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JW Canada:Jehovah's Witnesses can appeal judgment allowing sex-assault class action


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Jehovah's Witnesses may appeal a judgment that gave the green light to a class-action lawsuit against them for alleged sexual assault on minors.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Quebec may appeal a judgment that gave the green light to a class-action lawsuit against them for alleged sexual assault on minors.

The Quebec Court of Appeal on Monday granted them the right to appeal a judgment authorizing the class action, handed down in February by Justice Chantal Corriveau of the Superior Court.

At the heart of the class action is whether the church failed to protect its members when they tried to denounce sexual abuse.

The class action argues the church’s internal reporting policies conceal abuse and have silenced hundreds of sexual assault complaints through the years. It seeks at least $250,000 in damages for each alleged victim.

The lawsuit targets the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, the parent company of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country, and another society based in Pennsylvania that’s responsible for the church’s communications and publications.

At the heart of the class action is whether the church failed to protect its members when they tried to denounce sexual abuse.

According to the lawsuit, Lisa Blais, now in her 40s, first spoke out about the alleged abuse when she was 16 years old. She sought help from her parents, another Jehovah’s Witness and an elder — members who act as spiritual leaders in different congregations — but says she was discouraged from reporting the abuse in order to protect the community.

Blais left her family at 17 and was officially disfellowshipped at 24.

In seeking leave to appeal Corriveau’s judgment, Watch Tower Canada described the decision as “unprecedented in Quebec.” The alleged assaults did not take place in an institutional setting, the organization noted, and it was not leaders or employees of the religious organization who allegedly committed the acts.

The Quebec Court of Appeal found that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ arguments deserve to be further assessed. Jehovah’s Witnesses will now have to plead their case before the Court of Appeal, at a date yet to be determined.

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IN this case, a "class action suit" appears to me to be ONLY a money grab by OPPOSITION lawyers, who will get somewhere around 40% of the total value of this suit, if they win. I have a very low opinion of Watchtower Lawyers, having read the transcripts of many other cases where they used every dirty lawyer trick in the book to obscure and pervert Justice, or at least the "Due Process" that might have led to Justice, but in this case they are, I believe on solid ground, as the opposition la

Given that any hesitancy to report CSA for fear of causing reproach on the congregation has been removed, it is hard to see that anything damaging is “still in place.” Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.

Most of the Brothers that work at Bethel are Jehovah's Witnesses that are full time volunteers, who basically work for free.  Some are part time and work on an as-needed basis, and for certain lawsuits the Society hires , or partners with outside Law Firms, mainly for their common sense approach to things, but also because of their experience in local court systems, and of course they are paid quite a LOT of money. ...but even Lawyers working for the Society, when working a case outside of

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IN this case, a "class action suit" appears to me to be ONLY a money grab by OPPOSITION lawyers, who will get somewhere around 40% of the total value of this suit, if they win.

I have a very low opinion of Watchtower Lawyers, having read the transcripts of many other cases where they used every dirty lawyer trick in the book to obscure and pervert Justice, or at least the "Due Process" that might have led to Justice, but in this case they are, I believe on solid ground, as the opposition lawyers are now in a "total war" scenario.  Neither side cares about Justice ... the court systems are being used as a chessboard.

This is not to say that Watchtower's Layers are doing the "right thing", for the right reasons .... ON BOTH SIDES IT'S ONLY ALL ABOUT MONEY.

That is a Lawyers job ... to protect the fiduciary interests of their clients, WITHOUT regard for Justice, on both sides.

In this case the REAL clients on the opposition side are the lawyers themselves, serving their own interests, looking to put a giant vacuum cleaner hose into the Watchtower Scrooge McDuck money vault.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Indiana said:

The alleged assaults did not take place in an institutional setting, the organization noted, and it was not leaders or employees of the religious organization who allegedly committed the acts.

I know of no other instance of any organization being successfully sued when the above conditions are so.

Usually it is the rule that one of the leaders/clergypersons perpetrated the abuse and/or that it happened in one of their facilities.

I wrote about this at the time, saying: “Do I understand this correctly? One child abuses another within a family, and it is the fault of the congregation elders?”

