Australian Royal Commission Inquiry 2015

Breaking News From Australia: Is This the First Successful Liability Case For Child Sex Abuse Filed Against the Watchtower?

Activists in Australia have notified me of a recent, successful liability case, regarding child sexual abuse that was filed against the Watchtower in that country; the case was mediated last month, so there were no court proceedings to report on. However, the settlement in this case deals a huge blow to Watchtower, and is a victory for the victim as well as all advocates against this religion.

According to my sources, there is no “gag order” on the case, but it’s not yet available in the public domain and is still under confidentiality privileges. The case ran for 18 months, and involved a female survivor of child sex abuse from Western Australia. This survivor was apparently groomed at the Kingdom Hall, where she became the abuse victim of an elder there, who is now deceased (so there will obviously not be a criminal trial to accompany the civil case).

The victim testified that she was discouraged from making a report to police and from seeking other support, and the Watchtower was found to have failed in their duty of care. Noteworthy, too, was that the environment surrounding her at the time was distinctly male-dominated, which no doubt contributed to the unfolding of events. The victim also now suffers from a diagnosable psychological condition, which is not surprising; child sex abuse affects victims for decades, if not their entire life, something that the Watchtower Corporation seems to fail to grasp. Despite her condition, this survivor was said to be an excellent witness to her case.

It was noted that, in this case, the Watchtower did handle the matter sensitively, but no policies have been changed as a result of the case, although none were specifically requested.

Because I am not able to interview this survivor yet myself, I asked my Australian contact, Lara Kaput, to explain some details of the case and what it means for us, as activists:

What is the impact of this case? 

“This case means that more people will come forward. We want them to have the confidence to come out of the shadows. We want their cases to flood to the panel of lawyers chosen by the ARC [Australian Royal Commission; see this post for more information about that Inquiry].”

Why is it significant?

“We believe it’s the first child sexual abuse case [against Watchtower] in Australia. It’s history-making.”

What does this mean for activism in Australia?

“We are ramping it up. We could use help from ex JWs and from those who have never been JWs. We need people of all types. Allied health professionals. Child safety expertise. Creative people. Empaths. Law students. Life coaches. Media. The most important thing we need right now is a specific pathway to healing, designed by a professional.”

What does this mean for us, moving forward?

“We want people to build on the platform that the ARC has provided us. It’s been a safety net for people to start conversations that we never could before. Other cases are all stages of being filed. You are no longer alone. Take the next step. Speak to a law firm about your options. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so stay connected in an ex JW support group.”

The Old Boys Club

One final thought; it was noted to me that the Watchtower was represented by a female attorney. I thought this was significant, as Jehovah’s Witnesses do not allow women to hold any positions of authority in the congregation, or have any type of responsibility whatsoever. This includes not having women as part of the investigation process when allegations of child sexual abuse are made; it was brought out during the ARC Inquiry that female victims were very uncomfortable in having to relate their stories of abuse to a panel of all men.

It’s also noteworthy that a letter accompanying the book, “Shepherd the Flock of God In Your Care,” the handbook used by elders for investigating allegations of misconduct in the congregation, says specifically that women are not to even spiral-bind the book for an elder, as the information is to remain confidential:

 

How interesting that women in the religion apparently cannot be trusted with what the Watchtower deems to be confidential information; the bible, which they think is the word of god, can be shared freely with anyone, but the words of men, instructions to elders that affect those very same women, must remain a secret.

However, when the Watchtower needs legal representation against a costly liability suit, then suddenly they can trust a woman with reams of legal and confidential information. The misogyny in the religion is bad enough, but their hypocrisy of having to keep JW women in their place, while gladly using other women to defend them in court, is just sickening.

I will continue to follow up on this story and on the other cases being filed in Australia; in the meantime, I’m deeply grateful to Lara for her insight and information, and to the activists in that country who are truly effecting change when it comes to the Watchtower. Of course, the true heroes are the victims, in finding the strength and courage needed to face down the beast that is this religion, and especially after they’ve suffered so much at its hands already.

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16 replies »

  1. Well done to all the Australian activists involved, most of whose names we’ll never know. I hope the victim/survivor finds some measure of closure and healing from this successful outcome.
    Nicolaou.

  2. I suspect that your critic is like the current crop of Euro leaders who are sending Europe to hell in a truck with their no checks come one come all ‘migration’.. policies.. ie they do not have children or grand children.

    • I suspect it’s another exJW “activist” with an axe to grind, but whomever he is, his words are just nonsense. As Andrew said, victory comes in many forms, and I’m still waiting to hear how that sentence could have been reworded LOL!

    • You’re also not welcome to come on this site and make accusations against my information without anything to back it up, and waste space with ludicrous criticisms about the wording of sentences and what victims do or do not deserve.

      • That’s your decision and I respect that . I just want to make you know I’m not “John”.

        Thank you,

        Dan

  3. Something needs to be re-worded. Mediation (settlement) is not a victory by definition. And if you mean a financial settlement is the victorious part, keep in mind settlements are always lower that judgments (hence, that’s why defendants offer settlements because it a heck of a lot cheaper than going through an entire case). So this is not likely to even be on WT financial radar.

    Thirdly, it’s wise to first read the court documents which are still sealed before jumping for joy. Until then, it’s all hearsay and third hand information, otherwise, your sources would be held liable for going into detail.

    Other than that, victims are entilted to justice, not having their stories half way told based off of unproven information.

    • It never ceases to amaze me the lengths people will go to just to criticize and pick; different emails, bouncing ISP addresses all over, it’s like you think this is Communist Russia. A perfectly worded sentence about spiral binding is such a huge issue, and now you get to decide what is and what is not a victory. What’s next, the font? Word count?

      As for your criticisms, getting WT to pay is a victory, considering how much they fight against it. Is it on their radar? This opens the doors for the next suit, and the next. How much money do you think they paid in legal fees, in addition to the payout? And if it wasn’t important, why go to such lengths to fight it?

      As for hearsay, the information has been verified. Just because it’s not publicly available doesn’t mean no one can see it or report on it. It’s called having contacts. As for a victim’s “half way told story,” when he/she is ready to tell their full story and all restrictions are lifted, we’ll continue to report. I also resent you referring to “unproven information.” That’s a very defaming statement and unless you can back it up, take it elsewhere. Let it go John. Seriously. Let it go.

      • Victory comes in many forms Dan. Ultimately, achieving some or most of what a survivor is looking for – in whatever shape or form that takes (ranging from expressing feelings in a meaningful way in the face of a source of prior harm to receiving compensation or professional support) – is at least a victory of sorts and its value is highly subjective.

        On the other hand, costs imposed by a judge can be quickly offset by the higher costs of achieving a judgement, both financially and emotionally. Out of court settlement is often seen as they sane path unless you’re looking for a criminal conviction – which was not the case here.

  4. Perhaps this sentence can be reworded.
    ‘says specifically that women are not to even spiral-bind the book for an elder, as the information is to remain confidential:’

  5. I feel so sorry for the abused victim but am so happy that she came forward. More people need to “tell”. Jw’s seem like a men’s club who have women to slave for them. Some of the women where I belonged would do favors (I guess that’s what you would call it) for some of the elders and I would really wonder why. Was it because of fear, or was the woman trying to look “good” in the elders eyes?? I’m talking about there was one woman who would throw others under the bus for some elders. I am so happy I got out. I can not believe people would stay there when you can plainly see a lot of what they do is not Christian like!

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