Sexual abuse and how the WTS handles it - 2 issues that get confused
Lady Lee -
That post was brilliant. It completely calls out the fallacy that the WTBS has successfully "cleaned up" the issue.
I can only comment from the position of a former elder and a person with a history of victims in my family.
Sexual predators make sure no one is around when the prey on their victims. That 2 witness rule is the biggest bunch of bull---- , how can you apply that to a case involving a criminal act with a devious creep and a child ????
Even with all of their new policies and procedures, most Elders are totally inept on how to handle the issue. I have been on a few appeal JC's where a person with a history of sexual abuse was disfellowshipped due to "porneia" or "fornication" and their sexual abuse was NEVER considered. Anyone who does even superficial research on the topic knows that it affects how a person views their body, sex, their esteem and ability to say NO!, etc.......instead the victims are treated like perpetrators and cast out. These people need tender compassion and they get the star chamber treatment. I caused an uproar because I came out and said I could not in good conscience come out and ever disfellowship a victim of abuse - of course I am no longer an elder!!
I just had a conversation with my mom regarding this - all of the additional stipulations and procedures are to protect the WTBS from monetary damages and so they can do "damage control" if the things go public. Its NEVER NEVER NEVER ABOUT THE VICTIM!!!!
Most elders continue to guilt-trip the victim with comments such as 'Well, we dont want this to get out and bring reproach on Jehovah and his organization" or "We can handle this within the congregation" - that is unless state/country law forces them to contact the authorities. Most parents in my experience are never determined to call the police since they get the same guilt trip and veiled threats.
The last case I was on where this came up went like this:
1) I begged the parents to call the authorities, and the other elders were more passive "Well, you could do that but the Society has been notified and they are aware." The parents chose not to call, and out of respect for them, i did not call.
2) The society opened a "case" on it and asked to be notified as soon as the parents decided on the police part.
3) I asked off of the case at that point since I would not follow the BS policies and would not under and circumstances DF the victim (she was on a JC for porneia).
In other words, in my opinion - not much has changed. They have only cleaned up the legal portion so they can cover their rear ends.
Thank you. Perhaps if more elders were allowed to use their own conscience then victims would be treated with "tender compassion".
Your post confirms my belief about how the policy works in practice.
That poor child who had to disclose the abuse to a bunch of untrained men, confront her abuser and then be told to shut up or be thrown out AND had to suffer the indignity of a JC for porneia!!!
Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting that they think this is the right way to handle the abuse of an innocent child.
The sad and stupid thing is that if they the wts were more victim centric, their reputation would be enhanced on this matter, and the victims would benefit too.
I know a couple of victims of sexual abuse, and the effects are lifelong and profound.
I have not had the chance to read all the responses but I know in my hall there were three convicted pedophiles and they were deemed safe by the elders.
No parents were told who these men were and I was accused of causing divisions by being up that one of the sex offenders was holding children and told that I could be DF'ed over saying anything to parents. This has been in just the last three years.
I also spoke to someone at Bethel just two months ago and I asked him point blank, as did my husband why they go door to door without at least an elder or MS and also we both asked by parents cannot at least be told. The Brother at Bethel was very frustrated with our questions, put me on hold for over a minute and then said he could not answer my question.
My experience does not completely match lepermessiah's nor Lady Lee's post.
I was appointed an elder in the mid-90s.
The issue was VERY troubling to me even though our BOE never had to personally deal with it on my watch. It moved me to see what the prevailing culture or practice was among BOEs and so I inquired of at least 15-20 elders from up and down the West Coast as well as Georgia, Florida & New York. The overwhelming sentiment was that molestors were the lowest form of scum and that most elders would want to have a "meeting after the meeting" to rough them up. Talk is cheap of course. After the inevitable tough talk, I would press on to ask specifically, "If a child, or a parent let you know that molestation had occurred, who would you call first, the cops or the Legal Dept.?" About 2/3 said they would not hesitate to call the cops right away on their own, even though they knew it would cost them their "privileges" as an elder and might even get them DFed.
I don't have time right now to add more, but here's a link that goes into a lot more detail.
In a nutshell, the policy was improved somewhat, but still has a long way to go.
[edited link - Lady Lee]
I am sorry for the spelling mistakes. I am just in a hurry to get to work but wanted to respond.
I also forgot to say Lady Lee great post. I am so glad that you are doing this.
