MSNBC Dateline Witness for the Prosecution

Watchtower Pedophiles

“Defend the lowly and the fatherless.
Render justice to the helpless and destitute.”

Psalm 82:3, New World Translation (2013 Revision)

“Subpoenaed documents clearly show that certain religious institutions have been fully aware of the danger posed to children by pedophiles within their own ranks, but have kept things secret and handled matters internally instead of warning parents and letting the proper authorities handle perpetrators. I find it distressing that congregants will continue to not only attend but also financially support such morally bankrupt institutions who claim to have God’s blessing while at the same time being guilty of concealing crimes against children.”

Personal Experience

In North Carolina where I was raised, my mother left us in the care of a member of our congregation, Travis.

Travis raped his daughters, his nieces, and his cousins, and other young girls—all under the age of 13. (See court documents)

Travis Foote, 145-year prison term for a string of sexual assaults.

Travis Foote, 145-year prison term for a string of sexual assaults.

After moving away, Travis was convicted of violent sexual assault of a female victim by two men. The victim was taken by the men in a pick-up truck to a remote location where she was raped, beaten, and then thrown over a bridge left for dead (the victim survived the 35-foot fall).

As I lived in other congregations on the West coast, I became increasingly aware of pedophiles hiding in the Kingdom Halls.

When I came to ask my mother about how the Witnesses in her area felt about these horrid stories, (mainly wanting to know how they felt about donations being used in defense of pedophiles—ick!—and the Candace Conti case) I learned she had no idea what I was talking about.

Lawsuits against the Watchtower turned to cash settlements with gag orders, and these news stories passed unknown to the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses…

“Jehovah’s Witnesses have settled nine lawsuits alleging congregation policies protected men who sexually abused children for many years.” — NBC News, November 21, 2007, by Lisa Myers and Richard Greenberg

See: Candace Conti Awarded $28M In Jehovah’s Witness Sex Abuse Case

“The only way you’re going to stop pedophiles is to identify them, warn people, and to allow us as parents to know who they are in our congregations…” — Kathleen Conti

The National Sex Offender Public Website allows you to search for the identity and location of known sex offenders. You can also search registry websites maintained by individual jurisdictions. Do yourself a favor and check your congregations for pedophiles.

The Watchtower still ‘handles’ these cases internally, and congregations are never made aware of pedophiles in their midst.

As you’ll see from the following examples, this leaves pedophiles free to molest children again and again—as there is rarely if ever ‘two witnesses‘ to even cause allegations to become ‘a judicial matter’.

“Woe to those who enact harmful regulations,
Who constantly draft oppressive decrees,

To deny the legal claim of the poor,
To deprive the lowly among my people of justice,
Making widows their spoil
And fatherless children their plunder!”

Isaiah 10:1, 2, New World Translation (2013 Revision)

Pedophiles Hide in the Watchtower

San Diego: There is new evidence in the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have settled nine lawsuits alleging Watchtower policies protected men who sexually abused children for many years.

Timothy Silva pedophile and “adolescent book study” conductor at a congregation in Woodland, California

Please read the full original article from NBC Nightly News.

In all, the nine settled lawsuits involved 16 victims and eight alleged abusers, all of whom – except Frederick McLean – have been criminally convicted.  Among them: Larry Kelley, a television personality and children’s entertainer in Amarillo, Texas; and Timothy Silva, who reportedly taught “adolescent book studies” at a congregation in Woodland, California.  The Watchtower allegedly knew of Silva’s problem as early as 1987, according to one of the lawsuits, but still allowed him to work with children.

Elder and Presiding Overseer, Pedophile James Henderson

James Henderson, for example, was a longtime Jehovah’s Witness elder in Red Bluff, California – and a serial molester.  A local elder dismissed allegations that Henderson had been sexually abusing a young boy: “There was no way it could be true so it was forgotten.”

