Did Patrick Haeck and the Open Minds Foundation (OMF) Actually Silence a Story About JWs?
I’d like readers to please look at this video below, uploaded by Marc Latham in the UK. In it, he reads a letter directed to all elders in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, telling them to conduct an “Audit of Files” and destroy personal notes made by elders during judicial committee meetings, among other items. Marc reads this letter word-for-word, emphasizing certain points, and then notes the different investigations taking place in the UK, including the Goddard Inquiry.
As I bring out in this post, the Goddard Inquiry has stipulated that organizations like Jehovah’s Witnesses not destroy anything when it comes to records related to their care of children. Doing so is a criminal matter. At the end of the video, Marc very accurately puts the question to the elders in the congregations if they’re ready to defy these legal orders, and in so doing, basically elevate the JWs and the religion above the process of protecting children.
Now look at this video, and the part I want you to note is at the very beginning, at about the 1:45 mark.
Notice how Marc refers to that first video above, and points out that a certain person wrote to a journalist and stopped her from talking to Marc and to “not bother” with the story at all. Marc refers to this person’s actions as a “cardinal sin” with activism; we should all have one aim and that aim should not be to “scupper” a story of any sort. As he said, this person was working against an entire team of activists and was doing this on the subject of child rape and molestation. Marc is too much of a gentleman to state this person’s name publicly.
I don’t have that problem.
This story landed in my lap, and not by Marc himself, I might add. I was aware of this person and their actions and had a copy of that person’s email to the journalist sent to me many days before I was ever in dialogue with Marc; I have my own media sources when it comes to the Watchtower. I was told the person who sent this message to the journalist was Patrick Haeck.
For those who don’t recognize the name, Haeck is a former JW elder (from Belgium I believe). Haeck is the one who was in the video that was once on the site JWsurvey.org, with Lloyd Evans aka John Cedars giving away copies of the book “Crisis of Conscience” or COC, books that I understand were printed from a PDF file and which had Cedars’ website logo added to the back, done without permission from the copyright owner (I’ve spoken to both Cedars and Deborah Dykstra, the legal copyright owner, about the matter personally and directly).
Before you dismiss the gravity of Cedars’ actions, note this site: “When good or services appear to originate from a legitimate source but are in fact unauthorized reproductions, the crime of counterfeiting has likely been committed. The offense can include not only creating fraudulent documents and goods, but also altering legitimate items. Because trafficking counterfeit goods is an interstate and international business, it is a crime largely regulated by the federal government.” Perhaps “altering” would include putting a website logo on the cover? Also, note the word “trafficking,” which refers to the distribution of the goods, not just the production of them; no matter who actually creates unauthorized copies of a book, distributing them is also a crime, or so this site seems to say. I’m no legal expert of course, but that’s what I found online and am just putting it out there for all to see.
Let me go over some background information as it’s been handed to me and readers can discern what they want from this story.
Marc was previously the Vice President of Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA). AAWA was giving, from what I understand, financial support for the site JWsurvey, with the URL being in the name of John Hoyle, an officer of AAWA. When Cedars had that video on the website advertising his COC book giveaway, Marc sent a message to the board of AAWA, asking about their potential legal liabilities. This was something he had the right and responsibility to do, as an officer of that company; if Cedars was indeed committing a crime, could AAWA lose their charitable status for giving financial support to his website as long as a criminal action was being committed? I don’t know and Marc didn’t know, which is why he had the responsibility to ask the board and request they take it to their lawyer. Marc also then repeated some things that many, many people have been saying lately, including Richard Kelly, treasurer of AAWA, about Cedars, that he needs to work to support his family, that nobody wants to work with him outside the ex-JW community, that he needs to leave other activists alone, etc. I’ve heard this from Richard, Marc and Cora have heard it, we’ve all heard it, a lot of people have been saying it; Marc simply had the brass knobs enough to put it in writing.
This message was then “accidentally” forwarded to Cedars by John Hoyle. Richard himself said in an email about the situation, “Lloyd read the information and responded much like Donald Trump and shared his unbridled feelings with his Facebook friends, all insulting rubbish about Marc Latham.” Despite this, there was no public statement from AAWA challenging the legalities of Cedars sharing what he knew to be confidential business (not personal) correspondence and no public apology to Marc for this gross breach of confidentiality. Twice in two years now, AAWA has seen a huge leak of confidential information that hurt someone personally, with no public response from them at all. (The hell goes on in your boardroom anyway, just darts and beer?) Marc then resigned from AAWA due to this grossly unprofessional behavior and because of resenting being told by Richard that he (Marc) “will need to take the high ground on this matter.” AAWA then also transferred the URL of JWsurvey into Cedars’ name.
In that same email, Richard said that AAWA would be aligned with the Open Minds Foundation (OMF). Their just-launched website says that OMF is going to be this big organization of 150 experts on “undue influence” and would bring together doctors and counselors and lawyers and nurses and whomever, and would educate the world on this problem, and etc.; you know the grandiose claims I’m talking about. According to business paperwork filed in Richard’s home state of Arizona and the site itself, Jim Atack (his brother Jon is the ex-Scientologist that many of us know) is the President of OMF and Patrick Haeck is the Vice President, and Richard is again the treasurer.
