Court denies summary judgement for Laurel Jehovah's Witnesses congregation

by OrphanCrow 161 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse


    Fisherman just does not grasp the difference between Clergy/Penitent privilege, as it is understood by 99.9% of church members, and the twisted, skewed, and completely non-confidential joke of a "confessional" that takes place in JW Cult-world.

    Fisherman believes the Judge is wrong to question the "JW version" (Fishermans own words) of the Clergy/Penitent relationship.

    Here is where Fishyface is wrong. THERE IS NO JW VERSION OF THE CLERGY/PENITENT RELATIONSHIP. The WTBTS has proudly stated that they have no Clergy/Laity distinction. JWs cannot go to another JW, "confess", and expect any confidentiality.

    The two approaches are like comparing apples to oranges. Fishyface cannot grasp this simple concept, so we have page after page of reasonable arguments, proving Fishboy wrong, simply flying over Fishy's head. Fishy has entered a battle of reason, unarmed, yet does not have the wit, or perhaps the intellectual honesty, to realize it.

    If Fishy believes the Bible, then the Judge does have the right to intervene in these matters. That's what the Superior Authorities are for. GOD put them in that position. The Judge has every right to make sure that the "JW version" of the Clergy/Penitent relationship meets the criteria of that relationship. What is the criteria? I confess to a member of the Clergy, (JWs have no Clergy) and it remains confidential. ( It NEVER remains confidential in the WTBTS.)

    Another important factor is that Clergy do not have the right to cover over a crime. Child sexual abuse is a crime. The Judge has every right to put the WTBTS under a microscope. Espescially since this is not an isolated event in the WTBTS. They have a history of doing whatever they can to save face, even at the expense of children. Jesus must be so proud.

    Lurkers, I hope you can learn something from Fishfoods example. This is where I get off.


  • Mephis
    Well, yes and and no. Of course, judges can and should rule 'in the public interest'. I am not aware of any case in which a catholic priest (or a CofE priest) has ever been subpoenaed to give evidence of what occurred in a confession, and I would be interested to learn of the procedure which occassioned that. It would seem to me to be covered by PACE (excluded material).
    I note your comments that 'Judges don't tend to press that hard'. I'm not sure what you mean by 'the discretion under PACE'. I can tell you that the judges with which I dealt pressed hard, demanded evidenced and reasoned legal arguments, and issued orders/warrants that were never - never -overturned by higher courts.
    (This is a UK (E&W) perspective.) Judges don't try to 'persuade' people. They explain the options. You don't [email protected]@k with the judge, ever.
    And here is a true story. I had a case (related to my post above about judges ordering bank information). The judge had ordered that material held by the bank (a national) must be produced to us (the police) in 7 days. It wasn't. The local, area, regional managers appeared before the judge to explain the failure. The judge ordered the CEO to appear - and advised that he bring a toothbrush. The material was provided.

    Well, it's a simple 'yes'. The case law for this is very well established. To put it exceptionally bluntly, "Communications made to a priest in the confessional on matters perhaps considered by the penitent to be more important even than his life or his fortune, are not protected" (Wheeler v Le Marchant (1881)). There's a load more, but that's where the case law is. Old. But not 1603 old like the Church of England legislation. We don't recognise the seal of the confessional as being sacrosanct in English law. When push comes to shove, we have had Catholic priests sent down for contempt, although I can't recall anything recent getting quite that far.

    By "press hard", we obviously don't see clergy being asked to reveal confessional secrets very often in Britain. You were under the impression that it couldn't happen, so it's clearly not a regular feature of British courts. And under PACE ( ss 76,78 & 82(3)) judges have discretion to exclude evidence if they so choose - hence discretion under PACE as I said. As the JWs found out in Newcastle, there's steel under the silk and discretion to exclude isn't always used.

    Hope that's clear enough of an explanation.

  • Vidiot

    Data-Dog - "Fisherman just does not grasp the difference between Clergy/Penitent privilege, as it is understood by 99.9% of church members, and the twisted, skewed, and completely non-confidential joke of a 'confessional' that takes place in JW Cult-world..."


