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  1. The Supreme Court Rejected a Case About the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Sex Abuse By Hemant Mehta October 8, 2019 Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced that it would not take up a wild case concerning the organization that oversees the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We can breathe a huge sigh of relief that the case won’t be overturned. (In that link, it’s case 19-40 on page 42.) The case, which involved child molestation and religious secrecy, centered around an incident that took place on July 15, 2006. J.W., a nine-year-old girl with Jehovah’s Witness parents, was invited to her first slumber party at the home of Gilbert Simental. He had a daughter her age, so that wasn’t too weird. Two other girls (sisters) were also at the party. These families all knew and trusted Simental because, while he was no longer a local Witness leader, he had spent more than a decade as an elder in the faith. He was a religious leader who stepped down, he said, to spend more time with his son. They believed him. They all respected him. It’s why they allowed their girls into his home. During that party, everyone got into a pool in the backyard… including Simental. And he proceeded to molest J.W. and the sisters. He did it again later that night. The sisters eventually told their parents, who reported Simental to local Witness elders (which is what they’re taught to do in these situations). Simental confessed to some of the allegations, and the elders basically gave him a faith-based slap on the wrist: a reprimand that had no meaning outside church circles. Things changed only when the sisters’ school principal learned about what happened and, as required by law, reported the abuse to local law enforcement. Police soon contacted J.W.’s family asking for their story, but after consulting with the Witnesses, her father chose not to speak with the cops. It was a year later when J.W., then 10 years old, told her parents what Simental did to her in the pool. It infuriated them, and they told the Witness elders that they wanted a restraining order against him. The elders told him not to do that since it would require informing the police about what Simental did — and they preferred to keep his actions private. Here’s the bigger problem: There’s reason to believe the Witnesses were aware that Simental was a child molester… and they kept it from the families. Simental was allowed to be a religious leader — earning respect from the community — even though higher-ups in the religion knew that he shouldn’t be around children. It raised an important question: How much blame did the Witnesses deserve for what happened at that pool party? J.W.’s family eventually filed a criminal lawsuit against Simental and a separate civil suit against the Watchtower Society (the Witnesses’ governing organization). They basically said the Witnesses should have informed congregation members about Simental and stopped him from being around children. They never should have allowed him to be a religious leader. The Watchtower Society’s argument? They didn’t know Simental was a child molester, and the pool party occurred after he was no longer a religious leader, and the slumber party wasn’t a church-sponsored event, so leave them out of this. (To be clear, I’m simplifying the details of this case and the legal journey quite a bit.) When this case went to trial in California, J.W.’s family demanded that the Watchtower Society produce documents relating to what they knew about child molesters within the faith. The Witnesses had already admitted to keeping lists of problematic leaders along with their specific “crimes” — similar to the Catholic Church. If Simental was on that list — from 1997, nearly a decade before the pool incident — it would essentially be a smoking gun showing the Witnesses knew he was a threat to kids but did nothing about it. But the Witnesses refused to hand over that material. They treated it like Catholics treat confession: It’s private information, they argued, and to reveal what was said internally would violate their religious beliefs. J.W.’s family didn’t buy that argument. The information they wanted wasn’t bound by clergy-penitent confessional privilege. It’s not like Simental told the elders what he had done in order to confess his sins. He was caught. The Witnesses were merely shielding him from legal punishment. In the criminal trial, Witnesses elders were forced to admit their practices and that the private discussions they had about abusive clergy members were not considered confidential under the law. Mark O’Donnell, writing at JWSurvey, explained what happened next: Gilbert Simental was found guilty of three counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under the age of 14. In 2008 he was sentenced to 45 years to life for his crimes. At his sentencing hearing, a sizable group of Jehovah’s Witnesses demonstrated solidarity with Simental, appealing for a more lenient sentence. JW and her parents were treated as if they broke the congregation code of silence. Simental’s appeal got him nowhere. He’s in prison today. But there were still so many questions about what responsibility the Witnesses had in this whole matter. J.W.’s family wanted to know why Simental, a known pedophile, was promoted within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why did they allow him to be around children? Why didn’t they warn families? Why did they just give him a slap on the wrist? In 2013, the civil trial began against the Watchtower Society, but again, the