Before Marc’s resignation from AAWA, he had been in touch with a journalist about these investigations in the UK, including the Goddard Inquiry and the Charity Commissions Inquiry. After Marc resigned from AAWA, Haeck then apparently, from what has been forwarded to me, sent an email to that journalist. Let me break down a few statements in that email, with my thoughts; note that this has been translated from Belgian (Dutch), so bear with the clunky English.
A. “Marc Latham gave his resignation for personal reasons within AAWA…”
I see nothing “personal” about Marc’s resignation at all. AAWA’s apparent lack of sound business practices is embarrassing, highly suspect, and now obscenely insulting to someone who has done nothing but work hard on behalf of the organization and activism in general. In my opinion, Marc was owed a public and private written apology, not a lecture about what ground HE would need to take. Richard said in his email that Haeck called Cedars and spoke to him on the phone after Cedars posted his drivel on his Facebook wall, but it would have seemed the appropriate response to chastise Cedars publicly since he made the issue public himself. Yet again, AAWA and everyone involved dropped the ball on all sides, probably just hoping it would all go away, and then, rather than taking an ounce of responsibility for this mess, hung Marc out to dry and deceptively said that he resigned for “personal” reasons. That’s how I see it, anyway.
B. “You will understand that the use of ‘ half-truths ‘ would undermine our legal position heavily during the judicial investigation. Within the Belgian SAS (www.sas-sekten.be), AAWA (US), the Open Minds Foundation (US) we try especially with honest, truthful publications, letters and testimonials and people to work. Sometimes means also that we of certain people to say goodbye to because their emotions take over and they give in to a non-correct explination of the case…” Haeck also stated, “A very reliable source of information about the abuses at JG you will find besides back on JWsurvey…” and “The man behind this website is Lloyd Evans, also a personal friend of mine.”
I would hope they weren’t talking about Marc using “half-truths,” since he read the letter regarding the Audit of Files verbatim, and I mean the whole letter, not “half” the letter. I would really like them to pinpoint when Marc has ever, ever given any “non-correct explanation” of anything going on with the Watchtower.
This statement that AAWA and OMF try to work with “honest” and “truthful” people also isn’t quite correct, is it? Whether or not he can get this through his head and no matter what his online friends may say (friends who I assume are not actually attorneys in a position to give legal opinions), and no matter where the issue now stands, Cedars had absolutely no business distributing unauthorized, altered copies of COC. The fact that the copyright owner herself had to serve papers to his house and that the video is now taken down seems to demonstrate that, in my opinion.
Patrick Haeck, the Vice President of OMF, was in the video with Cedars talking about his giveaway of these altered books. Haeck is seen endorsing or at least smiling at a copyright violation at least, and potentially a criminal act at worst; how is this “honest”? It seems that AAWA recognized some culpability of Cedars’ behavior because of finally putting the website in his name, but behind the scenes, OMF officers are still sending journalists to that site.
Also, this statement about saying goodbye because their “emotions take over”; if this was talking about Marc, I would think this is also incorrect, as it’s very trivial but Marc said goodbye to AAWA by resigning, not the other way around. Painting him as being overly emotional is unprofessional, childish, inflammatory, and just stupid beyond belief.
C. “We had also with Marc Latham from AAWA a call. In some of his videos he did it come across like JW systematically all written documents related to paedophilia destroyed. This is not quite fair…”
Patrick Haeck said that Marc was coming across as if JWs systemically destroy all written notes, but Marc didn’t say that at all; he never used the word “systemically.” He read their instructions verbatim and emphasized certain points, and then asked very legitimate questions, but never did he add anything to that letter that wasn’t already there.
Note that even the BBC has come out and said that JWs are quite possibly criminally liable for this instruction (see this post); their legal analyst said that JWs “have some explaining to do” when it comes to this document destruction. The BBC seems to be in agreement with Marc’s questions to the elders; why would another “activist” disagree? We’ve also seen and heard from the elders’ own mouths, when questioned by the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry, how they regularly destroy files so their stupid wives don’t get their stupid hands on them.
D. “There is so much to tell … This is actually a design for an investigative journalist … This is time consuming, requires diving into the sect world … and I take not blame you if you let this issue for what it is and … I understand you … This skepticism graced you as a journalist.”
Am I really reading a statement to a journalist saying that they are perhaps not qualified to write a story on the JW problem with child molestation and the inquiries in the UK because it’s “time consuming” and better left to someone with more “investigative” skills? The approach to this is not to offer whatever assistance she would need, but to say that you wouldn’t blame her if she dropped the story altogether? Someone decided to insult the journalist and her skills, make assumptions as to her time, and hint that she might let it alone?
Are you fucking kidding me?
I’m sorry, I seem to have let my “emotions take over.” Let me rephrase that.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Yes, that was better.