By October 1994, Henderson was Presiding Overseer – the top elder – in his congregation.  After a father of one of his victims confronted him, according to Watchtower records, Henderson confessed to other elders preemptively, although he said he had stopped molesting the boy more than three years earlier.  That was significant, because, at the time, the Watchtower apparently had a policy of waiving sanctions if a sinner was repentant and the sin had occurred at least three years earlier.

Elder and Presiding Overseer, Pedophile James Henderson

In spite of Henderson’s confession, the elders did not inform California authorities. The elders decided to remove Henderson as Presiding Overseer and “publicly reproved” him, announcing to the congregation that he had committed a sin, without disclosing the details.  Still, they did not go to authorities.

Alvin Heard: Privately Reproved after Sexually Abusing Seven Children —Molests Again

Alvin Heard was also a member of a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Red Bluff, California and was eventually disfellowshipped for molesting children.

In Heard’s case, records show the congregation first learned of the abuse in 1981, when the local congregation sent a letter to the national headquarters explaining that Heard was kicked out after he admitted sexually abusing three children, whose “ages range from five nine and eleven years.”

Alvin Heard admitted confessing to congregation elders in the late 1980s that he had molested four more young children.  His punishment that time: “private reproval.”  In other words, congregation elders chastised him privately, but never told other members of the congregation, according to the deposition.  Again, it appears, the congregation did not pass the information to police or child welfare authorities.

By 2003, Heard had moved to Oregon, where he molested yet again.  In January 2004, he was indicted for sexually abusing a five-year-old boy.

Alvin Heard, Jehovah’s Witness Serial Pedophile

Frederick McLean

America’s Most Wanted Child Predator

Fredrick McLean, a former elder and ministerial servant of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, is wanted for sexual assaults on multiple children entrusted to his care over a 25 year period.

America's Most Wanted Child Predator, Jehovah's Witness Frederick McLean

America’s Most Wanted Child Predator, Jehovah’s Witness Frederick McLean

Frederick McLean is America’s most-wanted child predator and fugitive charged with 17 counts of child sexual abuse in California.  Law enforcement sources say that when a victim’s family confronted McLean in 2004, he allegedly confessed.  But before he could be arrested, McLean fled.

Authorities identified at least eight victims that McLean allegedly abused over the course of nearly a decade.  One victim estimated McLean molested her “over 100 times,” according to the U.S. Marshals Service.  Deputy Marshal Thomas Maranda, who is leading the hunt for the 62-year-old fugitive, says McLean gained the trust of many of his victims through his leadership position, as a so-called ministerial servant, in his local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses near San Diego.

Investigators believe McLean has committed these devious acts over a 25 year period and he has no reason to stop.

Source:

Jehovah’s Witness elder Stephen Robert Carter, 70, jailed for historic sex abuse

Stephen Robert Carter, 70, has been jailed for six years for historical sex offences against his young stepdaughter.

She described the deep psychological trauma she had lived with as an adult as a result of his controlling and manipulative sexual abuse in the family home.

She explained the difficulty of living under a “burden of secrecy”, unable to tell anyone about what Carter did to her because of the effect it would have on his high standing within the Nelson Jehovah’s Witness congregation.

Carter had admitted seven charges, including representative charges of rape, sodomy, inducing a girl under 12 to do an indecent act, permitting a girl under 12 to do an indecent act on another male, and counts of committing an indecency with an animal, and being party to an indecency with an animal.

Source: Man, 70, jailed for historic sex abuse

Gonzalo Campos: San Diego Elder Confesses (2013)

Serial Pedophile Gonzalo Campos in Jehovah's Witnesses San Diego Kingdom Hall—Some Say Abuse was Covered Up for Years

Serial Pedophile Gonzalo Campos in Jehovah’s Witnesses San Diego Kingdom Hall—Some Say Abuse was Covered Up for Years

San Diego Team 10 obtains video of admitted child molester in Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some people say group covered up abuse for years…

In a video deposition taken in 2011 during a civil lawsuit, admitted serial pedophile Gonzalo Campos said he abused several children in his San Diego congregation from the early 1980’s through the mid 90’s.

