By James Thomas Rook Jr.
The Supreme Court Rejected a Case About the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Sex Abuse
By Hemant Mehta October 8, 2019 Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced that it would not take up a wild case concerning the organization that oversees the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We can breathe a huge sigh of relief that the case won’t be overturned. (In that link, it’s case 19-40 on page 42.)
The case, which involved child molestation and religious secrecy, centered around an incident that took place on July 15, 2006.
J.W., a nine-year-old girl with Jehovah’s Witness parents, was invited to her first slumber party at the home of Gilbert Simental. He had a daughter her age, so that wasn’t too weird. Two other girls (sisters) were also at the party. These families all knew and trusted Simental because, while he was no longer a local Witness leader, he had spent more than a decade as an elder in the faith. He was a religious leader who stepped down, he said, to spend more time with his son. They believed him. They all respected him. It’s why they allowed their girls into his home.
During that party, everyone got into a pool in the backyard… including Simental. And he proceeded to molest J.W. and the sisters. He did it again later that night. The sisters eventually told their parents, who reported Simental to local Witness elders (which is what they’re taught to do in these situations).
Simental confessed to some of the allegations, and the elders basically gave him a faith-based slap on the wrist: a reprimand that had no meaning outside church circles.
Things changed only when the sisters’ school principal learned about what happened and, as required by law, reported the abuse to local law enforcement. Police soon contacted J.W.’s family asking for their story, but after consulting with the Witnesses, her father chose not to speak with the cops.
It was a year later when J.W., then 10 years old, told her parents what Simental did to her in the pool. It infuriated them, and they told the Witness elders that they wanted a restraining order against him. The elders told him not to do that since it would require informing the police about what Simental did — and they preferred to keep his actions private.
Here’s the bigger problem: There’s reason to believe the Witnesses were aware that Simental was a child molester… and they kept it from the families. Simental was allowed to be a religious leader — earning respect from the community — even though higher-ups in the religion knew that he shouldn’t be around children.
It raised an important question: How much blame did the Witnesses deserve for what happened at that pool party?
J.W.’s family eventually filed a criminal lawsuit against Simental and a separate civil suit against the Watchtower Society (the Witnesses’ governing organization). They basically said the Witnesses should have informed congregation members about Simental and stopped him from being around children. They never should have allowed him to be a religious leader.
The Watchtower Society’s argument? They didn’t know Simental was a child molester, and the pool party occurred after he was no longer a religious leader, and the slumber party wasn’t a church-sponsored event, so leave them out of this.
(To be clear, I’m simplifying the details of this case and the legal journey quite a bit.)
When this case went to trial in California, J.W.’s family demanded that the Watchtower Society produce documents relating to what they knew about child molesters within the faith. The Witnesses had already admitted to keeping lists of problematic leaders along with their specific “crimes” — similar to the Catholic Church. If Simental was on that list — from 1997, nearly a decade before the pool incident — it would essentially be a smoking gun showing the Witnesses knew he was a threat to kids but did nothing about it.
But the Witnesses refused to hand over that material. They treated it like Catholics treat confession: It’s private information, they argued, and to reveal what was said internally would violate their religious beliefs.
J.W.’s family didn’t buy that argument. The information they wanted wasn’t bound by clergy-penitent confessional privilege. It’s not like Simental told the elders what he had done in order to confess his sins. He was caught. The Witnesses were merely shielding him from legal punishment.
In the criminal trial, Witnesses elders were forced to admit their practices and that the private discussions they had about abusive clergy members were not considered confidential under the law.
Mark O’Donnell, writing at JWSurvey, explained what happened next:
Simental’s appeal got him nowhere. He’s in prison today. But there were still so many questions about what responsibility the Witnesses had in this whole matter.
J.W.’s family wanted to know why Simental, a known pedophile, was promoted within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why did they allow him to be around children? Why didn’t they warn families? Why did they just give him a slap on the wrist?
In 2013, the civil trial began against the Watchtower Society, but again, the Witnesses didn’t want to provide necessary documents. They eventually lost the case. In 2015, the Riverside Superior Court of California awarded J.W. a judgment of $4,016,152.39. This past December, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in California upheld that decision.
