By Guest Nicole
Un grupo de testigos de Jehová realizó lo que podría considerarse como uno de los secuestros más extraños hasta el momento, y es que privaron de la libertad a sus vecinos asegurando que se encontraban huyendo del fin del mundo, de acuerdo con reportes policiales de Alberta, en Canadá.
Jacqueline Schaffter, juez de la corte provincial argumento que los tres detenidos, dos mujeres y un hombre que hasta el momento no han sido identificados, sufren de un extraño trastorno psicótico el cual hasta el momento no ha sido revelado y por el que deberán llevar un tratamiento para evitar hacerse daño a si mismos o a terceros.
El extraño secuestro ocurrió en el mes de noviembre del año 2017 cuando cinco personas entre ellas dos menores de edad, fueron obligados a abandonar su hogar y abordar una camioneta junto a los testigos de Jehová, cuatro de los cuales se encontraban completamente desnudos.
El hombre y su familia lograron escapar y ayudaron a las autoridades a dar con los sospechosos quienes de inmediato fueron arrestados.
Al declararse culpables por los delitos de secuestro y confinamiento ilegal, los detenidos recibieron como sentencia un año de servicio comunitario y dos de libertad condicional, además de tener que someterse a un tratamiento de consejería.
By Guest Nicole
Paramedics say one person is dead after two small planes collided in mid-air over Ottawa‘s west end just after 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Ottawa police said that one of the aircraft crashed into a field near McGee Side Road just east of the 417 in Carp in rural west Ottawa. A spokesperson for Ottawa paramedics said an occupant of that plane was pronounced dead on the scene.
The other aircraft was redirected to Ottawa International Airport and landed safely, sustaining only minor damage. No injuries were reported aboard that plane.
It’s not known how many people were aboard each aircraft, or how exactly the collision occurred.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating
Read more: https://globalnews.ca/news/4628657/ottawa-aircraft-collision-midair/
By Guest Nicole
The Supreme Court of Canada Thursday heard arguments in a fight over a church’s “shunning” practice, and said it would release a ruling later, but the congregation involved and several other groups argued that the justices had no right to even take part in the fight.
The fight is between Randy Wall, a real estate agent, and the Highwood congregation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in Calgary.
Wall was expelled from the congregation for getting drunk and not be properly repentant, court records said. He pursued a church appeals process, unsuccessfully, then went to court because he said the church’s “shunning,” that is, practice of not associating with him in any way, hurt his business.
He explained his two occasions of drunkenness related to “the previous expulsion by the congregation of his 15-year-old daughter.”
A lower court opinion explained, “Even though the daughter was a dependent child living at home, it was a mandatory church edict that the entire family shun aspects of their relationship with her. The respondent said the edicts of the church pressured the family to evict their daughter from the family home. This led to … much distress in the family.”
The “much distress” eventually resulted in his drunkenness, Wall said.
See the WND Superstore’s collection of Bibles, including the stunning 1599 Geneva Bible.
Wall submitted to the court arguments that about half his client base, members of various Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations, then refused to conduct business with him. He alleged the “disfellowship had an economic impact on the respondent.”
During high court arguments Thursday, the congregation asked the justices to say that congregations are immune to such claims in the judicial system.
The lower courts had ruled that the courts could play a role in determining if, and when, such circumstances rise to the level of violating civil rights or injuring a “disfellowshipped” party.
The rulings from the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeals said Wall’s case was subject to secular court jurisdiction.
A multitude of religious and political organizations joined with the congregation in arguing that the Canada’s courts should not be involved.
The Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms said in a filing, “The wish or desire of one person to associate with an unwilling person (or an unwilling group) is not a legal right of any kind. For a court, or the government, to support such a ‘right’ violates the right of self-determination of the unwilling parties.”
Previous case law has confirmed the ability of religious or private voluntary groups to govern themselves and dictate who can be a member.
But previously rulings also reveal there is room for the court system to intervene when the question is one of property or civil rights.
The Association for Reformed Political Action, described the case as having “profound implications for the separation of church and state.”
Its position is that the court should keep hands off the argument.
“Secular judges have no authority and no expertise to review a church membership decision,” said a statement from Andre Schutten, a spokesman for the group. “Church discipline is a spiritual matter falling within spiritual jurisdiction, not a legal matter falling within the courts’ civil jurisdiction. The courts should not interfere.”
John Sikkema, staff lawyer for ARPA, said, “The issue in this appeal is jurisdiction. A state actor, including a court, must never go beyond its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court must consider what kind of authority the courts can or cannot legitimately claim. We argue that the civil government and churches each have limited and distinct spheres of authority. This basic distinction between civil and spiritual jurisdiction is a source of freedom and religious pluralism and a guard against civic totalism.”
He continued, “Should the judiciary have the authority to decide who gets to become or remain a church member? Does the judiciary have the authority to decide who does or does not get to participate in the sacraments? Church discipline is a spiritual matter falling within spiritual jurisdiction, not a legal matter falling within the courts’ civil jurisdiction. The courts should not interfere. Here we need separation of church and state.”
The Alberta Court of Appeal, however, suggested the fight was about more than ecclesiastical rules.
“Because Jehovah’s Witnesses shun disfellowshipped members, his wife, other children and other Jehovah’s Witnesses were compelled to shun him,” that lower court decision said. “The respondent asked the appeal committee to consider the mental and emotional distress he and his family were under as a result of his duaghter’s disfellowship.”
The church committee concluded he was “not sufficiently repentant.”
The ruling said “the only basis for establishing jurisdiction over a decision of the church is when the complaint involves property and civil rights,” and that is what Wall alleged.
“Accordingly, a court has jurisdiction to review the decision of a religious organization when a breach of the rules of natural justice is alleged.”
By Bible Speaks
RARE VIDEO OF STEVE: Last night in parts of Canada, dogs started barking at the midnight sky. The canines were responding to a bright purple ribbon of light--also known as "STEVE." The apparition, which occurred during a G1-class geomagnetic storm, was so long-lasting that at least one onlooker had time to capture rare video of the phenomenon. This is a still frame from a video of STEVE captured on April 10th by Matthew Wheeler of Robson Valley BC Canada. .
Romans 1:20. #OurCreatorJehovahGod?
Sobrevivientes de abuso sexual alegan encubrimiento por parte de los testigos de Jehová por no reportar asaltosBy Guest Nicole
Christian es el demandante representativo en una demanda colectiva de $66 millones que se ha entablado contra los Testigos de Jehová en CanadÃ¡. Es en nombre de Ã©l y de otros sobrevivientes de abuso sexual infantil, quienes acusan a la secta de proteger a los depredadores sexuales de la justicia.
La demanda, que aÃºn no ha sido certificada por el tribunal, es simplemente la Ãºltima en lo que se ha convertido en una creciente presiÃ³n internacional sobre la secta religiosa para cambiar la doctrina que los crÃticos dicen que protege a los pedÃ³filos.
