This is an analysis of the whole letter. If you don't want to read the whole analysis, please at least read my analysis of paragraphs 4, 11, 13b, and 19ab. Paragraph 11 is especially important because of its ambiguous wording. In summary, this letter introduces only one change—namely that the victim does not have to be interrogated by the elders in front of the abuser.
¶4 - Our publications and website contain much helpful information to assist parents
Yeah, well... I'm pretty sure those publications were not written by anyone with a degree in social sciences. That should render them useless in regards to child abuse, especially child sexual abuse. Those people are blind as hell.
¶5, 6 - Legal Considerations: In some jurisdictions, individuals who learn of an allegation of child abuse may be obligated by law to report the allegation to the secular authorities. In all cases, the victim and her parents have the absolute right to report an allegation to the authorities
Okay... "Individuals who learn of an allegation of child abuse may be obligated by law to report [...]" But should they? As paragraph 5 states, no. They should always inform the Legal Department first. So no change here.
Next... "In all cases, the victim and her parents have the absolute right to report an allegation to the authorities." Again, should they? Should the elders encourage them to report the allegation to the authorities? Would the victims be even informed that they have such a right...?
Paragraphs 5 and 6 are completely ambiguous and include no directions. So how does that letter help...? It doesn't, but the elders will now go around in circles praising Jehovah for helping them deal with child abuse. Ridiculous.
¶9 - If the elders become aware of an adult associated with a congregation who has been in-volved with child pornography, two elders should immediately call the Legal Department. Likewise, if the elders become aware of an adult or a minor associated with a congregation who is “sexting” with a minor, the Legal Department should be called immediately.
Okay... call the Legal Department... Then what? Ah, the same thing! Okay, I get it! No change here. Are we not glad to see such improvements in our policies? Let us praise Jehovah!
¶11 - In the case of any discussion with a child abuse victim who is still a minor, an elder should never meet alone with the minor but should al-ways involve another elder and another adult member of the congregation, preferably the minor’s parent(s). If it is not possible to include the parent (for example, if the parent is the accused), then another adult member of the congregation who is a confidant of the victim should be included. In addition to the spiritual shepherding provided by the elders, the victim or her family may desire other assistance. For example, the victim or her family may decide to consult a mental-health pro-fessional. This would be a personal decision for them to make.
So... in any discussion with the victim, an adult member of the congregation, in addition to the elders, should be involved. Note that it says that this adult member of the congregation should preferably be a parent. Not the other way around. IMPORTANT NOTE: That means that if the parent is not a member of the congregation, s/he is not allowed to be with the victim. F*cking sick. (Sorry for my language, but that is completely absurd.) (Additionally, what about women...?)
Next, if the parent is accused, s/he is not allowed to be included in the discussion. Good.
Next, mental-health professionals thing. Still absurd. Why? Look at the wording. "In addition to the spiritual shepherding." This means that no professional is allowed in the discussion (I'm assuming also the judicial committee.) A professional may be involved in an additional, private help. (Are they assuming that elders can handle it? Again...)
¶13a - These elders should carefully fol-low Scriptural procedures and the Bible-based direction outlined in this letter and in the Shepherd-ing textbook, particularly chapter 5.
Two-witness rule, anybody...? (The only mention of two-witness rule is in paragraph 6. The elders are told to call the Legal Department even if there is only one witness—but only to "comply with child-abuse reporting laws." So... what if there is no law...? And even if there is, what "advice" would the elders be given...?)
¶13b - Elders should remember that during the investigation process and during the judicial committee process, a victim of child sexual abuse is not required to make her allegation in the presence of the alleged abuser.
Allelujah! This is the first change introduced in this letter that is worth something. (What about what I've noted above, though...? And bellow...?)
¶14 - If wrongdoing is estab-lished and the wrongdoer is not repentant, he should be disfellowshipped. [...] On the other hand, if the wrongdoer is repentant and is reproved, the reproof should be announced to the congregation. [...] This announcement will serve as a protection for the congregation.
Disfellowshipped? So... he has been proven to abuse the victim... but still no authorities involved? Okay, if it's required, then they will call the Legal Department. What then...? Or what if the law does not require any such thing...? No authorities still...?
And if repentant... only reproof? Ah, announced to the congregation as a protection? Would that announcement of reproof involve informing the congregation that this individual was abusing a child? I'm assuming the answer is "No"?
¶17 - when an unbaptized publisher or a baptized member of the congregation who denies an accusation of child sexual abuse is convicted by the secular authorities
I was hoping this meant that the secular authorities should be informed or something. But... no... When the authorities learn of the abuse and convict the accused, then restrictions within the congregation should be put upon the accused. That's all it means.
¶18 - In some cases, the Service Department may specifically direct elders to inform parents of minors within the congregation of the need to monitor their children’s interaction with an individu-al.
Okay... But would these parents be informed that it's about child abuse? I guess no...?
¶19a - And the congregation cannot read hearts to tell who is and who is not liable to mo-lest children again.
Shouldn't that be a reason to contact secular authorities who have actual experience in this...? No...? Okay... Let us praise Jehovah for giving us elders who cannot read hearts of other people yet have responsibilities that require reading hearts! This is such a wise and helpful direction!!! [Sarcasm...]
¶19b - Therefore, if the body of elders believes that one who has engaged in child sexual abuse decades ago may now qualify for minor privileges, such as carrying or adjusting microphones, operating audio/video equipment, or assisting with accounts, liter-ature, magazines, or territories, they should assign two elders to call the Service Department. The as-signed elders should call the Service Department before any congregation privileges are extended.
Ooooh... Because the Service Department can read hearts...? Okay...
¶23 - From time to time, secular authorities may in-form the elders that a sex offender is living in the area. The notice may provide the address of the individual and may state the nature of his criminal activity. In such a case, the elders should list that address on the appropriate congregation territory card as a “Do Not Call.”
But no information given to the rest of the congregation...? None at all? And all that is done is putting a "Do Not Call" thing-ey on the territory card...? I have experience in field service. Publishers often forget that a specific household is a "Do Not Call." Moreover, some even visit a household that is a "Do Not Call" even though they should not. What then...?
By the way, so far there's been no mention of informing the secular authorities of child abuse. Only an ambiguous mention of calling the Legal Department if the law requires reporting any allegation of child abuse. During the Australian Royal Commission, one elder was asked what he would do if he learned that one member of the congregation has murdered another person. He replied that he would call the Legal Department. That says it all, I think.
After analysing this letter, I must say that I am disappointed. There are no good changes in it. The only change I personally noticed is that the abused one doesn't have to be accompanied by the abuser in interrogations. This letter, in other words, is complete bullsh*t.