JW elders told abused girl’s parents not to report sex offender (another one)

by Tahoe 11 Replies latest jw friends

  • Tahoe


    A Bradford man's sex offence against a little girl was kept quiet for 23 years because elders of the Jehovah's Witnesses church persuaded her parents not to report him, a court was told.

    Robert Lee's crime in the Forest of Dean was not revealed until the victim had grown up and went to the police, Gloucester Crown Court heard on Friday.

    Both the victim's family and Lee were Jehovah's Witnesses at that time, said prosecutor Kerry Barker.

    He told the court that having avoided justice, Lee, formerly of Coleford, but now of Alexandra Road, Bradford, went on to commit further child sex offences in 2008 and 2016.

    Lee, who used the surname Howarth at that time, admitted indecent assault of the girl in March 1995 in Coleford when he was aged just 17.

    Sentencing Lee to two years jail suspended for two years and ordering him to sign the sex offender register for 10 years Judge Ian Lawrie QC said he was 'concerned' at the Church's advice to the mother not to report him.

    He also placed Lee under a 10 year sexual harm prevention order.

    “I've raised concerns about how this came to the attention of your church authorities and was not reported. I hope that has now changed," said Judge Lawrie.

    “That meant it did not come to light for some time."

    The prosecutor had told the judge: “When the matter was referred to the Elders in 1995, her mother was invited not to report it to the police and she remained silent."

    Mr Barker said the girl told her mother about the incident, who spoke with the church elders, and following that conversation decided to do nothing more.

    He said the Howarth family left the area but the victim heard in adulthood that they were returning and that 'caused her fear and panic' which led to her reporting his offence to the police.

    “She was not to know that in Essex in 2008 he had been cautioned for possessing indecent images, and then in 2016 he was convicted of making and possessing indecent images of children," said Mr Barker.

    “It demonstrates a long standing and continued interest in sex with children,” he said.

    He read from the victim's statement in which she said she was 'angry with her mother for being a Jehovah's Witness and not reporting it to the police'.

    She said: “Twenty years later I am still trying to come to terms with it.

    “I often feel dirty and tainted. I was rebellious as a teenager and dropped out of school.

    “I feel robbed of my education. I felt I was to blame, and I self harmed to cope.

    “I find it hard to trust members of the opposite sex. It has made my relationship with my husband very difficult and my pregnancy was difficult.

    “He took my childhood away from me."

    Giles Nelson, representing Lee, accepted that his credit for pleading guilty was minimal because he had not admitted his offence until the morning of a scheduled trial.

    But he reminded the judge that the starting point in the sentencing guidelines for his offence was two years.

    “He's been subject to a community order for some time,” Mr Nelson continued. “There has been a significant amount of progress.

    “He has an array of problems,” the barrister said.

    The judge interjected: “He's got some rather dark shadows he must deal with.”

    Mr Nelson agreed: “He does. He has been alcohol dependent, but is now in work with accommodation.

    “An immediate custodial sentence would make the work come to an end.

    Judge Lawrie asked Mr Nelson what he knew of the Jehovah's Witnesses intervention in the case.

    “What I have read concerns me - that in this day and age, that was the approach. That is a matter for the church. That was the advice given at the time?”

    “So, I understand,” the barrister replied.

    Judge Lawrie told Lee it was clear from this and subsequent offences that he had 'a fixation or interest in children'.

    “There are some very dark shadows in your soul. Looking at your history, I think you pose a risk," said Judge Lawrie.

    “I will impose a sexual harm prevention order.

    “There must be a balance between punishment, and the prospect of you not committing these sort of offences ever again.

    “It is not in the interest of any potential further victims to interrupt the progress you are making on the current order."

    Referring to Lee's 'late guilty plea' the judge said to him: “You are a coward. You subjected the victim to the concern she might have to attend court.

    “I am taking a slight gamble with you. You have got a lot of work to do. If you fail to comply, I can consider imposing custody.”

  • days of future passed
    days of future passed

    Those elders and the Watchtower are guilty for what that man did after molesting his first victim. The mother....I'm afraid that my mother would have done the same thing. Believing in the authority of the JW religion... Every time I type believing, I see be lie ving. They be lieing.

  • smiddy3

    When is the legal system of any Country going to hold the Elders of the Jehovah`s Witnesses religion accountable for not reporting the crime of Child sexual Abuse when it is first brought to their attention ?