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@James Thomas Rook Jr.  "I have a very low opinion of Watchtower Lawyers,"

Can you tell me please who exactly the Watchtower Lawyers are ?  I don't mean names of course, i mean are they themselves Jehovah's Witnesses ?  Are they 'brothers' ?  Or are they 'worldly' Lawyers ? 

Are they employed by the Watchtower or are they brothers that do it as part of their 'service to God' ?

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7 hours ago, Matthew9969 said:

The main argument of the lawsuit is the policies that were and are still in place, not about where the abuse happened or by whom.

Given that any hesitancy to report CSA for fear of causing reproach on the congregation has been removed, it is hard to see that anything damaging is “still in place.”

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9 hours ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

@James Thomas Rook Jr.  "I have a very low opinion of Watchtower Lawyers,"

Can you tell me please who exactly the Watchtower Lawyers are ?  I don't mean names of course, i mean are they themselves Jehovah's Witnesses ?  Are they 'brothers' ?  Or are they 'worldly' Lawyers ? 

Are they employed by the Watchtower or are they brothers that do it as part of their 'service to God' ?

Most of the Brothers that work at Bethel are Jehovah's Witnesses that are full time volunteers, who basically work for free.  Some are part time and work on an as-needed basis, and for certain lawsuits the Society hires , or partners with outside Law Firms, mainly for their common sense approach to things, but also because of their experience in local court systems, and of course they are paid quite a LOT of money.

...but even Lawyers working for the Society, when working a case outside of Colony Park, which is a closed  and gated township about 30 miles east of Warwick, where the Society has about 2 million dollars worth of residential and multiple use properties to keep the lawyers isolated from Warwick, the Society's Lawyers do not ride the bus to work, or stay in a Motel 6 when they are on the road.

First class accomodations and perks, all the way.  After all, they ARE Lawyers! Not like the great crowd of unwashed window washers, and such.

This was explored in greater detail about 5 years ago here on the Archive, but I cannot find anything, anymore, with format changes.

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7 hours ago, James Thomas Rook Jr. said:

Most of the Brothers that work at Bethel are Jehovah's Witnesses that are full time volunteers, who basically work for free.  Some are part time and work on an as-needed basis, and for certain lawsuits the Society hires , or partners with outside Law Firms, mainly for their common sense approach to things, but also because of their experience in local court systems, and of course they are paid quite a LOT of money.

...but even Lawyers working for the Society, when working a case outside of Colony Park, which is a closed  and gated township about 30 miles east of Warwick, where the Society has about 2 million dollars worth of residential and multiple use properties to keep the lawyers isolated from Warwick, the Society's Lawyers do not ride the bus to work, or stay in a Motel 6 when they are on the road.

First class accomodations and perks, all the way.  After all, they ARE Lawyers! Not like the great crowd of unwashed window washers, and such.

This was explored in greater detail about 5 years ago here on the Archive, but I cannot find anything, anymore, with format changes.

So in this way the GB/ JW org / W/t are part of the world. No different to anyone else. 

No love, no mercy, no justice, no respect for God, just money. 

How do they expect to pretend to be 'the only means of salvation' ?

Telling people that they must be part of this stinking sinking ship to survive Armageddon. 

 

