Victoria, Australia: Steven Unthank's Press Release: JW's Hierarchy Formally Charged Today With Child Abuse

by AndersonsInfo 243 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • MrMonroe

    I don't think Steve Unthank has a case because jehovahs witnesses do not engage in specific child related work according to the Act. they don't have separate sunday schools. Wherever children take part in religious activities adults are not excluded - the activitities apply to adults and children. If this goes to court Jehovahs witness lawyers will be able to refute his claims very successfully imo.

    Sorry, Curtains, you're wrong. The Sunday school defence is a distraction. As a former book study conductor I was often in a situation in congregations where I was out witnessing with a child who was not my own. Sometimes we would transfer from one part of the territory to another and a child would ride with me in my car on my own. Sometimes we would be working on our own in a block of flats, out of sight of the rest of the group. I don't think those situations are at all rare.

    I can also think of many situations at hall cleaning groups, when turnout was pathetic, that an adult was there pretty well on their own with a child, or alternatively there were so few adults around that a paedophile adult JW could easily coax a child to a toilet or back room or whatever.

    The issue here is not that all JW adults are prone to sex abuse. It would be a rarity. But the law is the law: for the sake of appearances ALL church ministers, Scout leaders, footy coaches, youth group workers etc take out WWC checks. It helps to ease the mind of parents, but it is also the law. A legal requirement.

    Sizemik, I'm not saying SU has to prove child abuse, or a risk of it. He has to prove that they regularly engage in unsupervised contact with children. I send my kids to a music teacher and I assume that the teacher has a WWC check. If I did ask and she didn't, I would go to the police, explain that my children are in her company for an hour every week and she has no WWC check. That would be easy to prove. It may be more difficult, however, for someone who is no longer in a congregation to present that evidence to a magistrate about their former congregation. Hopefully SU has that covered. You wouldn't want to see an opportunity like this to be missed.

  • Red Piller
    Red Piller

    One thing I hope the court keeps in mind is that this cult will cause 1 or 2 strangers will appear at a door. What if a child is at home? What assurance is there that this JW is not a predator?

    Also, I've been thinking about the motives behind WT noncompliance.

    So, look at it from their point of view. They have potentially 1,000's of MS's and elders who would be interviewed and scrutinized. These ones,even if they are clean in the legal sense, are loose cannons. They are typically under-educated and over-filled with a sense of their own importance and assurance of God's backing. There are a lot attitudes and scandals that are not revealed to outsiders. There is a risk of things coming to light that will engender even more gov't scrutiny and publicity. Remember how JW's are strongly counseled not to talk to the press individually. Everything needs to go through Bethel to control the message. This scenario is a nightmare from a control perspective.

    Also, think of the JW brothers, that may be clean, but will be spooked by the whole process. You could have many MS's and elders quit. There is already a shortage in every congregation.

    So, I could see why they would hope they could skirt this requirement.

  • MrMonroe

    More motives for non-compliance:

    1. In the event that someone failed a WWC check, would they have to report that to the elders, who would ensure they never are alone with a child?

    2. The Witnesses are God's people (!) They are doing a work ordained and commanded by God (!!) They do not need to be sullied by such a law that even hints that some members of the religion are untrustworthy.

    3. Being pressured by the government to comply with such an unnecessary that impugns their godly motives is further proof that they are being targeted by Satan and are therefore backed by God. If they become martyrs, that is even more proof of their godliness and a further proof that we are so close to the end.

  • sizemik

    I agree Mr M . . . it doesn't require children to be segregated by definition (Sunday School) so to speak. The JW's are a religious teaching Organisation who invite children into their activities as individual participants (even as baptised ministers).

    It may be more difficult, however, for someone who is no longer in a congregation to present that evidence to a magistrate about their former congregation. Hopefully SU has that covered. You wouldn't want to see an opportunity like this to be missed.

    I agree with this also . . . SU needs to present a forceful and substantiated case (using examples, testimonies from past and current JW's, citing literature, as well as their history involving child abuse), to establish that by their institutional practices, children are significantly at risk . . . and that they are therefore subject to the Act. As I said earlier . . . the judiciary will not want to ignore the intent of the Act and render it useless, especially since this is an initial test of the law. I still feel that can be achieved . . . as long as SU has thoroughly done his homework and presents a quality case.

  • sizemik

    The other thing to consider with this case . . .

    If the JW's do happen to successfully defend the charge, and remain exempt from meeting the requirements of the Act . . . then they do expose themselves to considerable vulnerability for two reasons.