You get the idea: The Witnesses refused to hand over internal data, presumably because it would’ve been like handing over a loaded gun. So the courts had no choice but to assume the plaintiff was telling the truth and the Watchtower Society was negligent in their handling of Simental.
Earlier this year, in a Hail Mary attempt to reverse their punishment, the Watchtower Society appealed to the Supreme Court. They wanted the justices to say that documents relating to child abuse within a religious group can be kept confidential.
Here’s how the Witnesses’ attorney introduced his case to the justices. (You don’t need a law degree to see how he just completely dismissed the molestation.)
Watchtower attorney Paul Polidoro said the Supreme Court needed to consider whether California violated the Constitution when it held the Jehovah’s Witnesses responsible for what Simental did “during non-church activity,” forced them to hand over internal communications, and punished them for protecting everyone’s “privacy rights.”
J.W.’s attorney responded to that brief asking the Court to flat-out reject this case.
Indeed, that’s what the Court decided. When the first set of orders in the new term was released yesterday, there was this case among many many others, in the list of those which would not get heard this term.
It was the right move. There’s nothing further to debate here. Finally, this case has been put to rest.
(Image via Shutterstock. Large portions of this article were published earlier)
By Guest Indiana
If you go outside this Labor Day weekend, don't forget the bug spray.
The dangerous but rare Eastern equine encephalitis virus is flaring up in Michigan, state health officials say, and has been confirmed in two people in Berrien and Kalamazoo counties and is suspected in five more people.
The virus, carried by birds and transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes, is deadly in 1 in 3 people who contract it, and can cause brain damage and permanent neurological disabilities in those who survive.
By JOHN BUTLER
OK, I know some people will not like this and they will call it gossip but my wife and I are worried about it so it needs to aired out.
We have one daughter that is still a JW. i will call her H. She is married to a non JW. She has 4 children.
This daughter does not seem to recognise any dangers at all about her children. She invites anyone to her house without really knowing who they are or anything about their past.
3 of the children are girls and they attend ballet and tap dance lessons. They are only young, the oldest being around 8 years old.
Today they were in a performance /show in Exeter, a biggish show that their teacher was putting on for all parents, grandparents, etc.
I wasn't allowed to go of course as I'm a 'naughty boy' that left the Org.
My wife went to the show and was surprised to find two 'brothers' there.
One of the 'brothers' is a young single Elder and the other 'brother' is an old man that has recently been reinstated and moved into Honiton congregation.
This older man frequently visits H and her daughters at their home and the girls call him Uncle Phil. He seems very 'friendly' toward the girls.
H does not know where this 'brother' is from but he is now part of the Honiton Congregation which H and her children attend, here in Devon.
It seems strange to me that this man has just arrived at Honiton Congregation and just been reinstated. My wife says he has a London accent.
If I were still a JW I would ask him bluntly why he was disfellowshipped and where he is from, but of course I cannot do that now.
I have his full name, so is there any way i can run a check on him ?
Should i contact an Elder at Honiton Congregation and tell them of the concern my wife and I have ?
If this 'brother' had been involved in a child abuse accusation would they have told H about it so that she could be on her guard ?
Some on here may think I'm just trying to cause trouble, but my wife came home this evening and is looking very worried.
It seems that H had invited both 'brothers' to the meal afterward and my wife felt unhappy about the whole situation.
TTH will probably bring out the rule book again and say 'it never happens', but child abuse does happen and needs to be looked for all the time.
Our daughter H seems to have no idea about the situations that have taken place, and in honesty she doesn't want to know. So how can my wife warn her ?
By Guest Indiana
Seven were shot at a party near Indiana’s Ball State University.
At least seven people were injured, three in a life-threatening fashion, in a shooting near Indiana’s Ball State University overnight.
According to local NBC affiliate WTHR, the shooting occurred at a large off-campus house party, with shots fired inside the house around 12:45 am. Police say they are still working to piece together what happened, as most witnesses heard but did not see the shooting.
By JOHN BUTLER
I was going to add this to another topic but remembered we are told to start new topics, so I've done that.
Hope this hasn't been added before but it would take me a month to go through all the topics to see if its on here.
It is about the baptism of children, but I also thing it involves making children go on the ministry.
