As a Jehovah's Witness, we understand the courage it has taken to even explore this topic and be on our website. But something awful has happened, and there are ways to make it right. In recent years, there have been several stories in the media about sexual abuse in religious institutions.
How we can help?:
Our experienced lawyers know how to investigate and litigate these specific claims. Call now for a free consultation with a lawyer for sexual abuse at church.
While the Catholic Church has dominated most of these headlines, there have been reports of child sexual abuse amongst multiple religious groups in the US. Even the Jehovah's Witnesses, with a small population of only about 8 million people, have faced allegations of sexual misconduct from their elder religious leaders.
Much like the Catholic Church, organizational leaders often do too little to help the victims of this abuse.
If you're a Jehovah's Witness, devotion to Jehovah is your primary purpose in life. You rely on this community to help raise your kids to be devout followers just like you and your spouse. But parents should feel like their kids are in a safe environment when left alone with religious leaders.
But unfortunately, there are instances of Jehovah's Witness clergy members using their status as trusted religious leaders to abuse the most vulnerable among us. The Watchtower Society has come forward to condemn child sexual abuse. However, the organization often does very little to take these claims seriously, according to recent reports.
Learn More: Child Sexual Abuse In The Amish Community
Critics of the Watchtower say that many victims are pressured to stay silent in order to protect the reputation of the Church and to avoid personal embarrassment.
This is the worst way to treat an abused victim. Claims of child sexual abuse need to be taken with the utmost seriousness. This type of abuse can have serious detrimental effects on a child's development and affect them for the rest of their lives.
The Society itself has no requirement to report claims of abuse to "secular" law enforcement, unless victims have the testimony of two or more material witnesses or if local laws require them to report it.
This two-witness rule is a major problem, giving many predators a free pass to abuse one child without consequences. Material evidence of abuse may be accepted as a second witness, but such evidence cannot be collected unless the abuse has been reported to the police.
If your child has shown signs of abuse or has spoken to you about abuse, don't be afraid to come forward. We understand if you feel anxious about making an accusation against an esteemed religious figure in your community.
However, these claims must be taken seriously in order to get a dangerous predator off the streets and to protect all of our children. If you're looking for guidance, an experienced victim's rights attorney can help your family.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have long dealt with horrific cases of child sex abuse, made worse by how the problem and its handling is intentionally shrouded in the utmost secrecy by religious officials. In fact, for decades, regional leaders, known as “Elders,” have been specifically instructed not to involve law enforcement in investigations of child sex abuse.
The overarching corporation that serves as the central authority for Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, has become notorious for staunchly protecting perpetrators of abuse from being identified by law enforcement, even flouting court orders demanding the names and locations of accused officials.
Though officials claim sex abuse cases are “rare” within the community, it’s difficult to know the true magnitude of the problem considering the secrecy demanded of JW members in dealing with allegations. Several cases have been publicized in which victims were turned away by church elders, and only later told law enforcement, leading to convictions.
Critics say that many previously-accused child molesters are only briefly suspended, and then later reinstated into positions of power that enable them to abuse children.
There is no excuse for a religious organization to cover up allegations of child molestation in order to save face and protect their reputation. This is completely hypocritical and goes against so many of the values our religions stand for. Fortunately, there are ways to hold religious organizations responsible for their cultures of silence.
Beginning in 2000, more and more victims of sexual abuse by Jehovah's Witness elders have come forward and filed lawsuits. These lawsuits don't only provide much-needed compensation for victims and their families. They also help to hold these organizations responsible for covering up horrible crimes.
A multi-million dollar settlement makes headlines and helps encourage other chapters to take these claims more seriously. In the end, they help protect the community as a whole from the threat of child sex abuse.
Examples of recent lawsuits for Jehovah's Witness child sexual abuse include:
These are just a few examples of recent cases. If your family has been affected by this type of abuse, don't try to fight this battle on your own.
At Abuse Guardian, we have significant experience helping victims of sexual abuse and assault nationwide. We're familiar with the legal statutes which vary by state. We are prepared to help you earn the compensation your family needs while holding predators and the institutions which protect them liable for the damages they've caused.