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Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation's efforts to block inquiry squashed

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Tribunal rejects claim investigation into charity’s handling of sexual abuse allegations amounts to religious discrimination

A Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Manchester has lost a legal attempt to block an investigation into its handling of sexual abuse allegations, after failing to convince a judge that the inquiry amounted to religious discrimination.

Organisations linked to the religion have fought legally to prevent the Charity Commission from launching two inquiries into allegations that survivors of sexual abuse were being forced to face their attackers in so-called judicial committees. The organisation’s efforts have been described by the commission as unprecedented.

The Charity Commission launched a statutory inquiry into the Manchester New Moston congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2014, after reports surfaced that a convicted paedophile, Jonathan Rose, was brought face-to-face with survivors of his abuse in a judicial committee. 

After Rose served nine months in prison for child sex offences, the New Moston congregation held a meeting attended by senior members, Rose and three of his victims – now adults – to see if he would be “disfellowshipped”, or expelled from of the congregation, the judgment notes. This would have involved “the elders of the charity (its trustees) and Mr Rose interviewing his victims, in an apparently intrusive way”. 

This raised serious concerns at the Charity Commission, which oversees whether charity trustees are meeting their safeguarding responsibilities.

The commission also launched a statutory inquiry into safeguarding the UK’s main Jehovah’s Witnesses charity, the Watch Tower Bible Tract Society of Great Britain (WTBTS), which oversees the UK’s 1,500 congregations and is believed to play a key role in deciding how claims of abuse are handled. 

WTBTS launched litigation including an attempt to challenge in the supreme court the commission’s decision to start an investigation. The charity also fought in the lower courts against production orders that would oblige it to give the commission access to records showing how it handled the allegations, although in January it dropped its opposition to these requests.

The Manchester New Moston congregation launched appeals at the first-tier tribunal challenging the Charity Commission’s decision to open a formal inquiry, arguing among other things that the investigation interfered with the congregation’s human rights, and that the decision to launch the inquiry amounted to religious discrimination. The charity alleged the commission had investigated safeguarding concerns at other charities without launching a full statutory inquiry.

When the first appeal was dismissed, the congregation appealed to the upper tribunal. This was rejected on Tuesday at the upper tribunal of the tax and chancery division at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Mrs Justice Asplin ruled the lower tribunal had been “entitled to decide that there was no direct discrimination on the grounds of religion, the inquiry having been opened on the basis of unusual and distinctive factual reasons ... and that there were no other comparable cases from which to infer discrimination on the grounds of religious beliefs.”

The Charity Commission’s head of litigation, Chris Willis Pickup, said: “We regret that public and charity funds have been used on this protracted litigation, but we will continue to defend robustly our legitimate role in investigating serious concerns about charities.

“We hope and expect that this judgment concludes the litigation on this matter and allows us, and the charity, to focus our efforts on concluding the Commission’s inquiry.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/04/jehovahs-witnesses-congregations-efforts-to-block-inquiry-squashed?CMP=twt_gu