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      "The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is very hierarchical, led by men, and encourages a culture of silence," the judge ruled.
      Citing a hierarchy that “encourages a culture of silence,” a Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized a class-action lawsuit for current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses in Quebec who were sexually abused by other members as minors.
      Authorized last week, the class action argues the church’s internal reporting policies conceal abuse and have silenced hundreds of sexual assault complaints through the years. It seeks at least $250,000 in damages for each alleged victim.
      The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Lisa Blais, a Quebec woman born into a Jehovah’s Witness family. She alleges she was repeatedly sexually abused and assaulted by her brother, 13 years older, beginning when she was only 10 months old.
      It’s estimated there are roughly 27,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Quebec.
      “Given that the lawsuit is based on sexual assaults, a class action is the appropriate measure,” Quebec Superior Court Judge Chantal Corriveau wrote in her 27-page decision. “It would be difficult and impracticable for members to individually come out of the shadows and try to make their claims known.”
      The lawsuit targets the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, the parent company of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country, and another society based in Pennsylvania that’s responsible for the church’s communications and publications.
      At the heart of the class action is whether the church failed to protect its members when they tried to denounce sexual abuse.
      According to the lawsuit, Blais, now in her 40s, first spoke out about the alleged abuse when she was 16 years old. She sought help from her parents, another Jehovah’s Witness and an elder — members who act as spiritual leaders in different congregations — but says she was discouraged from reporting the abuse in order to protect the community.
      Blais left her family at 17 and was officially disfellowshipped at 24.
      Lawyers arguing against the class action contended Blais’s allegations were too vague, that her wounds stem from the incest and her parents failing to protect her from it, and that it isn’t the court’s place to interfere with religious practices.
      But Corriveau found otherwise, ruling Blais’s allegations are “based on a set of substantiated facts.”
      “The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is very hierarchical, led by men, and encourages a culture of silence,” Corriveau wrote. “The internal treatment of complaints of sexual abuse illustrates that.
      “It is easy for the Tribunal to conclude that, as a result, victims who have not been encouraged or supported to denounce these assaults also do not have the courage to confront their aggressor and the organization in court by instituting an individual lawsuit.”
      Reached for comment on the ruling, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada said it’s considering its options for appeal.
      “The class action was authorized solely on the basis of unproven allegations,” a spokesperson wrote in a statement.
      “If this matter proceeds to trial the facts will clearly show Jehovah’s Witnesses report allegations of abuse to the authorities, in line with the Youth Protection Act,” he added. “The well-being of children is of utmost importance to Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
      Blais’s lawyer, Sarah Woods, said her client was pleased with the ruling.
      Lead plaintiffs in class-action suits involving child abuse often remain anonymous through the proceedings, but Blais chose not to.
      According to the class-action application, filed two years ago, Blais wanted to lead the suit “in order to assist other victims” and “to provide access to justice” to other potential class members.
      “There is a sense that if victims are willing to be the face of such a recourse,” Woods said on Monday, “that hopefully it will encourage other people to come forward and speak out.”

