New York Times June 22, 1918

by Nathan Natas 41 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas


    ================ TEXT VERSION BELOW ==========


    Judge Howe Scores Men Who
    Give Aid to the Enemy Under
    the Guise of Religion.


    Case of One Held for Investigation
    of His Past-Rutherford Deeply Affected.

    Seven of the eight members of various organizations founded by the late "Pastor" Charles Taze Russell, who were convicted of conspiracy to cause insubordination, disloyalty, and refusal of duty in the military forces of the United States, were sentenced individually yesterday by Judge H. B. Howe in the U. S. District Court, in Brooklyn, to serve twenty years in prison on each of the four counts in the indictment against them. This would make a term of eighty years in all for each convict, but the Judge decided that the sentences might run concurrently, so that the prisoners can look forward to their release as if they had been sentenced to but one term of twenty years.

    Those sentenced were Joseph F. Rutherford, President of the International Bible Students' Association, and successor to "Pastor" Russell; William E. Van Amburgh, Treasurer of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society; Robert J. Martin, auditor of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society; Fred H. Robinson (sic-Robison), personal representative of Rutherford; Alexander Hugh McMillan (sic-Macmillan), Superintendent of the Bethel Home, and George H. Fisher and Clayton J. Woodworth, both of Scranton, Penn., joint authors of "The Finished Mystery," and Directors of the Inter-national Bible Students' Association.

    On the eighth man convicted, Giovanni De Cecca, director of the translation of the works of the Russellite organizations Into the Italian language, Judge Howe said he would defer sentence for further consideration, as the court desired to have his previous career investigated. There was considerable speculation as to what caused the action of the Judge in the case of De Cecca, but none of the Federal officials would discuss the matter. It was learned, however, that he was kept separate from the other prisoners white in the prisoners' pen and had a separate cell in Raymond Street Jail, where all were taken later.

    Judge Howes Sentence.

    The courtroom was crowded with members of the Russellite societies and curious persons long before the Judge or prisoners arrived. The throng of persons trying to enter the room became no great that Marshal James M. Power ordered all who could not find seats to leave the room, and permitted no more to enter. Shortly after noon the prisoners ware brought to court, and they showed plainly the effects of their first night in prison. Chairs were placed in front of the Judge's bench and the prisoners sat in them. Judge Howe went upon the bench after 1 o'clock.

    "In the opinion of the court," said Judge Howe, the religious propaganda which these defendants have vigorously advocated and spread throughout the nation, as well as among our allies, is a greater danger than a division of the German Army, If they had taken guns and swords and joined the German Army the harm they could have done would have been insignificant compared with the results of their propaganda. A person preaching religion usually has much influence, and if he is sincere he is all the more effective. This aggravates rather than mitigates the wrong they have done. Therefore, as the only prudent thing to do with such persons, the court has concluded that the punishment should be severe. The sentence is that the defendants serve a term of twenty years in the Federal penitentiary at Atlanta, Ga., on each of the four counts of the indictment, but that the sentences commence and run concurrently, and that they stand committed until the sentence is complied with."

    The length of the sentence was a great surprise to the prisoners and their followers. The eight men sank into their chairs, Rutherford was the most affected of all. His body and hands twitched convulsively and his face grew red. A buzz of comment passed over the courtroom. The prisoners were then taken to a room on the top floor of the building to await removal to Raymond Street Jail.

    Lawyers Jesse Fuller and Frederick Sparks, for the various defendants, made the usual motions to have the verdict set aside on the ground that it was against the weight of evidence. Mr. Fuller also moved, in the case of De Cecca, that the verdict be set aside on the ground that the attitude of the court during the trial had had an oppressive effect on the witnesses, jury, and counsel for the defense.

    "I am not surprised to hear such a motion," answered Judge Howe, "in view of the attitude of counsel toward this court throughout this case."
    The Judge dismissed the motions to set aside the verdict, but granted an application made by Mr. Fuller for a writ of error, so that the case of all the men could he brought before the Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Fuller then moved for a stay of execution and asked that the defendants be admitted to bail pending the result of their appeal. Judge Howe denied this motion, with the comment that he could not think of greater harm than to stay the execution of the sentence and admit the men to bail.

    Worse than Traitors.

    After the proceedings Judge Howe said:

    "The court desires to express its appreciation to counsel, excepting Mr. Sparks, for the dignified and lawyer-like way in which they have tried the case; and to the clerk and his deputies and the Marshal and his deputies for their many courtesies."