Se llama la Regla de los Dos Testigos. Al citar las Escrituras, los testigos de JehovÃ¡ requieren que haya al menos dos testigos de actos de abuso sexual infantil antes de que se pueda tomar alguna medida contra presuntos abusadores sexuales, a menos que haya una confesiÃ³n.
A travÃ©s de una investigaciÃ³n que se extiende desde CanadÃ¡, EE. UU., Inglaterra y Australia, el programa W5 expone cÃ³mo la organizaciÃ³n desalentÃ³ las acusaciones de agresiÃ³n sexual de ser denunciadas a la policÃa.
TambiÃ©n revela que los Testigos de JehovÃ¡ mantienen una base de datos secreta, documentando cada alegato de abuso sexual contra miembros que alguna vez se haya realizado.
“JehovahÂ’s Witness kids grow up knowing that if they ever mess up, their parents will leave them Â— and thatÂ’s scary,Â” Sawyer, now 38, said in a recent interview from her home in Pascagoula, Miss.Â Â“The shunning is supposed to make us miss them so much that weÂ’ll come back. Â… It didnÂ’t work.Â”
Sawyer and many others like her are now denouncing the church's shunning practicesÂ in the wake of a recent murder-suicideÂ in Keego Harbor that killed a family of four ex-JehovahÂ’s Witnesses who were ostracizedÂ afterÂ leaving the faith. The deaths sparked outrage among scores of ex-JWs nationwide who took to Facebook, online forums, blogs and YouTube, arguing the tragedy highlights a pervasive yet rarely-publicized problem within the church: Shunning is pushingÂ the most vulnerable people over the edge, they say, and tearing families apart.
In the Michigan case, aÂ distraught mother shot and killed her husband, her two grown childrenÂ and herself in theirÂ Keego Harbor home, shockingÂ the small and quiet Oakland County community.
The shooter was Lauren Stuart, a part-time model and personal trainer who struggled with depression and spent much of her time working on her house, her friends say.Â She and her husband, Daniel Stuart, 47, left the JW faith more than a decade ago over doctrinal and social issues. Among them was their desire to send their kids to college, which many ex-JWs say is frowned upon by the church and viewed as spiritually dangerous.
Â“University and college campuses are notorious for bad behavior Â— drug and alcohol abuse, immorality, cheating, hazing, and the list goes on,Â”Â a 2005 article inÂ the Watchtower, the church's official publication, stated.
But the Stuarts sent both their kids to college: Steven, 27, excelled in computers, just like his father, who was a data solutions architect for the University of Michigan Medical School.Â Bethany, 24, thrived in art and graphic design. Â After the parents left the faith, the Stuarts were ostracized by the Kingdom Hall Â—Â the churchesÂ where Jehovah's Witnesses worship Â—Â community in Union Lake and their families, friends said.
Lauren Stuart, whose mother died of cancer when she was 12,Â struggled with mental illness that went untreated;Â isolation and fears that the end was near, said friends and officials familiar with the case. One friend who requested anonymity said she believes the killing was the result of depression, not religion.
"This is a tragedy that has to do with a disease. Depression is so prevalent, and when it goes untreated this is what happens," the friend said. "She needed medical help."
Longtime family friend Joyce Taylor believes depression, shunning and religion-based doomsday fearsÂ all played a role. She said that about six weeks before the killings, Lauren started getting religiously preoccupied andÂ telling her "'It's the end times, I know it is.'"
Weeks later, Taylor saw her friend again. Lauren had a vacant look in her eyes. She was emotionally distressed.
A week later, with her home decorated for Valentine's Day, Lauren Stuart killed her family. She left behind a suicide note.
"She said in the suicide note that she felt that byÂ killing them it was the only way to save them," recalled Taylor, who said police let herÂ read the letter. "She said she's sorry that she has to do this, but it was the only way to save them all."Â
Taylor, a former Jehovah's WitnessÂ herself who left the faith in 1986, explained: "Jehovah's WitnessesÂ believe that if you die on this side of Armageddon, you'll be resurrected in paradise."
In Lauren Stuart's case, Taylor believes her friend never deprogrammedÂ after leaving the church Â— a stateÂ she describes asÂ Â "physically out, butÂ mentally in." She believes that Lauren'sÂ indoctrinated doomsday fearsÂ never left her, and that the shunning helped pushÂ her over the edge.
Had she not beenÂ excommunicatedÂ by her tight-knit community that wasÂ once her entire support system Â— left with no one to share her fears with Â—Â Lauren Stuart may not have done what she did, Taylor believes.
"People do things when they are desperate," Taylor said. "And that was an extreme, desperate act."
ShunningÂ "can lead to great trauma among people because the Jehovah's Witnesses are a very tight-knit community,"Â saidÂ Mathew Schmalz, a religious studies associate professor at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
"If you're separated out, you're really left to your own devices in ways that are very challenging and very painful," Schmalz said. "Once you leave a group that's been your whole life Â— letting that go is a kind of death."
Police have not yet disclosed details about the death of the Stuart family besides calling it a murder-suicide.
The tragedy has emboldened many once-quiet ex-JWs to speak up. Many sayÂ they suffered quietly on their own for years until they discovered an online community full of isolated, ostracized people like themselves Â— people who had lost someone to suicide or attempted suicide themselves because their families, friends and church community had written them off for making mistakes, for being human.Â
The church calls it being "disfellowshipped." Members can return if they repent, change the behavior and prove themselves worthy of being reinstated. But unless or until that happens, members are encouraged to avoid the sinners, especially those who leave the faith.
Mothers go years, even decades, without talking to their children. Siblings write off siblings. Friends shun friends.
An estimated 70,000 JehovahÂ’s Witnesses are disfellowshipped every year Â— roughly 1% of the churchÂ’s total population, according to data published by the Watchtower. Their names are published at local Kingdom Halls. Of those, two-thirds never return.
Within a faith representing 8.4Â million people worldwide, however, many members believe the religion is pure, good and loving. Those who are speaking against it,Â current members argue, are disgruntled and angry people who have an ax to grind because they were disfellowshipped. Or, they are lost souls who have misinterpreted the meaning and love behind the faith. Members say they believe the shunning accusations are exaggerated andÂ that the suicides are often more about mental illness than ostracism.
The departed disagree. Â
In the world ofÂ ex-JehovahÂ’s Witnesses, they maintain, the shunned are considered dead to their families, just like the suicide victims.Â
These are their stories:
Â‘A dangerous cultÂ’
It was a difficult conversation to wrap her 8-year-old brain around.
Â“Â‘You know your sister was being bad, right?Â’Â“ Sawyer recalled her mother telling her after her sister's suicide.
Â“ Â‘And what she did was stupid, right?Â’ Â… To take your own life is very wrong,' "Â the mother continued.