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      Au début des années 40, la persécution s’est vraiment intensifiée. De nombreux Témoins ont été arrêtés sous toutes sortes de prétextes. Le colportage sans autorisation était le principal prétexte utilisé. Les Témoins de Jéhovah étaient emprisonnés pour simple possession d’ouvrages religieux. La situation était devenue tellement difficile au Québec qu’on a décidé de faire circuler une pétition, pétition qui a d’ailleurs été diffusée dans tout le Canada. C’était une demande faite au gouvernement du Québec de mettre fin à cette persécution. Chose intéressante : 600 000 personnes ont signé la pétition.
      Les Témoins ont distribué un tract enflammé intitulé : « La haine ardente du Québec ». Ce tract dévoilait ce que subissait vraiment les Témoins, ce que faisait les policiers, les arrestations illégales, les émeutes et dans l’espace de 4 mois, il y a eu 800 nouveaux procès. Donc pour 400 Témoins de Jéhovah, il y a eu 1600 procès. Les affaires portées en justice sont devenues de plus en plus graves car les frères étaient désormais accusés de sédition. S’ils étaient jugés coupables, ils pouvaient être condamnés à 10 voire 12 à15 ans de prison.
      Il y a un frère, Aimé Boucher, qui a été arrêté et accusé de sédition. Aimé Boucher était un frère très pauvre qui habitait une région rurale du Québec. Il est d’ailleurs venu au Tribunal avec sa charrette tirée par un bœuf. Sur le chemin du Tribunal, il prêchait encore et il a été donc arrêté de nouveau. A l’issue du procès, il a été condamné et déclaré coupable de sédition. Son affaire a été portée devant la Cour d’appel et à cette époque, la Cour d’appel du Québec était très hostile aux Témoins. Il a donc perdu en appel. L’affaire a donc été portée devant la Cour suprême du Canada. A cette époque, plusieurs frères et sœurs avaient été accusés de sédition. Donc si frère Boucher perdait son procès, plusieurs frères et sœurs seraient condamnés à de très longues peines de prison
      Frère Boucher a perdu son procès devant la Cour suprême à une voix près. Tous les juges catholiques se sont prononcés contre lui et ils ont jugés que le tract « La haine ardente du Québec» était de nature séditieuse. Nos avocats ont examiné la situation, ils ont prié à ce sujet et ils se sont dit : « Que va-t-on faire ?  On ne peut pas perdre cette bataille». Puis ils ont appris qu’au Canada, il existait une clause très rarement exploitée consistant à demander à la Cour suprême la révision d’un procès. Au cours de la nouvelle audience, l’un des juges catholiques voulait encore débattre de la question de la sédition. Pour être déclaré coupable de sédition, il fallait une incitation à la violence. Notre avocat a donc demandé ; « Regardez le dossier s’il vous plaît. Montrez à la Cour, là où les Témoins de Jéhovah ont incité à la violence ». Ils ont finalement réussi à convaincre la Cour qu’ils avaient tort. Le jugement initial a donc été renversé et frère Boucher a été acquitté.
      Cette victoire a mis fin à toutes les accusations de sédition ainsi qu’aux persécutions brutales car le gouvernement pensait bien gagner cette affaire-là.
      Une autre affaire importante a eu lieu au Québec. C’est le cas d’un prêtre qui a téléphoné à la police fédérale pour lui demander d’interrompre une réunion des Témoins de Jéhovah et d’expulser l’orateur hors de la province du Québec. Les policiers ont obéi au prêtre. Ils sont arrivés sur les lieux de la réunion, ont pris le frère et l’ont escorté jusqu’en Ontario, la province voisine. Interrompre un office religieux était un acte criminel. Pour la première fois, au niveau de la Cour suprême, les 3 policiers qui avaient interrompu l’office, ont été condamnés à indemniser le préjudice moral causé au frère. Cela n’était jamais arrivé auparavant.
      Quand l’affaire a été portée à la Cour suprême, il a été jugé à l’unanimité que la province du Québec était coupable.
      Les textes actuels sur la liberté de religion résultent de ces procès. Chaque avocat canadien, que ce soit au Québec ou au Canada anglophone, doit revoir au cours de ses études en droit, ces affaires juridiques. Ces textes sont à la base de la liberté de religion. Qu’ils traitent de différents domaines, des interventions de la police, de celles du gouvernement, et des actions criminelles. Ces cas ont posé un bon fondement pour les libertés dont nous jouissons aujourd’hui.
      Notre objectif est de pouvoir prêcher la bonne nouvelle et d’attirer l’attention des personnes sur la Bible. Mais nos affaires en justice ont aidé des gouvernements, des Tribunaux, des juges et des fonctionnaires à avoir le bon point de vue sur la liberté de religion.
      Questions du Cahier Vie chrétienne et Ministère :
      Quelles difficultés nos frères ont-ils connues au Québec ?
       
       
       

       
      Quel tract spécial ont-ils diffusé, et quel en a été le résultat ?
       

      Qu’est-ce qui est arrivé à frère Aimé Boucher ?

       
      Quelle a été la décision de la Cour suprême du Canada concernant l’affaire de frère Boucher ?
       
       
       
       
      À quelle disposition légale très rarement exploitée les frères ont-ils eu recours, et qu’en est-il résulté ?
       
       
       
       
      Que s’est-il passé quand, sous les ordres d’un prêtre, des policiers ont interrompu un office des Témoins de Jéhovah ?
       

       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By Jack Ryan
      An article in the PRINT edition of Le Journal de Quebec, a major French-language daily newspaper distributed in Montreal, Québec, Canada. Le Journal de Quebec has a distribution of 228,000-copies each midweek day.
      I understand that an abbreviated version of this article (with no picture) also appeared in the PRINT edition of Le Journal de Montreal on the same day.
      Quebec will study the sectarian excesses
    • By JOHN BUTLER
      Last September (2017),  there was internet info regarding a $66 million dollar lawsuit being filed against Jehovah's Witnesses in Canada, for Child Abuse / Pedophilia.
      I haven't been able to find out any more information this year and would be very pleased if someone could update me on outcome or ongoing situation.

