A friend of ours in Ireland sent me this link to an article covered in an Irish newspaper.
“Tell No One.” The particular dynamics of sex abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses - Dialogue Ireland.
A friend of ours in Ireland sent me this link to an article covered in an Irish newspaper.
“Tell No One.” The particular dynamics of sex abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses - Dialogue Ireland.
Thank you for sharing this article!
Tell No One.
The particular dynamics of sex abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses by Barry Whyte in the Sunday Business Post. Sunday April 21, 2019.
The actual situation took place in 2016.
Two of the Elders informed the police, as the pedophile brother had confessed to the Elders. Bear in mind that the Elders were told not to talk to the police at this time by the Branch.
The Society then sent a number of their senior clergy (brothers) to deal with the Four Elders who were to have "their qualifications considered".
The result was "two of the congregation's Elders were stripped of their positions for lacking soundness of mind and being disloyal".
Apparently for informing the police that a crime against a child had been committed.
There are a number of article's...... if anyone can find a complete article that can be copied please share.
That policy of punishing an informant is most reprehensible. The May 2019 WT discussing child abuse gives elders a loophole as far as reporting to authorities. They say that the elders can report cases of child abuse where such secular laws exist. That leaves an elder free to decide not to report an abuse if the law does not mandate that such cases be reported.
The Australia commission left me seriously questioning policy of WT because the men being questioned by Angus Stewart would not answer many of the questions with a direct answer, frustrating the bench and counsel. They way WT responded left me feeling that the ones who are supposed to be champions of truth were now skillfully dodging questions with misleading long winded answers.
I feel that instead of being shelters from the rainstorm that many elders are nothing more than bullies who enforce policy and leave the lives of congregants in emotional taters. A member is often made to feel that they are never quite good enough or doing enough for the cause. This goes contrary to Jesus saying that he is mild tempered and his load light.
I suffer from severe depressive disorder and can no longer take the pressure to excel that is constantly being promoted in the WT organization.
Sounds like you need to take some time off.
Here's a thought.......... tell the idiot Elder that you have been stumble by the organization's pedophile problem and that you are going to wait and see if the WTBTS can clean it up. Tell him to definitely let you know when they get the job done.
Then take a break from meetings and service.
If things improve, you may come to a conclusion that the WT organization has become toxic for you.
Here's the entire article for those interested:
For the past few months, Kayleigh and Patrick McLoughlin have been adjusting to life as ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Kayleigh was born in South Africa and moved to Ireland as a child. She is — or was — a fourth-generation witness. Patrick was born in Northern Ireland to a Catholic family who had been traumatised during the Troubles and who turned to the religion as a form of spiritual comfort when he was a teenager.
Around the time their first child was born, the McLoughlins began to have their doubts about both the religion and the church.
For Patrick, his disaffection with the religion emerged after he was made an elder – effectively, a member of its local hierarchy – in his 20s.
“Becoming an elder just reaffirmed my doubts,” he says. “I got to see behind the curtains and how things really work.”
For Kayleigh, it was a growing sense of unease at the lessons she was being asked to teach her daughters – stories of damnation for unbelievers that were so vivid they seemed to cruel to tell to a child – as well as decisions she was expected to make on her children’s behalf, such as denying them blood transfusions.
But more than anything, it was Jehovah’s Witnesses’ handling of child sex abuse allegations that troubled the couple. Before moving to Ireland, Kayleigh had been abused by an older child from outside her family and had kept it to herself for years out of a fear that she would be punished or expelled from the religion, or that her parents – in her words – “wouldn’t want her anymore”. When she eventually found the courage to tell people, it became clear she was not alone. Not only were there more people who had been abused, but they too had either been afraid to speak up because of the culture of secrecy or had been silenced by the hierarchy.
Their decision had been to quietly ‘fade out’, in the terminology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was not an easy one to make: leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses makes you an apostate – someone who has not only left, but renounced the religion – and for witnesses that means they are doomed to be left behind when the apocalypse comes. They are shunned for that decision, and it can split families apart and break decades-old friendships, leaving ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses without the support structure they’ve had all their lives.
