I'm going to post some comments and information:
Former Jehovah's Witnesses press church to disclose abuse files
at 17:00 on February 6, 2003, EST.
TORONTO (CP) - The Canadian wing of the Jehovah's Witnesses is standing its ground against a group of disgruntled former members who want the church to release a list of known child molesters within its ranks.
Three former Witnesses, two of them past victims of sexual abuse, have asked Canada's lawmakers to force the church to allow police to probe what they allege are past cases of abuse within its membership. But while the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada Ltd., the church's governing body, does keep a list of known abusers on file, it's not about to hand it over to police, said spokesman Clive Thomas.
Child welfare authorities are notified when abuse is suspected, as is required by law, and they're free to call police if they feel it's necessary, Thomas said.
Translation: Child welfare authorities are notified when abuse is suspected, ONLY when it is required by the Law, and then only if the local Elders feel like it. Maybe.
But the church itself isn't legally obliged to disclose the names of known or suspected abusers, he added.
"We do keep a record of known child molesters, and these are people who have already come to the attention of the (child welfare) authorities," Thomas said.
Is that so, Brother Clive?
What about the following Quotes about the Database:
Quotes from the BBC Panorama "Suffer the Little Children" Television Program that originally aired on Television on July 14th 2002:
BETSAN POWYS (BBC REPORTER): ....The London headquarters, the Bethel, refused to discuss any specific case. They said this was because the elders had to respect the confidentiality of the victims. But the victims wanted answers. We again asked for an interview with their spokesman, Paul Gillies. When he refused we phoned him, told him we were recording and asked a simple question. Are elders told to report allegations of abuse to the police or not?
PAUL GILLIES (WATCHTOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY'S OFFICIAL SPOKESPERSON IN THE UNITED KINGDOM): The elders' guideline is: if you get any single allegation of child abuse come to your attention, phone this office.
BETSAN POWYS (BBC REPORTER): Why phone this office? Why not phone your local police station?
PAUL GILLIES (WATCHTOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY'S OFFICIAL SPOKESPERSON IN THE UNITED KINGDOM): Well, you see the first thing is we have to make sure for the protection of the child, that's our first priority.
BETSAN POWYS (BBC REPORTER): Is it the protection of the child... is it fair to ask you, isn't it the protection of the church that comes straight to mind there?
PAUL GILLIES (WATCHTOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY'S OFFICIAL SPOKESPERSON IN THE UNITED KINGDOM): It is the protection of the child. We have a child protection policy.
BETSAN POWYS (BBC REPORTER): It was a long conversation and we asked if he'd be prepared to answer the same questions on camera. He refused. So it was back to America and back to a Jehovah's Witness convention in Tulsa. We'd been told we'd find a member of the Governing Body here. Ted Jaracz is one of the men responsible for the church's child protection policy. For more than two months we've been asking them for an interview. We want answers to some simple questions. Why do they keep their database of suspected pedophiles secret? Why don't they report all allegations of abuse to the police? Why do they send children back to the arms of their abusers? They refused to talk to us. But here at last we had our chance.
BETSAN POWYS (BBC REPORTER): Mister Jaracz, tell me about the database. How do you justify keeping a list of people, men in some cases who have confessed to pedophilia, but you have not reported them to the authorities. What justification is there for you to keep that list?
TED JARACZ (LEADING MEMBER OF THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES): You know, you're from Britain. You have a privacy law. You have a directive from the European Union. You observe that, don't you?
BETSAN POWYS (BBC REPORTER): So when allegations of abuse are made, is it alright to keep them private?
TED JARACZ (LEADING MEMBER OF THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES): I think you were answered. That question was answered strictly to your satisfaction.
BETSAN POWYS (BBC REPORTER): Can you answer it now?
TED JARACZ (LEADING MEMBER OF THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES): I'm not going to repeat. I'll just tell you exactly and you will see it in writing. It is all in print. You know the Bible says "Do not go beyond the things that are written."? We don't go beyond the things that are written.
BETSAN POWYS (BBC REPORTER): And that was that. No doubt, no second thoughts. Just a simple belief that Jehovah will sort it out, a belief for which others, younger and more vulnerable, may continue to pay a price.
BILL BOWEN (JEHOVAH'S WITNESS ELDER 1984-2000): They're living in denial, denial of what's happening to their children, and it's not a matter.. you see, if they accept that, then they accept that there is a problem. So rather than admit that there's a problem, they will just let children go on and continue to be molested and not do anything about it.