      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. This is probably not a good link to add but it's just one of many online. 
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      (NOTICIAS YA).-Tres personas que fueron detenidas cuando, desnudas, habían secuestrado a una familia, eran miembros de la iglesia de los Testigos de Jehová quienes estaban seguros de la inminente y pronta llegada del fin del mundo, de acuerdo a nuevos documentos de la corte.
      Medios canadienses han obtenido documentos de la corte que revelan que tres personas arrestadas, dos mujeres y un hombre, se han declarado culpables de secuestro y haber tenido como rehenes a una familia; una de las mujeres admitió haber conducido de forma peligrosa.
      En noviembre de 2017, este caso fue noticia luego de que autoridades canadienses atendieran un llamado de emergencia por un choque en un parque industrial. Cuando la policía llegó, encontraron a un grupo de personas cantando “Jehová” y negándose a salir del vehículo.
      Dentro del vehículo, un BMW blanco, estaban cinco personas, cuatro de ellas estaban desnudas a pesar de las bajas temperaturas, que llegaban a menos de 10 grados Celsius, o 14 Fahrenheit.
      Las personas en el auto, de acuerdo a las declaraciones de la policía, presentaron “extrema resistencia y fuerza” a la hora de negarse a ser detenidos y al recibir descargas eléctricas de la policía.
      Leer más: 
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    • By James Thomas Rook Jr.
      Court document reveals more details in bizarre naked kidnapping case in Alberta
        Chris Purdy LEDUC, Alta. The Canadian Press Published 2 days agoUpdated September 24, 2018 They thought it was Armageddon and wanted to save their neighbours.
      They believed police were monsters. They showed super strength after being pepper sprayed and Tasered.
      And all but one of them were naked because, with the end of the world, they didn’t have time to get dressed.
      A court document has provided more details in a bizarre naked kidnapping case that happened last year south of Edmonton, but some questions remain. Two women and one man, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, each pleaded guilty in Leduc provincial court last week to a charge of unlawful confinement. One of the women also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving. Her two teenage daughters were involved in the case, but not charged.
      The girls’ father, who was not part of the group, has said the five may have unknowingly drank some hallucinogenic tea. But the agreed statement of facts submitted in court says alcohol and drugs were not factors and there is no mention of tea in the document. The group, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, had gathered at a home near Leduc on Nov. 2. The mother, who was then 35, had taken her daughters there to visit her 27-year old nephew and his 30-year old wife.
      But over the next three days, the court document says they didn’t leave the house and they barely ate. One of the teens recalls watching movies but also hearing screaming and banging and seeing ashes in the air. Some of the five hid in a bedroom or a bathroom.
      “They did so because they believed that they were in danger, either from bad or wicked people outside or from demons,” says the document.
      It says the group believed that the Great Tribulation had happened and Nov. 6 was Armageddon. So they rushed off to find safety and save a neighbouring family.
      “Four who were naked were changing but they had to leave right away because it was unsafe, so they left without clothes,” the document says.
      The mother, the only one dressed, drove them all in a BMW SUV but was in such a hurry she went through the garage door. When the vehicle headed to the neighbours’ home, it apparently bent a metal gate.
      The neighbours – a man, his adult daughter and her six-week-old son – were forced out of their house and into the snow without shoes, the document says. The woman and her baby were put in the back seat with the teen girls, who were naked under a blanket. The man was put in the trunk and ordered to chant “Jehovah” ten times.
      The group also chanted “Jehovah” as the SUV sped down roads and went through a red light on the way to nearby Nisku, says the document.
      Because the trunk didn’t latch shut, the man was able to climb out when the vehicle slowed. His daughter, after getting her hand slammed in the door of the SUV, was able to get out with her baby. A passing truck stopped to help the trio and they climbed inside.
      The document says the SUV then rammed the truck from behind and the woman and her baby were thrown into the truck’s dash, although they were not injured. The SUV then went into a ditch.
      When Mounties arrived, the group continued to chant and refused to get out, at times clinging to the vehicle and each other. One of the teens believed the police “were monsters who would kill them,” says the document. Officers said the people in the SUV “displayed extreme strength.” Two were unaffected by pepper spray. The three adults were also shot with Tasers between two and four times before they relented, although one then slid under the vehicle and had to be dragged out with a strap.
      The neighbours later told police the group seemed “demonized” and “obviously not in their right minds.”
      A judge has ordered pre-sentence reports and risk assessments, which could include psychological testing.
      The three adult offenders are to return to court for sentencing Dec. 20.
      ---------------------------------------------
      I wonder when we will be seeing this news on the JW.ORG Web Site?
    • By The Librarian
      The Supreme Court of Canada concluded that disfellowshipping procedures “are not adversarial, but are meant to restore the member to the Congregation.”