Â“I didnÂ’t understand what was going on Â… and I said, Â‘Oh. OK,,Â’ Â“ recalled Sawyer. Â“In my 8-year-old brain I was thinking, Â‘When I mess up, my momÂ’s going to hate me.Â’ "
And so began her painful journey with the JehovahÂ’s Witness faith, the religion she was born into and grew upÂ in in Pascagoula, Miss., where her fears of abandonment took hold at the age of 8.Â
Sawyer believes the shunning drove her sister to suicide. After the church disfellowshipped her for getting engaged to a non-JW, theÂ fiancÃ©Â left her sister, who was thrown into depression. Her sister tried turning to her mother for consolation, but her mom would read scripture and tell her, "until you start acting right, youÂ’re going to have these bad things happen to you.Â“
Bad things happened to Sawyer, too. At 30, she sought a divorce from her husband because he wasÂ abusive and cheating on her, she said.Â But the church elders and family pressured her to save her marriage.
Â“I showed them the holes in my walls,Â” Sawyer said, referring to the damage her ex-husband did to the home during fights. Â“They told me to pray more Â… and sent me back home to him.Â”
Sawyer took up smoking to handle the stress, which got her disfellowshipped becauseÂ smoking is not allowed. She also went through with the divorce.Â She ended up losing her home to foreclosure and turned to her mother for help as she had two children to raise.
Â Her mother took her in temporarily, but when the church elders found out, they threatened to disfellowship SawyerÂ’s mother Â— who let the grandkids stay, but not the daughter.Â
Sawyer ended up homeless for six months, living out of her car in a community college parking lot. She landed on her feet with the help of a student loan. She got an apartment, a job as a hospice nurse and her children Â— now 10 and 18 Â— back. She found herself, but lost her family along the way.
Her mother doesnÂ’t speak to her; she said she canÂ’t recall the last time they spoke.
Her sister in Alabama hasnÂ’t spoken to her since Sawyer got divorced in 2010.
Â“She was on my porch, with my parents Â… My sister looked at me and said, Â‘YouÂ’re abandoning me just like Donna didÂ’ And left. And that'sÂ the last thing she ever said to me."
Sawyer has kept silent about her pain for decades.
Â“This is a dangerous cult,Â” she said of her former religion. Â“ItÂ’s important for people to realize Â— Â this is serious.Â”Â
Read the rest of the story here:
By Guest Nicole
A lawsuit is now settled between a former victim of sexual abuse and Jehovah's Witnesses. According to the court's website, the case is under a "conditional settlement." The terms and conditions of the settlement are not public.
José Lopez filed the lawsuit back in 2012, nearly 20 years after church elder Gonzalo Campos molested him and several other young children who were members of the Linda Vista congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
As reported by the Reader, Campos, who fled to Mexico to escape criminal charges, admitted to committing the acts to Lopez’s and another victim's attorney, Devin Storey, while giving testimony in one of the cases.
“I touched him in his private parts,” Campos testified.
Attorney Storey: “Did you touch his penis?”
Storey: “Did you penetrate him?”
Campos: “Yes. Yes.”
Storey: “How many times?”
Campos: “More than once. I don’t know.”
In 2009, five other alleged victims sued the Watchtower and Bible and Tract Society of New York, the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses, over the molestation by Campos and the Watchtower's refusal to act.
That case settled for an undisclosed amount in 2012, the same year that Lopez filed his lawsuit and a year before another victim, Osbaldo Padron, filed his.
Then, in 2015, a state court judge ruled that the Watchtower had failed to cooperate with discovery in the Lopez case. The judge awarded a $13.5 million judgment in favor of Lopez.
The Watchtower later appealed the decision and managed to get the decision rescinded and promised to produce the requested documents.
Meanwhile, a fight over documents was also occurring in Padron's case, the one filed shortly after Lopez’s lawsuit.
At issue was Watchtower’s refusal to turn over a letter from headquarters that asked for the names of alleged sexual abusers in the church.
But at the same time other documents had been released by the Linda Vista congregation, which showed the congregation and headquarters were aware that Campos had sexually assaulted young boys and a girl but still considered him eligible to return to the congregation.
“In our meeting with him he said he was very repentant for what he did,” wrote an elder at Linda Vista's congregation to Watchtower headquarters in New York in 1999.
“He stated that he wanted to return to Jehovah. He is willing to face the victims and ask their forgiveness. He now wants to obey Jehovah. Before, when he would speak to people on the platform he would not meditate on what he was doing. Although he needed to confess, he felt shameful and had fear of mankind. He would deceive himself thinking that he could continue serving as an elder. Now he realized that he could not change without help. Ever since his expulsion he has not abused anyone. He has read articles of the publications regarding his sin. He says he does not see or read pornographic information. He stated that ever since expulsion he has worked on having a relationship with Jehovah and the expulsion has served to strengthen him spiritually. He does not miss meetings, and he even takes notes of the program. He also said that he is willing to continue accepting Jehovah’s discipline.”
While the two sides continued to fight over discovery in the Lopez case, another judge issued sanctions against the Watchtower for refusing to turn over documents in the Padron case.
The Watchtower also appealed that decision as well.
As covered by the Reader, in November a state appellate court rejected the appeal, sending the case back to state court and keeping the $4000-per-day sanctions in place.
Meanwhile, as the Padron case was heading back to state court, attorneys for Lopez and Watchtower agreed to settle the Lopez case.
Lopez’s attorney, Irwin Zalkin, did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication of this article.
There is no word yet whether Padron's case has also been settled. A hearing is scheduled for next month.
By Bible Speaks
CANADA STUDIES THE BEHAVIOR AFTER THE DENUNCIATION OF A POLITICS AGAINST JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES.
For this, they will consult with Jehovah's ExWitnesses.
The press article says:
This is the report of the medical examiner Luc Malouin the death of Eloise Dupuis, a young Jehovah's Witness died a week after giving birth and who had refused a blood transfusion, causing the member of Taschereau to act.
The letter sent to the Vice-president of the Commission of Institutions, the member of the Parliament for Verchères StÃ©phane Bergeron, specifically mentions members of sects who are in emergency medical situations, especially women.
Although the Liberal Party has a majority in the Institutions Committee, Ms. Maltais hopes that she can convince the majority of the members to study the matter in a parliamentary committee. "Jehovah's Witnesses, former Jehovah's Witnesses, representatives of hospitals and public health could testify, the idea is to understand, because forensic reports will always say that all the rules have been respected. free and voluntary consent when a person has been in a cult for years and is under pressure, "says Maltais.
Published last week, the coroner's report indicated that Malouin is independent and without undue influence how her religious community Eloise Dupuis had rejected a blood transfusion in October 2016. The 27-year-old resident of San Marguerite, Beauce died in the HÃ´tel-Dieu de LÃ©vis a week later.
