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.