Sexual Abuse and Jehovah’s Witnesses
The Jehovah’s Witness has been accused of sexual abuse by members who claim they were abused as children. According to lawsuits against the Jehovah’s Witness, the organization actively concealed reports of abuse and refused to comply with orders to release information related to the sexual abuse.
The Jehovah’s Witness is a Christian sect with more than 8.5 million members. The group advocates reliance on its own internal policies to govern the conduct of its followers. This system has allowed the organization to conceal the identities of child molesters for decades. In 1997, the organization sent a letter to each of its U.S. congregations and other congregations worldwide with instructions on how to deal with reports of sexual abuse. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the organization that oversees Jehovah’s Witnesses, then filed away the reports without disclosing the abuse to authorities or removing the abusers from their position in most cases.
The demand to maintain secrecy within the organization has led to negligent practices that enabled sexual abuse to continue. In previous lawsuits, Jehovah’s Witness leaders have claimed that they were under no duty to report allegations of sexual abuse since accusations were subject to clergy privilege. Even when reports were credible, the religious group required a second witness in order to evaluate allegations through its internal judicial process. Many victims’ claims were never even heard given the barriers established by these policies. Elders and other Witnesses were freely permitted to interact with children after sexual abuse allegations had been made against them. Former Witnesses also revealed that when they reported instances of abuse that they knew of or observed themselves, they were told to remain quiet and to destroy any evidence of the report. The fear of reprisal from the organization forced many of the Witnesses to comply.
Although former members have filed claims for sexual abuse against the organization, many still fear the harsh consequences of disclosing abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Not only are these victims expelled from the organization, but many are also shunned by family members and friends. The Jehovah’s Witnesses has used the threats of isolation and expulsion to maintain the silence of victims. The organization’s systematic concealment of abuse and dismissal of claims by victims reveals a blatant failure to protect its members and to take action to bring the perpetrators to justice.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, please contact Levy Konigsberg. With our proven track-record of recovering millions of dollars in sex abuse cases, you can feel assured that we have the experience and knowledge to help you achieve the best outcome possible. Please call today for a free and confidential consultation with attorneys at our firm specializing in sexual abuse cases. Please call 1-800-225-9825 or submit an email inquiry above.