The journalist decided to do just that; I’m told she sent this email back to Marc so he would know what was going on and then bowed out. I cannot fathom, just cannot wrap my head around why anyone would do this or say this to a journalist. Is it because she’s a woman? Is it one of those, “either we get our names in the paper or no one gets their name in the paper” deals? I don’t know, but whatever the reason and whatever really happened, the damage has been done. We lost a story. We lost a story. Do you have any idea how hard activists need to work to get journalists interested in a group as esoteric and insignificant as the Watchtower? Can you imagine how this would make child victims feel, seeing their chance to tell their story and their chance to have the world know what has happened to them, just go up in smoke like this?
I think what bothers me most about this mess, apart from what was done to Marc, someone who has worked tirelessly and selflessly on behalf of victim, is that the Open Minds Foundation (OMF) website lists Gregorio Smith, Alex Stein, Bonnie Ziemann, and Steven Hassan as being part of the organization, among others. Bonnie and Steven especially have shown themselves to be true friends to the ex-JW community; Bonnie wrote the great “EXiting the JW Cult” handbook, and of course Steven is a well-known, well-respected anti-cult activist who included Jehovah’s Witnesses in the latest edition of his book, “Combating Cult Mind Control.” I highly doubt that any of the people associated with this foundation knew what was going on with this. Also, Richard Kelly said in his email that AAWA would be aligning with OMF and Paul Grundy (JWfacts.com) is a member of AAWA, according to their website. Paul has also been nothing but an amazing friend to the ex-JW community; he’s always stayed above this type of nonsense and without his website, I’m sure our activism would be lost. It’s sad and disturbing that these ones, whom I’m sure are innocent parties and who have worked hard to build their professional reputations, are being caught up in all this. Marc may very well have grounds for a defamation suit against Haeck and OMF, and while I highly doubt he would lower himself to that type of nonsense, I would wonder the liability of these ones if such suits were filed.
When this story was given to me, I had written up a draft email to send back to Patrick Haeck, Richard Kelly, Cedars, John Hoyle, Lee Marsh (President of AAWA), and Jim Atack, and ask for a response before I printed anything. Then I decided, no. Patrick Haeck didn’t give Marc a chance to say anything before he apparently sent his email to the journalist, and Cedars didn’t approach Marc privately to discuss his very confidential message to the AAWA board before posting it on his Facebook wall. Marc deserved better than this disrespect, which is exactly why I’m taking it upon myself to make this public. Marc and his wife Cora have been two of the best, most professional yet personable activists we’ve seen; they in no way earned this smear campaign and to have their reputations maligned for reasons I still cannot fathom. When Mickey Hudson had to step away as the VP of AAWA a year or so before this writing, Richard Kelly and I discussed if there was anyone to recommend for the position. I seem to remember we both had a very short list of viable candidates, so I would think Marc was doing AAWA a favor by filling the spot, not the other way around. He deserved better, definitely. If someone wants to talk to a journalist or get their name in the paper or direct attention back to their organization or whatever, more power to them, you have my blessing, we need all the noise we can make against the Watchtower, but you don’t do it off the back of another activist, and especially not someone who has worked so hard and so sincerely, without asking for anything in return.
I’ve also heard enough insulting rubbish from that side of the road already; I don’t need any one of them bellowing at me, insulting Bo’s book and his writing to me, insulting Bo’s classes he’s taking for coaching and seminars, insulting the seminars I’m trying to help Bo put together (the first one was amazingly well-received, by the way), insulting the fact that I concentrate on the victimization of the Watchtower Society on this site, acting as if they’re the only ones to be taken seriously and we’re just all stupid children. Well, they can insult and bellow all they want; I didn’t violate someone else’s copyright, I didn’t “accidentally” forward confidential business information or reveal personal information to anyone, I didn’t stab another activist in the back by saying they weren’t “quite fair” to the Watchtower, I didn’t squelch a story with a journalist. From everything I’ve been told, this is what they’ve done. They have some explaining to do, not me.
So that’s the story as it landed in my lap; make what you will of it. Go and ask them questions if you need more info; I’m done. If AAWA or the Open Minds Foundation (OMF) has anything to say, they can certainly make a statement themselves, but on their own sites, not to me; they lost their audience with me a long time ago. I’d be interested in a public response because it would be telling if AAWA did come forward and make a statement about this mess; in 2014, one of their volunteers “outed” someone by publishing her real name and address on Facebook, saying very threateningly, “Do what you want with this information,” yes in a private group of 9 people and after being goaded to do just that by someone with an obvious ugly agenda, but it did become public knowledge and yet, AAWA said nothing publicly. I had to clean up that mess for them. Bo Juel, a member of AAWA’s advisory board, got viciously attacked online with obscene allegations, and they said nothing, something I still resent them for and something that earned them a lot of disrespect from me and everyone in the ex-JW community; how dare they rely on me, someone who really didn’t know Bo at that time, to come to his defense? Marc got attacked and hung out to dry publicly, and they said nothing. Bo wrote a fucking book, and they said nothing. When I come out and call them up on the carpet, now will they say something?