Day 2 - Fessler vs. Watchtower – Thomas Jefferson Jr takes the stand in Jehovah’s Witness Child Abuse Trial

by darkspilver 102 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • John Redwood
    John Redwood

    There are many issues at play here, but one of the core issues, which was also discussed in the Fessler trial, is the expectation of a member of clergy to report accusations of abuse to child protective services, and the police. This is a relatively simple issue.

    However Watchtower intentionally complicates this issue, forcing elders to call the legal department instead of local authorities.

    When a person becomes a member of the clergy (i.e. and elder) - there are very simple guidelines they can follow to make sure that the proper procedures are followed. There is a national website which allows anyone to click on the individual state and determine what the proper procedure is when there is a suspicion of child abuse. The side lists all mandatory reporters, and also gives a clear definition of exemptions from clergy privilege. The reality is that Watchtower legal department is not needed - what is needed is competent elders who follow the law whenever there is a report or confession of abuse. Elders are not allowed to think for themselves, which is a dangerous thing. Men who are window washers and carpet cleaners are dabbling in areas way beyond their experience. They are further prevented (or discouraged) by Watchtower from reporting certain matters because of Watchtower's policies.

    An elder is supposed to be a shepherd, a judge, a leader - yet they are not allowed to think for themselves, and contact the police when necessary, and this is a recipe for absolute disaster.

    During the Fessler trial, elder Hollingworth testified that he had no idea what clergy privilege was until he saw it mentioned on a TV show. He was utterly unprepared for how to handle such a serious matter. Watchtower argues that this is why they have a legal department. But this is not a valid argument when it comes to child abuse. The moment this information is shared with New York, and with other elders, clergy privilege is instantly violated - and for other reasons. There was no clergy privilege to begin with, since the elders went after Fessler and Monheim to conduct their own investigation. The private investigation which excluded civil authorities automatically killed their chance at claiming clergy privilege.

    This is a no-win situation for Watchtower. Sadly, they could fix this problem very easily - but in so doing they would relinquish control over the actions of elders, and once they go down that road, the religion itself begins to fall apart. But - children must be protected, and if change comes at the expense of Watchtower, they only have themselves to blame. This has been going on for decades, but they insist on living by laws which are thousands of years old, antiquated and obsolete.

    The next few years will see heavy activity in courtrooms across the US and elsewhere. Hopefully Watchtower will do the right thing and drastically revise their policies. The reality is, they have no choice.


  • ScenicViewer


    does not absolve them of also acting morally

    By who's moral code should wt act?

    Whose moral code do you think Watchtower should act by? I am curious to hear.

  • Fisherman
    Whose moral code do you think Watchtower should act by? I am curious to hear.

    I think that I should not impose my moral code on wt but that wt should be free to choose and act by whatever moral code wt likes.

  • ScenicViewer

    Richard Oliver, sometimes you are confusing I wonder if you are even listening to yourself. You said...

    ...reason that Elders are instructed to call Legal is not to hide the case but to ensure that the case is handled properly.

    Yes, some feel that Watchtower requires elders to immediately call the Legal Dept so that the Organization can protect itself. However, you are saying that's not true, that the real reason to call Legal is to insure the case is handled the right way.

    - You also said this -

    Some statutes require if multiple people find out about an instance, that all of those individuals must report, or only one has to report or the first person has to report, or a supervisor has to report or the head of an organization has to report it. It is the technicalities of the law hat require a consultation with counsel before a report can be made.

    So, as you explain, Watchtower must be contacted so that the technicalities of the law can be properly followed. Those that must report can vary from...

    1. All those knowing of an incident
    2. Or only one
    3. Or the first person
    4. Or a supervisor
    5. Or the head of an organization

    That's a lot of choices, so according to you Watchtower Legal must be contacted to help the local elders sort through it all.

    In the Fessler case many knew of the abuse, from a younger sister, to the elder father, to several congregation elders, to Watchtower Legal, and maybe others. Of all these, who did Watchtower Legal instruct to report?

    No One!