By Guest Nicole
Reclaimed Voices, a foundation set up in the Netherlands to denounce sexual abuse by Jehovah's Witnesses, received 46 reports of abuse in just a week's time. The number of reports is shocking, Frank Huiting, one of the founders and himself a victim of sexual abuse in a closed Jehovah's Witnesses community as a child, said to broadcaster NOS.
The foundation was launched just over a week ago, based on Huiting's own experiences. He was abused from the time he was seven year's old. When Huiting told his parents, they decided not to report it to the police. An elder in the community advised against it. "Then there will be headlines in the newspaper and we don't want that."
According to the Reclaimed Voices initiators, victims within the closed Jehovah's Witnesses community are not heard and perpetrators are left to continue unchecked. Over the past week, foundation employees heard stories from a number of people who were abused by Jehovah's Witnesses. "The fact that so many reports have come in actually says enough. There are at least hundreds of cases in the Netherlands that should actually come out", Huiting said, according to NOS. He added that so many victims are too afraid to come forward.
The main purpose of Reclaimed Voices is to be a listening ear. The employees urge victims to speak out, and hope that they also report the abuse. "People walked around with this secret for years. And the fact that they are coming out, can be a relief for them. That was also my experience. We also want to advise them to seek professional help. Also outside the religious community, for example with a social worker, psychologist or general practitioner", Huiting said.
The foundation aims to collect as man reports of sexual abuse as possible and present them to the board of Jehovah's Witnesses Netherlands and the Dutch government. "We want to get the government to investigate these abuses. And not to start a fight, but really to focus on the victim."
Earlier this year Dutch newspaper Trouw spoke to a number of people who were sexually abused as children in the Jehovah's Witnesses community. One victim described the religious society as a "paradise for pedophiles".
By Guest Nicole
A 44-year-old former teacher and Jehovah’s Witness church elder copped to sexually assaulting one of his 13-year-old boy students.
Police are searching for a man who groped a girl as she was walking home from a Huntington Beach middle school.
Jason Morris Gorski of Fort Mill, South Carolina, pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court last Tuesday to two counts of lewd acts with a minor younger. He met the victim while teaching at the now-shuttered Southwestern Longview Private School in Long Beach, and at the same time he was an elder with the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall congregation in Cypress, where the boy was also a member. Gorski had sex with the teen in Buena Park between June 2007 and June 2008. The minor reported the abuse to the congregation in 2009, and a year later Gorski moved to South Carolina and began attending a nearby Jehovah's Witnesses congregation. The boy told the Buena Park Police Department what had happened, and on June 21, 2016, Gorski was arrested. He could get up to 10 years in state prison at his Jan. 26 sentencing.
By Guest Nicole
Children who were sexually abused by Jehovah's Witnesses were allegedly told by the church not to report the crimes.
Victims from across the UK told the BBC they were routinely abused and that the religious organisation's own rules protected perpetrators.
One child abuse lawyer believes there could be thousands of victims across the country who have not come forward because of the "two witness" rule.
A spokesperson for the church said it did not "shield" abusers.
'Bring reproach on Jehovah'
BBC Hereford and Worcester spoke to victims - men and women - from Birmingham, Cheltenham, Leicester, Worcestershire and Glasgow, one of whom waived her right to anonymity.
Louise Palmer, who now lives in Evesham, Worcestershire, was born into the organisation along with her brother Richard Davenport, who started raping her when she was four. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence for the abuse.
The 41-year-old, formerly of Halesowen, West Midlands, said when she told the church of the abuse she was told not to go to police.
Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-42025255
By Srecko Sostar
A group of alleged sexual abuse survivors from across the country have filed a $66-million class action lawsuit against the Jehovah’s Witness, CityNews has learned.
The victims are seeking $20 million for damages from sexual and mental abuse by elders, $20 million for failing to protect children, and another $20 million for breach of duty of care.
Former Long Beach Private School Teacher, Jehovah’s Witness Elder Pleads Guilty to Sexually Abusing Teen BoyBy Guest Nicole
A 44-year-old man pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a teenage boy he had met while working as a teacher in Long Beach, officials said Wednesday.
Jason Morris Gorski on Tuesday pleaded to two counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under 14, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors said that Gorski met the 13-year-old victim in 2007 while working as a teacher at Southwestern Longview Private. The school shut down in 2008, state records show.
Gorski had worked at the school for four years and was an active member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Cypress when he met the boy.
In 2009, the teenager reported the abuse to the congregation, which then removed Gorski from his position as an elder, but allowed him to remain an active member. Gorski later moved to South Carolina and started attending a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The victim reported the abuse to law enforcement in March 2016. The Buena Park Police Department investigated the case and arrested Gorski in June 2016.
Gorski is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on Jan. 26 and he faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in state prison.
By Guest Nicole
Barry W. Bussey: Last week, the Supreme Court was asked to do something courts never do: review the solely religious decision of a church
On November 2, the Supreme Court of Canada was asked to do something Canadian courts never do: review the solely religious decision of a church community. Until now, the courts have recoiled from getting involved in religious disputes—and for good reason.
The case involves Randy Wall, who was dismissed from a Jehovah’s Witness church for failing to repent of his religious offences: getting drunk on two occasions and verbally abusing his wife. Wall’s appeal to another church entity was unsuccessful. He then appealed to a court of law by means of “judicial review,” on the grounds that the church had denied him a proper hearing.
In Canadian law, in a process known as “judicial review,” a person can ask a court to “review” (i.e. hear) whether the decision of a “public actor” (such as a government licensing agency) was unfairly decided. Courts rarely review decisions of “private actors” (such as a church); they generally do so only if a private actor’s decision engages property or civil rights. In Wall’s case, the court had to determine whether the Jehovah’s Witness church’s decision involved property or contractual rights, which would then enable the court to review the church’s decision.
"The church argued it was a private religious body, not a public body"
The church argued it was a private religious body, not a public body, and that its decision did not affect Wall’s property or contractual rights. It also argued that its disciplinary procedure was a religious process involving prayer and scripture reading aimed at reconciling the relationship between Wall and the church. The lower courts both held that religious decisions can be reviewed by courts to determine whether a church gave a fair hearing, even if no property or contractual rights were engaged. However, both courts were also of the view that property rights were an issue in the case. The Supreme Court of Canada must now decide whether those courts were right. The Supreme Court reserved judgment after last week’s hearing; we can expect its decision early in the new year.
Courts like to “fix things.” They naturally want to find resolutions to disputes; this is what they exist to do. However, courts have historically avoided getting involved in religious cases, recognizing that they lack the expertise and authority to settle religious disagreements. They handle legal cases, such as contractual disputes, but not religious cases that raise metaphysical truths, such as the definition of God.