I also asked the brother at Bethel if a child was molested what would happen because no one is allowed to know that we have sex offenders in the hall not even the parents of small children. I told the brother that is was unfair and crazy to not at least inform parents so that they could make sure their children were safe.
When I told him about the pedophile holding the little girl and dancing with her in the KH all with all the elders watching and saying nothing he said I could not know if that child was molested. I answered him but we do know that a convicted child molesters should not hold children especially in Kingdom Halls right? I asked who would be held responsible for a child being molested. He said hopefully that it would never happen. I told him being most child molesters do not stop the odds are very high that it will happen again. This Brother at Bethel again paused for almost a minute and then said the elders have clear direction on how to handle this.
I asked point blank then will you at Bethel help if a child is molested. He just kept saying the elders have clear direction. My husband asked what that direction was and there was no response, just that they have clear direction in writing. My husband was an elder and he told this brother that the direction he knew of was not clear and so what did he mean by clear direction. The Brother at Bethel would not answer but but just kept repeating again that the elders have clear direction.
Frustrating and very upsetting.
Lepermessiah thanks for trying to stand up when you were an elder. That is also why my husband is not longer an elder. I was a victim of abuse and it affects your whole life.
Again please forgive my spelling I am sorry for being in such a hurry and I am not good at spelling this is a very upsetting topic for me. And thanks again Lady Lee.
First I sw no spellign mistakes so don't worry about it. Thanks fo rthe info. It would not surprise me at all if the Legal Dept has given them written instructions with exactly what words to say on such inquiries. They are to follow the script and say absolutely nothing else. And I would hazard to guess that the person on the phone was not an elder otherwise he would know how inadequate the instructions are and that they are not printed in the text but rather written in the side columns or are on BOE letters. Elders could show a clean version of the book to "prove" their policy, meanwhile hiding their marked up version.
That demonstrates the huge difference between what a personal conscience thinks and decides to do and how the WTS forces them to foillow WT guidelines (which of course aren't guidelines at all but rules to be obeyed like the canned scripted responses from Bethel)
I went and read your thread and while an "official policy" has changed a bit that still doesn't mena that in practice there have been huge changes. When I was in Winnipeg a JW pedophile was arrested and it was in all the newspapers. The elders decided to simply move him to another hall. If the JWs there were not into reading the newspaper there is no way anyone in the new hall, or the old for that matter, would have known about the pedophile in their midst.
What also worries me is that here in the U.K they do not seem to have a clear Child Protection Policy, which if they had one in place it would prevent this sort of thing happening sometimes.
Cantleave tells me they have a policy of monitoring known offenders, and I know that policy does not always work as it should. But they should hold meetings for those affected, parents particularly , and stress that children should never be alone with risky individuals, i.e even other children quite often, the child too needs some education in how to protect itself.
I know they have had articles on it, but a properly implemented policy is called for.
I just got the time to respond to this. Lady lee you are right in that they do not put anything in writing. That was what my husband was pointing out to the person we were speaking to in the service department. There is nothing in writing. He was just trying to intimidate us. When my husband told him that as an elder of 32 years he had never read anything only verbal stuff. The Brother in the service got really upset and just kept repeating himself.
He was just like I said trying to intimidate us. I truly believe he was an elder. We were at Bethel ourselves and I have been lied strait to my face. As long as you have nothing in writing elders lie like crazy and then denie it.
I know, I know it was so hard for me to believe. I truly thought that this was Jehovah's true religion and when I first caught an elder in a really ture lie I was so depressed for days. It was like I could not hardly function. It was like someone had hit me in the gut.
This child abuse problem is so unbelievably sad.
I didn't realize you had quite a history in the WTS. You know then about "spiritual warfare". They say they use it on "worldly" people, people who don't have the right to know. What few JWs realize is the the WTS uses "spiritual warfare" on its own members. If they decide you don't deserve to know they feel justified in lying to you. Number of years as a JW, or rank has no bearing on whether you are deserving of the truth. It is one more evidence of information control, a hallmark of mind control techniques.
The WTS has many secrets it wants to protect not only from the world but from their own members. I was an elders wife. I had no idea they had a special elder's manual. I've seen it since. It isn't like it has anything printed in the book that must be kept secret. It is bits and pieces of scripture that has probably been published in WT literature hundreds of times. But those little side notes can be quite telling. especially when it comes to handling issues like sexual abuse, spousal abuse and other issues that might ruin the reputation of the org. And THAT is always the bottom line. Protect the organization at all costs even if the cost is the suffering of a young child.