“I did abuse him,” said Campos in the video. “I touched his private parts.”

His on-camera admissions and a confidential settlement worth millions, may have to be enough for his victims. The Jehovah’s Witnesses never told police about Campos, who was a congregation elder. He’s never been charged with a crime and he may never see the inside of a prison cell. He has fled the country and now is in Mexico. He also still is a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

An attorney questions Campos on the video:

“Were you allowed to continue to give bible study to children after you attempted to touch (the victim) inappropriately?”

“Yes,” Campos said.

Irwin Zalkin represents the seven victims who have come forward.

“He is a serial pedophile,” Zalkin said. “It’s about accountability. It’s about taking responsibility. It’s about protection of children. It’s about changing the way they operate.”

Zalkin claims child abuse continues inside the Jehovah’s Witness community. He claims congregation leaders, known as elders, and Jehovah’s Witness’ headquarters, known as The Watchtower, treat child abuse like a sin instead of a crime.

“The elders are instructed that they are to report that up the chain to The Watchtower, before or not to authorities,” Zalkin said. “It is The Watchtower who will decide what happens.”

Team 10 found The Watchtower has sent each congregation and its elders several confidential memos about how to handle child abuse starting in 1989.

The original memo warns to “be careful not to divulge information about personal matters, quoting scripture which says there is ‘a time to keep quiet.”

Source: Video of admitted child molester in Jehovah’s Witnesses

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses Hushed Up Child Sex Scandal (2013)

A Jehovah’s Witness who sexually abused a child and then had his wrongdoing covered up by the congregation has been jailed for 13 years.

Gordon Leighton, 53, admitted sexually abusing a child when he was confronted with the allegations by congregation elders at Washington, Tyne and Wear.

Gordon Leighton

The elders knew about the 53-year-old’s admissions for three years but refused to co-operate with the criminal investigation, and said what they had heard was confidential.

The judge said: ‘You manipulated her with a combination of affection and attention and violence and threats.’
The defendant was found guilty of two charges of indecency with a child and six of indecent assault after a trial.

Throughout the criminal investigation, congregation elders Simon Preyser, Harry Logan and David Scott refused to make statements about Leighton’s confession, keeping their stance when the case was brought before Newcastle Crown Court.

Each was then issued a witness summons which they launched a court battle against, but they were ordered to testify by Judge Penny Moreland after months of legal wrangling.

Their lawyer said the men had a ‘duty to God’ not to breach confidence.

“They claim the right of confidentiality, they claim that what they heard said by the defendant during the course of that meeting ought to be subject to privilege, as ministers of religion.”

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” — James 1:27

Source:

 

Live on 5 Sexual Assault at Jehovah’s Witness (2013)

Plaintiff Elizabeth McFarland was between the ages of 9 and 14 when she claims to have suffered molestation at the hands of Ministerial Servant Scott Silvasy, who is said to have committed suicide some time after his abuse of Elizabeth was brought to light. — August 1, 2013, reported by Deborah Lee

Source: Woman accuses member of West Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Lorain of sexual abuse

 

California Victims Bill SB131 (2013)

Victims of congregation sex abuse may get more time to sue religious organizations and those who abused them under a California bill heading to the governor’s desk. — October 2013

Source:

 

Elder Ronald Lawrence arrested over sex abuse claims dating back to 1980s (2013)

In November, Lawrence, an elder in the McAlester Jehovah Witness Church, was charged in Pittsburg County District Court with 19 felony counts, including 11 of lewd molestation, seven of forcible sodomy and one count of rape by instrumentation. The alleged victims in the cases were two preteen girls and one 5-year-old boy at the time.

But after the interview in which Lawrence denied the majority of allegations facing him, he called a McAlester detective, the document states, to say he had confessed to the Kingdom Hall in 2005 that the claims of abuse were true in order to be reinstated into it.

