Belen Castro sued the Toppenish Congregation along with Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, because she was molested when she was 11 and 12 years old. He had sued Virgil Bushman, the perpetrator, but that was settled prior. Watchtower along with the Congregation won the motion for summary judgment and Belen then appealed the decision. And even as the Appeals Court looked at the matter in the most favorable light for Castro, the court affirmed the summary judgment.
The summary judgment was granted to Watchtower and the Congregation for the reason that no special relationship existed between the defendants and Castro or between the defendants and Bushman. It also was granted because Watchtower and the congregation showed that they did not know of Bushman’s propensity to harm children till after the abuse stopped and Castro informed her cousin of what was happening.
Watchtower showed that Bushman never held an appointed position and therefore was not an agent of theirs. They also showed that Watchtower had no control over Bushman and his actions that harmed Castro.
Castro’s complaint included that some of the fondling occurred at the Kingdom hall during a meeting and occurred behind the sound booth. Castro used this to show that the abuse occurred on Watchtower and the Congregation’s property and during an official activity. The issue that both courts saw as that Castro stated in a deposition that Bushman was able to fondle her in a way that no one was able to see, so no one agent of Watchtower or the congregation knew of the abuse.
Castro used C.J.C v Corp of Catholic Bishop of Yakima, to show that a church can be held liable just like a school if abuse occurs on school property or time of the school’s care. The court in that decision ruled that if a child is delivered into the care of a church then the church is responsible for the care of that child during that time. But the court, in this case, rejected this argument because Castro admitted that she never attended meetings without her mother being present and the court ruled that the mother never turned over care to Watchtower or the Congregation for Castro’s care.