Newboy, this is the letter that was sent:
March 14, 1997
TO ALL BODIES OF ELDERS
A matter of serious concern was addressed in the article “Let Us Abhor What is
Wicked,” published in the January 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower. This concern involves
the purity of Jehovah’s organization in these last days. It is our responsibility to protect the
flock of God from these threatening influences.—Isa. 32:1, 2.
We wish to take necessary steps that will help protect the congregation, especially our
children from the unwholesome practices that are constantly worsening in the world. We are
grateful that the truth has limited the spread of child sexual abuse in Jehovah’s organization.
WHO IS A KNOWN CHILD MOLESTER?
What is child molestation? Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines
“pedophilia” as “sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object.” (See
“Questions From Readers” in The Watchtower of February 1, 1997, page 29.) Deuteronomy
23:17, 18 condemns such practices as “detestable.” (See the footnotes to verses 17 and 18 in
the Reference Bible. Also, it would be helpful to see the footnote on page 10 of the
October 8, 1993, issue of Awake!) In harmony with these references, we are herein discussing
sexual perversion in which children are the object of sexual abuse, including fondling by an
adult. We are not discussing a situation wherein a consenting minor, who is approaching
adulthood, has sexual relations with an adult who is a few years older than the minor. Rather,
we are referring, for example, to situations in which it is established by a congregation
judicial committee that an adult brother or sister has been guilty of sexually abusing a young
child or has been sexually involved with a non-consenting minor who is approaching
Who is a known child molester? The January 1, 1997, Watchtower article “Let Us
Abhor What Is Wicked” mentions on page 29 that a man “known to have been a child
molester” would not qualify for privileges in the congregation. An individual “known” to be
a former child molester has reference to the perception of that one in the community and in
the Christian congregation. In the eyes of the congregation, a man known to have been a
child molester is not “free from accusation” and “irreprehensible,” nor does he have “a fine
testimony from those on the outside.” (1 Tim. 3:1-7, 10; 5:22; Titus 1:7) In view of his past,
people in the community would not respect him, and the brothers might even stumble over his
TO ALL BODIES OF ELDERS
March 14, 1997
PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN
What can we do to protect our children and preserve the cleanness of Jehovah’s
organization? The primary responsibility for protecting our children rests upon the parents.
Fine suggestions for parents can be found in the January 22, 1985, Awake! article “Child
Molesting—You Can Protect Your Child.” Other articles that parents do well to consider are
those in the October 8, 1993, Awake! entitled “How Can We Protect Our Children” and the
December 1, 1996, Watchtower entitled “Parents, Find Pleasure in Your Children,”
specifically pages 13 and 14, paragraphs 18 and 19.
What can the elders do to help protect our children? The elders should be alert to
the activity of any who are known to have molested children in the past. Individuals who
have manifested a weakness in this regard should be sensitive to their need not to be alone
with children. They should refrain from holding children or displaying other forms of
affection for them. It would be appropriate for elders to give kindly cautions to any who are
doing things that may be a temptation or a cause for concern to others in the congregation.
—1 Cor. 10:12, 32.
What should elders do when a former child molester moves to another congregation?
As outlined in the February 1991 Our Kingdom Ministry “Question Box” and the
August 1, 1995, letter to all bodies of elders, our policy is always to send a letter of
introduction when a publisher moves to another congregation. It is imperative that this be
done when one who is known to have been a child molester moves. The secretary should
write on behalf of the elders to the new congregation’s body of elders and outline this
publisher’s background and what the elders in the old congregation have been doing to assist
him. Any needed cautions should be provided to the new congregation’s body of elders. This
letter should not be read to or discussed with the congregation. This information should be
kept in the congregation’s confidential files where it can be reviewed by any elder. The elders
should send a copy of this letter to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in one of the
“Special Blue” envelopes.
PRIVILEGES OF SERVICE IN THE CONGREGATION
In the January 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower the article “Let Us Abhor What Is
Wicked” stated on page 29: “For the protection of our children, a man known to have been a
child molester does not qualify for a responsible position in the congregation. Moreover, he
cannot be a pioneer or serve in any other special full-time service.” We have had a number
of enquiries asking how this applies in the congregation, and this is being given consideration.
It may be possible that some who were guilty of child molestation were or are now
serving as elders, ministerial servants, or regular or special pioneers. Others may have been
guilty of child molestation before they were baptized. The bodies of elders should not query
individuals. However, the body of elders should discuss this matter and give the Society a
report on anyone who is currently serving or who formerly served in a Society-appointed
position in your congregation who is known to have been guilty of child molestation in the
In your report please answer the following questions: How long ago did he commit the
sin? What was his age at the time? What was the age of his victim(s)? Was it a one-time
occurrence or a practice? If it was a practice, to what extent? How is he viewed in the
TO ALL BODIES OF ELDERS
March 14, 1997
community and by the authorities? Has he lived down any notoriety in the community? Are
members of the congregation aware of what took place? How do they and/or his victim(s)
view him? Has he ever been disfellowshipped, reproved, counselled, or otherwise dealt with?
If he has moved to another congregation, please identify the congregation to which he has
moved. Was that congregation advised of his past conduct of child molestation, and, if so,
when? [If you have not advised them, this should be done now, and you should send a copy
of your letter to the Society in a “Special Blue” envelope.] This information should be sent to
the Society along with any other observations that the body of elders has. Please send this to
the Society in the “Special Blue” envelope so that the factors involved may be given due
consideration; this information is not to be made available to those not involved.
Jehovah has been blessing the efforts of his people to get the vital Kingdom-preaching
and disciple-making work done. Isaiah 52:11 states: “Keep yourselves clean, you who are
carrying the utensils of Jehovah.” We must be ever vigilant to demonstrate to Jehovah that
we want to keep the organization he uses in these last days fit for this all-essential trust. May
Jehovah bless your efforts to that end.
PS to the body of elders: A meeting of the body of elders should be arranged to read and
discuss this letter together. This letter is confidential and should not be copied but should
be kept in the congregation’s confidential file. Elders should not discuss this
information with others. It is provided so that you can appropriately apply the spirit of the
Scriptural information in the January 1, 1997, Watchtower article “Let Us Abhor What Is