Two witness rule: Stop using it, its not working on JWs!

by StephaneLaliberte 61 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • the girl next door
    the girl next door

    If all JWs made the decision to immediately go to the police whenever they suspected or learned of any child sexual abuse, more abusers would find themselves prosecuted.

    But it is probably safe to say that most JWs out of fear of congregational repercussions would elect to contact their elders first. Despite what the latest BOE letter instructs as far as actively informing members of their right to contact authorities, many if not most JWs will choose to protect the congregation and the JW organization by dumping their knowledge of abuse on the elders thus absolving themselves in their own minds of any culpability for non reporting of a crime to the authorities.

    It is for this very reason, that it is frequently the BOE that must process these revelations or accusations of child sexual abuse. The reason they immediately contact headquarters is so that they can be instructed exactly how to proceed to protect themselves! There is no regard for the protection of the child who has been abused. If there was concern for the child, an immediate call to law enforcement would be made.

    The JW organization is still very egocentric in protecting its image despite the onslaught of pressure from the outside exposing its harmful policies dealing with alleged abusers. Regardless of the “two witness rule” and how the BOE is instructed to proceed with the accused from a judicial standpoint, if they are designated by law as mandatory reporters, they are signing their own jail ticket if they choose to remain silent. WT will not come to their assistance.

    Pointing to the “two witness rule” is a symptom of the entire epidemic. Most active JWs probably don’t even realize the rule is applied to accused child sexual abusers in their congregation. None of them know that if convicted those abusers will still be protected by the rule if they took a plea deal in court. (Which happens almost always) Plea deals do not equate guilt in WT world.

    As far as law enforcement needing the cooperation of the congregation? Not necessary. All they need is an allegation. They will accomplish their job no matter who does or doesn’t cooperate.

    When it comes to civil litigation, cooperation from the congregation against the accused would be extremely helpful. But that rarely happens unless members are put to test under oath or are required to act under subpoena less they face contempt.

    The “two witness rule” is a gateway to a larger discussion of the failing nature of WT when it comes to protecting children from sexual predators amongst their ranks.

    If former JWs or media choose to use that gateway, they should do so in a well informed and all inclusive manner. We can’t just say “you have a two witness rule that protects abusers”. Of course that won’t sway the majority of active JWs. We need to give them the whole story in all it’s complexity. But really how often will that opportunity ever present itself?

    Media outlets and other online activist sites are doing an excellent job of exposing the dangerous WT practices stemming from the “two witness rule”. Unless we can match that information thoroughly when discussing the matter with active JWs, it would be better to simply direct their attention to those sources.

  • krismalone

    I completely agree with the OP. I posted the same reasons a while back on why the 2 witness rule is not worth attacking.

  • carla

    Someone asked me this yesterday about jw's- if jw's believe they must have 2 witness to child abuse, why do they believe one jw if they admit to 'fornication' or affair with another jw if one denies it? there are not 2 witnesses to it yet they might both be df'd or the one who admitted it might be marked and the other df'd or however many scenarios there might be in a situation like that.

  • StephaneLaliberte

    carla: The reason is that most people, placed under pressure, will admit to fornication. Some even want to get caught as they see it as the only way out of a bad marrige. Pedophiles rarely ever confess.

  • carla

    Thank you Steph, yes I agree completely. I did not know how to answer the question. I am aware that jw's will tell on each other and confess to the elders.

    But what if someone just lied about the fornication and refused to admit it? Let's say a woman felt guilty and went to the elders to admit a one night stand with another jw. The male jw refused to admit to it. Would the elders give more weight to the male in this situation? What if the woman could describe something on the body or something?

    I find it hard to believe a jw would always cave into the elders and always tell the truth. Or perhaps the mind control is that strong?

    On a positive note, a person actually cut out a (negative) news article about jw's to give to me yesterday! They wanted to make sure I had seen it.

  • freddo


    This has happened. A pioneer (what else? ) over a period of decades had a reputation for being over familiar with sisters and there were rumours of sexual activity and relationships with female bible studies - and at least one sister in the congregation. It took decades for him to get caught and dfd.

    Basically the sister confessed to her adultery with him. He said it was a fantasy on her part.

    She had a reproof and nothing happened to him. Years later a "bible study" came forward and he denied but got DF'd on the basis of there being more than one witness.

    Don't forget you can have "two witnesses" to separate but similar events to make it count in JW land. (Usually collusion is checked out) This was not always the case.

    This is how smokers are sometimes caught when they deny. And if on two separate occasions with separate victims a jw pedo is caught he can be done judicially even with no confession.

  • carla

    Thanks freddo, oh, I see why it can take years to finally 'get' the guy/woman. In the case of consenting adults that is one thing with child rape/molestation it is quite another.

    (I will temper my comment about 'consenting' adults, if it is an elder or person in authority the word 'consenting' may or may not be entirely accurate)

  • StephaneLaliberte

    if the brother does not admit, nothing will happen. For her being able to identify a mark on his body, he could say that she saw him naked by walking into his house by surprise.

    Even if she is deprouved due to her confession, nothing will happen to him.

  • Giordano

    How quickly would an Elder call the police if someone threw a brick through a Kingdom Hall window (probably the only window in the KH). I'd say no more then a couple of minutes. One minute to access the damage and try and see if the perpetrator could be identified. No doubt Brother Elder would be calling the police on his cell phone while he took a look.

    He definitely would not be calling the legal department and waiting a week or two for their go ahead. The same with a fire, or a car crashing into the KH. Mugging in the parking lot, cars vandalized. It doesn't matter if there is a congregation of witnesses or no one to see the crime. The evidence will be physical. There is no 'we need two witnesses to report this crime.'

    By dragging their feet the Society puts the child in danger. Protecting Jehovah's good name is as lam an excuse as can be made. Jehovah is their brand name.

    We all know that it is the WTBTS corporation that needs to be untarnished. Unfortunately their history has been revealed and they aren't looking too good these days.

    This might be brushed off by the average JW, as much to do about nothing, but bring it up to any non JW and see the look of confusion turning into disgust as they process how that rule is being used when it come to the sexual abuse of children. .

  • Vidiot

    Some of you already have heard this, but personally, I suspect a far more worrisome (from their POV) reason they can't (also from their POV) budge on their abuse-related policies.

    If they made a habit of reporting they way they actually should, they'd arguably have to be far more restrictive in who could be acceptable congregation elders and ministerial servants (something a lot of us forget is absolutely crucial for the Org to function)... and all anecdotal evidence suggests that they've actually been experiencing a serious shortage of "qualified brothers" willing (or able) to "reach out" to serve.

    15-odd years ago (after the 60 minutes expose) they - out of embarrassment, I'm sure - made the statement that abusers could not serve in a congregational capacity... but a few years later, they oh-so-quietly revoked that restriction on the condition that the offense wasn't common knowledge.

    I think it's another factor in consolidation, not to mention the subtle (and sometimes not to subtle) transition to trolly and park-table witnessing, and the Org's switch to - as Barb Anderson has called it - an "e-religion"... to (among other things) mitigate and accusations that "sex offenders are knocking on your door trying to recruit your kids".

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