The Following Statement was Faxed from J.R. Brown to Betsan Powys (BBC Panorama Reporter) on May 9th 2002, and was Posted on the Official Watchtower Society Media Website at http://www.jw-media.org right around the same time the BBC Panorama Program aired.
May 9, 2002
Dear Ms. Powys:
This is in response to your fax of April 30, 2002, in which you advise us that BBC-TV is preparing a program on the way Jehovah's Witnesses handle child abuse matters. You have kindly offered us the opportunity to be interviewed on-camera; however, we must respectfully decline.
We are not opposed to giving interviews in general; however, it is likely that among those whose views will be expressed on your broadcast will be some persons who are Jehovah's Witnesses.
In our view, it would be neither proper nor Scriptural for us to place ourselves in what might turn out to be an adversarial position with our Christian brothers and sisters in a public setting. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8; Ephesians 4:2) We trust that you will understand our position in this regard.
Although unable to participate in an interview, we are certainly willing to comment on the questions that you raised in your fax. We note that these center almost exclusively on the nature of the records that we keep on alleged child abusers. You tell us that it is vital that we answer your questions on our record-keeping procedures because of the "very serious nature of the allegations made to the programme," although you do not specify what the allegations are. First of all, however, please allow us to comment on the way that child abuse accusations are handled by Jehovah's Witnesses. We realize that you did not ask us to touch on this aspect; nevertheless, it is essential that we comment on it to provide an appropriate, frank answer.
In the United States, when any one of Jehovah's Witnesses is accused of an act of child abuse, the local elders are expected to investigate. The procedure is as follows. Two elders meet separately with the accused and the accuser to see what each says on the matter. If the accused denies the charge, the two elders may arrange for him to have the opportunity to confront the accuser in their presence. If during that meeting the accused still denies the charges and there are no others who can substantiate them, the elders cannot take action within the congregation at that time. Why not? As a Bible-based organization, we must adhere to what the Scriptures say, namely, "No single witness should rise up against a man respecting any error or any sin . . . at the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses the matter should stand good." (Deuteronomy 19:15) Jesus reaffirmed this principle as recorded at Matthew 18:15-17.
When the branch office receives an allegation of child abuse, a check of the records might reveal that similar, uncorroborated allegations were lodged against the same person in the past, perhaps when he was living in another part of the country. When a second credible allegation by a different person is lodged against the same individual, the elders are authorized by the Scriptures to handle the case.
However, even if the elders cannot take congregational action, they are expected to report the allegation to the branch office of Jehovahs Witnesses in their country, if local privacy laws permit.
Again, privacy laws permitting, a record is made at the branch office that the individual has been accused of child abuse. Each branch office of Jehovah's Witnesses keeps its own records, if that is allowed by local jurisdiction. In the United States we do not have records of child abusers who live in other lands. If privacy laws do not allow such records to be kept, the elders do whatever is permitted within the law to see to it that children are protected. The aim is to balance the right to privacy of the individual with the overriding need to protect the safety of children. 1 Timothy 5:19.
In addition to making a report to the branch office of Jehovah's Witnesses, the elders may be required by law to report even uncorroborated or unsubstantiated allegations to the authorities. If so, we expect the elders to comply. Additionally, the victim may wish to report the matter to the authorities, and it is his or her absolute right to do so. In the United States, reporting requirements vary from state to state. It can be quite a challenge to keep abreast of the reporting requirements, but our Legal Department makes every effort to do so.
If, when confronted, the accused confesses that he is guilty of child abuse, the elders take appropriate action. If he is not repentant, he will not be permitted to remain a member of the congregation. Even if he is repentant--is cut to the heart, and is thus resolutely determined to avoid such conduct in the future--what was stated in the January 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower applies.
The article said: "For the protection of our children, a man known to have been a child molester does not qualify for a responsible position in the congregation. Moreover, he cannot be a pioneer [full-time missionary of Jehovahs Witnesses] or serve in any other special, full-time service." (1 Timothy 3:2, 7-10) We take such action because we are concerned with maintaining Bible standards and protecting our children. Everyone in our organization is expected to meet the same requirements, namely, to be clean physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually. 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:17-19; 1 Thessalonians 2:4.