    1. They have rejected the very mechanism which could well have facilitated a tidying up of the very problem they have.

    2. Any occurrance of child abuse that might occur from that point forward and result in a complaint . . . will create an even greater negative exposure than otherwise . . . and possibly a greater backlash.

    So they stand to lose something either way . . . either their remoteness from scrutiny of the Authorities if they lose . . . or exposure to greater consequences from future abuse if they win.

  • MeanMrMustard

    I agree with MrMonroe. I think it would be fairly easy to find former JWs that could tesitify they were regularly alone with an elder/MS in the ministry or some other religious activity. When I was studying (as a teenager around 14 yrs), there was an elder that took me to circuit assemblies and district conventions. I can think of many, many times in the field ministry where I was alone with a non-faimily adult.

    ... very interesting thread...


  • Curtains

    mr monroe, one thing to remember is that Jehovahs witnesses as an organisation do not require you to be alone with other people's children as happens in sunday school arrangements. this imo is the point that means Mr unthank does not have a case

    state intervention can only go so far. It would surprise me greatly if Australia went further than the UK on this. Over here going further means loss of freedom.

    edit: another thing to consider is that if WT were to make it mandatory for ministers to undergo these checks then they would be promoting themselves as supplying child related activities as defined by the law -something they don't do (child related activities as defined by the law that is). WT wants adults going door to door - children are incidental to this and they certainly don't want to be seen as an organisation that provides separate activites for children.

  • MeanMrMustard

    I'm still reading through the entire thread, so I may be duplicating material, but I can't help but think that the legal department in NY knows that the child abuse problems within the organization are severe. The extent of the problem would come to light for Victoria only. But that wouldn't stop the next logical question: If the org is so united in teaching, practice, and policy, what prevents the problem from occuring with the same severity in, say, the United States? Or anywhere else for that matter...


  • MeanMrMustard


    So the main issue would then be whether or not a child is "required" to be alone with an elder/MS? That's kinda sticky. I mean, if the question is Sunday school, for example, is a child "required" to attend? A parent can choose for the child to not attend. I mean, what is the definition of "required" in this case? In MrMonroe's example, he said: "I send my kids to a music teacher and I assume that the teacher has a WWC check." It sounds like a child is "required" to be alone with an adult (in this case) when the isolation with the adult is necessary for the adult to perform his/her task. Like MrMonroe's example, the music teacher holds a one-on-one session with a child, alone. It seem to me the very purpose of an elder would lead him into being alone with a child somewhere, somehow. Actually, no baptized male witness could do all of the things a normal male baptized witness would do (thinking more of service here) without being alone with a child somewhere. Isn't that SU's argument? What JWs do would lead into alone time with kids. But it would be more so with an elders/MS.


  • The Quiet One
    The Quiet One

    Two points: “When a Minor Is Disfellowshipped”, The Watchtower, Oct. 1 2001, p.16.- this alone proves minors can be disfellowshipped.. ''If he [df'd person]gives evidence of a genuine desire to pursue a right course, the elders may feel it would be justifiable to talk to him privately, giving exhortation from God's Word in a corrective manner, which might move him to abandon his wrong course. This would not be conducted in the form of a Bible study; rather, it would be a matter of simply offering admonition directed toward his spiritual readjustment.See August 1, 1974, Watchtower, pp. 468-470.''- Would a baptized parent be allowed to be present when a df'd child is talking to an elder spiritually? And if the child were df'd for apostasy (they decided that they no longer believed in the FDS), then changed their mind/were scared of being kicked out of home/wanted their parents to be able to talk to them again or whatever reason, wouldn't the elders be the only ones that could talk to the child in relation to The Truth, with them being apostate? At the very least, might df'd minors have to have private talks with elders, let alone if they went 'apostate'? I'm probably going crazy here, but it's just a thought.. Secondly, I know of several active jw's, who had private bible studies with an appointed man, myself included. Its not exactly a rare occurrence that a boy, born-in or otherwise, doesn't have a father in The Truth/living with them, and so the parents arrange for a mature Christian (jw elder or MS, I know several who had elders) brother have a study with them, so that they have a 'spiritual male role model' or whatever. Realistically, although the mother/unbelieving father COULD sit in on the study, it would be in another room for at least half an hour, to allow privacy. Not much point in a teenage boy, who wants to discuss private matters at times, having a male study conductor if his mother's sat there, is there? And I've, in the past as a minor, worked with an appointed man in service, alone in the car at times. Of course, the elder would be trusted completely. To be clear, I was perfectly fine, I'm just presenting situations that come about that allow for abuse in the wrong hands. It shouldn't be hard for Mr. Unthank to find ex-jw's who had an elder studying with them as a minor.. Hope this is useful.

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