In March of this year, the Watchtower Corporation settled cases with former members Jose Lopez and Osbaldo Padron, for alleged mishandling of sexual abuse committed against the men when they were children in the religion. During the course of these cases, the courts had ordered Watchtower to produce records of other alleged child molesters in the religion. Watchtower refused, and was then slapped with a $4000 per day sanction from the courts. As I brought out in this post, Watchtower lost their final appeal against these sanctions last November, and you can read the court’s rather scathing decision against them in that column.
This settlement with Lopez and Padron closes down both this order for Watchtower to produce documents, and the $4000 per day sanction. The terms of the settlement reached with the men are confidential, so there is no information available about dollar amounts, etc.
Despite this huge, but not entirely unexpected, disappointment to activists and advocates who are interested in exposing allegations of child molestation in the religion so that they can be handled properly, this settlement is not a complete loss. In appealing the decision, Watchtower had stated they couldn’t produce the records because it would be so time-consuming; they didn’t say that such records don’t exist, so they cannot argue with anyone who accuses them of keeping such a database or collection of accusations. Also, these sanctions alone disprove Watchtower’s statement that they do not shield these persons from the consequences of their actions, as they were happy to pay $4000 per day to protect these ones!
The sanctions themselves no doubt cost Watchtower over $2 million, which is two million dollars they can’t spend on recruiting new members, or on building tax-exempt properties that they’ll simply flip for a profit. Eventually the Watchtower’s owners will need to determine if the cost of the many, many lawsuits they’re facing for how they mishandle child sex abuse allegations, and these public displays of their duplicity, outweigh the benefits of clinging to their ineffective policies that do nothing but traumatize and abandon victims to their abuses.
Please see this story from Reveal News for more information about the history of these cases in particular.
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