International Siege to Conceal Child Abuse in Jehovah's Witnesses
A meeting in London weaves alliances to denounce the parallel justice of the religious organization
GUILLEM SÀNCHEZ / LONDRES
MONDAY, MAY 1, 2017 - 20:18 CEST
"We do not want to overthrow the Watchtower [ shortened name with the so-called Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses located in the United States], but rather denounce that this religious organization has a policy that does a lot of harm " Says Trey Bundy , a CIR (Center of Investigating Reporting) journalist who has spent the last three years of his life investigating this creed.
From left to right, journalist Trey Bundy and victims of abuse in Jehovah's Witnesses Debbie McDaniel, Candance Conti and Nick French in London.
Bundy has launched an international meeting of lawyers , police officers , activists , victims and journalists - from 9 different countries - Which have contributed to reveal what is happening within this organization. EL PERIÓDICO, the daily that has uncovered the main cases that are known in Spain, has been the only Spanish medium invited to the day, held on 27 April.
"Jehovah's Witnesses continue to publicly denounce the cases of pederasty within their congregations," Bundy recalled at the beginning of the meeting. That is why it was necessary to "take a step further" to connect professionals from different backgrounds who can continue to work more coordinated to make that change.
To date, only the Australian Government has thoroughly investigated this organization . The Royal Commission concluded that within the Australian Witnesses' community of 68,000 parishioners, more than 1,000 child abuses had been silenced during the past 60 years.
In England the Charity Commission was ordered to inspect the Witnesses, who appealed the decision until the Supreme Court dismissed it definitively, at which time the organization gave orders to destroy sensitive documentation. Russia has been more expeditious in the opposite direction, which has just banned this organization. Spain , for the moment, has not moved tab.
The US government has also shown no "interest" in acting, Bundy remembers. And in the courts, the organization has opted to "pay millionaire fines" to disobey the rulings of magistrates who have ordered them to file documentation on pedophilia cases. "They do not respect the laws of men," said Irwin Zalkin , an American lawyer who has filed several civil suits against this confession during his speech in London.
PUBLISH THE ABUSE FILE
Throughout the world there are over eight million Jehovah's Witnesses . Only in Spain there are over 100,000 . It is a pyramidal organization that beats the dictates of the Watchtower of the United States. This is demonstrated by the letters that this dome sends to the elders of the entire planet (the elders are the leaders of each of the congregations) and, among other things, contain instructions to silence all cases of sexual abuse of minors in their community .
The letters that were sent to the Spanish congregations, published by this newspaper , are simple translations of the original ones, written in English. One of these missives ordered in 1997 to create an internal file of pederastia cases . He had to write a "complete report" of every sexual abuse of minors detected within him.
Attorney Zalkin explains that, in the courts, the Watchtower chose first to "deny" the existence of this file. They later acknowledged that it existed but explained that because of the fact that there are 14,000 congregations in the United States, it would take "20 years" to gather and order all the information. Later, after admitting also that the information had been digitized and indexed, they responded to the judge that " they were not going to deliver the documents ".
" We are tired, " says Bundy , who has personally interviewed " nearly 300 people" who have been abused or who have contacted him because they know a victim who is afraid to speak personally. Until this database that they hide is not published and does not appear the real size of the problem, "the American Government will not force the Watchtower to change its policy," he reflects.
In London it was again verified, in contrasting the papers from different countries, that the policy followed by the respective congregations is accurate because it is a multinational governed with an iron hand from the United States. Consequently, the damage that this policy literally inflicts on the Bible provokes in its Spanish believers are painfully similar to the rest of the world: because it coerces victims of abuse, breaks families or chases homosexuals .
FAMILIES DESTROYED BY FAITH
Debbie McDaniel , Candance Conti and Nick French , three former child abuse abusers, explained in the English capital that the worst thing was the price they had to pay for asking for help outside the organization. Jehovah's Witnesses hold judicial hearings - on the fringes of state laws - through which they judge their members, impose punishments, and ultimately end in an expulsion . Witnesses are prohibited from maintaining contact with expelled persons.