By Guest Indiana
WASHINGTON – Kirstjen Nielsen, who oversaw President Donald Trump's hard-line immigration policies as secretary of Homeland Security, is leaving her post amid tensions with some in the White House who felt she hasn't done enough to stem border crossings.
Trump tweeted Sunday that Nielsen is leaving the post she has held since the end of 2017.
"Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service," he said. He said Kevin McAleenan, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, will become the acting DHS secretary. McAleenan has held senior posts within CBP dating back to President George W. Bush's administration.
Rea more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/04/07/kirstjen-nielsen-out-trump-secretary-homeland-security/1895285002/
By Guest Nicole
HAVANA TIMES – Daniel Ortega has achieved what neither Putin, nor climate change, nor China, nor the immigration problem, nor Maduro nor Syria could do: he inspired nothing more and nothing less than the adoption of a bipartisan consensus between the US Republican and Democratic parties regarding his regime.
What’s more, he managed to become a point of consensus between the US Executive branch, headed by Trump, and the US Congress. It may seem a lie or an exaggeration, but no other topic during Trump’s administration has been resolved with this level of consensus.
In reacting to the decisions adopted by the organs of United States power, Ortega momentarily dusted off the old speeches that he had kept filed away these eleven years and spoke once again of interventionism, of imperialism and other expressions of the like. Then, he fell silent.
He’ll likely speak about it again once he’s assimilated the blow and has designed the course he’ll follow. Meanwhile, it’s important to recall that Nicaragua’s economic dependence with respect to the United States has broadened and deepened during this “antiimperialist” regime of Ortega’s.
Read more: https://havanatimes.org/?p=145130
By Jack Ryan
4440 Braeburn Road, residence complete January 13, 1930. Two months later, the public was introduced to Beth-Sarim in a front-page article in the San Diego Sun titled, “San Diego Mansion — With All Modern Improvements — Awaits Earthly Return of Prophets.” It opened by reporting: “In one of the strangest deeds ever filed in the nation, Rutherford, president of the International Bible Students Association and of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, has put the huge tile-roofed home in fashionable Kensington Heights in perpetual trust for the ancient kings and prophets of Palestine” (emphasis added). The article went on to observe that “Judge Rutherford is intensely proud of the house he has planned and built for David, king of Israel; Samson…Joseph…and others equally as famous in the Bible.” .
The following January, the San Diego Sun carried another article on Beth-Sarim, “David’s House Waits for Owner.” When the reporter asked Rutherford how he thought the returned princes would look, Rutherford responded: “‘As perfect men. I interpret that to mean…that David, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthae, Joseph and Samuel will be sent here to wrench the world from Satan’s grasp, clothed in modern garb as we are, and able, with little effort to speak our tongue.’ Rutherford pictured the arrival of the biblical delegation perhaps in frock coats, high hats, canes and spats.” Rutherford’s booklet, What You Need(1932), depicted the seven “Ancient Worthies,” identified as “Earth’s new rulers,” in more traditional biblical garb. . San Diego, 1930's, is a pivotal time for the JW's. The following year the JW'S got the official name ot "Jehovah's Witnesses",Watchtower bible tract Society. Then began the growth of the vast Jehovah's Witness population in San Diego County.
Watchtower President Joseph Franklin Rutherford & Beth Sarim
via .ORGWorld News
By Guest Nicole
A Florida couple is recalling a distressing experience on a Carnival CruiseÂ after finding a hidden camera pointing at their bed.Â
In an interview set to air Monday, Chris and Dana White toldÂ Inside EditionÂ that they discovered aÂ recording deviceÂ hidden among TV wires in their stateroom last October on the Carnival Fantasy, aÂ three-day Caribbean cruiseÂ departing from Mobile, Alabama.Â
"I said, 'Is that what I think it is?' " Chris WhiteÂ said. "And she looked at it and she became concerned. And we were just really flabbergasted that there's a camera in the room and it's plugged up and it's working."
The couple called Carnival security and used their cellphone to film an employeeÂ who inspected and disassembled the device.Â "I was thinking, 'I can't believe this is actually happening to us,' " he said.