Late last year, Kayleigh and Patrick told some friends of their decision. Their pals didn’t understand. By way of explanation, Kayleigh told them she had been watching the Australian Royal Commission hearings and that she felt inhibited by the religion’s two-witness rule – which requires all accusations of abuse to be witnessed by two people before it can be investigated.
Within a few days, elders from the Jehovah’s Witnesses hierarchy visited her house to ask her about her doubts. She took the opportunity to grill them about their policies for handling abuse allegations.
“I asked them, ‘If a known sex offender is present in the kingdom hall, whether they’re registered or not, would you let the congregation know? What steps do you have?’ Their answer – which they repeated several times – was, ‘We don’t know what to tell you’.” On the occasions when they did know what to tell her, it was to say that in certain circumstances they might tell “select family heads”.
For Kayleigh, their visit made up her mind: she and Patrick filed their disassociation papers the following week, formally leaving the religion.
The McLoughlins are not alone. They have joined a growing number of people who are talking openly about the religion and its handling of child sex abuse, not just here in Ireland, but worldwide.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a long history in Ireland, stretching back to the religion’s founder Charles Taze Russell, who visited in the late 19th century to set up the first congregations here.
Since then it has grown to around 6,000 Irish members, and ever since those early years they have been known for their slightly unworldly air. As well as their door-to-door proselytising, they eschew smoking and voting, they refuse blood transfusions, and they readily express their enthusiasm for the end of the world at which point they believe they will bodily ascend to heaven.
Because of their religious beliefs, they hold themselves at arm’s length from the secular world and can be quite fervent in insulating themselves from non-believers - as well as ruthless in rooting out members who fail to live up to the prescribed standards.
Dr David Butler of University College Cork has chronicled the growth of the religion here in the early 20th century in a paper called A Most Difficult Assignment: Mapping the Emergence of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ireland. He says their early years in Ireland were difficult and they were frequently subject to attack and vilification, which has perhaps made them even more insular here than usual.
Butler, who is generally benign in his assessment of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, describes the church as “a carefully-run organisation, tightly controlled in all its aspects by central headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, and run with all the efficiency of a modern international business-house”.
Such a tightly controlled organisation can make it difficult for people to express even the most modest disagreement with the religion’s scriptural positions: it is even harder for Witnesses to identify and root out child abuse when they find it. All congregations on the island of Ireland are run from the organisation’s head office in London, known as the Watch Tower.
In one case which The Sunday Business Post has investigated, elders in an Irish town were informed in the summer of 2016 that one of their members had been abusing a child in his family.
According to the religion’s own internal rules in force at the time, when elders encounter a case of child sexual abuse, they are required to contact the legal department of the Watch Tower. Those guidelines at the time made no reference to notifying the police or the state authorities, and the elders were advised by the Watch Tower to conduct their own internal investigation into the matter.
This led to a disagreement among the elders about whether to contact the Gardaí, especially when the abuser — who cannot be named — admitted his guilt. Eventually, one of the elders decided to take the matter to the Gardaí and made a statement.
Soon after, the Watch Tower’s legal department issued detailed instructions on how the matter should be handled by the congregation. In a letter seen by The Sunday Business Post from August 2016, the legal department wrote that because the individual had “recently confessed to very serious wrongdoing” it was “necessary for certain restrictions to be applied and certain steps taken, in the interests of child safeguarding”.
Those restrictions included limiting his privileges, “even seemingly minor ones, such as would normally be assigned to those considered exemplary”, and ensuring that he was kept apart from children in the congregation.
The Watch Tower also advised the elders how they ought to handle the fact that the matter was the subject of a Garda investigation. “As the secular authorities are investigating this matter, if approached, please arrange for two elders to telephone the Legal Department at the branch for legal advice before discussing the matter with the authorities,” the letter said.
They also decided to discipline those elders who had been involved in notifying the Gardaí, according to people familiar with the matter.