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      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.
      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-13/man-who-tortured-women-jailed-27-years/9046326
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      “They also state that protective restrictions must be put in place to protect the charity’s members from people found guilty of child sexual abuse by the criminal courts.”
      He said that the charity has now changed its policies and procedures to ensure that “victims of child sexual abuse are not required to make their allegations in the presence of the alleged abuser”.
      The commission’s inquiry into another Jehovah’s Witnesses charity, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, is ongoing.
      A spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses said: “Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse in all of its forms and do not shield wrongdoers from the authorities or from the consequences of their actions. 
      “All allegations of abuse are thoroughly investigated and appropriate restrictions are imposed on any person who is guilty of child sexual abuse.
      “The trustees will continue to concentrate on doing all that they can to safeguard children and to care for the spiritual needs of the congregation.”
      http://goldenvoiceshow.com/jehovahs-witnesses-attacked-by-charity-commission-over-paedophilia-cover-up/
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Jehovah's Witnesses have been severely criticised by the Charity Commission for allowing a convicted sex offender to interrogate his victims.
      The commission's report said the women had endured "inappropriate and demeaning questioning".
      And Jonathan Rose had challenged them during a meeting with Church elders, after he was released from prison.
      A Jehovah's Witness statement said "appropriate restrictions" were imposed on anyone guilty of abuse.
      Rose was convicted in 2013 of the historical sexual abuse of two girls, aged five and 10, and sentenced to nine months in prison.
      Both he and the girls, at the time of the assaults, were members of the New Moston Kingdom Hall, in Manchester.
      At the time of his conviction, Rose was a senior member, or "elder", of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
      He appealed against a move to expel him, a process known as "disfellowshipping".
      In order to decide his fate, a group of elders had called the two women to a meeting at the Kingdom Hall, along with a third woman who had alleged in the 1990s that Rose had assaulted her, the report said.
      'Very intimidating'
      Over three hours in April 2014, the women were individually questioned by Rose and a room full of male elders.
      In an audio recording made by one of the women and passed to the BBC, Rose is heard saying to one woman: "Give me one reason why I would touch you?"
      He is heard challenging the woman, accusing her of making up the allegations and asking her to relive the assault.
      "What I am saying to you is this didn't happen," he says.
      "What was I supposed to have done to you that night?"
      One of the elders asks: "Did you ever egg him on?"
      "It was worse than the court case," another of the women told the BBC.
      "I felt everyone was on his side. I felt I was in the wrong. I felt very intimidated that it was all men, very, very intimidating. I was shocked he was able to talk to me.
      "He kept making out that I was lying. He kept saying why did I make it up, why would I say something like that, and at no point did I feel he was going to admit it.
      "I got to the point where I thought, 'He genuinely believes he's not done anything wrong.'"
      She added that another of the women had burst out of her meeting in tears, claiming Rose had asked if "she'd enjoyed it".
      In 2014, the Charity Commission, which regulates both the New Moston Kingdom Hall and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain - the main UK Jehovah's Witness organisation, opened an investigation into how the trustees of the church had handled the case.
      The movement launched several legal actions to stop the inquiry, claiming the commission was acting beyond its remit.
      Eventually, the challenges were thrown out by the courts, and the report says: "The trustees of the charity... acting on legal advice, declined to engage with the commission following the opening of its inquiry."
      'Mismanagement'
      The report also found the charity's trustees had failed to tell the commission about the allegation against Rose from the 1990s, as they should have done.
      In a subsequent letter to the regulator, the trustees described the incident as merely "a matter between two teenagers", evidence, says the report, that they did not properly take account of the earlier incident when considering the new allegations.
      The report said they also failed to fully enforce the restrictions they had put on Rose's activities, allowing him to continue participating in the Church, and they "did not deal adequately" with the appeal meeting, allowing the questioning to take place, and therefore failing in their duties to protect people from harm.
      Taken together, the failures "constitute misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of the charity" by the trustees, the report said.
      "This has to be dealt with in a way that is sensitive to the victims who have gone through this terrible ordeal," said Michelle Russell, director of investigations at the Charity Commission. "In this case, they let the victims down."
      'No unsupervised contact'
      A statement from Watch Tower said: "Jehovah's Witnesses abhor child abuse in all of its forms and do not shield wrongdoers from the authorities or from the consequences of their actions. All allegations of abuse are thoroughly investigated and appropriate restrictions are imposed on any person who is guilty of child sexual abuse.
      "For years, Jehovah's Witnesses have had a robust child safeguarding policy. The trustees followed the policy by imposing restrictions on the perpetrator and by ensuring that he had no unsupervised contact with children during congregation meetings.
      "The trustees will continue to concentrate on doing all that they can to safeguard children and to care for the spiritual needs of the congregation."
      Jonathan Rose told the BBC he had no comment to make.
      The commission is now undertaking a wider inquiry into how Jehovah's Witnesses across the UK handle allegations of child sexual abuse.
      One particular concern is the Church's policy of dismissing an allegation if it fails its two-witness policy, which states two people need to have seen the abuse for the Church to proceed with a full investigation.
      There are also calls for the independent child abuse inquiry to examine the Church's policy.
      http://wasabi-now.com/article/789d16757a2195514928f45f3a5b0ad0
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      An expected audience of around 3,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of the public are beginning to arrive at the Westpoint Arena for their three day annual Exeter Convention.
      This year’s Convention theme is “Don’t Give Up!”
      “Challenges in life can rob us of peace and even cause some to think about giving up,” states David A. Semonian, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses at their world headquarters in Warwick, New York. “Our convention this year will benefit both Witnesses and non-Witnesses because it promises to empower individuals not only to keep enduring but also to cope with challenges productively.”
      Last weekend 3,800 Witnesses and others from Cornwall and South Devon attended their Convention at Westpoint, this weekend it is the turn of delegates from across Somerset, North, and Mid Devon to enjoy the same uplifting program. It is one of 21 such Conventions across the UK, in total the program will be presented in 24 different languages. Last year over 13 million persons attended the Witnesses Conventions worldwide, more are expected to attend this year.
      The program is divided into 52 parts and will be presented in a variety of formats, including brief discourses, interviews, and short videos. Additionally, one segment of a three-part feature film designed to help families will be shown each afternoon. Of special interest will be a discourse especially for the public at 11.20 on Sunday morning entitled “Never Give Up Hope!”, as well as the public Baptism of new believers on Saturday at 11,45 a.m. The program lasts from Friday through to Sunday and begins at 9.20 each morning.
      Admission was free and no collections are taken
      Watch a video about our conventions and see a complete program schedule at jw.org
      https://www.theexeterdaily.co.uk/news/local-news/jehovahs-witness-convention-exeter
    • By The Librarian
      NORTH KENSINGTON, London – Not less than four members of Jehovah’s Witnesses survived the inferno that ravaged the 24 storey Grenfel Tower, London killing at least 79 people.