Jehovah’s Witness Elder Ronald Lawrence arrested over sex abuse claims dating back to 1980’s

According to Lawrence’s arrest warrant, the elder did not believe the Kingdom Hall ever elected to tell law enforcement of the potential crimes. If officials did, in fact, withhold that information from authorities, they too could be prosecuted.

Source:

Los Lunas, New Mexico Woman files sexual abuse suit (2013)

Monica Jaramillo, now 35, who alleges she was raped by an elder when she was just eight years old.

Source:

 

ANONYMOUS : Candace Conti won against the Watchtower (2012)

On June 13 and 14, 2012, for the first time in its history, the Watchtower society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) lost a court battle about its implication in a child sex abuse case. The Californian Justice System of Alameda found the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society legally responsible and has been ordered to pay up to $2.8 million dollars in compensatory damages and as much as $21 million dollars in punitive damages to the victim, Candace Conti.

ANONYMOUS Warns Watchtower (2012)

Read: ANONYMOUS and Watchtower Serial Pedophiles of San Diego

 

NBC News “In Depth” (2007)

“Jehovah’s Witnesses have settled nine lawsuits alleging congregation policies protected men who sexually abused children for many years.” — NBC News, November 21, 2007, by Lisa Myers and Richard Greenberg

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21917798/

See also: Microsoft takes on Watchtower 

 

Dateline “Witness for the Prosecution” (2002)

“A report on alleged child molestation within some sects of Jehovah’s Witnesses with Dateline correspondent John Larson.” —NBC Dateline

Source: NBC Dateline May 28, 2002 (Season 11, Episode 41)

 

BBC Panorama – “Suffer the little children” (2002)

With the Catholic Church still reeling from revelations that it kept child abuse quiet, Panorama investigates a world-wide religion that stands accused of shielding abusers: the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Source: BBC Panorama “Suffer the little children”

CNN Connie Chung Interview on Jehovahs Witnesses/Watchtower (2002)

Connie Chung interviews Witnesses Heidi Meyer and Amber Long with Bill Bowen on CNN August 14, 2002

Many young women have been disfellowshipped when they tried to tell other members in the congregation that they were molested, simply because the molester said that they didn’t have two eyewitnesses when he raped these young women.

CHUNG: Heidi and Amber, what has happened to the member who you claim molested you?
MEYER: Absolutely nothing, to this day.
LONG: Nothing.
CHUNG: Is he a member in good standing?
MEYER: He is a member in good standing.
LONG: Yes, he is.

 

Watchtower Response

 

 

The Jehovah’s Witnesses did not comment specifically on any of the lawsuits, but issued a statement to NBC News: “For the sake of the victims in these cases, we are pleased that a settlement has been reached.  Our hearts go out to all those who suffer as a result of child abuse.  Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide are united in their abhorrence of this sin and crime.” [Click here for the complete statement.]

The Watchtower consistently has maintained that it follows all laws on reporting suspected child abuse.  Those laws are complex.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 25 states specifically mandate that clergy report suspected abuse; but 21 of those states recognize exemptions for “pastoral communications.”  Another 16 states have blanket reporting laws, which cover “any person” and may be interpreted as including clergy; seven of those states also grant pastoral privilege.  [Click here for a state-by-state review of reporting laws.]

In its statement to NBC, the Jehovah’s Witnesses said it does “not condone or protect child molesters.  Our elders expel unrepentant sinners who commit this crime.”

We do not silence victims.

According to the Watchtower, “the incidence of this crime among Jehovah’s Witnesses is rare.”  The statement said the organization does “not silence victims” and “members have an absolute right to report his horrible crime to the authorities.”  The Watchtower has issued many publications about child abuse, including the cover story in the October issue of its magazine, Awake.  “These articles clearly show our concern for protecting children from sexual abuse,” the Watchtower said in its statement.

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