A modification of the October 1st 2012 letter to elders, which served as a guideline for Jehovah’s Witness elders who have come to obtain knowledge of an accusation of the physical or sexual abuse of a minor, is newly released to all elders dated August 1st 2016 by the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It seems that the organisation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses still does not advice its elders to go straight to the police or child protection authorities when they have heard of or have a misdoubt of sexual abuse by one of their members.
Though the organisation warns the elders that they may be obligated to report an allegation of child abuse to local authorities, they request them to inform the organisation first, immediately calling the Legal Department for legal advice when the elders learn of an accusation of child abuse.
If you are asked, make it clear that whether to report the matter to the authorities or not is a personal decision for each individual to make and that there are no congregation sanctions for either decision.
As such we can only hope those who know about such a case shall take it at heart to protect the victim and shall report it to the authorities.
For some it might be that the organisation is now obfuscating procedures by suggesting inaction on the part of elders, and shifting the burden of reporting abuse to the victim. There is a substantial difference between never telling someone not to report, and actively telling someone they should report.
From different sources we may know about the infamous JW “Two Witness” rule which allows an environment of tolerance to exist inside this religion which has paved the way for many sexual encounters between these predators and innocent Witness children. It is a well-known fact that often abusers confronted with what they have done shall lie and say no such thing happened or will try to make themselves in a victim of the one who challenged them.
In many cases, elders have disfellowshipped on the grounds of “lying” rather than the actual crime of child abuse. From many cases it also looks like the elders discouraging the Jehovah’s Witness from contacting the authorities for not damaging the community. Such request from the elders puts even more pressure on the victim and makes the chance of additional victims coming forward even more unlikely.
Big problem with the organisation is also that in several cases they have seem done all they could to avoid having the case come in court. Rather than co-operate with ongoing investigations in several countries, which would have given a clear signal that Watchtower felt it had nothing to hide, the religious group has instead fought tooth and nail to get the investigations killed off, mounting multiple legal challenges in order to prevent the investigation from even taking place.
The newly released Watchtower letter focuses a great amount of attention on the internal investigations of any accusations of physical or sexual abuse of a minor. It is significant that an organization which directs so much effort into their internal religious justice system has been the subject themselves of worldwide investigations by the very secular authorities which Witnesses claim to obey.
Still today a non-Witness parent his presence at a JW judicial meeting is completely undesired. When one of their children is abused by a JW the child may find it very difficult to have to face the abuser in the JW tribunal without its own parents their to help her or him. Now
“Elders should remember that during the investigation
process and during the judicial committee process, a victim of child sexual abuse is not required to make her allegation in the presence of the alleged abuser.”
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