Wall argued his case did involve a “property right,” because his dismissal from his church meant the church members were no longer willing to do business with him. As a real estate agent, 50 per cent of his clientele were Jehovah’s Witnesses. His business folded from the loss of their support. He says there is a direct line of causation between his loss of church membership and business loss. It’s likely the case that one caused the other, but that doesn’t mean Wall’s claim is a legally enforceable property right.
"A church member is not required to patronize the business of a former church member"
The reality is, Wall chose to limit his business to Jehovah’s Witnesses and took a personal risk in doing so. The church did not tell him to do so, and certainly there is no known legal principle that says a church is responsible for the economic losses that might flow from a loss of membership. A church member is not required to patronize the business of a former member. In the same way, we would not expect a former husband to maintain business with his ex-wife’s family.
At last week’s hearing, Wall’s legal counsel tried to persuade the court that, if there are no grounds under Canadian law for the court to interfere in purely religious matters, the court should then consider adopting U.K. law, which does allow this type of review. “Good luck!” Justice Rosalie Abella quipped, prompting everyone to burst into laughter.
That exchange suggested the court was not persuaded that it is time to change the law to allow courts to get tangled up in reviewing decisions of religious bodies. That would be a good thing, as courts don’t have the moral or legal authority or doctrinal expertise to decide such matters.
This hearing occurred around the time of the 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. If we have learned anything since then, it’s that the law does not need to apply to every nook and cranny of our lives – especially our religious affairs.
Barry W. Bussey is Director Legal Affairs at the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. He blogs at lawandreligion.org
By Guest Nicole
By Guest Nicole
The judicial committee of a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses asked the Supreme Court of Canada today to rule that Canadian courts do not have the authority to review the expulsion of one of their members — arguing that judicial review by the courts should not extend to decisions by private and voluntary associations that have no effect on the public at large.
The Highwood Congregation, located in northwest Calgary, brought its appeal to Ottawa after Randy Wall took the congregation to court for expelling him from the church. The congregation’s judicial committee “disfellowshipped” Wall in the spring of 2014 after his family reported to the group’s elders that he had been drunk on two occasions and was verbally and emotionally abusing them — and after determining he was not “not sufficiently repentant” for those actions.
After three internal and unsuccessful appeals, Wall applied for judicial review of the congregation’s decision-making process, insisting it was flawed and that the congregation’s judicial committee had “breached the principles of natural justice and the duty to be fair.” Both the Court of Queen’s Bench and Court of Appeal in Alberta declared that it is within the jurisdiction of the superior court to review Wall’s case.
The congregation’s appeal of those two rulings, heard by the Supreme Court Thursday morning, has attracted a lot of attention from legal experts and religious communities across the country. Echoing the congregation’s plea today in the packed Ottawa courtroom were 12 religious, political and civil liberties groups — all of them unanimous in arguing the top court should not interfere in the membership decisions of religious bodies.
The consequences of such interference, they said, would be detrimental to the self-determination of religious groups.
“It (would) fundamentally alter our nation and not for the better,” counsel for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said in court.
“The wish or desire of one person to associate with an unwilling person (or an unwilling group) is not a legal right of any kind,” the group wrote in its written submission to the Supreme Court. “For a court, or the government, to support such a ‘right’ violates the right of self-determination of the unwilling parties.”
This question of jurisdiction is one that has been explored and decided on by the courts — including the Supreme Court of Canada — in the past. Case law shows the top court has recognized the the autonomous ability of religious and private voluntary associations to govern their own affairs and dictate who can and cannot be a member of a congregation.
The courts have determined, however, there is room to intervene in specific cases when a membership decision turns on property or civil rights — or is of “sufficient importance to deserve the intervention of the court.”
Wall — who does not dispute the allegations against him that formed the basis of the congregation’s decision to kick him out — argues his case meets those requirements because his “disfellowship” caused him to lose business clients, suffer “significant economic harm” and experience fraught family relations.
In return, the congregation argues that neither Wall’s property rights, nor his civil rights, were affected by their decision. Justice Russell Brown also remarked during the hearing that “one does not have a justiciable right to earn a living.”
The congregation also argued that it did not ask or force its members to boycott Wall’s business — but people choose to do so in line with their religious convictions. Counsel for the congregation also said that “the door is not closed” to Wall and he can be reinstated in the congregation in the future.
More generally, the congregation argued that it would be inappropriate for the courts to review the internal decision-making processes of religious groups because those processes are ecclesiastical.
In a news release, the Association for Reformed Political Action — one of the 12 intervening groups — said the case before the Supreme Court has “profound implications for the separation of church and state” and it believes the court should maintain a hands-off approach to membership decision-making by religious groups.
“Secular judges have no authority and no expertise to review a church membership decision,” the association’s director of law and policy, André Schutten, wrote in the statement. “Church discipline is a spiritual matter falling within spiritual jurisdiction, not a legal matter falling within the courts’ civil jurisdiction. The courts should not interfere.”
The Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association took a slightly more nuanced position, arguing in its factum that “there will inevitably be cases where judicial intervention in the decisions of religious groups is ‘warranted'” but courts “should intervene … only in the rare case where required by a prevailing public interest.”
Thursday’s hearing was heard by all nine justices on the Supreme Court bench. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said the court will reserve its decision after today’s hearing.
Overflow seating was set up in the front hall of the Supreme Court to accommodate all the people who came to see the hearing live.
By Guest Nicole
A Central Coast man who raped and tortured a succession of women over more than two decades has been sentenced to at least 27 years in jail.
The 53-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty of 55 charges relating to the physical, sexual and psychological abuse of women he lived with between 1988 and 2014.
The man, who was a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, was accused of raping the women with household objects and detaining them.
The sadistic nature of the offences included bashing and raping the women for not folding washing correctly, making them eat off the floor, locking them in wardrobes and hog-tying them and placing them face down in a bathtub full of water.
A number of the women have suffered permanent physical injuries stemming from the abuse.
One of the women known as JF was locked in a cupboard after calling her sister who contacted police.
When police visited the home, the offender said she had gone out.
In her victim impact statement JF said "It's hard to understand the fear unless you have lived with it," and that she "frequently believed she wouldn't be alive the following day".
In handing down the sentence in the Downing Centre District Court, Justice Sarah Huggett said the man used "gratuitous cruelty ... designed to emphasise a victim's powerlessness and helplessness".
"When one victim found the strength to escape, he found a replacement," she said.
"I have no doubt there was foresight, premeditation and planning."
Justice Huggett said the degree of violence was a relevant consideration in the sentence and that the offender was "frightening, controlling and undermining each victim's sense of security".
The court heard that while in custody, the man had been verbally aggressive towards visitors and nursing staff.
The man will be eligible for release in 2041.
By Guest Nicole
TORONTO.- La demanda acusa a la organización religiosa de tener reglas y políticas que protegen a los que abusan sexualmente de menores y ponen a los niños en riesgo.
