Victoria, Australia: FYI-Far reaching ramifications of the criminal indictment of the GB

by AndersonsInfo 67 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • AndersonsInfo

    FYI: The following material that I’m providing comes from a source in Australia, an XJW who is now monitoring the case and will provide feedback, comments, and opinions.


    The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses was recently summoned to appear in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria on September 13, 2011 in relation to a number of indictable criminal offences allegedly committed. This according to official documents filed this past week with the Magistrates' Court of Victoria and dated September 6, 2011.

    In compliance with the Magistrates' Court Criminal Procedure Rules, the Governing Body was also formally notified: "You have been charged with an offence...If you do not appear in answer to a summons and the charges are an indictable offence that may be determined summarily, the Magistrates' Court may hear and determine the charge in your absence."

    The Victorian Working with Children Act 2005 in Section 5, gives the legal meaning of "Charged with an offence." It states, "For the purposes of this Act, a person [which includes an unincorporated body] is deemed to have been charged with an offence if.... or (b) a charge has been filed against the person for the offence."Criminal charges against the Governing Body would not have been approved for filing in any Australian Court by the Department of Justice if there was NO evidence available showing that a serious indictable criminal offence actually had been committed.The filing of baseless criminal charges is generally prohibited by law, and, if filed by a member of the public or by the police then they are immediately taken over and withdrawn by the Office of Public Prosecutions. In this case it is irrelevant to the courts who actually filed the charges—Mr. Steven Unthank or the police. Either way, the charges were actually prepared, approved and officially filed in court against the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses on July 26, 2011, and are still before the court.

    However, charges brought against the Governing Body as an unincorporated entity or body can not be determined summarily, but, according to the law, must be transferred to another court which has jurisdiction to hear the case, such as a county court or Supreme Court.

    The Governing Body can not cut a deal and pay a fine. This can not happen under Australian law where you can not pay a fine unless you plead "guilty" and then you get a criminal conviction and also run the risk of jail time.

    These criminal charges against the Governing Body pose a number of very serious problems for its members and for all Jehovah's Witnesses in general.

    To our knowledge the Governing Body has never before been formally charged with committing indictable criminal offences. This case may have far reaching ramifications that many of us may not have initially realized or considered.

    For instance, from the stand point of theocratic rule, it could well be argued that each member of the Governing Body that has a criminal charge lodged against him is no longer “irreprehensible” or “free from accusation." As such he would no longer "have a fine testimony even from people on the outside."

    And think about this: If the members of the Governing Body refuse to recognize these criminal charges as "valid” then they can not engage legal counsel to represent them nor appear in court to defend themselves as they run the very likely risk of validating the charges within the congregation.

    If the Governing Body answers the charges in this case, then this would confirm that a "valid charge" has actually been brought against each of them. As such, according to theocratic rule it is crucial, from a standpoint of religious credibility and impartiality that any allegations that evidence exists of wrongdoing by the Governing Body be thoroughly examined by the congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Again, according to theocratic rule, such an examination would entail that the members of the Governing Body MUST first individually resign from his position as an elder and as a member of the Governing Body or MUST be forcibly removed and would no longer qualify as a Bethel Family member nor as a member of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Simply put, they would be relegated to "rank and file" status, albeit one comprising "restrictions" in any congregation they attended.

    And further, a Judicial Committee, or an "initial investigation," must also be made "regardless of the manner in which the elders first hear reports of serious wrongdoing" according to the procedures outlined in the "Organized To Do Jehovah's Will" book, which the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses signed off on.

    These same procedures in the "Organized" book state that "if it is established that there is substance to the report and that evidence is available showing that a serious sin actually has been committed, the body of elders will assign a judicial committee of at least three elders to handle the matter."

    Undoubtedly, by the terms of theocratic law, the actual charging of indictable criminal offenses against the Governing Body should be of very serious concern to them and to the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses world-wide.

  • sizemik

    Some interesting new angles Barb . . .

    I hadn't considered the "free from accusation" theocratic rule and it's implications thus far.

    To ignore . . . or plead, puts them in a tight spot either way already . . . and there's no going back now.

    Could be some blood over the wall here.

  • compound complex
    compound complex

    Thank you, Barbara:

    Though today's Watchtower study was actually written some time ago, the strong warnings to read or watch nothing pertaining to Jehovah's Witnesses is noteworthy.

    Given the large number of GB faux pas coming into the news over the years (in large part due to your work and that of other courageous souls), why would the organization allow the membership even to glimpse or contemplate the merest suggestion of scandal chez Jehovah's elect?

    The mind boggles....


  • steve2

    Hi Barbara, this definitely looks like an interesting set of developments.

    Is the material based on an actual court transcript (i.e., an official verbatim record?) or a condensation of that transcript or something else?

    Given that the Governing Body are primarily made up of United States citizens who do not reside in Australia, I'm not clear how a federal court has the jurisdiction to summons non-residents - and an entity such as "the Governing Body" - to appear before the court. . No specific representatives of the GB or members of the GB are identified in the material you provide.

    I grant there could be pieces as yet that will become clear.

  • sabastious

    "Caeser" has charged the GB and by their own theocratic law they must pay up. Here's to hoping.


  • AnneB

    Barb, and others who were JW's back around 1990 or 1991: Think back to the District Convention(s); a whole Saturday was spent deliniating the difference between WT and the GB. There was a whole talk devoted to what would happen if the WT was taken down by court/legal action. Essentially, the difference is that WT is a legal entity and may, indeed, cease to function, but the GB would still be handling spiritual matters. That's an important distinction. If charges are filed against "the Governing Body" the action is doomed to failure, for they handle only spiritual things. If the charges are laid against WT, it's officers or agents, that's a whole 'nuther issue, but in that case there would have been no accusations made against individuals as members of the GB so they will still be beyond accusation in [their version] of the scriptural sense. I am aware that in many cases both legal and spiritual headship is maintained by the same individual. Still, a spiritual title (member of the GB) can't be prosecuted, so they're home free as far as JW's are concerned, it will be just another case of "framing trouble by decree", something for which they've been preparing the rank and file for decades.


  • Band on the Run
  • steve2

    The Governing Body can not cut a deal and pay a fine. This can not happen under Australian law where you

    can not pay a fine unless you plead "guilty" and then you get a criminal conviction and also run the risk of

    jail time.

    This appears to be opinion with a dash of legalese not helped by crude wording (i.e., risk of jail time). It is great to be kept up to date, but I do wonder about the author of this material. So far, not a word from the Governing Body or its representatives. Now that would be newsworthy.

    Fact: The Governing Body is an American "entity" or "body" composed of American citizens. Fact: Australian courts do not have jurisdiction over non-Australian bodies or entities. Fact: The Governing Body and the legal corporation, The Watchtower are not naive and we ought not interpret the persistently silence of the GB as anything other than hard to interpret at this stage. I read one of Stephen Unthank's previous statements and it was full of statements ordering the GB to apologize and step down. My confidence would be immeasurably boosted if there were a court document backing up the statements in the "material" Barbara has circulated.

  • Wasanelder Once
    Wasanelder Once

    One of them will just do an Obi Wan, waving thier hand and saying, "These are not the droids you're looking for" and it will all go away. This will be persecution against Christ's brothers, framing mischief by decree. This trumps being "without reproach". Remember, its good to be the king.

  • EntirelyPossible

    If the Governing Body answers the charges in this case, then this would confirm that a "valid charge" has actually been brought against each of them.

    that does not follow. simply answering charges does NOT mean you agree they are valid, that simply means you have legal responsibility to answer the charges, nothing else.

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