      None of the witnesses died in the inferno, which has led to revolution and evacuation of about 25 other blocks that have failed fire resistant test in London.
      The 4 witnesses however lost their apartments and properties in the fire. 
      “Witnesses that live near the now fire-gutted apartment building provided food, clothing, and monetary aid to their fellow members and their families that were affected. The Witnesses are also offering spiritual comfort to the grieving members of the North Kensington community”, the JWs said on their website.Jehovah’s Witnesses are known worldwide for their speed in mitigating the affliction of their neighbours worldwide.See full statement below.
      Jehovah’s Witnesses are assisting victims of a catastrophic fire that engulfed the Grenfell Tower, a 24-story apartment building in the North Kensington area of London, in the early morning hours of June 14, 2017. Authorities are reporting that at least 79 people were killed.
      Four Witnesses were evacuated from the apartment building, two of which were residents of Grenfell Tower. Fortunately, none of them were injured, although the Witnesses’ apartments were among those completely destroyed in the blaze.
      Witnesses that live near the now fire-gutted apartment building provided food, clothing, and monetary aid to their fellow members and their families that were affected. The Witnesses are also offering spiritual comfort to the grieving members of the North Kensington community.
      http://starconnectmedia.com/four-witnesses-survive-grenfel-tower-fire-in-london/
    • By Jack Ryan
      In Newcastle town centre. UK.
      The Chronicle Live. 15 June 2017.
      A council worker will stand trial after he was accused of being drunk at the wheel of his road sweeper in Newcastle city centre.
      John Paul Carruthers, who has since resigned from his post at Newcastle City Council, was allegedly over the legal drink-drive limit when he ploughed into a Jehovah’s Witness stand on Northumberland Street near to Haymarket Metro Station.
      Prosecuting, James Long told Newcastle Magistrates’ Court: “The allegation is that he was driving a Newcastle City Council road sweeper when he collided first with a Jehovah’s Witness stand next to Haymarket Metro Station. He carried on then a short while later was detained on Ridley Place and was said to be aggressive.