“La política y el protocolo de la organización para hacer frente a las denuncias de abuso sexual está gravemente dañada y resulta en más daño a las víctimas de abuso sexual y en alegatos legítimos de abuso sexual que no se denuncian”, dice el documento.
“Esta es una cuestión que la comunidad en general debe preocuparse, y no sólo los testigos de Jehová”, dijo Tricia Franginha. Agrega que sus primeros 14 años de vida como Testigo de Jehová fueron llenos con abuso sexual.
“Como resultado de los procedimientos, cuando se presentan acusaciones de abuso, a estos delincuentes sexuales se les dejan en libertad”, dice Franginha. “Como la mayoría de la gente sabe acerca de los testigos de Jehová, es que ellos son los que vienen a su puerta los sábados por la mañana, cuando sus hijos están en casa y por lo que saben, esa persona ha ofendido más de una vez”.
Todavía ninguna de las acusaciones en esta demanda ha sido probada en el Tribunal Superior de Ontario. Un portavoz de los Testigos de Jehová dijo que mientras la demanda ha sido presentada, la organización aún no la ha recibido oficialmente, por lo que no pueden comentar los detalles.
“Los Testigos de Jehová aborrecen el abuso infantil y nunca protegerían a ningún perpetrador”, fue la explicación el portavoz Mattieu Rozon. La organización también dice que los ancianos de la congregación cumplen con las leyes de reportes de abuso infantil.
Franginha dijo que cuando ella fue a buscar ayuda, fue callada.
“Cuando tenía alrededor de los 12 años, me dijeron que debía tner dos testigos y que tenía que respetar a mis padres – callarme y no hablar de ello”, explicó.
La necesidad de que dos testigos corroboren las denuncias de abuso es señalada en la demanda. Las personas que han sido abusadas sexualmente deben presentar dos testigos creíbles de su abuso, explica Franginha, quien añade que los testigos deben ser otros Testigos de Jehová en buen estado en la iglesia.
“Esto, obviamente, nunca sucede”. “La naturaleza misma del crimen es que es secreto”.
La demanda también alega que la policía no es llamada cuando las acusaciones de abuso sexual salen a la superficie y en su lugar son manejadas por los veteranos de la iglesia dentro del Salón del Reino.
“Es nuestra información, basándonos en personas que nos contactaron, que los sistemas que tienen no protegen contra el abuso sucedido, y cuando se hacen denuncias, se toman medidas inadecuadas para asegurar que la queja llegue a las autoridades apropiadas” dice Bryan McPhadden, ayudante de McPhadden Samac Tuovi, que representa a las víctimas.
Las víctimas buscan $20 millones por daños por abuso sexual y mental perpetradas por personas mayores, $20 millones por no proteger a los niños y otros $20 millones por incumplimiento del deber de cuidado.
La demanda se espera que tome años para abrirse paso a través de los tribunales.
Si usted cree que califica para unirse a la demanda colectiva, puede comunicarse con los abogados en www.mcst.ca.
By Guest Nicole
A group of alleged sexual abuse survivors from across the country have filed a $66-million class action lawsuit against the Jehovah’s Witness, CityNews has learned.
The suit accuses the religious organization of having rules and policies that protect child sex abusers and put children at risk.
“The organization’s policy and protocol for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse is seriously flawed, and results in further harm to victims of sexual abuse and results in legitimate allegations of sexual abuse going unreported,” it alleges.
“This is an issue that the wider community should be concerned with, and not just Jehovah’s Witnesses,” says Tricia Franginha. She says her first 14 years of life as a Jehovah’s Witness were filed with sexual abuse.
“As a result of their procedures, when abuse allegations come forward, these sexual offenders are left at large,” Franginha says. “As most people know about Jehovah’s Witnesses, they are the ones who come to your door on Saturday mornings, when your kids are home, and for all you know, that person has offended more than once.”
None of the allegations in this the suit have been tested in Ontario Superior Court. A spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witness says that while the suit has been filed, the organization hasn’t officially received it yet, so they can’t comment on the details.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse and would never shield any perpetrator,” says spokesperson Mattieu Rozon. The organization also says congregation elders comply with child abuse reporting laws.
Franginha says that when she went for help, she was shut down.
“When I was around 12, I was told that I didn’t have two witnesses and I needed to respect my parents – not to talk about it,” she says.
The need to have two witnesses corroborate allegations of abuse is singled out in the suit. People who have been sexually abused must present two credible witnesses to their abuse, explains Franginha, who adds that the eyewitnesses must be other Jehovah’s Witnesses in good standing in the church.
“This, obviously, never happens,” she says. “The very nature of the crime is that it’s secret.”
The suit also alleges that police are not called when allegations surface and instead they’re handled by church elders inside Kingdom Hall.
“It is our information, based on people who contacted us, that the systems in place don’t guard against [abuse] happening, and when allegations are made, inadequate measures are in place to ensure that the complaint reaches the proper authorities,” says Bryan McPhadden, laywer at McPhadden Samac Tuovi, which is representing the victims.
The victims are seeking $20 million for damages from sexual and mental abuse by elders, $20 million for failing to protect children, and another $20 million for breach of duty of care.
The lawsuit is expected to take years to wind its way through the courts. If you believe you qualify to join the class action suit, you can reach out at www.mcst.ca.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is finishing up the third round of NAFTA negotiations alongside counterparts from Mexico and Canada.
They’re talking cars. Right now, a law known as the “rules of origin” states that for a car produced in NAFTA countries, 62.5% of its total value must originate in those countries. BUT there aren’t any country-specific mandates. Expect the U.S., which feels like it’s getting stiffed in vehicle manufacturing, to demand a minimum level of U.S.-made parts.
Shariah and rules that govern religious practices in other faiths are not to be feared, spiritual leaders sayBy Guest Nicole
Recourse to secular courts
Religious laws apply to a believer's spiritual life. They don't trump Canada's Criminal Code, civil law orÂ other statutes.Â
Sometimes, secular courts are even called upon to judge whetherÂ a faith-based decision is fair.
On Nov. 2, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear from anÂ Alberta man appealingÂ aÂ decision made by aÂ Jehovah's Witnesses' judicial committee.
Elders disfellowshipped Â— or expelled Â— Randy Wall when they decided the Calgary manÂ was not sufficiently repentant for two drunken incidents where he allegedly verbally abused his wife.
This decision by elders of the congregation required Wall's wife and children to shun him. Wall, a real estate agent,Â alleges the shunning caused him to lose a large number of Jehovah's Witnesses clients. Courts are sometimes are asked to judge the fairness of a religious rule or decision. The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear the case of a Jehovah's Witness who was expelled for alleged verbal abuse of his wife. (Chris Wattie/Canadian Press)
In 2007,Â Canada's top court ruled in favour of a womanÂ who took action against her ex-husband for refusing to grant her a religious Jewish divorce, known as aÂ get.
