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: https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2018/05/jehovahs-witnesses-reject-calls-for-independent-inquiry-into-sexual-abuse/
By Guest Nicole
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.
via TheWorldNewsOrgWorld News
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.
By Guest Nicole
SANTA ANA A 42-year-old man was sentenced on Friday to 60 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting three girls he met through his church.
A jury last month convicted Jose Luis Aguilera of Santa Ana of four felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14.
At the time of the crimes, prosecutors said, Aguilera was a member of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Santa Ana, where he befriended the victims’ families. One victim reported the crime to a relative, who called police.
By Guest Nicole
BELLOWS FALLS — A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Bellows Falls Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses and Norton True, a former baptized minister of the church.
The church and True had been sued by Annessa Lewis, who contended she was sexually abused by True sometime between 1991 and 1993 and elders of the church, who were told about the alleged abuse in 1996, failed to do anything about it. The alleged abuse was reported to the Vermont State Police, which concluded there wasn't enough evidence to charge True.
The court's decision hinged on a reading of Vermont's statute of limitations and previous rulings that defined how an organization can be held liable for crimes committed by a person it had control over.
Vermont has a six-year statute of limitations for actions based on "childhood sexual abuse," starting from either the date "of the act alleged to have caused the injury or condition" or "the time the victim discovered that the injury or condition was caused by that act." According to the court ruling, because Lewis turned 18 in 2005, the statute of limitations ran out in 2011, and she did not file her lawsuit until 2014.
"Lewis does not refer to specific dates she sustained or discovered her injuries in her complaint and does not allege how she discovered her injuries. She merely alleges that 'prior to [her] fifth birthday ... Defendant True ... touched [her] ...' [w]ithin the six years predating the filing of this Complaint, [she] discovered that the injuries and conditions as to which she complains herein were caused by the childhood sexual abuse . . . and that Defendants were responsible for the injuries and conditions," wrote Judge J. Garvan Murtha.
According to documents presented in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, Lewis had made comments to family and friends and had written about True's alleged abuse before she turned 18, noting the "abuse could have caused her emotional distress and physical manifestations of emotional distress ..."
The Vermont law does not provide limitless causes of action, accruing every time a new condition is discovered, wrote Murtha. "Normally, a plaintiff cannot claim that an additional limitations period is inaugurated when additional injuries arising from the same incident are discovered later. A cause of action is generally deemed to accrue at the earliest point at which a plaintiff discovers an injury and its possible cause."
Murtha noted that "a reasonable factfinder," such as a juror, could conclude that the statute of limitations began ticking when she was 9, when she first revealed the alleged abuse to a family member, or even in her teens, when she told friends about it.
"Lewis had sufficient information to put a reasonable person on notice that True may have been liable for her injuries: she knew she was sexually abused by True and she knew she suffered flashbacks of the abuse during sexual activity during her teens," wrote Murtha. "Lewis does not allege suppression of the memory of the abuse, and admits she suffered intense depression during her teen years, but asserts she did not receive effective counseling to help her understand that she had been impacted. The law, however, does not require absolute knowledge of a link to trigger accrual of the statute of limitations."
Because Lewis waited until she was in her late 20s to file a civil suit against True, the statute of limitations had run out, noted Murtha, therefore the case against True was dismissed.
Lewis also claimed the Bellows Falls Jehovah's Witnesses Congregation and its national organization, Watchtower, were negligent in supervising True. However, wrote Murtha, her claim that the church could held negligent had to pass three elements to prevent dismissal, including "whether the Congregation ... undertook to provide protective monitoring services; failed to so monitor True; and the failure increased the risk of harm to Plaintiff. ... The Congregation argued that Lewis's claim fails as a matter of law because they did not undertake to provide protective monitoring services, did not breach any duty, and there was no increased risk of harm."
"The fatal flaw in Plaintiff's argument," wrote Murtha, "is that Lewis's mother's friend ... took Lewis to her father True's home while she was babysitting Lewis on the day the abuse occurred. Lewis's mother was not aware (her friend) sometimes took the Lewis children to True's home or that she did so on the day the abuse occurred. Even assuming the Congregation and Watchtower had a duty to vigilantly monitor True in the congregation setting and they breached that duty thereby increasing the risk of harm to Lewis, no reasonable factfinder could conclude that breach was the cause of Lewis's sexual abuse because a third party provided True access to Lewis at True's home."
However, Lewis provided no evidence that True was subject to the Congregation's control.
Murtha dismissed the suit against True, the congregation and Watchtower "with prejudice," which means she is barred from bringing an action on the same claim. However, Lewis could appeal his decision to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
By Guest Nicole
FESTEJOS. Unas 200,000 personas de los países de Centroamérica celebraron ayer el Día de la Independencia en Los Ángeles, en el estado de California.Tradición. El desfile es organizado y desarrollado desde hace más de dos décadas por la Confederación Centroamericana (COFECA). Este año, el anfitrión fue El Salvador y se denominó: “Nuestro voto, nuestro futuro”.
Las calles de la ciudad de Los Ángeles, en el estado de California, se llenaron este fin de semana de banderas, camisetas y artículos distintivos y alusivos a El Salvador y a otros países de la región, en el tradicional desfile que año con año organiza en esa ciudad estadounidense la Confederación Centroamericana (COFECA).
Se trató de un evento multitudinario, al que asistieron más de 200,000 personas, que festejaron la Independencia de los países centroamericanos, que se celebra en el istmo cada 15 de septiembre.
El Salvador fue este año el organizador y anfitrión de este evento, el cual fue denominado con el lema: “Nuestro voto, nuestro futuro”.