    Turning to ex-Judge Oeland, the special United States prosecutor, and referring to the eight convicted Russellites, Judge Howe said :

    "They are worse than traitors. You can catch a traitor and know what he is about. But you cannot catch a man who does what they did under the guise of religion. Do you agree with me Judge?" Judge Oeland nodded his head in approval.

    Shortly after they were brought to the detention room upstairs a luncheon was served to the men. It was brought from the Bethel Home on Columbia Heights, and the main article on the menu was roast chicken. They remained in this room all the afternoon and were allowed to receive visits from relatives and close friends. Most of the time was spent in prayer and in singing hymns favored by their sect. In the early evening they were placed in a police patrol wagon and, guarded by Marshal Power and a number of deputies, were removed to jail. They will remain there until Monday, when it is expected that they will begin their journey South.

    A prominent member of the International Bible Students' Association, who refused the use of his name, declared it was the intention of the members to carry on the work.

    Special to The New York Times.

    WASHINGTON, June 21.-The Department of Justice late this afternoon issued a brief explanation of the activities of the defendants in the case of the United States versus Rutherford and others.

    "Under the guise of religious work," says the statement, " J. F. Rutherford, who was today sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment, and his associates circulated throughout the country, and also in several cantonments of the army, a large amount of vicious anti-war propaganda.

    "Shortly prior to their trial, this Government received formal complaint from the Italian Government to the effect that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, managed by Rutherford and his associates, had succeeded in circulating in the Italian armies a quantity of anti-war propaganda which had been mailed into Italy from Greece.

    "The facts and documents presented to this Government by the Italian Government, together with the facts disclosed in the trial court, demonstrated clearly that Rutherford and his associates, while issuing what were ostensibly publications of a strictly religious character, were, in fact, using certain of those publications as a medium for circulating vicious propaganda solely intended to hamper the prosecution of the war by the United States."

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  • SirNose586

    Thanks for the scan, this will do nicely in the archives...

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    You may also enjoy:


    you can download a free pdf scan of the article.

  • SirNose586

    Well, this makes me so exited for what Atlantis, the legendary scanning Ninja, will have coming up concerning the full Rutherford trial. I want to find out who brought "The Finished Mystery" to the Army's attention.

  • WingCommander

    Wait a minute.....according the Revelation: It's Grand Climax at Hand book, wasn't "The Judge's" imprisonment foretold by Danial or John? I mean, wasn't it one of the trumpet blasts or something just like the convention in Cedar Point, Ohio?

    What ludicrous bullshit!! Many JW's would state, "who cares what happened back in 1918, it's old light?" but in reality the Org can't let it go, as it's in the Proclaimers book and also that weirdo Revelation book. Talk about whacked out Bullshit! YIkes!!

    I think some of the writers have been eating too many hash-brownies while doing their so-called "research,"

    - WIng Commander

  • Fatfreek

    Is there any record of the evidence, the specific writings -- sentences, paragraphs -- that were so inciteful as to merit imprisonment?

    Len Miller

  • MissingLink

    How different do you think things would have gone if they'd kept those crooks behind bars?

  • AlphaOmega

    Thank you Nathan

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Len asked,

    Is there any record of the evidence, the specific writings -- sentences, paragraphs -- that were so inciteful as to merit imprisonment?

    Well, there is the transcript of the trial itself, which I think you can buy from WITNESS, INC. (

    #286 RUTHERFORD V. UNITED STATES: Read the exciting case of Joseph F. Rutherford, the leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses who was found guilty in 1918 of “conspiracy to violate the espionage law” and sentenced to 20 years in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, GA. All the dramatic court testimony is presented in two large volumes. Here is one of the most controversial trials in the history of American religion. $24.95. PLUS ANY 3 FREE AUDIO TAPES

    In his book, FAITH ON THE MARCH, Macmillan mentions only the pages from THE FINISHED MYSTERY that the WTB&TS instructed the faithful to remove from the book, but he does NOT mention the private correspondence and the articles in THE WATCHTOWER and KINGDOM NEWS (now Our Kingdom Ministry). The WTB&TS has dishonestly suppressed this information for more than 80 years, but today's worldwide apostate organization* is happy to bring it to light.

    These materials *may have* been discussed in a thread a few months ago. I'll see if I can find it...

    *Yes, apostates have ALWAYS had an organization here on earth, don't you know?

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Note the mention of THE WATCHTOWER and KINGDOM NEWS as sources of offense.

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