    More than that, though, I think he's royally pissed (and perhaps feeling threatened) at the idea of secular law overriding or superceding "church law".

  • Vidiot

    LisaRose - "The Watchtower just doesn't want anyone in or outside the congregations to know they have a problem with child sex abuse and they would rather put children at risk than notify the proper authorities."

    There's a bizarre (and severely f**ked-up) irony in attempting to conceal the fact that children are at risk... putting them further at risk.


    I think a huge component of the Org's actions is denial...

    ...they really can't deal with the fact that their vaunted "Truth"-based policies are not only not working, but making the problem worse.

  • Fisherman
    Listener, thanks for the very interesting article. I appreciate the information.but JW commentary has nothing to do with the immunity WT enjoys in the US which is the substance of this case.
  • Vidiot

    Fisherman - "...the immunity WT enjoys in the US ."

    "...the immunity WT is slowly but surely losing in the US..."

  • OrphanCrow

    Fisherman, at what point in time, during the JW judical process, would you consider it to be a "confessional"? What aspects (material facts) of that process would you call a "confessional"?

    The minor boy and his mother approached the elders, not to "confess the boy's sins" but to reveal a crime that had been committed against the boy. That part of the process is obviously NOT a confession. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    Priests/ministers/clergy are not given "confessional privilege" for information given to them outside of that confessional setting. Likewise, the JW elders cannot ask for "confessional privlege" on information gained outside of confession - when a child reports a crime, it cannot be termed a "confessional setting". In fact, many of the allegations that the elders "investigate" do not end in a confession by the accused at all. There is no way that a JC can be called "confessional".

    In fact, it is the exact opposite of a confessional. In a confessional, it is the penitent (the accused in the case of the JWs) who comes willingly to the priest/clergy/minister for absolution. They don't come for confession because someone else accused them of something. Not at all.

    If the WT has 'enjoyed' confessional privilege to this point, it is simply because they have got away with it, not because it was right.

  • Fisherman

    You are a very funny dude ( I do not mean it sarcastically ) I enjoy your posts. I took no offense at your post directed at me. But you are not thinking, chum.

    Just try to take off your wt bigotry eyeglasses that you view the world with and look at this case just a little differently.

    Any religious term such as clergy, penitence, priest, absolution, etc. that legislation chooses to use must fit into a generic equation that applies to all religions or the law is unconstitutional.

    For example, although the JW do not use the term clergy or churches same as Christendom, they still benefit from laws that use the term clergy and church and confession and penance, etc. same as Jews and Moslems or any other religion does.

    The JW have their own version or understating of how confession and Penance and Absolution should be applied, and to JW confidentiality does not mean privacy in a confession booth between 2 people, more is involved for them. My opinion is that it is unconstitutional if the JW cannot enjoy the immunity from reporting to the police laws solely because JW do not have a Catholic Church style confession privacy setting between 2 people only. I think that the immunity laws do apply to JW in their style of confession. The purpose of church immunity laws is not to establish that church confessions must be in a private setting between 2 people, but to guarantee the freedom of speech and communication to those seeking spiritual help (whatever that help should be and however the church handles the sinner religiously) from their church without fear of having to be turned over to the secular authorities by the church.

  • Vidiot

    Oh, well, I'm convinced, now.

  • the girl next door
    the girl next door

    Fisherman, you keep using the word "immunity". There is no immunity, if there was Watchtower would not be doling out millions of dollars in litigation, settlements and judgement. The word you are looking for is "privilege" and as discussed previously there are ALWAYS exceptions to privilege.

    The duty to report child abuse often arises in settings that have nothing to do with the clergy-communicant privilege. For example, information regarding child abuse by church personnel may be transmitted to church officials from clergy or non-clergy persons such as the victims, family members or friends of the victim in circumstances not covered by the clergy privilege. Similarly, church officials may conduct investigations and otherwise obtain information from sources in unprivileged contexts.

    This is fact and established by case law. It illustrates fully where JWs fail when asserting privilege.

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