by Oroborus21 103 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • AuldSoul
    TD: It is a fascinating consideration, that is the separating of the secularity from the belief. Whether it can be done bears discussing. I wished there would have more of this in the essay itself. I don't think it can be done with respect to the Society's literature, but I could be wrong. showing just how it could be done is what someone needs to do. Just saying that it is secular doesn't do it and probably wouldn't convince in a courtroom. And I am not convinced that even if such statements were deemed as secular that it would win the case for all of the reasons that I go into already.

    In specific—Since we are dealing with an issue of indoctrination: which trumps in the eyes of the law, intent or perception? Keep in mind, fiduciary relationship is clear and unarguable. So we have a trusted authority source conveying information, and the recipient of the information.

    Let's play theory in a real situation:

    A lady signs the blood card. The Society (who educated her about the issue prior to her signature) never asked her what she took from what they said. As with most propagandizing, the communication is one-way. Why did she sign?

    Well, obviously the Society can claim what they meant to "teach" her, but can they speak to what she thought about their indoctrination? No. In a situation where a decision is being made based on conveyed information when a fiduciary relationship exists bewteeen the one communicating and the one receiving, on whose side does the law fall?

    Later, the woman gets into an automobile accident. She suffers massive blood loss, but has signed the card and has a DPA on file at the hospital. Doctors manage her care as well as they possibly can, but her left kidney fails...then her right. She survives, barely, but she is going to be on dialysis until a suitable donor can be found. She starts researching and becomes aware of the misrepresentations. THAT was the whole reason she signed the card, because that is what it took to indoctrinate HER.

    Which way does the law fall in interpretting meaning?

    Let's play theory again:

    A wife is finally convinced to support her husband's religious decision to have no blood transfusion for himself and their young son. The wife is not one of Jehovah's Witnesses and never will be, she has very low regard for their religious teachings. Her son and husband are together when a drunk driver hits them broadside (this actually happened). They are rushed to the emergency room where the wife stews about whether to give them blood. The doctors say her son is far worse off than her husband.

    She decides against blood for her husband, but decides to give blood to her son fearing the worst possible medical complications that the brochure showed were possible but fearing death due to injury is the greater immediate risk. Her son survives, although he needs reconstructive surgery for his injuries. Certainly a poster child against driving while influenced. But, tragically, her husband died due to severe lack of blood and lack of bloodless care at the hospital.

    Was the wife convinced religiously? If not, what convinced her? What line of defense would the Society argue?

    Eduardo, I think you have a very specific situation in mind as you analyze the import of this essay and you are crediting religion with autonomy it does not institutionally possess.


  • Oroborus21


    Thanks again for your advice. It is so nice to know how concerned you are for my license and for me. I really had you all wrong.


  • steve2

    I have to reluctantly say, as a hardended ex-JW who has neither desire nor intent to ever go back that, in my opinion, Eduardo is making the most compelling points. I notice may other posters pick on side issues and personal comments which don't serve well as rebuttals.

  • AuldSoul

    steve2, you seem to have been as unmoved as Eduardo by the medical misinformation from the Society. If either of you ever pursued a lawsuit on this basis, you would lose if you answered questions honestly. I would not lose if I answered them honestly.

    Not everyone was affected by the information they received in the same way. Not everyone believed the religious portion and rejected the medical portion. Not everyone believed both at the same time. Not everyone rejected the dogmatism of the religious viewpoint and accepted the medical evidence presented.

    For those last two groups, this is worth pursuing to see where it leads.


  • stillconcerned

    "any legal attack of the Society itself is going to be met with the full brunt and fiscal power of a cadre of Watchtower lawyers who will bury the plaintiff’s counsel with paperwork, pre-trial motions, discovery requests, etc. Even Erin Brockovich would feel like Dorothy in the Watchtower’s tornado. -"

    This, in and of its self, is not a reason to fail to pursue legal action.....

    I've done it, and I'm no Dorothy.

    In my opinion, the blood issue will require a case-by-case analysis, as did/does child sexual abuse cases, notwithstanding the constitutional issues.

    Kimberlee D Norris

    attorney at law

  • doogie

    this is just a side-thought, but in reading this thread i was thinking of something and i didn't see it mentioned anywhere else (if it was, please forgive me). to me, it seems that there is a major difference between the Moonies' "heavenly deception" (or whatever they called it) and the crap in the blood brochure:

    for the situations to be comparable, the society's misrepresentation would've had to occur before the indoctrination began (perhaps if they told potential 'recruits' that they actually DID accept whole blood transfusions in certain circumstance (or something of similar disingenuousness [is that a word? ]), just to mislead them into allowing the actual indoctrination to begin.