For McDaniel , behind this policy, hides a strategy to " perpetuate " the organization. It has the dual objective of isolating dissenters to avoid awakening the rest, on the one hand, and deter those who feel the urge to report, on the other. "It is emotional violence," Bundy explains, because he condemns social exile to the exiles, since the bonds with the 'outside', a domain of Satan as taught to them from an early age, are almost non-existent. "Many expelled end up making the decision to try to be readmitted after a few years, because they want to recover their soul and return to talk with their family."
"THE PLACE INDICATED TO INVESTIGATE"
Mike Rezendes , a Boston Globe reporter who investigated child abuse by Catholic priests in Boston - a Pulitzer Prize-winning news story that has been shot to the spotlight with the title 'Spotlight' The meeting, compared the " conspiracy of silence " that occurred in the past within the Church with what is still happening "currently" within the Jehovah's Witnesses. "It seems the right place to investigate," he said.
Candance Conti: "In denouncing the abuses I suffered in the Witnesses, I lost my family"
The young woman of California obtained in 2012 the first great judicial victory against the hidden pederasty in the religious organization
Candance Conti during her interview with THE PERIODIC at the ACE Hotel in London.
GUILLEM SÀNCHEZ / LONDRES
MONDAY, MAY 1, 2017 - 20:29 CEST
Candance Conti was born into a congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Freemont, California. In 1993, when he was 9 years old, he suffered the sexual abuse of the man with whom his mother, Jonathan Kendrick, married. The pederast himself admitted such abuses to the congregation and the elders - the name given to the leaders of each group - reported to the Watchtower.
In strict compliance with what has been so far the self-management policy of each case of pederasty reported within this religious organization with more than 8 million faithful worldwide, Candance's sexual abuse was never reported to the police. In 2012, an American jury found the reason and forced its aggressor - and also the Jehovah 's Witnesses - to pay the most important compensation with which a religious organization in the United States has been fined. Years later, however, the appeal of the Witnesses prospered and ostensibly reduced the amount and civil responsibility of the confession. However, the judicial victory that Candance had obtained in just over 20 years had already pierced the rock and, after many decades of darkness for the victims, some light from the outside began to leak.
"When Kendrick's sexual abuse began, did you ask for help right away?" No. Then I was too scared. Especially to be expelled from the congregation. I did not feel safe to say anything then.
"When did you decide to say it?" Later, when I understood that he [Kendrick] might be doing the same thing he did to me to other children. I could not get that out of my head.
"Did you talk to the elders [leaders of the congregation]?" The first old man I turned to looked at me and said, 'What do you want me to do? To start a solo crusade? '
-You gave up? No. There were more meetings with seniors. But it was mostly for me to prove that the allegations about Kendrick were true. They put me in a very difficult situation, asking me delicate questions, I realized that they were trying to get me information instead of helping me.
- Was it then when you decided to go 'outside' and report? There were no other options. They did not even try to lie to me. If they had, and promised that they would see to it that Kendrick did not abuse any more children, he might never have filed a complaint.
"That made you the first victim to have won such a trial against the witnesses ... did you think that would be possible?" Of course not. It seemed like an impossible battle. But he had to try. They describe life together with Jehovah as being in "the truth." I felt that with "my truth" I was facing all that.
"In time, have you become aware of the importance of the victory you achieved? A bit. But I hope it will serve even more. If all that made it possible to protect at least one child from suffering the same thing as me, then all this will have been worth it.
"Do you trust that there will be more sentences like yours in the future?" Of course, I can not be the last.
-Are you afraid of the media repercussion that your case had? Not too much. I was more worried about something else, about the possibility of losing my family as soon as it became known that I had filed this complaint. That scared me a lot. And I knew that as soon as it was known, it would happen. Because for the organization my claim would mean that I was attacking the Jehovah's Witnesses.
-Occurred? Yes, I lost them all. Except my mother and my grandparents.
"How hard ... Yes. And I never attacked their beliefs. Everyone has the right to believe in what he wants. I would never tell anyone who thinks it is bad. I just said that maybe things should be done differently within the organization to protect minors.
"Do you think one day your relatives will understand?" I have that hope.
"Do you regret having made the decision to face Jehovah's Witnesses judicially?" Do not.