In a few instances, individuals guilty of an act of child abuse have been appointed to positions within the congregation if their conduct has been otherwise exemplary for decades. All of the circumstances would need to be considered carefully. Suppose, for example, that a long time ago a 16-year-old boy had sexual relations with a consenting 15-year-old girl. Depending upon the U.S. jurisdictions where he lived when this happened, elders are required to report this as an incident of child abuse. Let us say that twenty years have passed. The child abuse reporting law may have changed; he may even have married the girl! Both have been living exemplary lives and they are respected. In such a rare case, the man could possibly be appointed to a responsible position within the congregation.
Our procedures have been refined over time. Our policy over the past several years has been that at least twenty years must have passed before an individual who committed an act of child abuse could even be considered for appointment to a responsible position in the congregation, if ever. The Bible teaches that individuals can repent of their sins and "turn to God by doing works that befit repentance," and we accept what the Bible says. (Acts 26:20) Still, the safety of our children is of the utmost importance, so we realize that the local elders must be very careful when recommending individuals who may have been guilty of an act of child abuse in the distant past.
You have been told that here in the United States we have compiled a list of 23,720 names of child abusers. That is false. First of all, the total number of names in our records is considerably lower than that. In addition, it is not meaningful to focus on the number of names we have in our records.
This is because our figures include the names of many persons who have only been accused of child abuse whereas the charges have not been substantiated. We keep these records to document our compliance with what the law requires in many U.S. jurisdictions. Also included on our list are allegations made on the basis of so-called "repressed memories," the validity of which many authorities challenge. Then there are the names of persons who have been accused of abusing children before becoming Jehovah's Witnesses as well as individuals who have never been baptized Witnesses but whose names we are obliged to keep because of their association with the Witnesses. (An example of this would be a non-Witness father or step-father who is accused by his Witness children or stepchildren of abusing them.) To be safe, we also list the names of persons who may or may not be considered as child abusers, depending upon the jurisdiction where they live (for example, that 16-year-old boy who had sexual relations with the consenting 15-year-old girl). The name of an individual who was guilty of voyeurism or involved with child pornography, as further examples, would also be included on the list. And, to be sure, the list also includes names of persons who are actually guilty of child abuse. We do not apologize for keeping such records here in the United States. Apart from being legally needed, they have been very helpful to us in our efforts to protect the flock from harm. (Isaiah 32:2) Christian parents can rightly feel secure in the knowledge that such efforts are made to screen out possible child abusers from appointment to responsible positions within the congregation.
Ms. Powys, please do not conclude that we believe that our system is perfect. No human organization is perfect. But we do believe that we have a strong, Bible-based policy on child abuse.
Anyone in a responsible position who is guilty of child abuse would be removed from his responsibilities without hesitation. We certainly would not knowingly transfer him to serve elsewhere.
Child abuse is abhorrent to us. Even one abused child is one too many. At least since 1981, our journals, The Watchtower and Awake!, have featured articles to educate both Witnesses and the public regarding the importance and need to protect children from child abuse. Among others, there was the article "Let Us Abhor What Is Wicked!" published in the January 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower; "Help For the Victims of Incest" in the October 1, 1983, Watchtower; "Your Child Is in Danger!", "How Can We Protect Our Children?", and "Prevention in the Home," all in the October 8, 1993, Awake!, as well as "Child Molesting Every Mothers Nightmare" in the January 22, 1985, Awake!
Over the years, as we have noted areas where our policies could be strengthened, we have followed through. We are continuing to refine them.
We trust that you will find the information in this letter to be helpful. As you will note, we have responded to the broad issues you raise rather than providing specific answers to your detailed list of questions. We note that you sent a similar list of questions to our offices in London. We understand they are answering your questions in accordance with their procedures and adherence to British law.
With every good wish, I am,
Very truly yours,
J. R. Brown
"(But) there's no duty in law, as we understand it, to report matters like this to the police. That's something that's not required by law."Around the world, the Jehovah's Witnesses have cultivated a reputation as a virtuous, morally taut group that follows strict interpretations of the Bible and eschews many of the outside world's institutions and practices.Blood transfusions, secular holidays, politics, Christmas and even the national anthem are among the "worldly" practices, traditions and institutions in which they choose not to participate.They have "a clean-cut image," Thomas said. "We don't feel it's just an image; we feel it's something that Jehovah's Witnesses are."Incidents such as sexual abuse are handled internally, with so-called judicial committees comprised of church elders who gather to hear the allegations, review evidence and decide the proper course of action.But their philosophy has come under fire in recent years from critics and former members who say countless cases of abuse remain hidden within the insular world of the Witnesses.Silentlambs, a U.S.-based group of ex-Witnesses and abuse survivors, claims that nearly 24,000 known child molesters are on file with the church's international headquarters in New York City.Former Witnesses Kim Sheeler, Lee Marsh and Grace Gough are blitzing Parliament Hill and Canada's provincial legislatures with an angry letter urging politicians and police to take action.One fundamental principle requires Witnesses to promote the virtues of their religion by way of in-home Bible studies and door-to-door ministry: spreading the word of God, one house at a time."This mandate has applied equally to known, convicted and accused pedophiles associating within the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses," the letter says."Some even conduct private Bible studies in the homes of unsuspecting Canadians who unwittingly expose their children to harm because they have no idea that a child molester is sitting in their living room."
