Just today, the activists Mike & Kim Brooks provided me with a copy of a secret letter that was sent to an elder in a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses here in the United States. This letter is from the legal department of the religion’s headquarters, as a followup to legal advice given to the elder(s) over the phone regarding a case of “child maltreatment.” Note the letter in its entirety (the header is removed to protect the identity of the source):
Let’s first establish that they are talking about a case of child sexual abuse and not any other forms of “child maltreatment.” This letter above tells the elder(s) to refer to a letter dated August 1, 2016, paragraph 14, which specifically references “child sexual abuse”:
There are two glaring things wrong with these directions from the legal department of the Watchtower Society:
“If” This Becomes a Judicial Matter
The second paragraph of this letter says that “if” the matter in question requires a judicial committee, then the elder(s) should consider those added instructions from the August 1, 2016, letter for how these are arranged.
If this becomes a judicial matter.
Not “when,” but “if.”
An accusation of child sexual abuse was put forward, and it was obviously credible enough to warrant a call to the legal department of the religion’s headquarters. Yet, as we see in black-and-white, Jehovah’s Witnesses are stubbornly insisting on having a second witness to the incident, a second victim of the same type of action, or some other information before they even arrange a judicial committee to confront the alleged abuser.
Never let Jehovah’s Witnesses tell you that they act on each and every accusation of child rape, that it’s handled swiftly and promptly, and that they do everything they can to protect children. This letter alone proves otherwise.
Destroying the Evidence
The second thing wrong with these instructions is obvious; that last paragraph outright instructs the elder(s) to destroy the letter itself, along with any and all written notes they may have made while on the phone with the legal department. They are also told, in no uncertain terms, to not send in any “electronic or written correspondence,” unless specifically asked to do so.
When I first read these instructions, I immediately thought of the opening scene to the old TV series, “Mission: Impossible.” The reason for destroying notes that elders have in their possession is the same reason that tape player needed to self-destruct; to get rid of any paper trail, any evidence of what was going on, of what was being planned or said. Even the letter itself was to be destroyed, just like that tape player.
Which begs the question, Why? Jehovah’s Witnesses have been caught continuously destroying notes and records, as was testified to during the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry in 2015, by the mouths of the elders themselves. Their excuse was that they didn’t want their wives to get their hands on their notes:
This doesn’t wash. A simple locked cabinet, or a respectful request to not look at files in the home, would be enough to keep any records and notes confidential.
I don’t mind going out on a limb and saying, the real reason for all this destruction is that Jehovah’s Witnesses know their policies do not stand up to scrutiny in the cold light of day. Whatever advice was given to this elder(s) from the legal department in this case, I’m sure it did not put the welfare of the child involved, and other potential victims, above all else. Who would want that to be seen by outsiders?
Of course, liability lawsuits are also a key issue, as Jehovah’s Witnesses are facing more and more of them every single day. There is an avalanche of suits coming their way in Australia alone, the result of the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry and the many activists in that country, as well as the victims being strong enough to come forward and file suit.
For Jehovah’s Witnesses, destroying their correspondence is much like destroying evidence of a crime; the Watchtower wants to cover their ass and assets, hide any liability on their part, and keep their policies a secret from the outside world. They do not want to protect children, not first and foremost. This letter alone is proof positive of that.
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