Use the number “1,006” with ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they’ll probably immediately recognize to what you’re referring. During the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry Into Institutional Response to Child Sex Abuse, conducted in 2015, it was revealed that the religion had a historical record of 1,006 child sex abusers in that country alone. The elders did not report one case to the police, many abusers were found to be in positions of authority in the religion, not all of them were removed from the religion, and some were brought back after suffering disfellowshipping [excommunication] for a short time.
If all those facts and figures are not horrific enough, it’s the 1,006 that I want to emphasize. That’s a very large number of pedophiles to be found in a religion that claims to be based on love of neighbor and love of family, and that repeatedly says it “abhors” child abuse of any sort. However, I’m going to say it outright, for those who missed it during the Inquiry: 1,006 is just the number who made it to their records.
I’m quite confident in saying that 1,006 is not the real number of child abusers who were in the religion in that country alone; the real number is probably at least twice, if not three times or even higher, that figure.
I’m basing this statement on the testimony offered by victim “BCG,” from day 148, page 15286:
According to BCG, she tried to contact elder Kevin Bowditch about being sexually abused by her father, and Bowditch didn’t even bother to speak to her. BCG then tried to talk to another elder, Dino Ali, at least twice about the abuse she was suffering. He also rebuffed her.
Those familiar with the case know that BCG’s father eventually went before the elders, but not for raping his own daughter; it was for cheating on his wife. The only time the elders listened to BCG’s concerns was after a male friend in the congregation went to them, with information BCG had confided in him.
Here is the point; BCG went to the elders at least three times to report her father for raping her. The elders dismissed her every time. If her father hadn’t been caught cheating on his wife, and if BCG’s male friend hadn’t gone to the elders, what are the chances that her father would have made it to the records of that 1,006? If BCG had just given up trying to report him, her father’s molestation never would have been known to anyone, and never would have been investigated, much less recorded by the elders.
Keep in mind this important detail, that BCG tried at least three times, with two different elders, to report her molestation. This wasn’t a problem with just one rogue, negligent elder, or one random elder who may have simply misunderstood her. The first elder to whom she wanted to speak couldn’t even be bothered to have a conversation with her, and another elder told her outright that she needed to handle it on her own.
This raises the question, how many other abusers have been reported to Jehovah’s Witness elders, but with their cases and allegations also dismissed, and not just in Australia? If BCG reported her abuse at least three times, to two separate men, and it was still ignored, do we really think that every other allegation of child sex abuse is investigated properly, and added to whatever records and notes the elders kept, and continue to keep?
Remember that it takes tremendous courage and strength for a victim to attempt to speak to anyone about their abuse, even once; being rebuffed, dismissed, or ignored by elders can easily cause them to simply give up trying to report it to anyone. I imagine that a number of them would never speak about it again, and that their allegations would never make it to the records that elders keep. BCG’s case alone is proof positive that the elders don’t investigate, and certainly don’t record, every allegation of child sex abuse.
Obviously I have no real insight as to how many allegations and investigations make it to the records of congregation elders versus those that are ignored, but I refuse to believe that 1,006 is an accurate number; BCG’s case alone proves it. Based on her testimony, it might be safe to say that, for every one allegation that does get recorded, there could easily be two, three, or even more that are rebuffed, dismissed, or overlooked by the elders.
This is why, when I mention the 1,006 cases, I try very hard to note that these are the ones “that made it to their records.” Maybe the elders in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t be bothered to acknowledge all the child abusers, and their victims, who are under their roof, but I refuse to make that same mistake.
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