Witnesses didn’t want to provide necessary documents. They eventually lost the case. In 2015, the Riverside Superior Court of California awarded J.W. a judgment of $4,016,152.39. This past December, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in California upheld that decision. The plaintiff [J.W.] contended that the 1997 documents [the internal ones about known molesters in the church] were needed both [to] show negligence and basis for punitive damages. Under Code of Civil Procedure §425.14, a claim against a religious corporation for punitive damages requires leave from the trial court, and such leave may be granted only upon an affidavit showing clear and convincing evidence establishing such damages. [A judge] found unavailing Watchtower’s argument that it would take 19 years to sort through them, and also rejected the notion that they were covered by the clergy-penitent privilege. Despite the court’s order, Watchtower continuously ignored meet-and-confer requests by the plaintiff. J.W. asked the court for terminating sanctions, which Riverside Superior Court Judge Raquel A. Marquez granted after giving the church another four days to produce the documents, which it declined to do. You get the idea: The Witnesses refused to hand over internal data, presumably because it would’ve been like handing over a loaded gun. So the courts had no choice but to assume the plaintiff was telling the truth and the Watchtower Society was negligent in their handling of Simental. Earlier this year, in a Hail Mary attempt to reverse their punishment, the Watchtower Society appealed to the Supreme Court. They wanted the justices to say that documents relating to child abuse within a religious group can be kept confidential. Here’s how the Witnesses’ attorney introduced his case to the justices. (You don’t need a law degree to see how he just completely dismissed the molestation.) Here, Petitioner Watchtower sought to protect confidential, intra-faith communications among clergy (elders) regarding Bible-based religious appointment processes, some of which included congregants’ penitential confessions and all of which impacted privacy rights of non-parties. California targeted the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses and impermissibly intruded upon matters of church governance, religious doctrine, and religious practice when it ordered Watchtower to produce these intra-faith communications. Without a trial, California imposed on Watchtower an unprecedented theory of liability for a congregant’s criminal conduct during nonchurch activity (a Saturday afternoon pool party at a private home). Watchtower attorney Paul Polidoro said the Supreme Court needed to consider whether California violated the Constitution when it held the Jehovah’s Witnesses responsible for what Simental did “during non-church activity,” forced them to hand over internal communications, and punished them for protecting everyone’s “privacy rights.” J.W.’s attorney responded to that brief asking the Court to flat-out reject this case. Given Watchtower’s disrespect for the legal system, penchant for violating court orders and habitual disregard for the rules of the court from which it is begging for mercy, it is not the litigant to champion any allegedly important issue before this Court. This is not a case that warrants this Court’s time. Indeed, that’s what the Court decided. When the first set of orders in the new term was released yesterday, there was this case among many many others, in the list of those which would not get heard this term. It was the right move. There’s nothing further to debate here. Finally, this case has been put to rest. (Image via Shutterstock. Large portions of this article were published earlier)
  2. 4440 Braeburn Road, residence complete January 13, 1930. Two months later, the public was introduced to Beth-Sarim in a front-page article in the San Diego Sun titled, “San Diego Mansion — With All Modern Improvements — Awaits Earthly Return of Prophets.” It opened by reporting: “In one of the strangest deeds ever filed in the nation, Rutherford, president of the International Bible Students Association and of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, has put the huge tile-roofed home in fashionable Kensington Heights in perpetual trust for the ancient kings and prophets of Palestine” (emphasis added). The article went on to observe that “Judge Rutherford is intensely proud of the house he has planned and built for David, king of Israel; Samson…Joseph…and others equally as famous in the Bible.” . The following January, the San Diego Sun carried another article on Beth-Sarim, “David’s House Waits for Owner.” When the reporter asked Rutherford how he thought the returned princes would look, Rutherford responded: “‘As perfect men. I interpret that to mean…that David, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthae, Joseph and Samuel will be sent here to wrench the world from Satan’s grasp, clothed in modern garb as we are, and able, with little effort to speak our tongue.’ Rutherford pictured the arrival of the biblical delegation perhaps in frock coats, high hats, canes and spats.” Rutherford’s booklet, What You Need(1932), depicted the seven “Ancient Worthies,” identified as “Earth’s new rulers,” in more traditional biblical garb. . San Diego, 1930's, is a pivotal time for the JW's. The following year the JW'S got the official name ot "Jehovah's Witnesses",Watchtower bible tract Society. Then began the growth of the vast Jehovah's Witness population in San Diego County. Watchtower President Joseph Franklin Rutherford & Beth Sarim