      READ MORE: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/newcastle-council-roadsweeper-drink-drive-13183193
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      MOSCOW — Workers building stadiums for next year’s World Cup in Russia have faced repeated abuses and routinely gone unpaid for several months, according to a report by Human Rights Watch released on Wednesday.
      At a stadium in Yekaterinburg, some workers were required to work in temperatures of minus-25 degrees Celsius (minus-13 Fahrenheit) “without sufficient breaks for them to warm themselves,” the report states.
      “FIFA is essentially expecting us to take their word for it that their work has improved workers’ lives,” Jane Buchanan, the report’s author, told The Associated Press. “This is supposed to be the reformed FIFA, moving away from secrecy and a lot of deals behind closed doors.”
      At least 17 workers have died on World Cup construction sites, according to Building and Wood Workers’ International, a trade union.
      Known deaths include workers killed in falls and the case of a worker from North Korea who died of a reported heart attack at the stadium in St. Petersburg, which will host the final of the Confederations Cup on July 2, as well as World Cup matches in 2018.
      Read more: http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/soccer/at-least-17-deaths-as-workers-on-russia-2018-world-cup-construction-sites-face-abuse-report
    • By Jack Ryan
      09:38  Official police statement 
      Detectives have launched a murder investigation following the suspicious death of a man in Honiton today [6 June].
      Police and ambulance crews were called at around 3.40pm after concerns were raised for the welfare of the man at a premises in Dowell Street.
      On arrival they found the man, who is yet to be identified, deceased at the scene. He had sustained a number of stab wounds.
      A 55-year-old man was located nearby and has been arrested on suspicion of murder. He has been taken into custody in Exeter awaiting questioning.
      Detectives from the Major Crime Investigation Team have launched an investigation to establish the circumstances of the man’s death.
      Officers are appealing for anyone who may have information which may assist with the enquiry to contact them.
      A cordon remains in place around the scene while a forensic examination is carried out by scenes of crime officers.
      Anyone who may have information about the incident is asked to contact police via 101@dc.police.uk or by telephoning 101, quoting log 529 of 06/06/17.
      Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers via 0800 555111 or the charity’s website at www.crimestoppers-org.uk
      Read more at http://www.devonlive.com/police-cordon-around-honiton-s-kingdom-hall-of-jehovah-s-witnesses-after-fatal-stabbing/story-30375040-detail/story.html
      ---------------------------------------
      The question now is.... are either of the two Jehovah's Witnesses?
    • By TheWorldNewsOrg
      via TheWorldNewsOrg
      World News
    • By admin
      Terrorist incident at Manchester Arena 
      Police shutdown central Manchester, early Tuesday morning, after a suspected explosion at the Manchester Arena killed 19 and injured 50.
      Suicide Bomber suspected
      The incident is thought to have occurred at 22.35 local time (21.35 GMT), at the end of an Ariana Grande concert as 20,000 + attendees were leaving the premises. Emergency vehicles streamed to the arena and helicopters circled above as police urged people to stay clear of the area.
      As we all get more details about this event please post news below as a reply
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - Warrants claim a North Georgia nurse accused of inappropriately touching women under anesthesia injected at least one of them with a potent drug to keep her under sedation for a longer than necessary period of time.
      Sandy Springs Police arrested Michael Morgan, 33, after they said he admitted to touching the women while they were unconscious at the gastroenterology practice where he worked earlier this year. 
      Police said Morgan confided in his pastors at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they turned him into detectives.
      According to warrants obtained by Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik, "Mr. Morgan admitted to taking a used plunger of Propofol from a medical trash pile that had not been used all the way. He then took a saline flush and added it to the used Propofol plunge so he could keep her under sedation."
      http://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/north-fulton-county/warrants-nurse-gave-women-powerful-sedatives-before-fondling-them/525355215
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      La policía ha evacuado el estadio Manchester Arena e investiga los hechos como un ataque terrorista

      La policía de Manchester ha confirmado que se han producido 19 víctimas mortales y más de 50 heridos durante una actuación de la artista estadounidense Ariana Grande en Manchester. Las fuerzas de seguridad han evacuado el estadio Manchester Arena al recibir información de dos fuertes detonaciones al final del concierto, al que asistían cerca de 20.000 personas. La policía está abordando la investigación desde la perspectiva de un acto terrorista y ha desplegado una unidad de artificieros en la zona.
       
      Leer más: http://www.lavanguardia.com/sucesos/20170523/422819423980/explosiones-concierto-ariana-grande-manchester-arena.html
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