that untrained individuals do internal investigations. This keeps kids vulnerable and predators free.

Watchtower has attacked and ousted members of conscience who have spoken out on to protect kids. They have protected child molesters by maintaining a secret database of more that 25,000 molesters that they do not shared with law enforcement. Finally, when a few victims find the courage and strength to speak up, get help, warn others, and seek justice in court, church officials silence them with hurtful gag orders.

Why did they settle? Last fall, a California court ruling would have required Watchtower to open their pedophile database. To prevent this information from becoming public, church officials chose to settle these 16 cases. They do not want anyone to know how much damaging information the database contains.

This is an international problem that needs to be addressed by one of the wealthiest religious groups in the world. At silentlambs.org, we want victims to know that, now more than ever, they can speak out, get help, expose molesters and protect others. Now more than ever, the legal climate has changed and is changing, so they have a better chance to get justice in court and deter others from hiding sex crimes.

We are announcing a worldwide campaign to reach Jehovah’s Witness sex abuse victims. We are asking that this downloadable “Service Bulletin” be placed in every Kingdom Hall (JW CHURCH) around the world and delivered to any Jehovah’s Witness that you may come in contact with. By doing so you can help victims find healing and protect children.


14 thoughts on “JW Child Sex Abuse Cases Settled with Gag Order!

  1. Thank you Heidi, for posting this reminder. I have a feeling the number of people affected by this topic is much larger than we know. I’m sure there are many, many, many more like me who are still afraid to speak out due to the ‘brainwashing’ (for lack of a better word) inflicted upon us while a part of this organization.

  2. Normally I am bothered by your posts as they are biased against JW’s. However, I found some useful information in this post, the fact that they settled out of court to avoid releasing the condfidential files they have on record.

    This is a great relief to me as I understand why they would do this. How can individuals confess sins if they cannot be assured of confidentiality. I know you won’t agree, and that is your concern, but, thank you fo rbeing thorough and honest.

  3. It isn’t just JWs. The “family values” fundies are rife with examples of preachers and “youth counselors” doing their worst to the young and vulnerable.

    This is why I distrust religion in general. I have seen enough examples of evils done by the pious to be convinced that a disproportionate number of people turn to religion for reasons of control. Convince someone that you are some kind of a middleman for God, and the way is wide open for you to do whatever you feel like doing.

  4. I am a JW. My stand on the issue is victims first. Any victim who wants to persue any criminal act must not be detered. The scripture of brother not taking brother to court does not apply here, because a current rapist is not a current brother. The first step for a rapist to become a former rapist is to report himself without any “confidentiality deal.” The elders focus must be on primarily helping the victim to sort out what ‘he or she’ wants to do. Premature forgiveness is a sin, and an enabler, and should not be forced on the victim. Using the bible to do this cannot possibly be using the word of God aright.

    That said, we are not a pedophile paradise. Exaggerations are wishes. Margarett

    1. Margarett – If that is your stand, you are not in accordance with the Society’s policies. What actually happens is very different from what you say here.

      I do not wish for JWs to be a pedophile’s paradise – that’s why I call attention to the Watchtower’s governing body and their lack of ethics in protecting predators (and their own PR) over the victims of abuse. I wish that they would revise their policies from some better place than saving money from lawsuits.

  5. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Entitles victims of child abuse to freely express themselves.

    This is backed by Scripture. The Holy Bible.
    A victim of abuse is entitled to compensation.
    “All scripture is given for our instruction.”

    Not one example of compensation with a gag order is given in Scripture. This is the spiritual example GOD has given to follow!

    Victims are entitled to speak out and be heard!
    Gag orders must be lifted off victims of abuse.
    This is requires by Scripture and article 19.

    Freedom of speech is a birthright given by GOD!
    Anyone taking advantage of a victims circumstance with a gag order is accountable spiritually to a higher court.

    Human Rights Organizations can be consulted.
    Article 19. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Victims of abuse are entitled to freedom of expression. Gag orders must be lifted.

  6. When our loving Creator made Adam and Eve. He gave them freedom of speech. The scriptures tell us he talked to Adam and Adam was allowed to name the Animals in his garden home, Eden.

    Freedom of speech has been a Universal Right from mankinds beginning and continues so today.

    If we noticed several people standing on a city footpath with duck tape wrapped around their heads and mouth. No doubt this would be a disturbing image. Now we approach them and look into each person eyes and notice they are
    suffering some kind of mental anguish. Could we walk by on the other side of the road and not try to help them?

