In all US states, the Courts do NOT require two witnesses or even corroborating evidence in child sex abuse cases

by yadda yadda 2 19 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • yadda yadda 2
    yadda yadda 2

    Pages 433-437 inter alia, of the book "Myers on Evidence in Child, Domestic or Elder Abuse Cases" Fourth Edition refers.

    You can view this very informative material at Google books.

    This shows how the Watchtower's strict interpretation of the biblical two-witness rule is very much out of harmony with the modern legal system in matters of child sex abuse.

    J.R. Brown, Watchtower spokesman, is reported by the Associated Press on February 11, 2001 to have said:"...corroborating evidence can be used instead of a second witness to prove wrongdoing." Although this appears to be a reasonable approach and is an improvement on the horrendous requirement that there be two human witnesses before congregational action can be taken in the absence of confession, requiring corroborating evidence is still incongruent with the standard of evidence accepted by the courts.

    It is often the case that there is neglible corroborating evidence in cases of child molestation. The Courts generally expect that corroboration is required only if the child's testimony is so contradictory and in conflict with physical facts, surrounding circumstances, and common experiences that its validity is doubtful.

    Either way, the elders should at the least be permitted to accept the testimony of the child, together with the testimony of the concerned parent/caregiver, as sufficient to satisfy the 'two witness' scriptural rule. Jesus made it quite clear that non-human testimony, ie, the works he was doing (John 5:36; 10:25) counted as a witness, so the parent hearing or observing the child's statements or changed behaviour should count as a second witness (in addition to the child's), as a type of 'corroborating evidence'. These two 'witnesses' should be more than sufficient for the elders to assume prima facie guilt, even if the accused denies guilt, unless the child and parents testimony is "contradictory, in conflict with physical facts, surrounding circumstances, and common experiences". Ie, the child's testimony should be believed unless there are very good reasons to doubt it.

    I can't figure out how to insert the link to the e-book, sorry.

  • brinjen

    Yep. Courts are interested in details like facts and evidence... not if there was a second person present that can verify the claim.

  • brinjen
  • yadda yadda 2
    yadda yadda 2

    Thanks for creating the link brinjen.

  • brinjen

    You're welcome.

  • designs

    The Courts weigh forensics as solid proof. I can't recall ever hearing of a judicial committee considering forensics.

  • Vidiot

    I've come to suspect that when child abuse allegations first started to rear their nasty heads back in the day, quite a number of local JC elders were so appalled at the prospect of something that sordid happening in "God's Earthly Organization" that they subconciously latched onto any reason to disbelieve that they could find...

    ...i.e., "only one witness? oh, thank God, didn't happen, everything's hunky-dory, lalalalalalalalala"

    I could be wrong.

    Of course there's the institutionalized phenomenon of problems at the leadership level inevitably manifesting themselves further down the heirarchy...

  • Chaserious

    Courts don't require two witnesses, but you are more likely to get a conviction with multiple witnesses, or one witness and some physical evidence. Studies have shown that false accusations of child molestation represent about 10% of all accusations. So I would rather require more evidence than just the accuser's word than take a 10% chance that an innocent person's life is being destroyed. There have been a number of cases where the parent is paranoid that their child has been abused and they basically coach the child as to what to say, believing they are doing the right thing. With that said, requiring that the extra evidence be two witnesses is plain stupid.

  • davidl7

    DNA evidence is used as a "second witness" by the courts. I remember serving as a juror in a grand jury, deciding whether or not to indict certain individuals. We had a case in a which a young girl accused her father of fondling her. Since a medical exam found no evidence of abuse and her parents were involved in a divorce, we did not get the 12 jurors to indict the individual. I was extremely angry since I wanted him to be indicted. 3 women kept arguing since the parents are in the process of being divorced and the medical exam showed no evidence we cannot indict. And anyway the mother was not showing too much emotion when cross-examined by the attornies. Others and myself pointed out that it was a fondling accusation, not actual penetration, etc., so there may not be any medical/DNA evidence. And indicting the individual does not necessarily mean he will in the end be convicted...but the accusation alone is enough to convict and then the court can work out other evidence during the trial. Unfortanately, due to 3 individuals, we were not able to indict. It left me feeling sick to my stomach. It is possible that the individual may have been innocent, but I felt, as instructed by the grand jury guideline, that the individual should have been indicted and allow a trial to proceed and prove his guilt or innonence.

    I spoke to the prosecutor involved in the case, and she said when there is only the testimony of one individual, even if it is a child, it may be very difficult to convict one if there is no additional evidence, such as physical or DNA evidence. She said if she is being abused, then if additional evidence comes to light in the future, or if she accuses him again of a future abuse, then the case can be re-open again.

    With regard to the Witnesses, although they may not congretation immediately disfellowship or expel one accused of that crime, but yet denies it, the individual's privileges will be removed pending an investigtion by secular authorities, and congregants may be privately informed by elders of the accusation. Elders can warn parents. If later on, DNA or other physical evidence comes to light, the elders will then expel the individual. Parents of an abused child will report the abuse to secular authorities who will then investigate further, including gather physical and other DNA evidence. And the evidence may serve as a "second witness".

  • ItsMyLife

    Chaserious Hello! I just wanted to make a brief point. I agree for the most part with what you have said, especially with regards to those outside the JW community. However, children within the community are more unlikely to be exposed to anything sexual as a general rule than maybe other children. So any claims by children of someone molesting them are less likely to be made up, as they would be unfamiliar with anything like that (obviously I'm not saying all children who aren't JWs are familiar with sexual behaviour!).

    Having said that, it is of course still possible for JW parents to coach their kids if they have any suspicions. Although most JWs I know think ALL brothers and sisters are completely innocent and the idea that someone would do anything that horrific just wouldn't cross their minds!

    Anyway, just my tuppence worth :-) All the best x

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