By Guest Nicole
Legislators ‘need to stopÂ’ working for institutions
Dave Kohler, of Allentown, was abused by an ordained minister in the JehovahÂ’s Witnesses in November 1965. He was 9 years old.Â
When Kohler was 17, his abuser told him to never talk about the abuse again.Â
Â“So I obeyed and kept my mouth shut,Â” Kohler said.Â
HeÂ’s been coming to Harrisburg for about five years to show his support for statute of limitations reform. Â“Individuals vote them in, and then they work for institutions,Â” Kohler said of the state legislators. Â“That needs to stop.Â”
If reform is passed that would allow Kohler the opportunity to sue his abuser, Kohler said he knows what he would do with any money he could collect.
Â“I will hopefully be able to afford therapy,Â” he said.
Dave Kohler, who said he was abused by an ordained minister in the Jehovah's Witnesses in Kutztown and Emmaus, talks about his experience, during the demonstration for statute of limitations reform to the state's childhood sexual abuse laws at the state capitol in Harrisburg on Monday.Â (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)
By Guest Nicole
SCHOHARIE, N.Y. — It was an intersection of two highways, one a steep downhill road, that residents had long warned was notoriously dangerous.
On Saturday afternoon, their worst fears were realized: A limousine lost control, careening through the intersection and striking an empty car. The crash killed all 18 people in the white limousine and two pedestrians in an accident that left deep tire tracks in the ground and a small upstate New York town reeling.
“That limo was coming down that hill probably over 60 miles per hour,” said Jessica Kirby, 36, the manager of the Apple Barrel Country Store, where she said customers were hit near the parking lot. “All fatal.”
“I don’t want to describe the scene,” she added. “It’s not something I want to think about.”
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/nyregion/wedding-limo-crash-schoharie-ny.html
By Guest Nicole
While most of the comments on the post in the Facebook page debated the merits of the celebrations and the priorities of the district, some focused on the religious beliefs of those who don't celebrate Halloween.
Halloween began as the Celtic festival Samhain, where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to frighten ghosts, according to History.com. Due to its roots, the holiday isn't celebrated by certain religions or groups, including Jehovah's Witnesses, some Christians, Orthodox Jews and Muslims.
"It is the stated strategy of some to use our own laws against us," reads on comment on Facebook. "Wake up people. Nothing is an 'American Tradition' anymore. (And many who move here aren't doing so to become American)."
Another comment asked "Who is ruining traditions?" The response from a different person, which has since been deleted, read: "Muslims."
Kucinski said statements such as these are "very hurtful to people who are equally American but may be of a different culture, religion, or hold different beliefs than those who are making these comments."
"This discussion has emboldened certain voices in our community to make sweeping biased assumptions against groups of people that may or may not be the ones that are holding their kids home from school," she said. "Does it matter what group or groups are keeping their kids home and missing a fun celebration at school? No."
Littman said it's anyone's right to not celebrate a holiday, though others don't have to follow suit.
Read more: https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/elementary-schools-move-away-from-fall-celebrations-spark-debate/article_b3add4dc-b36a-5ceb-a1a7-9128e7cce1e2.html
By Guest Nicole
via .ORGWorld News
Immigration This is how they treated us: children separated from their parents at the border tell of their days in detention in the United StatesBy Guest Nicole
Many of the children described conditions at US Customs and Border Protection facilities, where they were taken and processed during the first days after crossing the border. In the reports they were only identified by their first names. Timofei, 15, from Russia, who sought asylum on the border with his parents for his beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses, said they were crowded night and day in the closed and crowded room, detained along with other boys. He said there was only one window that opened onto an empty hallway and that they did not have soap in the bathroom, and that only sometimes, they gave him a toothbrush for individual use. He also said that he was offered a shower when he arrived at the facilities in San Ysidro, California, but he did not and the second or third day there did not allow him to do so.
By Guest Nicole
FARGO — About 4,000 Jehovah's Witnesses will be in Fargo this weekend for a massive three-day regional convention at Scheels Arena.
The "Be Courageous!" 2018 convention here beginning Friday, June 29, through Sunday, July 1, is one of many around the country and globe, including Hungary, Japan and Australia.
Convention spokesperson Stephen Mostad, of Blackduck, Minn., said the convention for the Dakotas and Minnesota has been held at Fargo's Scheels Arena since 2012 with the exception of 2015, when it was held in Milwaukee.
