Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Molestation

Barring a confession from the accused, Jehovah’s Witness elders require [alleged] victims to produce a second witness to their abuse before they take action against an abuser.

“When there is no confession of wrongdoing, two witnesses are required to establish the accusation and authorize the elders to take judicial action.”

May, 2019, Watchtower (study edition)

Until their policy changed in 2018, Jehovah’s Witness elders, always men, were told to question [alleged] abuse victims alone, with specific instruction that “observers should not be present for moral support.” (Shepherd the Flock of God in Your Care, 2010 edition)

Elders have also allowed the accused to grill their [alleged] victims without restraint.

Many victims have told of perverse, obscene questions from elders and the accused, as well as allegations that the victims encouraged or enjoyed their abuse.

“During the public meetings the women faced detailed questions about their abuse, were asked whether they encouraged it and, incredibly, whether they had enjoyed it.”

The Daily Mail, May 23, 2014

Victims have also told of pressure to give up pursuing the matter with law enforcement and courts, so as to “not bring reproach” on the religion.

Victims and innocent parents have also attested to being instructed to not “gossip” or discuss the matter with anyone else, including other parents in the congregation.

During the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (CARC), beginning in 2015, it was revealed that there were some 1006 pedophiles on record in the religion in that country, dating back to the 1950s, with not one being reported to the police by elders.

It is also worth noting that one victim testified she attempted to contact at least two different elders on three separate occasions to ask for help with her sexually abusive father, only to be told that she needed to speak to him directly and on her own before elders could become involved.

That same victim testified that she was disallowed from reporting her abusive father to the police under threat of disfellowshipping [excommunication] and subsequent shunning.

A National Redress Scheme was established in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; per its website, “Redress is about making amends for wrongs that happened in the past. The National Redress Scheme was established for people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse before 1 July 2018, when the Scheme started.”

While this Redress Scheme is voluntary, groups not joining “will be banned from receiving federal funding and could lose tax concessions, including charitable status,” per The Guardian.

As of the July 1, 2020, deadline, Jehovah’s Witnesses were one of only five institutions refusing to join the Scheme.

“Jehovah Witnesses reported zero allegations to authorities or police and now refuse to provide redress to victims. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are an absolute disgrace.”

Fiona Patten, MP, Northern Metropolitan Region

Reports have also surfaced of child sex abuse (CSA) victims themselves being disfellowshipped and subsequently shunned for supposedly consenting to their sexual abuse.

“…according to documents, the elders then spoke with the adult member in question, who confirmed the relationship had happened. Both the juvenile and adult member were excommunicated from the congregation in February 2013, papers indicated. … According to the Delaware State Police at the time of her arrest, Ms. Carmean, of Berlin, Maryland, was 35 and the allegedly involved male was 14.”

Delaware State News, February 3, 2016
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