News Update: In Scathing Court Decision, Watchtower Loses Appeal of $4000 Per Day Fine

As brought out in this post, the Watchtower Society recently appealed a $4000 per day court sanction (or fine), which they were facing for failure to produce certain documents in a child sex abuse liability case. The judge who heard the Watchtower’s appeal of this sanction referred to their argument as “breathtaking,” as a sanction was actually what the Watchtower had argued for just months earlier.

The religion had been facing a $13.5 million judgment for a child sex abuse case, partially because of not complying with that order to produce documents.

Watchtower appealed that $13.5 million judgment, asking for sanctions instead.

The court agreed, saying that less severe sanctions may impel them to produce those documents.

The Watchtower then appealed that decision, saying they shouldn’t be facing sanctions.

Today the court rejected the Watchtower’s appeal regarding these daily sanctions, and handed down a rather scathing decision against them. You can read the full decision from the court here: D070723 marked up, and I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting some details.

Page 5 is very interesting; it notes that Watchtower knew of this abuser in the congregation, and did not report him to police or “take any action to prevent further abuse.” It offers details and a timeline as to Watchtower’s absolute failure to do anything to stop the abuser from molesting child after child.

Page 11 is also interesting, as it notes that, in the early 2000s, the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (CCJW) was formed, as a separate entity from the Watchtower Society, with separate boards of directors and bank accounts. The argument is that certain documents were controlled by “Watchtower” before that time, and certain documents were controlled by CCJW after that time, and that “Watchtower had no control over CCJW,” one of the reasons they offer as to why they couldn’t produce those documents.

For former Jehovah’s Witnesses, we immediately understand the absolute rubbish in this argument. The Watchtower as a corporation, and the CCJW as a corporation, may be two separate, legal entities, but of course they are simply opposite sides of the same coin.

According to Wikipedia (not the best source of information, I realize, but this article is well-cited), the CCJW handles religious affairs, whereas the Watchtower handles administrative tasks (real estate, publishing, etc.). Page 13 of the court’s decision notes that the CCJW was formed to “reinforce the concept that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a religion,” versus just a publishing company. That’s all well and good, but splitting your organization into two factions, and claiming that one has nothing to do with the other, or they’re just unable to cooperate with each other, is nonsense.

The court also saw through this ploy, as the Watchtower slipped up in their argument; they stated, in part, that they could not produce the documents in question because it would be burdensome to go through the thousands of files in which they’re located. As the court’s decision noted, on page 14, Watchtower did not say that they did not have access to those files, as they’re now under the control of CCJW; they admitted in their own argument that they could access them, but it would simply take too long. Oops.

The footnote on page 18 notes that Watchtower holds some $1.3 billion in real property. This amount is especially obscene when you think of how often they beg for money, even from children, and how hard they fight the victims when it comes to compensation for their abuses.

real propertyThe decision goes on to note Watchtower’s consistent arguments against the court, and their outright refusal to acknowledge the authority of the court, calling Watchtower’s conduct “egregious.” That word means “extraordinary in some bad way; glaring; flagrant; gross, outrageous, notorious, shocking.”

The final section of the decision states that Watchtower “abused the discovery process,” that they acted in “defiance” of the court, and that “the superior court has shown great patience and flexibility in dealing with a recalcitrant litigant who refuses to follow valid orders and merely reiterates losing arguments.”

The word “recalcitrant” means “resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant.” This is interesting, because Jehovah’s Witnesses consistently paint themselves as law-abiding citizens:

“Like the early Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses are law-abiding citizens. They take to heart Jesus’ words: “Pay back, therefore, Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” (Matthew 22:21) They obey “Caesar,” or the governmental authorities, by diligently fulfilling the responsibilities that are required of citizens, such as paying taxes and complying with census laws and marriage registrations.” – Lasting Peace and Happiness, page 28, paragraph 10

Apparently this need to be “law-abiding” doesn’t apply when compensation for child sex abuse victims is on the line, as the decision itself so clearly stated, on page 38:

“It is clear that those responses, at least in part, were in consideration of future litigation and liability that could arise from the placement of known child molesters in positions of leadership and authority within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization.”