    Correct me if I am wrong ,as far as I know no Country has ever done so .

    My question then is why not ?

    Their are countless accounts all around the world of child sexual Abuse cases handled by three Elders of Jehovah`s Witnesses in house by their judicial committee and NO elder ( to my knowledge) has ever reported this crime to the apropiate authorities either the Police or child protection Authorities .....Never !

    Why is this so ? ,maybe we should be asking our politicians and the media why no Jehovah`s Witness Elder has never been charged with not reporting a sexual crime against a child a minor ? When it has been brought to their attention ?

    Their must multiple charges that could be laid surely ?

    I think in this regard the Jehovah`s Witnesses are just as guilty or maybe even more considering the ratio of Jehovah`s Witnesses to Catholics .

    More than 1 Billion Catholics and just over 8 Million Jehovah`s Witnesses .

    so than the Catholic religion yet they seem to remain unscathed and the brunt is falling on the catholic religion .

  • Diogenesister

    Yes its pathetic the judge was merely "concerned" the elders did not report.

    When is the legal system of any Country going to hold the Elders of the Jehovah`s Witnesses religion accountable for not reporting the crime of Child sexual Abuse when it is first brought to their attention ?

    Smiddy i think it wouldnt change much in the bigger picture as Watchtower would be quite happy to throw elders under the bus. They would say they were "taking a stand for pure worship" or somesuch.

    Until it hits watchtower in the pocket mightily by taking their charity status away, they will never change snd continue to give appalling direction to these gutless elders, im afraid.

  • smiddy3

    I`m sorry Diogenesister if your missing the point i am making Watchtower are responsible secondary in this situation.

    The Elders in question should be held accountable for their inaction to report such sexual abuse of children when they should have morally and ethically and legally done so .

    And they did not .

    Yet none of them have ever been charged or held accountable as far as I know anywhere in the world .

    And i think that is unacceptable .

    But what can we do ?

  • Diogenesister

    Sorry Yes I see what you mean, I think in the UK they are mandated to call the authorities. You're right, it doesn't make sense they were not prosecuted.

  • stuckinarut2

    I agree! Individual elders who failed to report these crimes to the police should be charged.

    If this happens more and more, it will mean that individual elders will be more likely to go with their conscience and report - rather than waiting for direction from the branch office!

    As we have often said, if the crime was Murder instead of child abuse, they would not hesitate going to the authorities! Child abuse should be in the same category!

  • Vidiot
    Diogenesister - "Until it hits Watchtower in the pocket mightily by taking their charity status away, they will never change..."

    Not even then, I'd bet.

  • flipper

    It's horrific that this story can be repeated thousands of times across our world- and nothing ever gets done about it within the WT organization. Oh WT leaders will put on a good show on their website or social media or T.V. news - but bottom line is even right now , here in 2018 WT Society STILL instructs elders to report any child abuse cases in the congregation to WT legal department first - NOT to the police authorities. And then elders are instructed to tell child abuse victims and their families that THEY THEMSELVES are allowed to report to police child abuse crimes - but elders do NOT proactively report it themselves to police.

    It's a blatant cover up, pure and simple to prevent bad PR in the media & prevent even more financially damaging lawsuits from occurring. But if WT leaders were realistic ( which they aren't ) they'd realize that this hiding child abuse in the closet crap is just going to make them even more liable in future years. More & more of these cases are going to come spilling forward costing WT Society millions & millions of $$$$. If they cannot see that, then the WT leaders are either as dumb as a rock or stubborn as mules wanting to sit in their own shit and not budge. Or a combination of both. I feel no empathy for WT leaders whatsoever. Just empathy for these thousands of child abuse victims within the JW organization. There is no justice for them.Sadly

  • Vidiot
    flipper - "...to prevent bad PR in the media & prevent even more financially damaging lawsuits from occurring."

    Yeah, that's working out so well for them, too. :smirk:

    flipper - "...If they cannot see that, then the WT leaders are either as dumb as a rock or stubborn as mules wanting to sit in their own shit and not budge..."

    Honestly, at this point, I think that on some level, they're well and truly expecting God to drop the Big A and bail them out.

    (And that if he doesn't, I don't think they'd want the WTS to go on.)

    I could be wrong.

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