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Jehovah's Witnesses and The Supreme Court of the State of Montana, September 2019

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DA 19-0077   ALEXIS NUNEZ and HOLLY McGOWAN, Plaintiffs and Appellees, v. WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC.; CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES and THOMPSON FALLS CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, Defendants and Appellants. __________________________________ WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC.; CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES and THOMPSON FALLS CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, Third-Party Plaintiffs, and Appellants, v. MAXIMO NAVA REYES and IVY McGOWAN-CASTLEBERRY, Third-Party Defendants and Appellees. Oral Argument; is set for September, 13, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. in the Northern Hotel, Billings Montana.

In 2004, two congregants informed the Elders of the Thompson Falls Congregation that congregant Maximo Reyes had sexually abused them when they were children. The Thompson Falls Elders contacted the Elders at the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the legal department at Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (Watchtower) for advice. Per the advice they received, the Thompson Falls Elders kept the matter confidential and did not report it to authorities.

Beginning in 2002, Reyes began to sexually abuse his step-granddaughter, who also attended services at the Thompson Falls Kingdom Hall, often accompanied by Reyes. In 2016, Reyes’ step-granddaughter filed this complaint, alleging Defendants had failed to report abuse as mandated by § 41-3-201(2)(h), and that Defendants were liable for the harm she suffered from Reyes’ abuse after they were told of Reyes abusing other children. The District Court found the Defendants liable for her harm as a matter of law. A jury awarded her compensatory damages of $4 million and punitive damages of $31 million. The District Court upheld the punitive damages award upon review.

On appeal, Defendants argue that: the District Court erred in finding Defendants liable as a matter of law; the jury’s award of punitive damages is not justified; the District Court erred in upholding punitive damages in excess of the statutory cap; and the punitive damages against Defendant Watchtower violates the U.S. Constitution.

https://courts.mt.gov/courts/supreme/oral_arguments

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John Redwood's Quick and Fast Essay about 'The Montana Supreme Court - Child Sex Abuse - Jehovah's Witnesses Organization.'

The Montana Supreme Court

I would like to thank everyone with their patience in getting some information about what happened in Billings Montana today. The Supreme Court arguments only took two hours, but the rest of my day was spent with the attorneys and the plaintiffs.

And I must say, when I have the opportunity to choose between spending time with these fine people and writing up a summary, I choose to be with these incredible people every single time.

The summary, the analysis, the social media posts- all of that can come later. I know others have watched the proceedings online, and there has also been some media coverage of this event. But let me say this- it's is a very complex case, and it will not be decided for a minimum of 4-6 months- although resolution can come sooner or later.

That being said I will offer a few observations.

Today was a special day for the State of Montana. The Capitol of Montana is Helena, but for a number of important reasons, the Supreme Court for the State heard oral arguments today in a conference room at the Northern Hotel in Billings.

Unlike the small courtroom in Thompson Falls Montana one year ago, today there were hundreds of attorneys present. Most were there to attend the Montana Trial Lawyers conference. The Nunez v Watchtower appeal was the focal point of the day.

Professor Cynthia Ford opened up the appeal hearing by discussing the details of the case. She explained upfront that this is a very complicated case, but summarized the key components very well.

Because of the complexity of this case I am only going to mention a few points, then discuss what happened in greater detail in the near future.

This is not an open and shut case. It involves many issues, from things which happened before, during and after the trial which took place a year ago next week.

Watchtower attorney Joel Taylor lied to the Montana Supreme Court.

Taylor was asked whether the Watchtower or CCJW organization would penalize someone (an elder) who decided to follow his own conscience and report allegations of child sexual abuse to the authorities.

Taylor said such persons would make their own "conscience-based decision on whether to report and that they would not be penalized. He said that would be a decision between them and God. [We all know how God treats elders who disobey]

Not only was this an outright lie, but it contradicts testimony from the trial itself, where Watchtower representative Doug Chappel acknowledged that elders must comply with Watchtower policy- or they will not be elders.

Aside from lying to the Montana Supreme court, Watchtower has made many other claims, including the claim that Watchtower and CCJW had no duty to protect Lexi Nunez, and that they did not even know of her "existence."