Further correspondence obtained by The Sunday Business Post shows that the Watch Tower sent a number of its senior clergy to Ireland to deal with “an unusual situation for four elders to have their qualifications considered at one time”.
Soon after that letter, two of the congregation’s elders were stripped of their positions – akin to being defrocked as a priest, according to sources. According to people familiar with the case, who did not want to be named for fear of the repercussions, the elders were deleted – in the religion’s own terminology – for “lacking soundness of mind” and “being disloyal”.
A few months after the elders were demoted, the congregation discovered that the man at the heart of the accusations was found to have been abusing a different child.
This approach to dealing with the ‘secular authorities’ is not unusual and there are a number of similar examples both in Ireland and worldwide, which can best be seen in a document circulated in November 2014, which The Sunday Business Post has seen.
While the document relates broadly to matters of legal confidentiality - not specifically child sex abuse - it shows the London headquarters advising its elders in Ireland and Britain that “even when secular authorities request confidential information, you are not obligated to answer questions before consulting the Legal Department. Oftentimes, secular authorities request confidential information to which they are not legally entitled. Thus, you could subject yourself and the organisation to civil liability if you reveal such confidential information”.
When it comes to matters related to child sex abuse allegations, the Witnesses take a similar approach, guiding their members and elders to check with the Watch Tower’s legal department first for legal advice.
Since the start of 2018, the Children First Act 2015 has imposed statutory obligations on certain “mandated persons” to report child protection concerns to Tusla. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs says ‘mandated persons’ includes a “member of the clergy [howsoever described] or pastoral care worker [howsoever described] of a church or other religious community”, and adds that all persons, whether mandated reporters or not, should report reasonable concerns in relation to child welfare and protection to Tusla.
The department points out that “it is a matter for any organisation, or individual, to assess whether, and the extent to which, the provisions of the Children First Act 2015 apply to them and to seek legal advice if deemed necessary. It is not the role of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to interpret legislation for any particular person or category of persons”.
Around the world, though, it has become increasingly apparent that not only is there a growing scrutiny of child abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but that the church’s hierarchy must have known about the scale of the problem for years.
Perhaps the biggest and most public example came in the form of the Australian Royal Commission, which concluded in 2017 having found that children were not adequately protected from the risk of sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It criticised the organisation’s practice of not reporting child sex abuse to police or authorities unless required to do so by Australian law. The commission found that the religion had created 1,006 case files relating to allegations of child sexual abuse - one file for each different alleged perpetrator.
In the US, the church has been sued by several former members. In one case in 2012, taken by José Lopez, a judge awarded him $13.5 million in damages (though this was later reduced on appeal). In February 2016, the church made an out-of-court settlement with a woman named Stephanie Fessler who had been abused by a fellow church member in Pennsylvania.
In Britain, the church was forced to pay damages of £275,000 to a woman - who was known only as ‘A’ in the proceedings. A had been abused from the age of four by a known paedophile called Peter Stewart, who was later arrested for other offences in 1994, and A claimed the religion had not adequately protected her. The solicitor who handled that case, Kathleen Hallisey, is currently acting on behalf of a dozen more victims in Britain.
A year after the A decision, the Charity Commission for England and Wales strongly criticised the Watch Tower for its handling of child sex abuse, specifically in relation to a case related to a former member of the church named Jonathan Rose, who was subsequently convicted on several charges of abuse.
In November of last year, Dutch police raided several premises belonging to the church as part of a major investigation into sexual abuse against members or former members of the organisation. And while the Dutch public prosecution service said it was not investigating the religion itself - specifically focusing on individual allegations - a few weeks later, Utrecht University launched an independent research programme into sexual abuse within the religion, aiming to find out how the Jehovah’s Witnesses handle allegations of abuse internally. In the first few weeks, hundreds of victims came forward to give their accounts to the university.
And last month in Canada, the Québec Superior Court gave the go-ahead for a class-action lawsuit against the organisation based on a case taken by a former witness who alleges she was sexually assaulted as a child.