    the moonies in this instance deliberately lied about their identity in order to trick the potential recruit into beginning the indoctrination process. i'm sure you'd all agree that it's extremely likely that they also lied or misrepresented secular facts once that indoctrination process had begun, but the suit was about the misleading statements that took place BEFORE the indoctrination began. (in other words, the court didn't touch any of the moonies' warped beliefs, just the lies that tricked the new recruit into allowing the moonies to teach their warped beliefs.)

    i will give the witnesses this: they never shy away from flaunting their warped 'NO BLOOD' doctrine (the farce that it is). in all likelihood, if a person newly involved with the JWs knows anything about them, he'll probably know about the NO BLOOD policy (ask any Joe Shmo about the JWs and he'll probably say, "aren't they the ones who don't celebrate birthdays and let their kids die without blood transfusions?", or he'll say, "they're the ones that don't believe in electricity, right?"). On the other hand, if JW's were instructed by the society that if someone asks about the blood policy at the door, to tell them that witnesses actually DO accept whole blood when it's a life or death matter, just to keep the householder talking, THAT would be a major misrepresentation in a similar vein as that described in the suit against the moonies.

    i'm not criticizing the essay, i'm just saying that (unless i'm missing something) it doesn't seem to me that the moonies' case and the blood policy are that similar because the society never really misrepresent their goofy beliefs BEFORE the indoctrination begins. the moonies lied just to have the chance to teach people about their goofy beliefs. as was stated by Eduardo (i think), the fact that the Society's lies are in indoctrination literature AUTOMATICALLY makes them part of the indoctrination process and thus, extremely different than the moonie case (and maybe untouchable in court?).

  • Oroborus21


    Well Dorothy didn't fare too badly in the end anyway...

    I think however that your experience bears distinguishing. I can't imagine that the Society would want to charge in with a bunch of lawyers in types of cases that you have handled because of appearances sake. It certainly wouldn't look good and would definitely play right into the media's hands. I suspect that with abuse cases the Society takes about the same approach as it does with child custody and family law situations which is fairly hands off and at most (unofficially) advisory to the defendant. (But I would love to hear privately from you just what the response has been in your cases.)

    When it comes to challenges that directly attack its constitutional rights or the beliefs however, the track record has been that it throws its full weight behind defending or asserting its rights.

    My statement is not in any way meant to dissuade someone from taking up the fight or going to court. I am more Quixotic than most and don't mind a challenge myself. But my comments are more along the lines of the bible's counsel to "count the cost" first.

    Doogie: next time I will let you write that portion. You summarized the main point of distinction between Molko and the situation implied in the essay that I made, but you did in a fraction of the space. I bow to your succinctness.


  • steve2

    Doogie makes some very good points. I like the comparison with the Moonies - I actually had not thought of the misfit between the two groups.

    The "tort" law specifically addresses deliberate misrepresentation (for example, asserting that the car you are selling is in sound mechanical shape when it's a lemon). The difficulties start to mount when claimants say they were deliberately misled by inaccurate information. I'm sorry, but the Watchtower is an expert at advancing the "Scripture tells us so" line - and it is that line that will ulitmately dwarf allegations of deliberately misrepresenting medical information. Let me guess: The Watchtower's lawyers would have already anticipated the line of reasoning in the Church & State journal.

    I am astomished that the author of the Church & State article has not herself pursued legal action against the Watchtower. Surely that would have given her research the truly "Big Announcement" edge. Instead, it is just more vain ink to make the Watchtower sink.

    Another late-arriving complicating factor was Barbara Anderson's hyping of the "Big Announcement". No, Barbara it is not. The Big Announcement - to use that too easily over-used phrase - will be when claimants are able to put their money where their mouth is: A successful case against the Watchtower based on the legal arguments advanced in the second-rate Church & State journal. I say, Go to it. Start the legal action now.

    I suspect that very soon after that occurs, the wheels of "justice" will grind to a predictable halt - because the arguments in the Church & State journal, whilst having a superficial reasonableness, are incredibly naive. Otherwise, we'd be seeing this sort of stuff in top-ranking, premier law journals.

  • West70

    Eduardo: Thanks both for your excellent review and your willingness to suffer persecution for such.

    Kimberlee: Given your demonstrated ability to find pursuable child abuse cases, and given how closely your efforts are monitored by the XJW community, I'm sure I speak for all of us in saying that we look forward to the filing of your first lawsuit using this new legal theory (or at least overlooked since 1988).

    As you noted, such cases (as do many) will require "case-by-case analysis". So that the XJW community can be on the lookout for those blood transfusion scenarios which you feel might be worth pursuing, maybe you could paint a picture for us of the ideal scenario which would be a sure winner. Such an ideal scenario (though uncommon) would at least serve as a "yardstick" by which we can measure the scenarios which we already know about or happen on.

    Thank you.