They claim that Lexi is not even among the class of persons which the Montana reporting law was designed to protect.

If anything infuriates Lexi, it's the fact that she was treated like a non-existent entity to Watchtower. An invisible peon deserving of no attention or protection from a multi-billion dollar religious corporation.

Trust me, Watchtower knows who Lexi is now. And Holly. And Ivy. They picked the wrong women to ignore.

Of course, the law was designed to do exactly that- to protect children from abuse when allegations become known. If Watchtower had permitted elders to do the right thing and phone the authorities regarding the abuse of Holly and Peter, it's clear we would not be sitting before the Supreme Court today, and the threat to Lexi would have been mitigated.

One of Watchtower's loudest claims in this and all other abuse cases is that they have every right not to report child abuse (to keep it confidential) because it violates their "established church practice."

This means that Watchtower wants to claim that all of their elders' meetings, discussions with other elders locally and at Watchtower in New York, and anyone else they designate are all covered by their religious confidentiality.

Watchtower desires complete religious autonomy with no respect for the mandatory reporting laws which are in place for a reason. They place their perceived right to define confidentiality as a right greater than than the rights of the victims.

The reality is that they wish to control the flow of information about child abuse and direct it to their lawyers and their service department, bypassing State authorities. They have expanded the definition to include anyone and everyone, including the child molester themselves.

Another issue raised today was the constitutionality of the 10 million dollars Montana punitive damages cap. I won't spend a lot of time of this because it pales in comparison with the fact that a jury already decided that Watchtower was guilty of negligence and malice.

So at the end of the day, whatever happens, Lexi won her case, and she has the support of Montana's citizens - the jurors who spent their week listening to testimony and who made the right decision to hold Watchtower accountable.

Whether it ends up being 3 million or 35 million- either way, what people think about this religious corporation is priceless.

We are hoping the Montana Supreme Court justices agree that the cap is unconstitutional, as it limits the ability of a plaintiff to send a powerful message to a multi-billion dollar corporation which controls the lives of millions. We want Watchtower to get that message. They have been settling lawsuits for decades now, a few million here, a few million there.

They are not getting the message, which is why the cap needs to be removed. The jury felt this way, and so did Judge Manley from the original trial court. In a few months, we will find out.

I'd like to comment more as so many things happened today. But as I said before, the best part was spending time with all of these people, whom I consider family. And they welcomed me into their circle, for which I am very grateful.

I will do my best to answer any questions you might have, and if I don't have the answer immediately, I will get it.

It's been a long day, and I will be driving a long way tomorrow, then catching two different flights to get home.

It was all worth it.

John Redwood

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2512181392334107&id=100006268126035

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I feel sorry for Lexi. 

Jehovah is the final Judge of all of us. Her true motivations will become known over time.

In the end we are all 'grasshoppers' before the Lord of all the Earth.

In the meantime, Advertise, Advertise The King and his Kingdom! with our field ministry.

'It will not be late'

'Stand fast and watch the Salvation of Jehovah!'

'There are more of us than there are of them'

@Jack Ryan you are on the wrong side. 'Get behind me me'.....

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11 hours ago, Jack Ryan said:

 

JW Elder, Mr Kevin,  became famous for this statement.  It would be good if WT publish this "experience of Court persecution against only true religion" in Study article :))

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11 hours ago, The Librarian said:

Her true motivations will become known over time.

Her motivations ?? 

If she wants "money" for suffer, what is wrong with that?! If she wants "justice", what is wrong with that? If she want the public "to know" what happened, what is wrong with that?

It is not about her motivations, it is about JW Organization, WT Society and GB who, with a little help of WT Lawyers,  making policy and instruct elders what to do in cases like this.

Please, would you reconsider and reevaluate your emotions.  Because "motivation" is in emotions. By asking about  her "motivations" we entering in judging privilege that is reserved only to .......

11 hours ago, The Librarian said:

Jehovah is the final Judge of all of us.

If you believe in this above, about JHVH as final Judge, than i am surprised about even your idea to be suspicious about her "motivations"..... as Human Pretrial of JHVH Trial. :))

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