At the core of each of these investigations and legal cases is the search for the documentary evidence compiled by the Jehovah’s Witnesses as they investigated the various allegations. It’s a question that was raised last month in the American magazine the Atlantic, which ran a major investigative story on the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their handling of child sex abuse worldwide. The magazine described the approach of the hierarchy to allegations - usually to cover it up, rather than to report it to the authorities - and it described the religion’s record-keeping on abuse allegations as “the world’s biggest database of undocumented child molesters”.
Perhaps surprisingly, given that Ireland accounts for a tiny fraction of the 8.5 million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, the country is at the centre of that search.
If anyone knows about how the Jehovah’s Witnesses document their abuse allegations, it’s Mayo man Jason Wynne, a former witness who was excommunicated from the religion – a practice known in the organisation as disfellowshipping – when he was discovered to have had sex outside of marriage.
Wynne had originally hoped to be readmitted, but soon discovered he had been expelled using secret policies that the organisation did not disclose to its ordinary members. “I discovered they were using secret policies against their members in their internal judicial court under the guise of ‘spiritual matters’,” he said.
“If any member or ex-member tried to do anything in [the internal] court they’d say it was a spiritual matter”, thus preventing them from appealing against whatever punishment had been applied.
In January of last year, the religion took a legal action against Wynne in an effort to shut down a blog he used to run called AvoidJW.org. Wynne set up the blog as a place to host documents that set out these secret policies so he could help other members who had similarly found themselves disfellowshipped and shunned. He was soon inundated with material, which he began to post on the blog.
Pretty soon, the blog began to host a lot of documents relating to how allegations of child sex abuse should be handled and it became useful not just to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but to anyone formally investigating cases of child abuse.
According to Wynne, the documents he and his website have collected have been provided to the Gardaí, to the Australian Royal Commission and to the British Charity Commission, as well as to lawyers in various cases in Britain, the US, Canada, and to several journalists.
Though he no longer runs the blog, lawyers at the organisation’s headquarters in New York – also known as the Watch Tower – have been attempting over the last two years to shut down his blog and find out who has been providing him with the information.
In June last year, for example, the Watch Tower in New York went to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York to apply for what’s known as a DMCA subpoena - a wide-ranging and little-used legal mechanism which was intended to shut the blog. They also threatened Wynne with “monetary damages and compensation to the fullest extent of the law” over the blog. It didn’t work, primarily since Wynne no longer runs the blog, hosting for which has been shifted off-shore.
It has not stopped the organisation from trying, though. Wynne says: “Since then there have been at least 48 subpoenas - including the three subpoenas to me - to find the identities of the other people, there’s a clear witch hunt going on.” He said several of those individuals have been disfellowshipped on the grounds that they are apostates.
None of this has deterred Wynne from his mission to gather documents that show what the Jehovah’s Witnesses hierarchy knew – and know – about child abuse within their ranks.
The way he sees it, the religion’s judicial investigations – which they carry out for any perceived violation of their scriptural laws – contain within them databases of child abusers that have never been revealed to the authorities in the various countries where the Jehovah’s Witnesses operate.
According to Wynne, prior to the strengthening of data protection laws in Europe in 1998 or so, the Jehovah’s Witnesses would take detailed notes of those scriptural investigations, which run the gamut from extra-marital affairs to child abuse, with no apparent distinction made by the elders of the religion.
Those notes would be compiled into what’s known as an S-77 form, which would be sent to the regional branch office in a blue envelope. In the case of Irish investigations, that would mean the documents would be sent to London. As data protection laws were tightened up, however, less and less detail would be placed into the forms.
It would still be possible to determine which of those scriptural investigations related to child sex abuse, however, since any of the S-77 forms in the Watch Tower’s headquarters – in electronic or hard copy format – would have a corresponding file in an envelope in the local congregation marked ‘Do Not Destroy’ and stored at the kingdom hall or, in some cases, at the home of an elder.
For Wynne, not only does this represent a major trove of evidence related to child sex abuse all over the world, but a physical example of the control the religion exerts over its members.
It’s not clear, however, just how many of the files remain. On top of the changes in the way the Jehovah’s Witnesses elders take their notes, there are suggestions that they have been actively destroying their investigation notes.
