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Investigation: Woman says hundreds of child sex abuse claims in Jehovah's Witnesses went unreported

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WGAL's Beccah Hendrickson looks into a woman's claims that Jehovah's Witnesses knew about hundreds of claims of child sex abuse and didn't report them. The woman has brought her complaint to the state attorney general. You can watch the report above.

[Here's a transcript of the video as supplied on the page. Shouting and bad formatting is theirs :-)]

WEBVTT I’M JANELLE STELSON. RON: I’M RON MARTIN. NOW TO A CONTINUING 8 ON YOUR SIDE INVESTIGATION. WE’VE TOLD YOU THE STORIES OF TWO YORK COUNTY WOMEN WHO CLAIM THEIR JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES CONGREGATIONS DID NOT REPORT THEIR CLAIMS OF CHILD SEX ABUSE. JANELLE: WGAL NEWS 8 HAS NOW LEARNED A FORMER RESEARCHER AT THE ORGANIZATION’S HEADQUARTERS HAS FILED A COMPLAINT WITH THE PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL, CLAIMING IT DIDN’T REPORT 100’S OF CLAIMS. RON: WGAL NEWS 8’S BECCAH HENDRICKSON HAS BEEN RESEARCHING THIS FOR MONTHS.

>> HOW CONCERNING IS THAT?

>> VERY MUCH SO. IT’S TERRIBLE TO THINK THAT. BECCAH: BARBARA ANDERSON SPENT 10 YEARS WORKING AT THE GOVERNING BODY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES CALLED WATCHTOWER.

>> THAT’S WHEN I LEARNED ABOUT THE HIDDEN CHILD ABUSE PROBLEMS. BECCAH: SHE SAYS THAT’S WHY SHE LEFT.

>> I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO WITH THE INFORMATION AND I DIDN’T TALK ABOUT IT. BECCAH: BUT SHE DIDN’T STAY SILENT LONG, ANDERSON IS NOW AN OUTSPOKEN CRITIC OF THE ORGANIZATION, AND LAST WEEK FILED A COMPLAINT WITH THE PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL, CLAIMING JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES HAVE FAILED TO REPORT 775 CASES OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE FROM 1997-2001, AND USED DONATION MONEY TO SETTLE CHILD SEX ABUSE CASES OUT OF COURT.

>> WITNESSES HAVE BEEN HIDING APPROXIMATELY 6 DECADES OF INFORMATION. BECCAH: IN A PARALLEL COMPLAINT FILED WITH THE NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL THAT SHE FORWARDED TO PENNSYLVANIA, ANDERSON ASKS PROSECUTORS TO COMMENCE WRONGDOING INVESTIGATIONS, INITIATE CIVIL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST WATCHTOWER, ISSUE SUBPOENAS FOR DOCUMENTS, AND HOLD GOVERNING MEMBERS ACCOUNTABLE. I WAS WONDERING IF THERE WAS A CONTACT YOU HAD OR ANYONE I COULD TALK TO ABOUT THESE ALLEGATIONS. I HAVE REPEATEDLY ASKED WATCHTOWER FOR A RESPONSE TO THESE CLAIMS. SENDING EMAILS TO THE GOVERNING BODY, VISITING INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATIONS, AND CALLING ELDERS. NO ONE HAS AGREED TO AN INTERVIEW, BUT WATCHTOWER DID SEND ME THIS LETTER, POSTED ON ITS WEBSITE IN MAY. IT SAYS JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES ABHOR CHILD ABUSE AND VIEW IT AS A CRIME AND THE BRANCH OFFICE OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WILL INSTRUCT THE ELDERS TO REPORT THE MATTER IF A MINOR IS STILL IN DANGER OF ABUSE. IN PENNSYLVANIA, CLERGY ARE MANDATED REPORTERS OF CHILD ABUSE. IN 1997 WATCHTOWER SENT THIS LETTER TO ELDERS, ASKING THEM TO REPORT BACK ANY KNOWN CHILD SEX ABUSE CASES IN THE SPECIAL BLUE ENVELOPES. ANDERSON SENT THIS LETTER TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, CLAIMING WATCHTOWER RECEIVED 775 REPORTS OVER A 4 YEAR SPAN BUT NEVER CONTACTED AUTHORITIES.

>> IT SAYS GUILTY MOLESTERS APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY TO A POSITION OF AUTHORITY IN THE ORGANIZATION. BECCAH: IT ALSO SAYS IT MAY BE POSSIBLE THAT SOME WHO WERE GUILTY OF CHILD MOLESTATION WERE OR ARE NOW SERVING AS ELDERS, MINISTERIAL SERVANTS, OR REGULAR OR SPECIAL PIONEERS.

>> SEXUAL ABUSE WAS WIDESPREAD AND HIDDEN, BASICALLY TO PROTECT THE RELIGION’S REPUTATION. BECCAH: TO A CROWD AT THE STATE CAPITOL WHICH INCLUDED BOTH THE HAUGH FAMILY AND SARAH BROOKS, WHO CLAIM JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES DID NOT REPORT THEIR CASES OF CHILD SEX ABUSE IN YORK COUNTY. ANDERSON CALLED FOR REFORM TO THE WAY SHE SAYS JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES HANDLE CHILD SEX ABUSE CLAIMS.

>> JUSTICE IS DUE FOR ALL CHILD ABUSE VICTIMS AND TO STOP PROTECTING THE ABUSERS. BECCAH: I’VE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE THEY SAY THEY ARE UNABLE TO COMMENT ON THE COMPLAINT AT THIS TIME. BECCAH HENDRICKSON

http://www.wgal.com/article/jehovah-s-witnesses/20897421

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