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NEARLY 300 REPORTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE AMONG DUTCH JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

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The number of reports of sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses now stands at 267, Reclaimed Voices, a foundation that manages the hotline for this type of abuse, said to newspaper Trouw.

Reclaimed Voices was established last year after Trouw published the stories of a number of Jehovah's Witnesses who were abused during their youth. One victim called the religious group a "paradise for pedophiles", because the Jehovah's Witnesses elders tend to keep sexual abuse quiet. In the first week of its existence, the hotline received nearly 50 sexual abuse reports. 

According to the newspaper, the victims of sexual abuse asked the Jehovah's Witnesses elders for a meeting to discuss this abuse six months ago, but still haven't heard anything. This has a big affect on the victims, Frank Huiting of Reclaimed Voices said to Trouw. "They are angry, they haven't known where they stand for some time and feel disappointed about the entire process. They still aren't being heard, is what it comes down to."

Minister Sander Dekker for Legal Protection also instructed the leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses to start a conversation with the victims. 

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      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.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The founders of MormonLeaks, a transparency organization that has released hundreds of controversial documents related to inner-workings of the Mormon Church, recently launched FaithLeaks, an ambitious and far-reaching project that aims to expose corruption and abuse across other religious organizations. Today, the new group has published dozens of pages of documents related to sexual assault allegations within the Jehovah’s Witness Church, documents which are presumably part of a database that church officials have refused to relinquish in an unrelated sexual molestation trial, resulting in a one and a half year legal battle and millions of dollars in fines.
      The 69 pages of documents detail how Jehovah’s Witnesses authorities and church officials handled allegations of repeated sexual assault by one of its local leaders. The interviews and detailed notes compiled by church authorities about molestation and rape allegations are horrific. The 33 documents also provide a staggering play-by-play of how the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society—the parent corporation and governing body for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, often simply referred to as “the Watchtower”—handled the case internally over the course of nearly a decade—playing therapist, prosecutor, jury, and judge—and the lengths to which they went to keep these accusations away from the “worldly court of law.”
      The documents show that in 1999, a committee of Jehovah’s Witnesses elders found allegations from two women that their father had sexually abused them to be credible, yet held off on forming an internal judicial committee to take their own form of judicial action against the alleged abuser because one of the daughters was not willing to face the father and formally make the accusations against him, as judicial committee policy requires. Once she went through with the process years later, a spiritually guided trial was held and he was disfellowshipped. However, a year later he was reinstated. The documents show that Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders cast shade on one accuser and her husband for trying to take this matter to secular law enforcement.
      Read more: 
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    • By Srecko Sostar
      "Some 80 reports of sexual abuse involving the Jehovah’s Witnesses community have been made over the past month, Trouw said on Thursday.
       
      Justice minister Sander Dekker has already said that the (JW)church should look to the example of the Catholic church to dealing with complaints about sexual abuse."
       
      "We are going to study the measures of the Catholic Church."
      - Michel van Hilten, spokesman Jehovah's Witnesses

      source;  
      DutchNews.nl: Dozens come forward to report abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses 
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    • Guest Nicole
      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". 

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    • Guest Nicole
      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: 
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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      In the hurdy-gurdy
      Special convention 2016- Netherlands
      GF.mp4
    • Guest Nicole
      By 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.

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    • Guest Nicole
      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
       

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    • Guest Nicole
      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.
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