In the wake of the Dutch raids, for example, a daily newspaper called Dagblad van het Noorden was invited into a Jehovah’s Witness kingdom hall to interview the national spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Netherlands, Michel van Hilten. When he was asked about the documents - the very purpose of the police raid - the newspaper describes Van Hilten as unable to “suppress a cynical gaze”.
“There are no files here, we don’t have what they are looking for,” he said. “The only thing that remains is a note that a fellow believer is expelled and in one sentence why. That is so that someone can’t just take up a position within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. That is for the protection of ourselves as a community.” The remaining notes, he said, were useless to detectives.
Meanwhile, the recently introduced GDPR data protection laws mean the organisation might be forced to delete huge tranches of their files entirely. Last summer, the European Court of Justice ruled that the church was not exempt on any religious grounds from certain elements of the GDPR regulations.
In the aftermath of the ruling, The Sunday Business Post asked the church what it intended to do with files – whether they were the subject of police investigation or not. A spokesman said: “The European Court of Justice has issued a judgment on what is a complex area of law. Jehovah’s Witnesses will analyse the decision carefully and look at how governments within the European Union interpret that judgment.”
According to Wynne, the various threats to the files leave the church with only one sensible option. “The best thing would be if the Watch Tower handed over those files to the authorities. It would show that they have nothing to hide, and it would allow people to get justice for the crimes that were committed against them.
“I know Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t want to have child abuse within their organisation. They want to be rid of it. But the fact that they’re holding on to the files and being reluctant to help the secular authorities shows how the organisation works.”
The Sunday Business Post – as it has done several times in the past two years – contacted the organisation’s head office in London to ask it for comment ahead of publication. Specifically, it was asked whether it agreed with the Atlantic’s assertion that it was sitting on the world’s biggest database of undocumented child molesters, whether it would ever hand over its local investigation documents to the relevant authorities, and in particular what it intended to do with those documents after the European Court of Justice ruling.
A spokesman for its public information desk replied that, while it “is not appropriate for our office to comment on specific cases that may be the subject of news media reports”, it had nothing to add in relation to its last comment on the European Court of Justice ruling. In short, it was still considering the matter.
The spokesman added: “Our policies on child protection comply with the law, including any requirements for elders to report allegations of child abuse to authorities. Jehovah’s Witnesses will continue to promote child protection education for parents.”
Meanwhile, the nature of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion is that anyone who leaves - and even some who don’t leave but are forced out against their will - will be shunned and cut off from their family and friends.
This is the fate now facing Patrick and Kayleigh McLoughlin and their children. According to Patrick, when someone is shunned, those within the religion are “told to distance yourself from anyone who isn’t a Jehovah’s Witness, including any relatives you might have and any friends you grew up with”.
He knows the ramifications of his decision. “My mother will never see her grandkids again. My sister and youngest brother; they’ll never see them again, and my sister was very close to them.”
He likens the process of leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses to that of grief: “It’s like a really close relative dying, and you’re going through the seven stages of grief. That’s what I’m going through right now.”
After they filed their disassociation letter, Kayleigh visited her best friend and told her. “I was fortunate enough that she had the kindness to listen to me without judging and without trying to change my mind, but at the end of the day she was still going to shun me,” she says.
“I didn’t tell many family members, just a handful of people because the more you have to tell people the more it hurts.”
She takes solace in knowing that she left for the right reason: for her family’s wellbeing.
“We have our family and it’s so very rare to have your immediate family intact leaving this religion so we’ve a lot to be thankful for. You have good days and bad days, but I look at my girls and it’s them that we’ve done it for.”
Thank you Tenacious. I filed a complete copy away for future use.
The 'perfidy' of the WTBTS in the above newspaper reporting......... is amazing.
They acted exactly like the Catholic Church in covering up the crime of child sexual abuse. They want to be able to hide this crime, look away, deny..... then question the loyalty of Elders who were trying to do the right thing....protect a child.
Many thanks. Much appreciated.