"The consequences to women deprived of aÂ getÂ and loyal to their faith are severe," Justice Rosalie Abella wrote.
"They may not remarry within their faith, even though civilly divorced. If they do remarry, children from a second civil marriage are considered illegitimate and restricted from practising their religion."
Full article:Â http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/shariah-religion-islamophobia-1.4295453
By Guest Nicole
Un juez ha autorizado a un hospital de Montreal a realizar transfusiones de sangre para tratar a una adolescente de 14 años con cÃ¡ncer, a pesar de su rechazo porque es testigo de JehovÃ¡.
Al permitir las transfusiones, el tribunal dictaminÃ³ que es lÃcito proteger a los niÃ±os, a veces "contra sÃ mismos", cuando sus decisiones pueden ser fatales.
Bajo la ley de Quebec, los menores de 14 aÃ±os pueden rechazar ciertos servicios de salud. Sin embargo, si los padres del niÃ±o o un hospital -en este caso, el Centro Universitario de Salud McGill- quieren administrar esos servicios, pueden solicitar el permiso de un juez.
El juez de la Corte Superior, Lukasz Granosik, dijo en su decisiÃ³n que la adolescente es "una chica brillante y articulada" que tiene mucho Ã©xito en la escuela y tiene una "madurez mÃ¡s allÃ¡ de su edad biolÃ³gica", pero que aÃºn no estaba madura para decidir, y estaba bajo la presiÃ³n de sus padres que tambiÃ©n son testigos de JehovÃ¡.
Granosik tambiÃ©n seÃ±alÃ³ que la niÃ±a hablÃ³ de la muerte con "renuncia", a pesar de tener un 97 por ciento de posibilidades de recuperaciÃ³n si se sometiÃ³ a tratamiento.
En junio de 2017, descubriÃ³ que tenÃa linfoma de Hodgkin, una forma de cÃ¡ncer, y tuvo que comenzar la quimioterapia.
Este tratamiento, sin embargo, a menudo requiere transfusiones de sangre. Sin ella, la paciente podrÃa morir o sufrir un daÃ±o neurolÃ³gico irreversible, dijo su mÃ©dico.
Los Testigos de JehovÃ¡ no aceptan transfusiones de sangre.
La decisiÃ³n del juez Granosik fue rendida el 1 de septiembre.
By Guest Nicole
A judge has authorized a Montreal hospital to perform blood transfusions to treat a 14-year-old teen with cancer, despite her refusal because she is a Jehovah's Witness.
By allowing transfusions, the court ruled that it is lawful to protect children, sometimes "against themselves," when their decisions can be fatal.
Under Quebec law, minors over the age of 14 can refuse certain health services. However, if the child’s parents or a hospital--in this case, the McGill University Health Centre--wants to administer those services, they can seek a judge’s permission.
Superior Court Judge Lukasz Granosik said in his decision that the teen is "a brilliant, articulate girl" who is very successful at school and has a "maturity beyond her biological age," but that she was not yet mature enough to decide for herself, and was under pressure from her parents who are also Jehovah's Witnesses.
Granosik also noted the girl spoke of death with "resignation," despite having a 97 percent chance of recovery if she underwent treatment.
In June 2017, she found out she had Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer, and had to begin chemotherapy.
This treatment, however, often requires blood transfusions. Without it, the patient could die or suffer irreversible neurological damage, her doctor said.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions.
Judge Granosik’s decision was rendered on Sept. 1.
- With a report from The Canadian Press
By Bible Speaks
A judge orders a 14-Year-old witness to be baptized with blood.
A judge from Quebec has decided that a 14-Year-old Jehovah's witness who has cancer must undergo blood transfusions, despite his express desire not to receive them.
The Adolescent, who is not named, learned in June that she has hodgkin's lymphoma, a rare form of cancer affecting white blood cells. He has an excellent survival rate, if it's early.
Treatment involves chemotherapy, which often requires blood transfusions. But as Jehovah's witness, the faith of the girl states that it is against God's desires to consume or be transfused with any blood.
The girl, who had just turned 14 at the time of her diagnosis, refused to accept any transfusion.
Under the québec law, children under the age of 14 may reject certain health services. However, if the parents of the child or a hospital want to administer these services, they may request the permission of a judge.
In his decision issued earlier this month, judge lukasz granosik noted that the girl had embraced his religion at an early age and was baptized at 12 years of his own agreement.
McGill University Health Center, where the girl was being treated, argued that the girl was not mature enough to make those decisions and was under the pressure of her parents to refuse transfusions.
In his judgement, granosik noted that the girl was brilliant and expressive, but also said he was talking about death "almost with resignation".
Noting that the law is designed to protect children even from themselves, he ordered the girl to submit to any blood transfusion necessary to save his life
The girl's Hematologist-oncologist says that the girl's prognosis with full treatment is excellent, with 97 percent of recovery possibilities.
The hospital has promised to use blood transfusions only if the child's life is in danger, and use other methods to avoid transfusions when possible.
No update on the current adolescent health status is known.
The Quebec court requests the adoption of a collective demand for sexual abuse against Jehovah's WitnessesBy Bible Speaks
The Quebec court requests the adoption of a collective demand for sexual abuse against Jehovah's witnesses
A trial proposes to accuse the leadership of the religious organization in Canada and the United States to protect alleged abusers
The lawsuit is looking for $ 250.000 per plaintiff for moral and punitive damages.
Radio-Canada says that, if approved by the court, collective action will be the first of its kind against Jehovah's witnesses, a religious movement that is already the subject of several individual trials in the United States.
It is now up to the québec high court to determine whether the application is sufficiently substantiated to authorize collective action.
By Guest Nicole
Quebec provincial police are investigating allegations of child sexual abuse by two members of a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Mont-Laurier in the Laurentians, Radio-CanadaÂ’s investigative programÂ EnquÃªteÂ has learned.
Both men have been sanctioned through the churchÂ’s internal disciplinary process for dealing with allegations of child abuse, but congregation elders did not share their findings with civil authorities.
One of the men being investigated, Michel Courtemanche, who has been expelled from the congregation, was acquitted of charges of sexual assault and indecent assault in 1996.
However, the SÃ»retÃ© du QuÃ©bec has renewed its investigation of Courtemanche and has begun investigating another man, former congregation elder Georges Leclerc, based on new evidence from at least seven alleged victims.
Leclerc has been stripped of his status as an elder, but he has not been arrested or charged, and he refused to speak withÂ EnquÃªte.
Courtemanche has not been arrested or charged as a result of the new investigation and denies the allegations against him. In an interview withÂ EnquÃªte, he pointed to his 1996 acquittal.
Â“My answer is there was a judgment on this based on very precise facts, and I was acquitted,Â” he said.
