Another shocking JW Abuse case, with Legal Commentary

by Phizzy 11 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • Phizzy
    "16 April 2020 | Comment | Article by Alan Collins

    Jehovah’s Witness Elder sentenced to nine years in prison for sexual abuse

    Jehovah’s Witness Elder, Clifford Whiteley, has been sentenced to nine years in prison at the Birmingham Crown Court for sexual abuse offences he committed against a child member of the congregation over ten years ago.

    Mr Whiteley initially denied the offences to the police, despite the fact that he had admitted his guilt during an internal investigation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    During court proceedings, Mr Whiteley’s defence counsel, Sharon Bailey, stated that the Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to disclose the details of his confession to the police. They claimed that this was for data protection reasons. The prosecution counsel, Kathryn Orchard, also stated the same.

    Mr Whiteley subsequently pleading guilty to sexual assault of a child and three other serious sexual offences. The conviction was secured, unfortunately, without the assistance of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    This case raises some concerning issues about organisational co-operation with the police in the course of an investigation and how this interacts with religious freedoms.

    The Jehovah’s Witness organisation conducts its own scriptural investigations in accordance with bible based instruction. This is effectively done to determine whether a sin has been committed in the eyes of the religion. This investigation can include questioning the offender and obtaining his/her version of events. No doubt, this is important and useful information to investigating officers.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses have argued in the past, unsuccessfully, that the duty of religious confidentiality prevents them from disclosing this information. This is not the case.

    Mrs Justice Lieven DBE in a 2020 decision, Lancashire County Council v E & F & Ors, rightly held that this duty, whether arising under the common law or the ECHR, is qualified by the interests of public safety, the protection of health and morals, and the protection of the rights and freedom of others.

    Put simply, if a child is in danger or the public interest demands the information be disclosed so a child sex offender can be properly investigated, the duty can be eschewed.

    So too is this the case with data protection. There are exceptions to the obligations under, formally, the Data Protection Act and currently, the GDPR which would permit such disclosures. A case involving an investigation into allegations against a person in a position of trust and authority within the religious organisation (as the offender was here) ought to oblige the co-operation of that organisation.

    Given the seriousness of the offending and the position of power, trust and authority the offender held within the Jehovah’s Witness congregation where he was an elder, why is it the case that the Jehovah’s Witnesses still refused to assist the authorities?

    This is a question which the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse must address in the current hearings into Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings. The Jehovah’s Witnesses say they abhor child abuse and take child protection seriously but the mere fact the elders in this congregation failed to assist the police with inquiries says otherwise.

    Mrs Justice Lieven said in the Lancashire case that the “evidence points inexorably to [the elders] having protected their and the [abuser’s] religious beliefs at the expense of the protection of the child.

    If the Jehovah’s Witness organisation is to demonstrate that it prioritises child protection then some significant changes have to be made internally so the organisation is seen to be transparent and cooperative with the police, rather than hiding behind technicalities to protect members who may have harmed a child.

    Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author."

    So the terrible JW org cannot hide behind Clergy privilege, or data protection in the U.K ! Good, make the bastards pay, and may the Abusers be publicly shamed, and prevented from ever abusing again.

    The org could, at a stroke, simply say what is morally and legally right to do for all J.W's. Any Abuse, and any Crime, should be reported IMMEDIATELY to the appropriate Authorities, who are trained to deal with such matters. No faffing about 'phoning Bethel, just do what is RIGHT you useless pricks.
  • cofty

    'The Jehovah’s Witnesses say they abhor child abuse and take child protection seriously but the mere fact the elders in this congregation failed to assist the police with inquiries says otherwise.'

    They should be prosecuted for assisting an offender.

  • Phizzy

    Jehovah's Witnesses 'refused to reveal details of sex abuse by church elder'

    Clifford Whiteley, 73, jailed for offences but court told church had refused to reveal details of what he told them

    A Jehovah's Witnesses group refused to help police after a paedophile elder had confessed to them, a court heard.

    Clifford Whiteley, 73, had admitted the child abuse to a West Midlands branch of the church after carrying out the attack more than ten years ago.

    But a court heard the group allegedly refused to reveal details of that confession to police - citing data protection reasons.

    After being arrested by police Whiteley initially denied his crimes, before saying: "My life is over now. Jehovah's Witnesses cannot lie. God will judge me."

    Whiteley, of Ball Fields, Great Bridge, Tipton, was jailed for nine years at Birmingham Crown Court.

    He had previously pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child and three other serious sexual offences.

    Passing sentence, Judge Paul Farrer QC told him: "You used your religion to convince your victim she was complicit in your wrongdoing and, in that way, sought to silence her and, sadly, you succeeded for many years."

    The court heard the victim had been brought up in the Jehovah's Witnesses while the defendant was an Elder in a congregation in the West Midlands " . From The Birmingham Mail.

  • Biahi

    Cofty, you are right, changes will only be made if individual elders are sentenced to prison. Soon, no one will want to be an elder only to be thrown under the bus by the “organization.” This cult will then truly be done. 🙏

  • Hotpepper

    Yea the Elders are choosen by the HOLY SPIRIT. HA HA HA

  • stan livedeath
    stan livedeath

    shhheee it. i used to attend West Bromwich # Churchfields congregation---which shared a rented dump of a hall with Great Bridge congregation--this was 1966-71.

    this criminal is about the same age as me--but i dont recognise the name.

  • Slidin Fast
    Slidin Fast


  • Huxley1979

    I'm trying to remember what scriptural basis do they use to claim that they need to keep these matters confidential from the authorities. Clergy privilege is a concept that the authorities made up. It's not Biblical. If they really cared about these children then why not proactively reach out to the authorities if there's no scriptural reason not to? This shows it is only about the money.

  • careful

    Thanks Phiz.

  • Phizzy

    Clergy-Penitent Privilege has not been a Legal excuse, or tool, in the U.K since the Reformation. Obviously when Elders hear stuff in a J.C. they have a duty to keep it from becoming general knowledge, UNLESS it is a Crime !

    We know anyway that all details get out via Elders wives etc, but that is almost beside the point, except they seem to be able to keep it quiet when it is a case of Child Abuse quite often, when in fact, they have a Duty to warn the Congregation in some way.

    They still have a Moral Duty wherever they live on Earth to Report IMMEDIATELY to the Authorities, and now it has been underlined they have, in the U.K, a Legal Duty to do so.

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