Bit long winded I know, but how about I save the ol' GoBod some work and lay it on the line for them? Anyone got any WT headed paper?
We are confident that you Brothers are loyally upholding the scriptural direction from the Governing Body in order to correctly apply the scriptures to deal with the various accusations of wrongdoing that are brought to your attention by members of your congregations. The Governing Body has reviewed the application of scripture in the case of accusations of child abuse and would like to give the following direction which supercedes our previous letters on the matter. Please adjust your copy of the manual Shepherd the Flock of God with the following deepened understanding.
We have long used the scripture which states the ‘two witness’ rule from Matthew 18: 15 – 17 as the basis for making judicial decisions regarding sexual abuse. However, with further study of God’s Word it has been noted that in that instance, Jesus Christ was reiterating the requirement to adhere to certain principles of the Mosaic Law, this one being found in Deuteronomy 19:15. It is an established fact that a sexual assault, especially by an adult on a minor, is not one which would require the ‘accuser’ to go lay bare the fault of the ‘accused’ with him or her alone. Therefore it is unlikely that Jesus was referring to cases involving molestation of children. In fact, there is no record in scripture that Jesus was ever questioned about the appropriate way of dealing with sexual assault.
When Jesus was questioned about matters, he referred back to the Mosaic Law so that his answers were in harmony with what was already established as Divine Law. It is reasonable to conclude that had Jesus been asked to comment on cases of sexual abuse, he would have referred back to that law to instruct his followers how to deal with such a heinous act. The Mosaic Law sheds light on the proper procedure for determining guilt in cases of sexual assault.
May we refer you to the passage in Deuteronomy 22: 25 – 27 which was written after, and therefore in addition to, the ‘two witness’ rule at Deuteronomy 19. There are several features of this passage which have led us to review its implementation in judicial proceedings regarding child abuse. Firstly, it is clearly dealing with sexual assault, a sexual act being performed in this case on a young woman against her will. Secondly, the sexual crime committed is considered by Jehovah to be as serious as murder. Thirdly, the girl was in a situation where ‘there was no one to rescue her’ indicating an absence of witnesses. This closely matches the situation facing abused children and we would like to highlight this new scriptural precedent for administering justice in these matters.
While we hold the position that we are no longer under the Mosaic Law, Jesus Christ himself left a fine example for his followers by referring to that law for judicial matters. However the scriptures establish that Jesus was not approached regarding a crime of sexual assault. The Governing Body have reached the reasonable conclusion that had Jesus been asked to comment on such matters, his answer would have directed the questioner to the requirements of the Mosaic Law as this was invariably his custom.
This law indicates that Jehovah gave responsibility to mature men to determine whether a sexual assault had taken place. Mature men today are the elders. Jehovah knows that now, as back then, a mature man is capable of discerning whether a young person has been the victim of a sexual assault based on their testimony alone (as is usually the only available evidence of sexual assaults.) In fact, mature men back then were given the directive to administer the most severe available punishment based solely on the evidence of the victim. It is therefore our recommendation that elders determine the veracity of any accusation by a professed victim of sexual abuse and take judicial action against the abuser if it is their belief that the victim is telling the truth.
This reviewed procedure will alleviate the difficulties experienced by many elders who have been unable to deal with perpetrators of abuse effectively due to the absence of witnesses. This clear scriptural precedent we have discussed for dealing with such intimate matters of a sexual nature definitely gives you brothers the authority to take action. It is not necessary for more children to be harmed in order to have further witnesses to the wrongdoing. We would like this directive to be employed with immediate effect and applied to any accusations that are currently held in abeyance due to one accuser being the only known victim of the accused.
It is also advisable to immediately report allegations of abuse to the appropriate authorities so that these can be dealt with by trained personnel and potential evidence is not compromised. Please see the attached document outlining the common legal framework in most lands. Contact the Service Desk for confirmation if there is any doubt about your responsibility to report a crime.
Assuring you of our warm Christian love and praying for Jehovah’s blessing on your endeavours to protect our most vulnerable congregation members.
Your Brothers of the Governing Body.
Please familiarise yourselves with the law of the land in which you reside; child abuse is a serious crime. The following are commonly held standards in many lands and your belief that a crime occurred is sufficient to be regarded as ‘knowledge’ of a crime:
Accessory to a crime
In the United States, a person who learns of a crime and gives some form of assistance before the crime is committed is known as an "accessory before the fact". A person who learns of the crime after it is committed and helps the criminal to conceal it, or aids the criminal in escaping, or simply fails to report the crime, is known as an "accessory after the fact". A person who does both is sometimes referred to as an "accessory before and after the fact", but this usage is less common.
In some lands, criminal "facilitation" laws do not require that the primary crime be actually committed as a prerequisite for criminal liability. These include state statutes making it a crime to "provide" a person with "means or opportunity" to commit a crime, "believing it probable that he is rendering aid to a person who intends to commit a crime."
Knowledge of the crime
To be convicted of an accessory charge, the accused must generally be proved to have had actual knowledge that a crime was going to be, or had been, committed. Furthermore, there must be proof that the accessory knew that his or her action, or inaction, was helping the criminals commit the crime, or evade detection, or escape.