  • skeeter1

    The Moonies’ lies about their identity actually happened ON THE 12 TH DAY (Mr. Molko) and on the 23rd Day (Ms. Leal - another Plaintiff) of the intensive indoctrination. I cut & pasted the Facts from the case, so you can read for yourself.


    A. Facts as to David Molko n5

    n5 Molko, Leal, and the Church have stipulated that the deposition testimony of Tracy Leal, David Molko, Stanley F. Leal, Collette Zeilinski, and Ernest Gibbs Patton, Jr. -- which was extensively quoted in the papers supporting and opposing the Church's motion for summary judgment -- be included in the clerk's transcript on appeal. Accordingly, we take judicial notice of the deposition transcripts and consider them part of the record for purposes of this appeal. (Evid. Code, § 452, subd. (d).)

    In June 1978 27-year-old David Molko graduated from Temple University School of Law. A month later he took and passed the

    On Sunday, January 21, Mark Bush and Ernest Patton approached Molko as he waited at a bus stop in . Bush and Patton told Molko they lived in an "international community" of socially conscious people from different occupations who met in the evenings to discuss important issues. They invited Molko to come to dinner that evening. Molko asked the two their occupations and was told they did social work and worked with environmental programs. He asked if Bush and Patton had a "religious connection." They said "no." Bush and Patton did not reveal to Molko that they were members of the , or that their purpose in approaching him and inviting him to dinner was to recruit him into the Church.

    Molko attended the dinner, at which there appeared to be a number of other invited guests. He was kept apart from the other guests, and during [*1103] dinner was held in constant conversation with group members. After dinner there was a lecture on general social problems, followed by a slide show on "Boonville" -- a "farm" a few hours to the north, owned by the group at the house. The slide show depicted Boonville as a rural getaway where people from the house went for relaxation and pleasure. When the presentation was concluded, all the dinner guests were invited to visit the farm. Bush, Patton, and another group member, David Hager, strongly urged Molko to accept the invitation, and told him a van would be leaving for Boonville in a few minutes. Molko said he had no personal belongings with him, and he preferred to think about it. The group members assured him they would provide for all his needs, and again urged him to go. Impressed by this hospitality and enthusiasm, Molko finally agreed to go. At their request he then filled out and signed a form declaring his name, address, and telephone number, n6 and 15 minutes later was in a van on his way to Boonville. He did not know and was not told Boonville was an indoctrination facility for the .

    n6 The Church claims the form identified the program at Boonville as being associated with the . Molko claims it did not. The Court of Appeal acknowledged this created a factual dispute, but deemed the dispute immaterial because of the conclusions the court reached in holding the Church was entitled to summary judgment. Because we reach different conclusions, we do not, as will be seen, find the dispute immaterial.

    The van arrived at Boonville several hours later. Molko was given a sleeping bag and shown to a shelter where others were already sleeping. He quickly fell asleep, and awoke the next morning to discover that many more people than just the 12 from the van were sleeping in the large room. When he arose and walked to the bathroom, a group member arose and walked with him. Wherever he went, a group member accompanied him.

    Molko expected to spend some relaxed time in the country, but soon learned the day's schedule was tightly planned and left him no time to himself. First came group calisthenics, then breakfast, then a lecture on moral and ethical issues, followed by small group discussions of the lecture. Next came lunch, more exercise, another lecture and discussion, then a break to take a shower. Finally came dinner, "testimonials" by individuals about their lives and their impressions of the day at Boonville, and group singing followed by yet another small group discussion. At the end of the day Molko was exhausted and quickly fell asleep.

    Tuesday was a repeat of Monday, except that Molko became acquainted with group member Bethie Rubenstein. He asked her the name of the group, and she told him it was the "Creative Community Project." He asked if the group was associated with any religious organization, and she told him "no." By the end of Tuesday, Molko was tired, uncomfortable and [*1104] concerned about the direction his life was taking. He informed Patton and Bush he desired to return to . They told him he was free to leave and that a bus would depart at three o'clock in the morning, but they strongly urged him to stay and hear [***127] the important information that would be [**51] discussed in the days to come. Molko agreed to stay on a little longer.

    Wednesday and Thursday were exactly like Monday and Tuesday -- even the two-day cycle of lectures was repeated verbatim. The lecturers spoke of brotherly love and social problems, and included references to God and some amount of prayer. On Wednesday, Rubenstein informed Molko the group's teachings derived from many philosophical sources, including Aristotle, Jefferson, and Reverend Sun Myung Moon. She did not disclose that Reverend Moon was the group's spiritual leader.

    On Friday night, Molko was told the group was about to leave Boonville for "" -- another group-owned retreat used on weekends. Molko said he wanted to return to , but again was urged to give the group a few more days. He agreed and made the trip to , still oblivious of his involvement with the .

