Newspaper stated that the highest jw.org lawyer handles the Dutch court case. So the highest level is involved.
The report of Trouw, nationwide newspaper:
The way Jehovah's Witnesses deal with sexual abuse is traumatic for victims. Researchers from Utrecht University conclude that based on the stories of 751 members and former members of the religious society. An attempt to keep that investigation out of the open ended in court on Thursday afternoon. Marinde van der Breggen & Rianne Oosterom23 January 2020, 17:25 Of the people who participated in the study, 292 people experienced abuse themselves. It is striking that nine people say that the abuse still takes place today. According to the investigators, the "formalistic system" used by the Jehovah's Witnesses does not as yet provide guarantees that reports of abuse are being dealt with adequately.
Within the society, reports of abuse are usually handled internally by a committee of elders, male leaders. Such a committee only comes when there are two witnesses to the abuse, or the perpetrator has known. If that is not the case, the matter is left "in Jehovah's hands."
Three-quarters of the victims did not adequately state how their case was handled after they had uncovered it. Of all the victims who answered that question, nearly 60 percent gave the Witness approach a score of 1. Two thirds of the victims who did go to the police were satisfied with how they were helped there. The most commonly given report mark there is a 10.
The findings of the research group, which was led by Professor of Social Psychology Kees van den Bos, correspond to the conclusions that Trouwt drew in a series of publications in 2017. It already showed that victims of abuse often receive insufficient help and perpetrators of abuse often freely which creates a dangerous situation for children.
Victims experience no recognition for what has happened to them, which means that the way they are treated is often a second trauma to them, the researchers write. They state that the rules of the Jehovah's Witnesses state that much attention must be paid to the victims, but that in practice much more attention is paid to the alleged perpetrator. "Many interventions in the community are aimed at keeping that person within the community."
Victim Marianne de Voogd, who earlier in Trouw told about the abuse at the age of 13 by a man from her municipality, is very happy with the outcome of the investigation. She experienced no support whatsoever when her abuse case was dealt with internally. "This means that the Jehovah's Witnesses can no longer put me away like a liar."
The characteristics of the Jehovah community, such as the strong male hierarchy, the closedness of the community and the strict sexual morality contribute to the painful experience of victims, the researchers noted in in-depth interviews with ten (former) members of the society . According to the researchers, the closedness prevents transparent handling of abuse.
They call on the community of Jehovah's Witnesses to set up an internal hotline for victims of abuse, "with good knowledge of the matter and the internal and external routes that victims can walk" and to report annually on the activities of this hotline , but fellow believers and society.
The researchers also want a cultural shift - more openness and transparency about sexual abuse - in which women also have a clear role to play.
The report was sent to the House of Representatives with an accompanying letter from Minister Dekker. He speaks of a "very worrying image" and already urged the board of Jehovah's Witnesses Netherlands in December to adopt the recommendations. In particular the recommendation to set up a hotline. According to the minister, the board refused because they did not see the need for such a hotline.
The investigation was commissioned by Minister Sander Dekker for legal protection after the Witnesses themselves refused to conduct an independent investigation. The Scientific Research and Documentation Center (WODC) outsourced the assignment to Utrecht University.
It was the first time in the Netherlands that the government launched such a study into a religious organization. The researchers set up an online hotline, conducted in-depth interviews, studied sexual abuse policies and looked at similar investigations in Australia and the UK.
The Jehovah's Witnesses first cooperated in the research of the university, but tried to stop the publication at the last minute by bringing summary proceedings. They find the report scientifically and factually incorrect and call the results "defamatory".
They flew in for the case with the assistance of Shane Brady, a lawyer employed by the international Watchtower who handles cases for the Jehovah's Witnesses from Russia to Canada. This afternoon it appeared in the court of Utrecht that the judge did not agree with the Witnesses' request, because he considered abuses in society more important than the possible reputation damage of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The judge takes it seriously that it is not a random publication, but an investigation wanted by the House of Representatives.