    If we have the same kind of compassion revealed by Jesus in his illustration of the good Samaritan we would be compelled to stop and render help.

    Firstly we would remove the gags. Then ask them who did this to you and why did they do it? They all reply, “we are all victims of child abuse.” And we ask why were you gagged?
    They reply… “We brought a claim for compensation against those who abused us.
    And they offered us money to settle out of court and they said you have to agree to having gags on, so you can not talk about this.”

    Now without drawing this out more. Is this action following Jesus example of compassion?
    Or is there a cover up going on here. We know what happened in Scripture when Achan sinned and tried to cover it up. Jehovah took his blessing away. Till the matter was corrected.

    Their are some Governing Body members who no doubt fell uncomfortable about these alleged gag orders, when they review Jesus account of the good Samaritan. If this is so and gag orders have been placed on victims of child abuse. It would be better to lift these gag orders and honestly deal with what has happened so all involved can be healed and move on. Money may have been the root cause in placing these gag orders on. But Jesus example of compassion is more about healing!! Not covering over a serious problem like Achan.

    It would be a better PR exercise for the Watchtower Society to lift these alleged gag orders, leave the just compensation as is. Than for Public Opinion to rise up against them over this matter.

    1. I completely agree. However, they were more worried about what would be revealed if the victims spoke in public than they were about being compassionate or Christian. Any protest isn’t as bad as the secrets they have kept, the help they have denied, the paranoia they have induced, the protection to predators they have offered, and so on. It’s a risk gamble for them – and they have a legal team that advices them on lying theocratic strategy.

  7. Public Opinion is rising about this problem. Please note what is happening in the States of Jersey. [From the Official Website of the States Assembly. Propositions. April, 2009. No.49]


    Quoting in part:- Report:- By adopting this proposition the States of Jersey will be agreeing that in the event of any civil claims being made against the States by survivors of Child Abuse, that no “Gagging- Clause” will be sought or required by the States, either in any Out-OF-Court Settlement, redress Board or any civil proceedings before court.

    The objectives of this proposition are:-
    1.To secure for, and guarantee to, Survivors their right to Free Expression as described in the European Convention on Human Rights.

    2.To enable survivors, should they choose, to write books about their experiences, or engage in other Public Expression of their experiences and opinions.

    5. To enable survivors to contribute to a full, Transparent and Honest Public Understanding of the facts, any deficiencies of Public Administration and the failings of specific services which may have occurred.

    from the report…To Summarize…. the States would be agreeing that survivors will not be Gagged, and instead, will retain their right to Free Speech as described in Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights…..

    the report:- The key part of Paragraph 1 of Article 10 says this: “Everyone has the Right to Freedom of Expression. This right shall include Freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by Public Authority and Regardless of Frontiers.”

    report:- And the States of Jersey must, finally show some leadership and responsibility by willingly accepting that facts will emerge so that we, as an Administration, may learn from the mistakes of the past and better Protect Children in the future.
    Public Opinion is rising and causing change to protect Freedom of Expression for Child Abuse Victims. It is a sad day when people have to stir the conscience of religious organizations.
    They should be out there leading the way. It comes back to Jesus words……as an individual or an organization. John 14:21. “He that has my commandments and observes them, that one is he who loves me. In turn he that loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will plainly show myself to him.”

    The Governing Body need to reread Jesus account of the Good Samaritan, remove the gags on Child Abuse Victims. As long as they remain you have no freedom of speech before the throne of GOD.

  8. The web site address is:- States of Jersey Greffe.

    Enter. When page comes up click on heading Propositions.

    Under Projets go down to year 2009 click on 49.

    This will give more detail regarding gag order
    removal in line with the European Convention of Human Rights Article 10. It is good news and lets hope it spreads like wild fire. So that never again Victims, and Victims of Child Abuse ever have to be humiliated with gag orders again. That they be given due respect,
    freedom of expression, in line with the European Convention of Human Rights Article 10. And that it becomes retrospective for all Victims of Child Abuse.

  9. Boy its a shame these elders etc did what they did! to put everyone’s minds at ease JWs ARE ENCOURAGED to report any abuse!! As a parent I wouldn’t even involve them,straight to the police!! This article isn’t accurate in detail either..! FYI spoken like a true rejected JW..good job,keep spreading the hate(u know ur fate)

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