Attention Australian veiwers

by Miss_MG 1 Replies latest social current

  • Miss_MG

    Just thought i might let you all know of a follow up story that will be televised on the Sunday program here in Australia this Sunday 9am Channal 9.

    Suffer the Little ChildrenOctober 6, 2002
    Reporter :Betsan Powys

    Last week's Sunday investigation of the cover-up of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses in Australia has prompted a flood of new allegations against the church. Our report found the church (also known as the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society) had routinely pursued a policy of obstructing police investigations into child abusers. This week on Sunday there is damning evidence that these policies are part of a worldwide, systematic effort by the Church to protect its reputation and wealth regardless of the cost to victims. The BBC's Panorama program reveals how the Watchtower Society in Britain and the US protected child abusers and vilified their victims a story that will be chillingly familiar to viewers of last week's Sunday program.

    Stevenson is on the Ayrshire coast in Scotland, a quiet holiday resort and home to a thriving community of Jehovah's Witnesses. But one young member of that close-knit congregation was betrayed by her church. From the age of 11, her father had sexually abused her.

    In a witness statement at Selkirk's police station, the girl testified, "Over the years since I was 11 until I was 15 my dad had done things to me that he shouldn't have done, like rub my breasts, finger me and try to have sex with me."

    For years she kept quiet, but one Sunday, she told the church elders everything that happened. But instead of going to the police, they said they would deal with it.

    "After that they called my father in, and they had a very, very long chat with him. Then eventually they came out and we went home and that was the end of it."

    "It was announced on the platform that Ian Cousins had been reproved," Alison recalled. "And after that I went to one of the elders and asked well why has he been reproved? And he said, 'It's because of something he did wrong,' but he wouldn't tell me what it was."

    Even when her sister moved out, sick of the abuse, Alison still didn't know why. With one daughter gone, Ian Cousins turned to Alison. It all began with an innocent goodnight kiss.

    "I gave him a kiss, like a peck on the lips and then I tried to get up to walk away and he pulled me down and he forced his tongue through my teeth, my clenched teeth, and he tried to put the blame on me and said, 'Did you really think you should be doing that?'"

    Like her sister, she was sent home. Her father was free to continue abusing her. When Alison went to the police, some of the elders refused to be interviewed.

    Only during the police investigation did Alison discover her sister had been abused too and that her father confessed to elders three years earlier. No-one had warned her his next victim.

    Cousins received a sentence of five years in prison.

    Bill Bowen, a lifelong member, has resigned as an elder. He says the men at the top are protecting the church, not the children. "They do not want people to know that they have this problem, and by covering it up they just hurt one person. By letting it out, then they hurt the image of the church."

    Elders must report abuse to the church's legal desk. Only if the law demands it, must they contact the police. If it doesn't, they may be told they have a moral duty to call them, but often it goes no further than the church's own secret database.

    "Every detail is written down about what happened, where it happened, when it happened, how it happened," says Bowen. "These men remain anonymous to anyone outside the organisation and anyone really inside the organisation unless you're personally reporting the matter."

    The Watchtower Society refuses to say how many are on the database. But former elder Bill Bowen believes he knows exactly how many are on the list: 23,720.

    "I was contacted by sources within the church. They had accessed the internal database and that figure was based on child molesters in the USA, Canada and Europe.", has already heard from 5000 victims.

    Panorama asked the church for an interview, but was offered instead some video tapes, in which church policy was spelled out: the elders should deal with all allegations of abuse.

    According to one of those featured on the tape, MR Infante, "I think that's a very good policy, that the elders essentially would take charge of the situation of reporting the abuse to the authorities."

    But the authorities they're told to contact aren't the police it's their own legal desk. To test that procedure, just over a year ago Bill Bowen rang the legal desk in New York asking how he should handle an allegation of abuse in his congregation. The recorded conversation went like this:

    JW LEGAL DESK: You just ask him again, "Now, is there anything to this?" If he says 'No' then I would walk away from it.

    BOWEN: Yep.
    JW LEGAL DESK: Leave it for Jehovah. He'll bring it out.
    BOWEN: Yep.
    LEGAL DESK: But don't get yourself in a jam.

    "Leave it for Jehovah." That, according to thousands of victims, is the Jehovah's Witness child protection policy laid bare.

    The Sunday program is continuing to investigate this story. If you have information that might help please email us


  • Dia


Share this