I know my posts are often really long, and I apologize for it. Someone recently suggested I make this a multi-part series as others have done. So I think that's what I'll do. A question was posed to me on another thread, and at the end of this story, I'll be asking for your advice on it.
I awoke from mental captivity to the Watchtower Society on September 15th, 2004. Five months ago I moved 2500 miles from my home with my daughter in an attempt to fade from my entire life of friends and family--all of whom are Jehovah's Witnesses.
A question was posed to me on another thread, and I'd like your input. Before I ask it, I'll tell you a true story.
I was raised one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Third generation in a four-generation JW family. I was appointed an elder at the age of 29 in 1995. In the Spring of 1997, a friend of mine in the congregation (a publisher) approached me during our Theocratic Ministry School. He asked if we could step outside the front door. We did. He was very upset... (I have changed all names.)
DAN: All right, I know you elders just got a letter from the Society, saying you're not EVER supposed to let a child-abuser have a position as servant in the congregation.
DAN: So I wanna know what's being done about the child-abuser in our congregation... Why's he still a servant?
ME: What are you talking about? Who do you mean?
DAN: You must know who I'm talking about.
ME: (Pause to think) No, Dan. I don't know who you're talking about. Who?!
DAN: He's giving the Instruction Talk right now.
It took me about five seconds to remember who was giving the talk. James? Couldn't be. I thought Dan was confused. James was my fellow elder, closest friend in the world, and I dearly hoped Dan just had it wrong.
ME: Are you talking about James?
DAN: (Nodding) Yes I am.
ME: Where did you ever hear that James was a child abuser?
DAN: Y'mean you're an elder, and you don't know anything about it?!
ME: No. Nothing. Never. Where did you hear this?
DAN: All right, Tom, I'm gonna tell you like it is...
So Dan went on to tell me how five years previous a young man in our congregation (Chad) had accused James of trying to fondle him. Chad was now 18 and in another congregation, so this had occurred when he was 13. Because there had only been one accuser, the elder body decided to conduct an investigation. (It's interesting to note that such an investigation is entirely outside what the Society would recommend, but they did it anyway.)
They approached all the families with young children in our congregation as well as many others, and asked the parents and some of the children if they had ever experienced or heard of James doing anything inappropriate with a child: touching, caressing, etc. The investigation turned up nothing. And because there was no second accuser, there was no judicial committee hearing.
James was counseled about his impropriety in allowing children to sleep with him in his bed, warned to use better discretion in his dealings with young people, and removed as an elder.
Coming: PART 2: The Second Accuser