Just this past week, a woman in the state of Utah filed suit against a local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as the religion’s headquarters, for allegedly being forced to listen to an audiotape of her own molestation.
According to the suit, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune at this site, the abuse of this woman began in 2007, while she was still a minor. She first went to the movies with an “instructor” in the church, who then kicked her out of the car for refusing to kiss him. His abuse escalated, according to the story, by threatening her family if she did not go along with him. He would allegedly bind her hands and ankles with duct tape and put a pillowcase over her head, leaving her alone in the backseat of the car like that for hours. The suit also states that he then began sexually assaulting her, forcing her to perform oral sex on him.
“During the meeting that included her mother and stepfather, the lawsuit states, church leaders played a recording of one of the purported rapes, obtained from the instructor, for four to five hours “repeatedly stopping and starting the audio tape … suggesting that she consented to the sexual behavior.””
– The Salt Lake Tribune, October 15, 2016
If this story sounds too far-fetched to be true, consider other allegations faced by Jehovah’s Witnesses in similar cases. Here you can read about two women, ages 5 and 10 when they were molested by a member of their congregation, who were asked if they had enjoyed the experience at all. Don’t bother to back up, you read it right; they were 5 and 10 when they were molested. Here you can read about a woman who was alleged to have been asked to demonstrate how far apart her legs were spread during her rape, so that her accuser, a rather rotund man, could claim that he couldn’t have raped her in that position. Both of these incidents occurred in front of the women’s abusers. The Australian Royal Commission inquiry into how Jehovah’s Witnesses handle accusations of sexual abuse also showed that elders were downright obscene in how they handled cases in that country.
If you want to dismiss the allegation that she was bound and gagged and left in the backseat of a car, of course I personally cannot attest as to whether or not this actually happened, but I would caution against an outright disbelief. My friend Bo Juel was molested for many years by a congregation elder, and, as he relates in his story, “The Least of God’s Priorities,” the elder would take him to a basement room that had no lights and no windows, and toss the little boy in that room for hours as a way to keep him quiet. To say that such horrific torture of children never happens, not in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, is absurd.
Whatever the outcome of this woman’s lawsuit, it has been painfully, obscenely obvious for many years now that 1) there is a problem with pedophilia and child rape within the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses; these are not simply isolated, “rogue” elders here and there who are abusing children this way, and 2) other elders have absolutely no business, none whatsoever, handling these investigations themselves. Not only do they lack any type of training as to how to question victims of alleged abuse, but they choose to remain blind to the ways you shouldn’t treat them, including questioning them in front of their abusers, blaming them for abuse, asking if they “enjoyed” being molested at age 5 or 10, and sitting there in a room with other old men and a child’s parents while listening to an audiotape of a sexual nature.
I strongly hope this woman’s suit is successful if all her allegations are true, and hope that other victims come forward with their own stories and their own liability cases. Of course, even so, those suits could never be as painful for the Watchtower as what is happening to the children suffering under this type of abuse within the Kingdom Hall walls.
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