Royal Commission Australia - Report into Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower Society has been released
It is amusing that the Commission included the fact that the growth of the numbers of JWs in Australia was not keeping up with it's population growth
Over the past 25 years, the active membership of the organisation in Australia has grown 29 per cent from approximately 53,000 members in 1990.51 In the same period Australia’s population growth has been approximately 38 per cent.52
Their failure to report child abuse crimes in the State of New South Wales is being addressed and will be further addressed later on. This is what Angus Stuart was going to report the Watchtower's Lawyer, Mr Toole for failing to do.
Evidence Act 1995 (NSW). We do not accept that an elder of the Jehovah’s Witness organisation will never be obliged to report his knowledge or belief that child sexual abuse has been committed. Particularly where the abuser confesses to their crime, the obligation to report is compelling. The Royal Commission will consider further the issue of the protection of the confessional in a later public hearing
This again, will really put them in the hot seat because this Act goes way beyond the obligation to report Child Abuse, it is likely that it includes reporting many other crimes, such as rape. Ignorance of the law is no excuse in Australia and if the Org. accepts that they in fact do have an obligation then biblicly they would be required to report all past crimes as required under the legislation.
Will the Watchtower be prepared to wait until they are charged with this failure so that it can be tested out in court or will they voluntarily obey the law? It's a big gamble because this Commission is telling them directly that they are failing in adhering to the Law.
The Commission continues to explain why the two witness rule is not adequate
Regardless of the biblical origins of the two-witness rule, the Jehovah’s Witness organisation’s retention of and continued application of the rule to a complaint of child sexual abuse is wrong. It fails to reflect the learning of the many people who have been involved in examining the behaviour of abusers and the circumstances of survivors. It shows a failure by the organisation to recognise that the rule will more often than not operate in favour of a perpetrator of child sexual abuse, who will not only avoid sanction but will also remain in the congregation and the community with their rights intact and with the capacity to interact with their victim.585
This leaves the organization in a serious quandary and one that I expect the Commission might try to help them address. The Commission acknowledges the fact that the org. continues to be firm in it's resolve not to change the two witness rule.
Although it sees it as archaic and in need of changing there may be other ways of working around this. The rule, in itself, does not prevent the organization from reporting accusations and this may be another reason why the Commission wants to further delve into 'confessional privileges'. As it is, the Commission points out that their internal processes fall short in a number of areas.
The report indicates that they want the organization to take the initiative in reporting and the benefits of doing so.
Reproval and disfellowshipping are not effective mechanisms for protecting children in the congregation and in the broader community.
There is no evidence before the Royal Commission that the Jehovah’s Witness organisation has properly considered that risk in developing its precautionary measures for dealing with known or alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse.
If it wasn't clear enough for Watchtower to recognize how they are protecting the abuser throughout this report and proves it with factual information, it is clearly noted by this comment.
A survivor of child sexual abuse may therefore be faced with the impossible choice between staying in an organisation which is protective of their abuser in order to retain their social and familial network and leaving the organisation and losing that entire network as a result.634
How sad it is to remember Lett's words when he scoffed at the idea that some people are of the belief that they are permissive towards pedophiles.
Thank you wifibandit that has been very helpful .The more we can spread this message around the greater awareness to be had in the general community about the failings of the Jehvahs Witnesses religion to protect their own against child sexual abuse.
10: Response of the Jehovah’s Witness Organisation to the Sexual Abuse of Children
Having regard to the various matters we have discussed in this report, we have reached a number of general conclusions on the Jehovah’s Witness organisation’s response to the sexual abuse of children.
We do not consider the Jehovah’s Witness organisation to be an organisation which responds adequately to child sexual abuse. We do not believe that children are adequately protected from the risk of sexual abuse for the following reasons:
The organisation relies on outdated policies and practices to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse. Also, those policies and practices are not subject to ongoing and continuous review. The policies and practices are, by and large, wholly inappropriate and unsuitable for application in cases of child sexual abuse. The organisation’s retention and continued application of policies such as the two-witness rule in cases of child sexual abuse shows a serious lack of understanding of the nature of child sexual abuse.
The organisation’s internal disciplinary system for addressing complaints of child sexual abuse is not child or survivor focused in that it is presided over by males and offers a survivor little or no choice about how their complaint is addressed.
The sanctions available within the organisation’s internal disciplinary system are weak and leave perpetrators of child sexual abuse at large in the organisation and the community.
In deciding the sanctions to impose and/or precautions to take in relation to a known or suspected perpetrator, the organisation has inadequate regard to the risk that that perpetrator might reoffend. This demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of the nature and impact of child sexual abuse.
The organisation’s general practice of not reporting serious instances of child sexual abuse to police or authorities – in particular, where the complainant is a child – demonstrates a serious failure by the organisation to provide for the safety and protection of children in the organisation and in the community.
Thank you wifibandit
So what happens next?
Will the government of Australia take action based on the report?
Good question but don't forget there is the upcoming adjunct to the inquiry where the WTS will have to answer these criticisms. Perhaps their response to this will influence any possible further actions.
The question is if the government feels there needs to be any change to legislation to force policy change in the WTS. I doubt policy will change just because the WTS is weak in certain areas but if the ARC recommends legislative change to enforce best practice across many organisations then I suspect it will be enacted at some point.
Certain states in Australia already have mandatory reporting and I would see this as the #1 candidate for federal change. The other possibility is that some rule may be enacted to force elders and servants to undergo criminal record checks. I don't expect the law to change to force Witnesses to do much else since so much of the process is ecclesiastical and Western governments tend to keep away from enacting legislation that would affect religious freedom. You only have to look at the legal complexities around thing like equal rights and homophobia to see how difficult it is to enforce social progress over religious tradition.
"Certain states in Australia already have mandatory reporting and I would see this as the #1 candidate for federal change." Right, Konceptual99; if I correctly recall Jackson's testimony, at one point he hinted that enactment of a federal law to require mandatory reporting would be a welcome outcome to them.
schnell - "...One called it 110 pages of BS and asked if I was molested myself... A few of them defended the two witness rule... They seem to care more about reputation... Most of them parroted responses about finding fault and sticking with Jehovah..."
Anything - anything - but what the proper response should be...
...outrage at the Org for such a monumental decades-long poochscrew.