At least 7 potential victims, police say
EnquÃªteÂ spoke with PÃ©nÃ©lope Herbert, the woman whose allegations of repeated sexual assaults starting when she was just 10 led to CourtemancheÂ’s 1996 trial. Â
Carolle Poudrier, now in her mid-40s, also toldÂ EnquÃªteÂ of alleged sexual contact by Courtemanche, over a period of months when she was 11.
In the case of Herbert, she said the assaults continued until she was 17 Â— even after her family moved from Mont-Laurier.
Â“He would come to our house to say hello and would sleep over,Â” Herbert, now 42, toldÂ EnquÃªte. Â“Those nights, he would come to my room. WeÂ’re talking total rape, those nights.Â”
Carolle Poudrier told EnquÃªte of alleged sexual contact by Michel Courtemanche, over a period of months when she was 11. (Jasmin Simard/Radio-Canada)
EnquÃªteÂ has learned the SQ has interviewed more than 40 people, of whom seven have been identified as potential victims of either Courtemanche or Leclerc.
Four of the seven, including Herbert and Poudrier, have now filed formal complaints with police. SQ spokesperson Martine Asselin toldÂ EnquÃªteÂ theyÂ’re now seeking other possible victims and witnesses.
Â“WeÂ’re looking to identify other potential victims who perhaps feel theyÂ’re alone and arenÂ’t ready to talk,Â” Asselin said.
Â“They should know that investigators are ready to meet with them and witnesses.Â”
Both men were friends
According toÂ EnquÃªte, Leclerc and Courtemanche were friends around the time HerbertÂ’s parents lodged an internal complaint with the congregation about the alleged assaults on their daughter.
Leclerc was, as a congregation elder, a senior member of the congregation who is responsible for providing religious guidance and ruling on disciplinary matters.
EnquÃªteÂ said LeclercÂ allegedly did not speak to Herbert to learn the details of her complaint, as required by JehovahÂ’s Witness protocols in such matters.
Courtemanche was later reprimanded and allowed to remain in the congregation.
Georges Leclerc and Michel Courtemanche were friends around the time PÃ©nÃ©lope HerbertÂ’s parents lodged an internal complaint with the congregation, according to EnquÃªte. (Jasmin Simard/Radio-Canada)
Disillusioned with how the JehovahÂ’s Witnesses had handled her complaint, Herbert took her allegations to police in 1995.
Courtemanche remained a JehovahÂ’s Witness after his acquittal but was expelled in 2014,Â EnquÃªteÂ found, after two other women filed internal complaints alleging he had assaulted them as minors.
Leclerc remains with the Mont-Laurier congregation, butÂ EnquÃªteÂ says he was stripped of his elder duties after at least three women filed complaints internally with the JehovahÂ’s Witnesses, alleging he had assaulted them when they were minors.
Police, youth protection notÂ notified of allegations
According toÂ EnquÃªte, the first time police investigated HerbertÂ’s allegations against Courtemanche in the mid-1990s, they were not aware Carolle PoudrierÂ’s parents had also alleged Courtemanche had assaulted their daughter.
PoudrierÂ’s parents were members of a congregation in Terrebonne, just north of Montreal, and had filed their complaint there Â—Â not with CourtemancheÂ’s congregation in Mont-Laurier.
Poudrier alleged that Courtemanche, who was working for her dad, would make her sit on his lap so he could caress and tickle her, which made her uneasy. A few months later, he kissed her twice.
Â“He asked me if IÂ’d ever kissed anyone, and he put his tongue in my mouth. I found that disgusting,Â” Poudrier toldÂ EnquÃªte.
After she told her parents and they complained, Poudrier was made to recount what happened to a congregational elder in the presence of her father.
Carolle Poudrier told what happened to a congregational elder in the presence of her father. (Jasmin Simard/Radio-Canada)
Â“I was really stressed talking about sexual matters with a man I didnÂ’t know, in front of my father. It was embarrassing,Â” Poudrier said.
She said the elder thanked her for telling him what had happened and said that Â“he was there to take care of it.Â”
In a lawyerÂ’s letter to Radio-Canada,Â the elder in question, John MacEwan, said he knew PoudrierÂ’s family but denied meeting with them concerning allegations against Courtemanche.
When asked byÂ EnquÃªteÂ if the Terrebonne congregation had shared the complaint against Courtemanche with his Mont-Laurier congregation, MacEwan refused to answer.
Neither police nor youth protection authorities were ever notified of the alleged assaults on Poudrier.
The JehovahÂ’s Witnesses leadership, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, has given preference to internal judicial procedures and protocols for dealing with matters such as child abuse.
Carolle PoudrierÂ’s father, left, had worked with Michel Courtemanche, right. (Jasmin Simard/Radio-Canada)
Â“In some jurisdictions, individuals who learn of an allegation of child abuse may be obligated by law to report the allegation to the secular authorities,Â” an internal memo to elders from 2016 reads.
Â“In all cases, the victim and her parents have the absolute right to report an allegation to the authorities.Â”
When it comes to sharing information with outside authorities, however, the leadership has insisted on maintaining confidentiality, citing privacy and the ecclesiastical privilege conferred by confessions.
EnquÃªteÂ found there are as many as 30 steps a JehovahÂ’s Witness must take before that person is allowed to testify in court or furnish civil authorities with church documents, when it comes to matters of child abuse.
Â“When you study the process, you realize itÂ’s really a process for avoiding, a system for protecting the reputation of the JehovahÂ’s Witnesses,Â” Â said Marilou LagacÃ©, a former Witness interviewed byÂ EnquÃªte.
New instructions regarding allegations of child sexual abuse
A recent royal commission in Australia found the JehovahÂ’s Witness church there had recorded allegations of child sexual abuse against 1,006 members over a 60-year period. Not one allegation had been reported to authorities outside the church.
With pressure mounting in the wake of that royal commission and other allegations of sexual abuse of children in its ranks, on Sept. 1, the Watchtower Society issued new instructions regarding allegations of child sexual abuse.
Those instructions recognize child sexual abuse as a crime and assert that members should be Â“clearly informed that they have the rightÂ” to report an allegation of abuse to police.
Â“The congregationÂ’s handling of an accusation of child sexual abuse is not intended to replace the secular authorityÂ’s handling of the matter,Â” the Sept. 1 letter reads.
Â“Therefore, the victim, her parents, or anyone else who reports such an allegation to the elders should be clearly informed that they have the right to report the matter to the secular authorities.
Elders do not criticize anyone who chooses to make such a report.Â”
By Bible Speaks
Have you attended the 2017 Don't Give Up convention yet? How many people attended? My convention was held in June, and was tied into the Special Convention in Toronto, where we had the privilege of listening to Brother Herd give a talk all 3 days! ?
~ Tap on Link to Video MP4 ___
Video by @hcastrojr -
via TheWorldNewsOrgWorld News
Most OnlineNewest Member