10 Response of the Jehovah’s Witness Organisation to the Sexual Abuse of Children
Having regard to the various matters we have discussed in this report, we have reached a number of general conclusions on the Jehovah’s Witness organisation’s response to the sexual abuse of children.
We do not consider the Jehovah’s Witness organisation to be an organisation which responds adequately to child sexual abuse. We do not believe that children are adequately protected from the risk of sexual abuse for the following reasons:
- The organisation relies on outdated policies and practices to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse. Also, those policies and practices are not subject to ongoing and continuous review. The policies and practices are, by and large, wholly inappropriate and unsuitable for application in cases of child sexual abuse. The organisation’s retention and continued application of policies such as the two-witness rule in cases of child sexual abuse shows a serious lack of understanding of the nature of child sexual abuse.
- The organisation’s internal disciplinary system for addressing complaints of child sexual abuse is not child or survivor focused in that it is presided over by males and offers a survivor little or no choice about how their complaint is addressed.
- The sanctions available within the organisation’s internal disciplinary system are weak and leave perpetrators of child sexual abuse at large in the organisation and the community.
- In deciding the sanctions to impose and/or precautions to take in relation to a known or suspected perpetrator, the organisation has inadequate regard to the risk that that perpetrator might reoffend. This demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of the nature and impact of child sexual abuse.
- The organisation’s general practice of not reporting serious instances of child sexual abuse to police or authorities – in particular, where the complainant is a child – demonstrates a serious failure by the organisation to provide for the safety and protection of children in the organisation and in the community.