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Read more: https://www.businesspost.ie/news/concerns-grow-jehovahs-witnesses-irish-child-sex-abuse-files-421695
    • Guest Nicole
      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 The Librarian
      OTTAWA -- The Supreme Court of Canada says a Jehovah's Witness who was expelled from his Calgary congregation cannot take his case to a judge.

      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , the high court says the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench has no jurisdiction to review the congregation's decision to shun Randy Wall over alleged drunkenness and verbal abuse. Several religious organizations took an active interest in the case, given questions about the degree to which the courts can review such decisions by faith-based bodies.
      Wall, an independent realtor, was summoned in 2014 to appear before the judicial committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, a four-person panel of elders.
      He admitted to two episodes of drunkenness and, on one of those occasions, verbally abusing his wife -- wrongdoing he attributed to family stress over the earlier expulsion of his 15-year old daughter from the congregation.
      The judicial committee told Wall that he, too, would be expelled because he was not sufficiently repentant.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      BETHESDA — The village voted Thursday to end its K-9 program and donate its police dog to the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office on the same night that the board accepted the resignations of two more police officers.
      Meanwhile, the police department’s interim chief and its only remaining full-time officer — who was just hired in April — said they are trying to put the department back together with the hope of rebuilding the public’s trust.
      Interim Police Chief Fred Thompson made the request to transfer the police dog, Frankie, to the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office. He said he believes the dog was an unnecessary expense that had never been used.
      “I think this canine was purchased to be a dog-and-pony show,” said Thompson. “It was a publicity stunt. We don’t need the dog.”
      Mayor Martin Lucas said the K-9 units at Barnesville and the sheriff’s office are willing to help when needed.
      “If that dog bites somebody, I’m not sure we have enough liability coverage,” Lucas said.
      “It’s not being used. It’s sitting in Bridgeport doing absolutely nothing.”
      The dog’s handler is Bethesda Police Chief Eric Smith, who was suspended in April and is being investigated by the Ohio Attorney General’s office for allegations that he misused the state’s law enforcement data sharing system. Misuse of the system is a felony, the attorney general’s office has said.
      The mayor said Belmont County Sheriff David Lucas has agreed to take Frankie.
      “The sheriff has guaranteed that the dog will be used in our village as needed,” he said.
      Meanwhile, two more full-time police officers have resigned from the Village of Bethesda Police Department. Both had served as resource officers for the Union Local School District.
      Lucas announced Thursday the resignations of Francesca Y. Ceccanese and Kyler Hanlon. They join the roster of resignations of police, council members and the former solicitor who have left in the wake of an investigation of Smith.
      Lucas said the village’s contract with the school district ends with the school year. He said the village would determine at a later date if it intends to pursue renewing the contract with the school district.
      Mike Menges, safety director at the school district, said Thursday night that the district had hired retired state highway patrolman Jason Greenwood as its safety officer coordinator. However, he also said he could not comment on the status of the district’s contract with the village of Bethesda. He said Bethesda police officers are still in Union Local buildings.
      After the most recent resignations, the police force has one full-time patrolman, Pete Busack; Fred Thompson, who is serving as interim chief in an administrative-only role; and four part-time officers.
      Lucas also said the village had received more complaints about how people were treated while Smith was leading the department. He said the village had received notification from legal representation of Jehovah’s Witnesses alleging that the police department, under Smith’s administration, had harassed Jehovah’s Witnesses and told them to leave. The religious group’s lawyers did not specify an officer’s name or a date when the harassment may have occurred.
      “I’ll seek some legal advice on returning a letter to this attorney, saying that will no longer happen,” Lucas said.
      Lucas also said Bethesda is aware that the village of Belmont intends to form its own police department. Bethesda’s contract to provide law enforcement will for Belmont will end June 1. Belmont officials have said this is unrelated to Bethesda’s police department issues. Lucas said the departments will have an agreement of mutual aid.
      Also, Busack gave an update on the state of the village’s police department. He said he and Thompson have focused on reorganization.
      “We haven’t had a lot of patrol due to the fact that we have a lot of office work,” he said.
      Among the issues they’ve had to address is creating a system of keeping track of an officer’s keys during shifts and removing the tinting from the front windows of the patrol cars.