In other words, Watchtower knows that the information in the records they keep will do nothing but open them up to more lawsuits. Rather than protect children, they choose instead to fight… and fight and fight… to protect those documents and records, protect their own reputation, and of course, protect their precious bank accounts.

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12 replies »

  1. For JWorg to double down so hard on the two-witness rule, I can only conclude that the elites at the top are a bunch of pedophiles. How else can they defend and protect pedophiles at a rate of $4,000 per day? And besides, what message does that send to pedophiles?

  2. This is a good new!

    But I see that the “seven” do not change their position even with millionaire sanctions.
    Could not the Authorities consider them responsible for pedophilia, as they refuse to cooperate with justice, and arrest them, along with all those who have executed their directives?

    They call themselves Christians but they are completely indifferent to the pain of the victims. The secular power of Caesar, which according to them is in the hands of Satan, is much more Christian than them!

    • One of the options available to the court in the face of a refusal to cooperate with discovery rulings is to impose terminating sanctions. This would effectively rule in favor of the plaintiff based on the assumption that refusing to provide the documents indicates that they would be incriminating. Had the court ruled in this fashion, the WTS would be liable for the full amount they are being sued for (subject to appeal, which would probably not be too favorable in light of their refusal to cooperate).

      This is a moot point in light of the settlements they have reached with the plaintiffs. But this is at least the second case in which the WTS has refused to comply with discovery requests, and that is a troubling pattern for them. Future case judges will be less inclined to be patient with a defendant who is so uncooperative with the court. And the WTS’s cash reserves are finite; they cannot continue to pay large fines and larger settlements indefinitely. At some point it will catch up to them.

  3. Just a note. For someone like me who has lost a lot of memory, ie can’t remember definitions of words. Thank you so much for including th

  4. The WT just quoted Deut 19:15 to reitterate their adherence to the “Two Witness Rule”. BUT as usual it’s Scriptural cherry picking => Deut 19:18 clearly states that an allegation from only ONE witness leads to “a thorough INVESTIGATION by the Judges” — WOWSER ! – so “What The Bible Really Teaches” is this… TWO Witnesses SETTLES the matter – ONE Witness gets INVESTIGATED by Judges – WT scam-a-rama….

  5. WT is now facing the same justice that they have denied to hundreds of thousands of victims–their own ways are coming upon their own heads. Like that leaked Elders video they showed in the Elders schools of Robbie who got a girl pregnant and was disfellowshipped because the Elders felt Robbie wasn’t totally honest about the extent of his sin, yet here they are employing those very same tactics with the courts…but wait, as typical indoctrinated JWs would say, ‘but that’s different’! Even their application of the 2 witness rule at Mathew chapter 18 that they talked about on the broadcast is being grossly misapplied–the 2 witnesses didn’t come into play until AFTER that accuser was confronted by the innocent person and the wrongdoer denied it, then the innocent victim went back with another witness to confront him again….THERE WERE NO 2 WITNESS PRESENT WHEN THE ABUSE ORIGINALLY TOOK PLACE. What is more, what child is going to have the courage to face their accuser and ‘reveal his fault between you and him alone’? Many times the child is so terrified from even telling their parents of what happened because the abuser will often threaten them with consequences of they do so, like harming someone in their family. And even when someone else is brought back with the child to confront the abuser, like the child’s parents, what child abuser is going to admit it? It’s very, very rare for a convicted pedophile to confess to what he’s done. Until the WT admits it’s mistakes and makes the necessary changes that it so desperately needs to make in their child abuse policy, until they instruct Elders to call the Police, the lawsuits are going to continue to mount up, one right after another.

  6. At least the Pope offered some sort of apology to the victims within the Catholic church and it has compensated many! The WBTS will never admit fault, or change their policies regarding child molestation, as can be seen in their latest Bethel Morning Worship broadcast- “We will NEVER change our scriptural position on that subject” (The two witness rule) Open the litigation floodgates now!

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