El mariscal del desfile fue en esta ocasión el alcalde municipal del departamento de San Miguel, Miguel Ángel Pereira Ayala.
El desfile inició al mediodía entre el bulevar West Pico y la avenida South Vermont. La ruta continuó por la calle South Alvarado y terminó en el McArthur Park, sobre la calle West 6th.
De acuerdo con información de la página web www.cofeca.org, este desfile nació hace más de dos décadas, “cuando miles de pacifistas centroamericanos, junto a estadounidenses, organizaron manifestaciones de protesta, en contra de la intervención militar en Centroamérica”.
Los activistas de esa época escogieron la fecha del 15 de septiembre, fecha de la Independencia de los países de Centroamérica, “como el mejor referente histórico para convocar al pueblo centroamericano”. Es así, como este acontecimiento se convierte en un evento cultural, artístico, familiar y patriótico.
Los dirigentes del desfile son inmigrantes y por eso se escogen lemas en apoyo a la lucha por una reforma migratoria integral, que beneficie a los casi 12 millones de indocumentados que viven en los Estados Unidos.
“Hoy este desfile es el mayor evento centroamericano en Estados Unidos y cada día no solo se integran más comunidades centroamericanas de Los Ángeles, sino también grupos artísticos de otros países latinoamericanos”, consigna la página en internet de COFECA.
El desfile centroamericano de ayer fue el final de una serie de celebraciones que iniciaron el sábado anterior con la participación de más de 250 grupos musicales y artísticos, que ofrecieron diferentes y variados espectáculos de baile y música en vivo.
By Guest Nicole
BELLOWS FALLS >> Attorneys for the Bellows Falls Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses are asking the United States District Court for the District of Vermont to dismiss a lawsuit alleging a congregation member committed sexual abuse 25 years ago.
The lawsuit, filed by Annessa Lewis, names congregation member Norton True and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York as co-defendants in the suit. The attorneys are asking that the congregation and Watchtower be dismissed from the suit. They do not represent True.
The abuse is alleged to have occurred in the early 1990s at True's home in Rockingham, while his adult daughter was babysitting Lewis, who is now 29 and lives in Texas. True's daughter was a friend of Lewis' mother.
"To be clear, the (Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower) do not concede that there was an incident of abuse," wrote attorneys from Downs Rachlin and Martin, which is representing the congregation and Watchtower.
Attorneys for Lewis allege that when Lewis was 5 years old, True molested her. Lewis did not reveal the alleged abuse until 1996, when she told a family member about it.
According to the motion for summary judgment, True was a "baptized publisher," but not an elder or a "ministerial servant" at the time of the alleged abuse, noted the attorneys.
"Although True had served as a ministerial servant in the late 1970s (Lewis) filed suit on October 1, 2014 when she was 27 years old. The six-year statute of limitations on Plaintiff's claims stemming from childhood sexual abuse began to run on January 9, 2005. She filed this action well over nine years later." True's duties as a ministerial servant ended in 1986, a year before Lewis' family began attending the congregation in Bellows Falls.
"As a matter of law, (Lewis) knew she had been abused and had connected her emotional injuries — depression, anxiety, flashbacks, etc. — to the abuse over a decade before she filed suit," noted the attorneys. "No reasonable jury could conclude that she was unaware of the connection until six years or less before filing suit on October 1, 2014. Accordingly, (Lewis') claims are legally barred by (Vermont statutes)."
In 1996, after Lewis told her mother about the alleged assault, "In accordance with the practices of Jehovah's Witnesses," a meeting was arranged between True, Lewis' mother, and two elders of the congregation, during which True denied the allegations. "(N)o further religious action could be taken against Mr. True, because (1) there was no confession, and (2) Marina refused to allow the elders to speak with her daughters," wrote the congregation's attorneys.
The allegations were also reported to the Vermont Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services Social Services Division in 1997, and True submitted to a polygraph test administered by a detective from the Vermont State Police, which True passed. As a result, no charges were filed.
"When Mr. True talked to the police in September 1996, he denied the abuse and told them that he was simply trying to get a bee out of Plaintiff's overalls," noted the attorneys.
In her suit filed in 2014, Lewis contended the congregation had breached its duties to "warn, control and protect" and to supervise True. "With his trusted status, Defendant True was able to have access to congregation children and to molest them ..." contended Lewis' suit.
But attorneys for the congregation and Watchtower noted that congregation leaders were not made aware of the babysitting arrangements, nor provided a reference for, sponsor or supervise the services. "This was an independent childcare arrangement between good friends ..."
And to claim that the congregation was required to "monitor" interactions in private homes between individuals who are not engaged in any religious activity "is beyond the legal or feasible scope of any possible undertaking. Because the specific 'service' for which (Lewis) claims protection in this case is beyond the scope of any 'monitoring' service the (congregation) could possibly or legally provide, (Lewis') claim fails as a matter of law."
The suit against the congregation and Watchtower should be dismissed, noted the attorneys, because "True was not an agent or employee of the (congregation) at the time of the abuse, (2) the abuse did not occur upon premises controlled by the (congregation); and (3) the abuse did not occur in connection with any religious activity or church-sanctioned event ..."
Even if the court agrees the suit against the Bellows Falls congregation and Watchtower should be dismissed, the suit against True could still go forward.
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.
By Guest Nicole
Un par de testigos de Kansas tomó esta foto de Elvis en nuestra mesa en Los Ángeles, California, EE.UU.
By Guest Nicole
A couple of witnesses Kansas took this photo of Elvis at our table in Los Angeles, California, USA
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