The Watchtower, January 1st 1997 Issue, Page 29:
If he [the molester] seems to be repentant, he will be encouraged to make spiritual progress, share in the field service [going door-to-door], even have parts in the Theocratic Ministry School and nonteaching parts in the Service Meeting.
...a dedicated adult Christian who falls into the sin of child sexual abuse reveals an unnatural fleshly weakness. Experience has shown that such an adult may well molest other children. True, not every child molester repeats the sin, but many do. And the congregation cannot read hearts to tell who is and who is not liable to molest children again.
Thomas said the Witnesses keep the list of names on hand to ensure those with a history of abusing children are kept out of positions of authority within their congregations."The policy of the church . . . is that no one who has a history of that type of behaviour, which has been established, would be put in a position of trust or responsibility in the congregation," he said."They could remain a member, they could be re-admitted to the church if they are repentant, but that's not a danger to others."
Can you believe that last statement right there!?!?!?!?!?
Clive Thomas said: "They [known child molesters] could remain a member, they could be re-admitted to the church if they are repentant, but that's not a danger to others."
Nor are they allowed to go door-to-door by themselves, he added.
Quotes from the Paducah Sun (Kentucky) Newspaper - January 28th 2001:
Mario Moreno, associate general counsel at the church's New York headquarters, said when church policy is applied to child molesters, "as a parent, an attorney and an elder, I'm comfortable with our policy."
He also said that when members are disfellowshipped, the congregation is told but no reason is given in order to protect confidentiality. When asked if the parents of the victim would be allowed to tell fellow congregates why a member is disfellowshipped, Moreno replied, "That would be their choice. We don't tell them that, but it would be their choice. Is that encouraged? No."
He agreed with Bowen's charge that a congregation would also not be told if a pedophile had joined the flock. But he said because of the church's structure, the fact that such a member, if male, who would have fewer rights in the congregation, would not be serving in a leadership role would alert members that "he obviously lacks spiritual maturity."
Moreno said he believes that while some of the church's critics on this topic have legitimate concerns, most "have a problem with pride" and "want the organization to change for them. We go by what we believe the Bible says, and we don't change for anybody."
He also said he feels the church is "being picked on" and added that he would be willing to put the church's policy up against any other.
But former Witnesses and their allies say it's all part of a concerted effort on the part of the church to maintain their clean-cut image."Because of the silence within the Jehovah's Witnesses, the public has no idea who is at their door looking at their children," said Andrew Lusk, who's helping Sheeler, Marsh and Gough in their cause.Lusk said he's hoping the issue of sexual abuse within the church, a hot topic in the United States, is gaining prominence in Canada with the civil suit launched against the church last year by ex-Witness Vicki Boer.Boer accused church elders of failing to obtain adequate treatment for the abuse she suffered as a teenager at the hands of her father in Shelburne, about 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto.She was required to confront her father and relive the abuse in order to give him the chance to repent his alleged sins in accordance with Biblical principles, the suit alleges.
That is the "Matthew 18:15 Policy" in action:
Sometimes one may feel that a relative or a member of one's immediate family is involved. Remember the dubious nature of some "repressed memories" when it comes to identifying the one suspected of being a perpetrator. In such a situation, as long as the matter has not been firmly established, keeping contact with the family at least by occasional visits, by letter, or by telephone would show that one is trying to follow a Scriptural course. Compare Ephesians 6:1-3.
What if the sufferer decides that he wants to make an accusation? [FOOTNOTE SAYS: It may also be necessary for the step outlined in this paragraph to be taken if the matter has become common knowledge in the congregation.] Then the two elders can advise him that, in line with the principle at Matthew 18:15, he should personally approach the accused about the matter. If the accuser is not emotionally able to do this face-to-face, it can be done by telephone or perhaps by writing a letter.