    Isn't that a major part of this case, that no one followed the law and reported child sexual abuse in a mandatory reporting state?

    So what was the real point of contacting Watchtower Legal if no one was instructed to report? Your argument that the technicalities require contacting the Legal Dept to straighten it all out falls flat. Watchtower Legal never intended to report, nor to instruct anyone else to do so. The whole idea was to try to protect the Organization in this case. And it backfired.

    - You also said -

    I know that many of you want to hide your head in the sand...

    I mentioned in an earlier post in this thread that you yourself "have your head buried so deep in the sand of denial that you refuse to see it." 'It' being your own slanted point of view, and that you can't see yourself the way others do.

    You are constantly framing your remarks to try to defend Watchtower, although you pretend to be impartial, neutral and logical. Your own contradictory remarks in the above quoted post go right past you.

    In a way you are doing new readers a service. I remember about 10 years ago when I first came here, I would see posters like yourself argue in circles, post meaningless remarks and questions as if you are a deep thinker, and generally reveal your apologist sway. (Funny, at the time I did not know what an apologist was, but it sunk in quickly.) I was on the fence about some issues, but watching the Watchtower defenders flail about trying to defend the Organization, making no sense most of the time, but pressing ahead harder and harder as if they had something, well that was a genuine eye opener to me.

    You think you make sense but you are only showing how indoctrinated you are by Watchtower-like thinking. Head in the sand indeed.

    While it is annoying for long time posters to keep reading the remarks of members like you because we have seen so much of it, I keep reminding myself there are the new ones here, many lurking, like I once was, who need to read your posts. It will help them to awaken much faster.

  • ScenicViewer

    Fisherman: I think that I should not impose my moral code on wt but that wt should be free to choose and act by whatever moral code wt likes.

    Then why did you post the question, "By who's moral code should wt act?" in the first place? If you are not going to say, why would you ask someone else to?

  • Fisherman
    Then why did you post the question, "By who's moral code should wt act?" in the first place?

    In reply to the implication that wt is not acting morally quoted below.

    "not absolve them of also acting morally."

    If you are not going to say,

    I did say: I said whatever moral code wt likes.

    why would you ask someone else to?

    Why not? What code of rules are being violated by asking?

  • Richard Oliver
    Richard Oliver

    Yes ScenicViewer:

    It does matter if more than one person knows about it and each are mandatory reporters. In California the statute prescribes the following when multiple mandatory reporters:

    When two or more persons, who are required to report have joint knowledge of a known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect, and when there is agreement among them, the telephone report may be made by a member of the team selected by mutual agreement and a single report may be made and signed by the selected member of the reporting team.

    Also in some states it is required that the information be transmitted to the person in charge and that is the extent of the reporting requirement.

    If a person is required to report child abuse because that person attends to a child as part of the person’s duties as an employee of or volunteer at a hospital, school, social agency, or similar facility, that person shall notify the person in charge of the facility, or the designated delegate thereof, and the person so notified shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with this section. An employee or volunteer who makes a report to the person designated shall be deemed to have fully complied with this subsection

  • konceptual99
    By who's moral code should wt act?

    By a moral code that that seeks to put the safety of potential victims first, a code that does not place the organisation above the person, a code that encourages those with pastoral responsibility to help the victim and their family access the right secular and professional help above ministerial activities, a code that recognises the advancements in how this matter should be handled and openly seeks to improve rather than maintain a defensive attitude of self-preservation.

    The WTS is not the only organisation with issues about their historical and indeed contemporary management of child abuse allegations. They are almost unique in how they are responding to the problem. It's this response that rightly attracts so much criticism and is IMO immoral - regardless of legal pontification.

  • sparky1

    "They are almost unique in how they are responding to the problem" - konceptual99

    No really. A real 'eye opener' for me was that the UNITED NATIONS handles their cases of abuse almost identically to the Watchtower. Read this if you get a chance:

    Section 5 is very revealing.

  • Fisherman
    By a moral code that...... -Koncep

    You did not answer my question :

    ".....who's moral code......."

    (You have already conceded that wt is operating lawfully)

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