During the 2015 Royal Commission Inquiry Into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse in Australia, a member of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Geoffrey Jackson, was questioned by a lawyer representing a victim of child molestation. The lawyer noted how the victim, raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and molested by a Witness, had written a long and heartfelt letter to one of their headquarters, begging for help and reassurance. The victim had received back what amounted to a form letter, telling her to “put her tears in a skin bottle” and “look forward to the new world.” In effect, she was dismissed and silenced, as the lawyer pointed out.
The lawyer went on to note how this type of response can actually further traumatize a victim; being dismissed and told that those in authority and with the power to actually do something about your abuses are not going to even address them, can make a victim feel as if those horrific events matter very little. In turn, they matter very little.
In truth, these victims don’t seem to matter much to Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Jackson’s very hollow expressions of concern demonstrate this clearly:
There are a few reasons why this statement is an absolute lie on his part; consider:
No Interest in the Statement and No Apology
During the course of the inquiry, Jackson admitted that he had not read the statements of the victims, nor the letter that the one victim had sent to their headquarters. However, he did at one time reference a statement made by an elder who was questioned.
This clearly demonstrates Mr. Jackson’s priorities. While I understand that he was in Australia to care for his ailing father and I’m sure his time was limited, he did manage to read what was important to him, that is, the testimony of the elders. He did not make the time to read the statements made by the victims, which I might point out, were not that lengthy. The victims were questioned throughout the course of the first day, but the statements they submitted were only a few pages long. It seems obvious that they simply were not of great importance to Mr. Jackson.
It’s also significant that throughout his questioning, not once did Mr. Jackson offer an apology; not for this victim being molested by someone with authority in the congregation, not for the horrific questioning she had to endure by elders who admitted that they probably traumatized her all over again, and not for the letter in question. He apologized to the attorney for not having read the letter, but he never apologized to the victim for what she went through. He said that he was “empathetic” to her case, that he was “disappointed” if she felt she was not being listened to, that his “heart goes out to her.” Not once, however, does he say he is sorry or does he offer an actual apology to her.
This lack of apology is significant as it seems to indicate that the governing body is not sorry for how they’ve created these policies and practices that victimize children in this way; this problem is not their fault or their responsibility, but simply some minor shortfalls down the line. It’s also blindingly hypocritical when they often preach at their congregants to be apologetic to others:
So in a marriage, you should be humble enough to say you’re sorry, but apparently being a member of the governing body means never having to say you’re sorry, or so the saying goes.
Tell Her Yourself
What is also disturbing is how Mr. Jackson asked the attorney to convey his concern for the victim, when he and other governing body members have had ample opportunity to do this themselves; Jehovah’s Witnesses now have their own online broadcast channel, tv.jw.org, and have used it to run streaming videos and monthly presentations from the governing body. Twice they have discussed the subject of pedophilia; in May of 2015, Stephen Lett referred to “apostate-driven lies” that Jehovah’s Witnesses are permissive to pedophiles, and in July of 2015, Anthony Morris blamed homosexuals and the “new morality” for pedophilia. Not only did these men fail to apologize or send their concern to any victim personally, but instead they shifted and deflected blame, and then called the victims of these horrific crimes apostates and liars.
How interesting that, when forced to sit under the glaring lights of a Royal Commission inquiry, Jackson backtracked on the “apostate lies” comment, as lead counsel Angus Stewart asked him outright if he thought the work of the RC was just that. Also interesting that when Mr. Jackson was cornered and had the failings of Jehovah’s Witnesses repeatedly noted, then suddenly he wanted to show the world his “love and concern.” However, in the months leading up to the inquiry, when JWs were free to make any statement they wanted regarding the problem of pedophilia and child molestation in their ranks, they resorted to name calling instead.
This makes Jackson’s “love and concern” just more hypocritical lies on his part. He and the rest of the governing body have no real love for those they call “apostates” and accuse of lying, and can’t even be concerned enough to read their statements. That being said, if they are so concerned about the victims and want them to know how much they love them, they can still relay those thoughts themselves. I look forward to that episode on their broadcasting channel.
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