Jehovah’s Witnesses Sex Abuse Exposed

Jehovah’s Witnesses Sex Abuse Exposed

After a four-year investigation, a Pennsylvania grand jury recently indicted nine men on charges connected to long-term sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witness church.

Critics say church elders have treated child sexual abuse as a sin rather than a crime, carefully documenting cases in internal files, but not reporting allegations to authorities and sometimes letting the accused remain active in their congregations with access to children from unsuspecting families. Critics also say the church has often required a second witness for complaints, a standard that can be impossible to meet in cases of molestation.

Church spokesman Jarrod Lopes said otherwise — that the church does recognize abuse as a crime and that members have the right to report sexual assault to authorities. He said the second-witness rule applies only to internal church discipline and that elders comply with reporting laws, even when there is not a second witness. Evidence of Lopes’s claims is lacking.

Roots of the Problem

This religious cult focuses on using—though some might say “misusing”—Bible passages. For example, Deuteronomy 16:15 states that “One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” If a victim brought a charge and could not meet the two-witness rule, the church severely disciplined the complainant.

In 1997, the sect specifically extended this rule to sexual abuse cases. This letter also instructed church elders to keep any copy of any related transcript or report within the congregation’s confidential files and not to share it with anyone else, including law enforcement.

A 2022 update to the Jehovah’s Witnesses elder’s manual acknowledges that elders may be obligated to report allegations to secular authorities. But the policy does not encourage them to do so unless mandatory.

Most states, including Maryland, recognize the clergy-pertinent privilege, which exempts religious elders from any mandatory reporting requirement. However, this privilege does not apply in civil cases, meaning that an experienced Baltimore City sexual abuse survivor attorney can pursue damages in civil court.

Furthermore, several civil cases have uncovered widespread cover-ups of sexual abuse, not unlike the allegations contained in the Maryland Attorney General’s report about child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Childhood sexual abuse often causes lifelong problems. Victims need substantial compensation to deal with the psychological trauma that may compound or create other issue. Criminal courts usually do not compensate victims for these losses. Only a Baltimore sexual abuse survivor lawyer can do that.

Your Claim for Damages

State lawmakers recently repealed the statute of limitations in childhood sexual abuse claims. The SOL, which cuts off a victim’s ability to obtain compensation after a certain number of years, often runs afoul of child sex abuse matters. For various reasons, which are all perfectly valid reasons, these victims often don not come forward for decades. Since this restriction no longer applies in these cases, the biggest procedural obstacle in these matters disappeared overnight. 

So, instead of worrying about procedural hurdles, an experienced Baltimore City sexual abuse survivor attorney can concentrate on proving negligence or a lack of care by focusing on the investigation.

Usually, churches have a duty of care to protect parishioners. Sexual abuse clearly violates that duty of care. Because of the church’s cover-up, there is ample proof that the Jehovah’s Witnesses knew about abusers in its ranks.

Damages in a sexual abuse or other personal injury case normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills as well as noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well if there is clear and convincing evidence that the church intentionally disregarded a known risk.

These claims usually settle out of court. That is good news for survivors. These resolutions avoid the trauma and uncertainty of a trial. Survivors are able to keep their anonymity while still fighting for justice. They also wrap these cases up sooner and allow victims to move on with their lives sooner, which is usually the reason they file legal action.

Compassionate Sexual Abuse Attorneys Available When You Are Ready to Talk

We routinely handle sexual abuse cases throughout the Old Line State and take pride in help survivors get the justice they deserve. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse, please remember this: You are not alone. They are not alone.

What’s more, you are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced sexual abuse survivor attorney in Baltimore, contact The Yost Legal Group: 1-800-967-8529.