      “You want to be able to look outwardly and wave to people when they wave back at you, and when you have black windows, which, No. 1, is illegal in the State of Ohio on the front windows, you can’t see in,” he said.
      He also said removing the tint will allow better communication with other motorists.
      “The entire office, in our opinion, was out of order, and it still to a degree is out of order, and things like that can’t be fixed overnight,” said Busack who also said they were in the process of organizing the evidence room and weapons cabinet.
      “I tried to account for all the weapons, tasers and related equipment,” he said. “In the future, we will do a full inventory of the weapons and of the evidence that’s in there.”
      Additionally, an activity log will be available for council members to access and see the daily activities of police officers. Busack said no sensitive information would be included.
      “Chief Thompson and I will work to restore the trust, confidence and integrity to the citizens of the village of Bethesda and all the surrounding communities,” Busack said.
      “I appreciate your efforts,” Lucas said. “I can’t thank you enough for trying to put this back together.”
      Also, Lucas announced the current $210 fines for speeding tickets would be reduced. He also said that it is the province of mayor’s court to set fines. A new amount will be determined.
      Also, the council will henceforth meet 7:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month and the fourth Thursday.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The Jehovah’s Witnesses community in the Netherlands will not hold an independent inquiry into the sexual abuse of members, despite being urged to do so by justice minister Sander Dekker. By last month, 267 reports of sexual abuse involving Jehovah’s Witnesses had been made to a hotline set up by the Reclaimed Voices foundation in 2017 after Trouw published a report on the growing scandal. Dekker told RTL Nieuws on Tuesday that the organisation’s decision is ‘disappointing’ and that it is ignoring the victims who want to be heard. He has no powers to force the organisation to hold an inquiry.
      Read more: 
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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      On Friday, May 25, 20/20 will do "something special" for longtime co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas.
      You can call it a going-away party (10/9c, ABC). After 22 years at ABC (14 with the newsmagazine), the Emmy and Peabody Award–winning veteran journalist heads to A&E, where she’ll work under their new primetime banner, A&E Investigates.
      Tell us about your first two A&E shows.
      They’re the first in a nine-part series called Cults and Extreme Beliefs(premieres Monday, May 28, 10/9c). Each episode centers on a person who recently left the group we focus on.
      Our premiere looks at the [so-called “self-help”] NXIVM ring that made headlines when leader Keith Raniere and actress Allison Mack, a high-ranking member, were indicted for sex trafficking. We talk to Sarah Edmondson, who feels enormous regret that she recruited so many people into NXIVM and we follow her as she reaches out to some of them.
      And the second episode?
      It’s about an apocalyptic cult called Twelve Tribes. Our contact is a woman born into the group, cut off from the outside world. She now helps people to escape.
      What have you learned about these insular communities?
      That many of those involved are bright, well-meaning and incredibly altruistic. Some of these groups exist alongside modern society, with no one noticing. For instance, we profile the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which has a history of protecting alleged child molesters because they don’t believe in going to the police.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      (The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)
      Robert A. Sedler, Wayne State University
      (THE CONVERSATION) New Hampshire’s state motto “Live free or die” is, for many residents, a stirring evocation of the independent spirit of colonial America.
      But not all New Hampshirites agree with this well-known slogan that is emblazoned on the state’s license plates. In 1975, George Maynard was sent to jail because he didn’t believe in it.
      Maynard and his wife were Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination that teaches that true believers will enjoy eternal life. The couple felt that the state’s motto violated this tenet. So Maynard covered up the “or die” part on his vehicles’ license plates.
      Police gave him three different tickets for illegally altering the plates. When he refused to pay the fines, which totaled US$75, he was given a 15-day jail sentence.
      Maynard then filed a lawsuit that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment gave Maynard the legal right to cover up those two words. In other words, the First Amendment – which guarantees the right to free speech – can also give people the right to remain silent.
      I am a legal scholar, so when I learned that the Supreme Court will decide two right-to-silence cases this term the Maynard case came to mind.
      The Maynard decision was not the first time the court ruled in favor of a Jehovah’s Witness’ right to be silent. Both decisions hinge on the justices’ determination that the First Amendment includes, in the court’s words, the right “to avoid becoming a ‘mobile billboard’ for the State’s ideological message.”
      It may sound contradictory to say the right to be silent flows from the right to speak, but it is not.
      Read more: 
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