    The exercise-lecture-discussion regimen continued throughout both the weekend at and the following week back at Boonville, during which Molko became increasingly disoriented and despairing of his future. On Friday -- his 12th day of continuous group activity -- Molko once again asked if the group was involved with any larger organization. Finally, a member named Gloria revealed to him for the first time that the group was part of the . He was confused and angry, but was informed the deception was necessary because people who had heard negative stories about the Church tended to be unreceptive if they knew the group's identity before hearing what it had to say. He agreed to stay and try to work out his confusion.

    That night he returned to , where he remained for approximately five to seven weeks of "advanced training." The same regimen and structure continued during this period. Molko's parents, concerned about his welfare, flew from in late February to talk to him. They stayed a week, but saw their son for only a few hours, and only in the presence of Church members. The parents urged him to come home briefly, but he refused. Molko -- who by this time had been taught that his parents were agents of Satan trying to tempt him away from the Church -- was confused by the visit, but remained with the Church. His parents returned to .

    [*1105] On finishing his advanced training at , Molko was judged ready to go back to the city to sell flowers and "witness" n7 for the Church. Shortly thereafter, in early April, two Church leaders told Molko the Church desperately needed funds for taxes, and urged him to give money. He donated $ 6,000 to the Church. Sometime during this period he also became a formal Church member.

    n7 "Witnessing" is the 's name for the process of recruiting new members on the street. Bush and Patton, for example, were witnessing when they persuaded Molko to come to dinner.

    Open and candid witnessing is employed by other religious denominations.

    Church leaders advised Molko he could help the Church most by becoming a member of the bar, and promised that the Church would pay for his bar review course. He agreed, and studied for and took the bar examination while living in the Church's house. As he left the final session of the bar examination, however, Molko was abducted and taken to a motel by "deprogrammers" hired by his parents. After three days of deprogramming, Molko terminated his association with the .

    B. Facts as to Leal

    In June 1979 19-year-old Tracy Leal completed her freshman year at . She had found the college large and impersonal; she considered transferring to in northern , but desired to visit the school before applying for admission. To that end she bought a bus ticket to Humboldt and set out on Sunday, June 7. [***128] The trip required changing busses in .

    [**52] While waiting for her bus in , Leal was approached by member Collette Zielinski, who was witnessing for the Church. Zielinski told Leal she was waiting for a friend arriving from . Leal remarked that she loved to ski and had always wanted to go to . Zielinski said her friend was also a skier and perhaps Leal would like to talk to her. Church member Bradford Parker then arrived, and Zielinski and Parker told Leal about the house in which they lived. They said they were part of the "Creative Community Project," described as a group of socially concerned professional people involved in good works such as giving food to the poor. They invited Leal to have lunch and go sightseeing with them, then join them for dinner at the house. They assured Leal she could catch another bus to Humboldt later that evening. Leal asked if Zielinski and Parker were part of a religious group, and said she did not want to get involved with them if they were. They replied only [*1106] that the people in their group "all came from different religious backgrounds." Leal accepted their invitation.

    That evening Leal went to the group's house for dinner. Like David Molko, she was kept apart from other dinner guests and was held in constant conversation with Church members. She heard the same lecture, saw the slide show on Boonville, and received the same invitation to go there. She accepted the invitation, signed the same kind of form, n8 and a few minutes later was on the bus to Boonville. Like Molko, she did not know Boonville was part of the .

    n8 Leal states the form she signed did not identify the . She took it to be some kind of "hold harmless" form for the trip to Boonville.

    At Boonville Leal experienced the same exercise-lecture-discussion regimen Molko received five months earlier. On Tuesday, her second day at Boonville, she asked Joshua, a codirector of the camp, whether the group was part of a religious organization, and specifically whether they were "Moonies." Joshua said they were not Moonies, but were a form of Christian group. He said, however, they were "keeping quiet about it for a while" because they did not want to frighten people away.

    After two days at Boonville, Leal went for a two-week seminar at During this period she experienced the same type of doubts and fears as had Molko. At the end of the two weeks, she again asked Zielinski and Parker if the organization was "part of the Moonies." They assured her it was not. Later that evening they added that, while they were not Moonies, they did follow some of the teachings of Reverend Moon. Five days later -- twenty-two days after recruiting Leal at the bus depot -- they informed Leal they were in fact part of the .

    Leal remained with the group after learning its identity. During the next two months her family visited her and tried to convince her to get away from the Church for a while. She told her parents she would not leave the house with them for fear of being abducted and deprogrammed. On September 1 Leal flew to , for a month-long series of advanced lectures, at the conclusion of which she became a formal Church member. From she went to , where she sold flowers on the street to raise money for the Church. On October 29, Leal was abducted from a by deprogrammers hired by her parents. The deprogrammers successfully persuaded Leal to abandon her association with the

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