In this way the one accused is given the opportunity to go on record before Jehovah with his answer to the accusation. He may even be able to present evidence that he could not have committed the abuse. Or perhaps the one accused will confess, and a reconciliation may be achieved. What a blessing that would be! If there is a confession, the two elders can handle matters further in accordance with Scriptural principles.
If the accusation is denied, the elders should explain to the accuser that nothing more can be done in a judicial way. And the congregation will continue to view the one accused as an innocent person. The Bible says that there must be two or three witnesses before judicial action can be taken. (2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19) Even if more than one person "remembers" abuse by the same individual, the nature of these recalls is just too uncertain to base judicial decisions on them without other supporting evidence. This does not mean that such "memories" are viewed as false (or that they are viewed as true). But Bible principles must be followed in establishing a matter judicially.
What if the one accused though denying the wrongdoing is really guilty? Does he "get away with it," as it were? Certainly not! The question of his guilt or innocence can be safely left in Jehovah's hands.
"The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading directly to judgment, but as for other men their sins also become manifest later." (1 Timothy 5:24; Romans 12:19; 14:12) The book of Proverbs says: "The expectation of the righteous ones is a rejoicing, but the very hope of the wicked ones will perish." "When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes." (Proverbs 10:28; 11:7) Ultimately, Jehovah God and Christ Jesus render everlasting judgment in justice. 1 Corinthians 4:5.
Her case was eventually reported to Children's Aid and the police, although her father - who was deemed "spiritually repentant" by the church and rose through the ranks of his congregation, court was told - has never been criminally charged.For their part, the Witnesses argued that none of the church elders forced Boer to do anything she didn't want to do and that they gave her every opportunity to seek outside counselling and legal help.
*** Awake! March 8th 1960 Issue, Page 27 ***
As a rule, for a Christian to go to a worldly psychiatrist is an admission of defeat, it amounts to 'going down to Egypt for help.' -Isaiah 31:1.
Often when a Witness of Jehovah goes to a psychiatrist, the psychiatrist will try to persuade him that his troubles are caused by his religion, entirely overlooking the fact that the Christian witnesses of Jehovah are the best-oriented, happiest and most contented group of people on the face of the earth. They have the least need for psychiatrists. Also, more and more psychiatrists are resorting to hypnosis, which is a demonic form of worldly wisdom.
*** Awake! 1954 *** (I don't know the Issue or the Page Number of this Quote)
Without doubt psychologists... have a lot to learn and they think they know more than they actually do, or they would not have let two chimpanzees make such monkeys out of them.
*** The Watchtower January 15th 1963 Issue, Pages 37-38 ***
The second reason for our critical times is modern man's rejection of God's Word the Bible. Enemies such as Wellhausen and his prejudiced school of higher critics, Darwin and his evolutionists, Freud and his theories, Marx and his atheistic revolutionists - all these have played a sinister role in destroying the guiding influence of the Bible for many; especially since so many of the clergy have adopted such worldly wisdom.. According to Freud, one of psychiatry's chief authorities, religion is a great illusion that man will get rid of someday. Psychiatry stresses, 'Know thyself,' as if an enlightened self-love is sufficient for successful living. More than ignoring God, analysts often contradict God by advising those with guilty consciences that fornication, adultery and sodomy are not wrong in themselves. The charge rightly has been made that such counsel tends to exterminate the conscience.
*** Awake! August 22nd 1975 Issue, Page 25 ***
Is the turning of people from the clergy to the psychiatrists a healthy phenomenon? No, for it really is a case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire. They are worse off than they were before... That [psychologists and psychiatrists] are not the ones to go to for help when one is depressed and beset with all manner of problems is to be seen from the fact that suicides among them are twice as frequent as among the population in general... what is needed at such times is not worldly psychiatrists who may wholly ignore the change that the truth and God's holy spirit have made in one's life and who know nothing of their power to help one put on a new Christian personality. Rather, what is needed at such times is a mature Christian in whom one has confidence and who is vitally interested in one's welfare and who will not shrink back from administering needed reproof or counsel so that one may get healed.
Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy is expected to hand down her decision any day.For Wheeler, who was 17 when she was assaulted by a family friend in her own living room, countless victims will remain silent and their assailants will go about their lives if nothing is done."We want to see people coming forward; we want to see them feeling comfortable in coming forward to talk about what happened to them," said Wheeler, who left the Witnesses in 1995."Maybe it'll wake this society up and say, 'Maybe we do have something to work on, maybe we do have a flaw in our policy.' " JAMES MCCARTEN
Edited by - UnDisfellowshipped on 6 February 2003 22:51:54