This is a copy of the round robin email sent out today. I am confident that there is no problem with passing it on. The wheels grind on, it is good to know that not much gets by these investigators.
I apologise for not being in contact over the last couple of months, but due to ongoing legal matters our inquiries into Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain and Manchester New Moston Kingdom Hall have been moving at a slower pace than we would have liked. Needless to say though, our investigations have been continuing, and I can only thank all of you for your patience and for your continued willingness to engage with us.
Anyway, as I am sure many of you are aware, the Australian Royal Commission (‘ARC’) have now published their report following their investigation into how the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia handle instances of child sex abuse. For anyone who has not yet had a chance to read this report, it is available here. Needless to say, the findings and conclusions do not paint the Jehovah’s Witnesses in a positive light.
One of the report’s most striking revelations is that the Jehovah’s Witnesses provided the ARC case files for 1,006 complaints of child sex abuse. As anyone who follows court cases involving the organisation is aware, they are notoriously resistant to sharing information with so-called secular authorities. However, of these 1,006 case files, not a single one saw the organisation report the alleged abuse to the authorities. This is obviously very concerning, and as the ARC later conclude demonstrates a serious failure to protect children both within the organisation and the wider community.
Otherwise, the ARC explicitly criticises the two-witness rule, concluding that it is outdated and is applied too inflexibly. It is also stated outright that this policy works in the alleged perpetrators’ favour.
Further points of note are the assessment that the organisation’s current internal sanctions/restrictions regime is insufficient, as congregation members are not informed of the reason for the imposition of restrictions. This means that supervision of individuals accused of/known to have committed child sex abuse is frequently enforced only when elders are present.
Finally, we found it encouraging to see the ARC link the practice of shunning with the issues victims of abuse face in reporting matters to the authorities. We are hopeful that this recognition will assist us in future communication with the organisation as part of our own investigations.
I am aware that I have not covered every aspect of the report in this email, but I have tried to summarise what we identified as the ARC’s key findings. Some of you have already contacted me with your views and thoughts, and I would of course be more than happy to hear others’ views. As we have tried to stress throughout our investigation, it is because of the bravery of those who have come forward to speak with us, and the expertise so many of you have kindly shared, that we have been able to make slow, but steady, progress in this inquiry.
With warm regards,
t: 0300 065 2099 | e: [email protected] | w: www.gov.uk/charity-commission
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