Mostad said Fargo is a central location for the 55 congregations in the tri-state area that flock here.
Each summer, he said a little more than 500 conventions are held throughout the U.S., where Jehovah's Witnesses make up less than 1 percent of the population. Worldwide, there are nearly 8.5 million Jehovah's Witnesses, though they are banned in some countries like Russia.
The Pew Research Center came out with a study in 2016 following the death of Minnesota's superstar musician Prince, who became part of the Christian religion as an adult.
Other famous members of this denomination include Michael and Janet Jackson, athletes Venus and Serena Williams and Larry Graham of Sly and The Family Stone. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was raised a Jehovah's Witness, but left the religion as an adult, as did musicians Patti Smith and Donald Glover.
Jehovah's Witnesses are most known for door-knocking and prophesying with pamphlets. They don't serve in the military or celebrate birthdays and holidays. Mostad said these guidelines are from their interpretations of the first-century model of the Bible that regulate personal decisions.
Conventions are a "spiritual highlight" for all ages, Mostad said.
"Its encouragement. We enjoy being together," he said. "We find in the world we live in experiencing challenges and tragedy, it's nice to find a little oasis where you can be spiritually refreshed."
The free, public event will consist of presentations on family life and prophecies with a feature film on Sunday. Programming starts each day around 9:20 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m. On Sunday, programming ends at 4 p.m.
More information about the convention is available at www.jw.org.org.
By Guest Nicole
Three-day convention expected to draw around 3,500 people from around the region
Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be in Barrie for their annual summer convention this weekend.
Dozens of volunteers were busy on Thursday preparing the Barrie Molson Centre for this weekendÂ’s three-day gathering. From those building the stage and assembling video screens to crews cleaning the arena top to bottom to make it spick and span, it was a hive of activity.
The convention will draw people from several towns in the area, from Collingwood to Shelburne, Barrie to Aurora and north up to Bracebridge.
A similar gathering was held in Barrie in 2016 and had 3,700 people in attendance.
However, Steve Brown, who is handling media for the event, which runs from Friday to Sunday at the BMC, said he expects around 3,500 people this weekend because fewer congregations have been invited.
Â“When the announcement was made that we would be going back to Barrie, there was loud applause,Â” Brown said. Â“We love coming to Barrie for our convention.Â”
Brown called the city Â“an ideal location.Â”
Â“The city is relatively easy to get around (and) we feel welcome by our hosts at the BMC, hotels and restaurants,Â” he said.
Brown said the waterfront is also Â“perfectÂ” for attending families to stretch and play after a day at the BMC.
Â“Barrie is an ideal location for a variety of reasons,Â” Brown said. Â“Of course, its central location makes it very convenient for the majority of delegates from this area.
Â“However, it is also ideal because the convention venue is the perfect size for our needs,Â” he said. Â“Additionally, Barrie has the great hotels, restaurants and shopping facilities that are required to care for the needs of several thousand visiting delegates.Â”
Brown said the convention is a great way to connect.
Â“Our conventions are three wonderful days in a spiritual paradise,Â” he said. Â“Family groups, young people, couples and our dear older ones all eagerly attend.
Â“The Bible-based program is the primary reason for the delegates to be there,Â” Brown added. Â“Nonetheless, the opportunity to associate with our brothers and sisters before and after the sessions is an unmistakable highlight.Â”
The convention includes talks, interviews and the sharing of experiences as well as music, videos and a feature film. Â
Â“We are always delighted by the quality of the teaching and how interesting the program is,Â” Brown said.
This yearÂ’s theme is Â‘Be CourageousÂ’ and all presentations will focus on courage.
Â“We all need courage in our daily routines,Â” Brown said. Â“At school and in the workplace, people may be exposed to bullying, harassment, ridicule and other unwelcome pressures.
Â“Living by Bible standards, as we strive to do, requires extra courage because it sometimes puts us out of step with whatÂ’s going on around us,Â” he said.
World conditions can also cause fear and concern, Brown added.
Â“This convention program will provide much in the way of reminders, suggestions and encouragement to forge ahead, doing what is right , even when it is difficult to do so,Â” he said.
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