Who Pays For Child Abuse?

 by Bill Bowen

I just received another report of a deposition being taken regarding the current litigation involving Jehovah’s Witnesses and their handling of child abuse within the congregation.  It is interesting to note that when a lawsuit is filed on a matter of this nature all defendants are subject to paying financial restitution when the case is decided.  This means the local elders, the local Kingdom Hall, the serving Circuit Overseer, District Overseer and of course the Watchtower Corporation itself will be liable for monetary damages.  Will Watchtower Corporation pay?  Of course, but also any assets of others involved in the lawsuit will also come under lien for satisfaction of any judgment.  This could mean any elder who has been involved in a molestation case could lose his home, car and whatever life savings as a result of supporting a policy he was mandated to follow as a representative of the Watchtower Society.  You might compare it to when the military in years past prosecuted soldiers that killed women and children at the command of their superiors.  Did this excuse their actions?  Were the superiors the only ones prosecuted? No, they were held liable for doing what was morally and ethically wrong in hurting the innocent.  In a similar way any person in a position of trust that has supported or authorized the implementation of Watchtower Policy could be held liable and subject to judgments from the courts.

 If you as an elder were involved in a judicial hearing that concerned child abuse five, ten, or even twenty years ago you will have to look over your shoulder for the rest of your life in the event any of the victims decide they were hurt by your implementation of Watchtower Policy.  Can this really happen?  An example might be the tobacco companies and their fight to deny that cigarettes hurt people.  When lawyers went to court and set the precedent that in fact this was the case then all any smoker had to do was align themselves with an attorney who was filing a lawsuit of this issue and collect a check.  Court precedence is already established in the case of the Catholic Church that the first amendment does not give religion the right to hurt molested children by their policy. One attorney alone has won over 400 cases for victims based on this precedent.  The bridge is simple to show that Jehovah’s Witnesses by their policies and practice has hurt thousands of children.  All that needs to be done is show this for one child, that is, just one case has to be won establishing that precedent for Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Once that simple step is taken it will open the way for thousands of abuse survivors to come forward and demand compensation to recover from the abuse wrought by representatives at the direction of the Watchtower Society. 

 Perhaps a question that needs to be asked is does an elder deserve to lose everything he owns for his participation in destroying the life of a child?  Should he be prosecuted and put in prison or pay fines if he is found to be in violation of state laws while he was acting at the direction of the Watchtower Legal Department? How would you answer?

 Secondly relates to the use of World Wide Work Donations to defray the costs of defending the Watchtower Society’s legal defense of their child en dan germent policies.  In the recent deposition two Watchtower lawyers were present that traveled over one thousand miles to be there.  Who paid their travel expenses? In all these cases local top shelf law firms are hired to file motions and handle paperwork to defend the Watchtower’s position.  Who pays for these costs? In the spring of 2001 the Erica Rodriguez case was misfiled; it took about two weeks to make the corrections.  The local premier law firm representing the Watchtower demanded $7,000 in compensation for the time it took for them to work around the misfiling.  The judgment was denied in court leaving the Watchtower Society to pick up the cost.  Where did the money come from to pay the $7,000 in legal fees demanded for two weeks work?  It is interesting to note that in many cases the Watchtower has asked local congregation to pick up the bill.  Often when there is an injury from someone slipping and falling, the congregation is asked to pay the expenses from what ever resources they can generate.  Will congregations named in abuse lawsuits be required to pay a portion of the expenses? In a newspaper article from the Sacramento Bee, JR Brown, the Public Relations spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, was quoted as saying they would not use dedicated funds in the legal defense of their policy on child abuse.  If so where then do the funds come from?

 In a recent lawsuit involving the death of a woman due to the negligence of a home office member that was on his way to church function, the Watchtower Society paid $1.55 million to the family of the victim.  Was this considered “dedicated funds,” was it World Wide Work money, or was the local congregation sent the bill?  If the local congregation was to pay the bill would in not affect their ability to contribute to the World Wide Work?  How many funds does the Watchtower have?  Does this mean that brothers and sisters are sending in money with the request to use it only to defend child molesters and the elders who protected them in the courts?  What would you call it, the “World Wide Child Molester Protection Fund?”

 It is sad that the leadership if Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken the stance of defending their child en dan germent policy to the last man standing.  Millions of dollars will be spent to defend their policy which puts all Jehovah’s Witnesses squarely behind the child molester in defending his right to molest children.  The policy says if a child cannot produce two “credible” eye witnesses when the molester denies the allegation, the molester is protected as an innocent man.  This will give the typical pedophile additional children to molest before another child summons the courage to come forward as a second “witness”, that is if the elders determine he or she is “credible.” The “pedophile paradise” can only be found among Jehovah’s Witnesses who implement policies and hire lawyers to the tune of millions of dollars in donated funds to defend their right to call children liars and silence the child as well as their families in the congregation from warning other families of the dan ger with the threat of excommunication for slandering an innocent pedophile.

 If you are a Jehovah’s Witness who is currently serving as an elder, you may want to think twice before you handle any case of child molestation in your congregation.   In a recent abuse litigation involving an active female member who wrote the Governing Body (leadership) asking for a meeting to resolve matters through theocratic meetings, the sister was advised to sue the local elders and “dismiss Watchtower” from the lawsuit if she wanted to have a theocratic hearing.  It seems there is a variance when it comes to “theocratic loyalty” from home office.  When the courts establish the precedence that Watchtower Policy on abuse has hurt children you as an elder may find yourself giving a deposition to a bevy of attorneys who will hang on your every word.  You may find yourself testifying in court before a jury of how you conducted your investigation of the crime of rape by explaining each step of your Legal Department required interrogation of a four year old child. You may find a summons coming to you in the mail to pay several hundred thousand dollars in judgments with whatever assets you can produce. 

 A common expression used by those in leadership positions in the Jehovah’s Witness community when addressing child abuse is to “wait on Jehovah.”  This expression is used as a basis to paralyze elders and congregation members from taking any decisive action but instead waiting for God to provide the answer to remedy the problem.  Often molesters have used this “waiting” period to molest numerous children while members remain in a holding pattern with supposed reliance upon Jehovah to resolve the problem.  Each raped child in turn is presented with “waiting on Jehovah” while his or her friends wait for their turn to be raped. To do any less is deemed as a lack of faith in God and a poor example to fellow members. Could litigation be the answer to “waiting on Jehovah?” Has God empowered child abuse survivors to come forth to media and the courts to expose the wicked and corrupt actions of men that claim divine direction from God? If the Watchtower is sued out of physical existence is this the action from Jehovah that members are waiting for?

 As the divine depositions continue elders who support and follow directives mandated by Watchtower Policy will face retribution as God delivers the answer to them they should have been following all along.  That is doing what is morally and ethically right when it comes to protecting a child.                      


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