  3. Millions of lobsters worldwide are cheering.
  4. BOULEVARD, California, EE.UU. (AP) — Setenta y siete personas que ingresaron a Estados Unidos de forma ilegal fueron encontradas atestadas en un camión cerca de la frontera de California con México bajo un calor sofocante, y el conductor fue encausado por transportar a personas para obtener un beneficio económico, informaron las autoridades. Cinco menores estaban entre las personas que fueron halladas el lunes por la tarde en el compartimiento de carga de un camión que estaba pintado de café para asemejarse a un vehículo del servicio de mensajería UPS, de acuerdo con las autoridades. La Patrulla de Caminos de California detuvo al camión debido a que no tenía placas y estaba zigzagueando sobre una autopista de la pequeña y desértica comunidad de Boulevard, en el condado de San Diego, a 8 kilómetros (5 millas) de distancia de la frontera. Un agente de la Patrulla Fronteriza que pasaba por la zona se detuvo y le ofreció su ayuda al elemento de la patrulla de caminos, indicó el periódico The San Diego Union-Tribune, citando una denuncia penal. Leer más: http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2018/Encuentran-a-77-inmigrantes-dentro-de-un-cami-n-cerca-de-la-frontera-del-estado-de-California-con-M-xico/id-bf9d1bb47cba47a097c6d7d062d26cc5
  5. At 5:50 AM, the Kingdom Hall parking lot was filled. In less than 6 hours, breakfast and lunch for nearly 400 people was planned, gathered, and successfully served. Only in Jehovah's organization. Shows the importance of being prepared for disasters. Shared by @the__vanimal
  6. Seems as if everyone is selling this pins nowadays. We used to be discouraged from identifying ourselves with Watchtower pins or logos in the past. How do you feel about our modern wearing of pins? What would be the arguments for / against such displaying of logos?
  7. A Madera police dispatcher who is a church elder is charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl he mentored, Fresno police reported. Fresno police received an anonymous tip on Sept. 20 about Martin Ramos, 43, and launched an investigation, Sgt. Daniel Macias said. Investigators learned that Ramos was an elder at a Jehovah’s Witnesses church in the 4000 block of West McKinley Avenue. There, he met a teen girl and her family three years ago. Ramos mentored the girl, and the two communicated through text messages. At one point, the two exchanged “inappropriate” photos and their relationship turned physical, Macias said. During the course of the investigation, police learned Ramos worked as a dispatcher with the Madera Police Department. Ramos was arrested Sept. 21 and cooperated with police. He is charged with felony oral copulation, possession and distribution of child pornography and misdemeanor child molestation. Ramos pleaded not guilty to all charges earlier this month and is out on bail. He is due back in court in November. Brianna Calix: 559-441-6166, bcalix@fresnobee.com, @BriannaCalix Martin Ramos FRESNO POLICE DEPARTMENT http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/crime/article181155966.html
  8. (CNN)Reinforcements from other regions are helping firefighters contain more of the largest wildfires devastating Northern California, though strong winds expected over the weekend could challenge those gains, a fire chief said Friday. Meanwhile, officials are making grim discoveries -- victims burnt beyond recognition -- as they search blackened ruins of some of the 5,700 homes and business that have been destroyed. "Some of (the remains) are merely ashes and bones," Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said at a Thursday evening news conference. "And we may never get truly confirmative identification on ashes. When you're cremated, you can't get an ID." Thirty-six people have been killed since the wildfires began Sunday night, making this outbreak one of the deadliest in state history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/13/us/california-fires-updates/
  9. At Locol, a fast-food chain in California, a cup of premium coffee costs just $1, or $1.50 with milk and sugar. LOS ANGELES — The $1 cup of coffee is divisive, as drinks go. For some, it’s a staple of the American morning: a comforting routine, a good deal. Anything that costs more than $1 is needlessly expensive, a waste of money — the coffee from a deli, diner or doughnut cart is all you need to start the day. For others, the $1 cup is suspiciously cheap. Maybe it tastes bad, or its production does harm to the land and is unfair to laborers. If you have to pay more, then that is probably a reflection of a drink’s true cost. Can the two viewpoints be reconciled? Is it possible for high-quality coffee to be inexpensive? At Locol, the self-described “revolutionary fast food” chain opened last year by the chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, the answer is yes. Locol’s stated mission is to bring wholesome, affordable food to underserved neighborhoods. The coffee delivers. Obtained and roasted according to the same lofty standards found at Intelligentsia Coffee, Stumptown Coffee Roasters or any of the small, innovative companies that have transformed the high end of the industry in the past decade, Locol’s coffee is clean and flavorful. But unlike those shops, where a cup can cost $3 or more, Locol charges just $1 for a 12-ounce coffee, or $1.50 if you want milk and sugar. Rather than offer free condiments and pass on the cost to all customers, those who want milky, sweet coffee pay for their pleasures, while drinkers of black coffee get a break. As for getting it chilled, that’s on the house: Iced coffee costs the same as hot. “There’s an extreme democratization that I really want to make happen in coffee,” said Tony Konecny, the head of Locol’s coffee operation, who goes by Tonx. Good coffee, he said, should be brought to a broad audience, not just a “self-selecting group” of epicures. “Coffee still thinks that mass appeal is a sign of selling out and inauthenticity, but everybody wears Levi’s,” he said of the culture. “I think contemporary coffee has failed to find the consumers it should be finding.” A few of those consumers were lingering at the Locol in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles on a recent bright day. Some were nursing aguas frescas, others were holding court while R&B played at block-party volume from an array of speakers embedded in the ceiling. One person was sorting through a small tower of paperwork. Locol’s stated mission is to bring wholesome, affordable food to underserved neighborhoods. Continue reading
  10. Until Sunday, visitors to Calaveras Big Trees State Park could walk through the tunnel in the Pioneer Cabin Tree. A powerful winter storm in California has brought down an ancient tree, carved into a living tunnel more than a century ago. The "Pioneer Cabin Tree," a sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, saw horses and cars pass through it over the years. More recently, only hikers were allowed to walk through the massive tree. Over the weekend, a powerful winter storm slammed into California and Nevada, prompting flooding and mudslides in some regions. The Associated Press reports it might be the biggest storm to hit the region in more than a decade. On Sunday, a volunteer at the state park reported that Pioneer Cabin had not survived. "The storm was just too much for it," the Calaveras Big Tree Association wrote on Facebook. It's unclear exactly how old the tree was, but The Los Angeles Times reports that the trees in the state park are estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. Sequoias can live for more than 3,000 years. The iconic tree was one of just a few tunneled-through sequoias in California. The most famous was the Wawona Tree, in Yosemite National Park; it fell during a winter storm in 1969 at an estimated age of 2,100 years. The other remaining sequoia tunnels are dead or consist of logs on their side, the Forest Service says. However, there are still three coastal redwoods (taller and more slender than sequoias) with tunnels cut through them. They're all operated by private companies, the Forest Service says, and still allow cars to drive through — one appeared in a recent Geico ad. SFGate.com spoke to Jim Allday, the volunteer who reported Pioneer Cabin's demise. He told the website that the tree "shattered" when it hit the ground on Sunday afternoon, and that people had walked through it as recently as that morning. An 1899 stereograph shows the Pioneer Cabin sequoia in Calaveras Grove, Calif. Local flooding might have been the reason the tree fell, SFGate reports: " 'When I went out there [Sunday afternoon], the trail was literally a river, the trail is washed out,' Allday said. 'I could see the tree on the ground, it looked like it was laying in a pond or lake with a river running through it.' " "The tree had been among the most popular features of the state park since the late 1800s. The tunnel had graffiti dating to the 1800s, when visitors were encouraged to etch their names into the bark. "Joan Allday, wife of Jim Allday and also a volunteer at the park, said the tree had been weakening and leaning severely to one side for several years. " 'It was barely alive, there was one branch alive at the top,' she said. 'But it was very brittle and starting to lift.' " Tunnel trees were created in the 19th century to promote parks and inspire tourism. But cutting a tunnel through a living sequoia, of course, damages the tree. "Tunnel trees had their time and place in the early history of our national parks," the National Park Service has written. "But today sequoias which are standing healthy and whole are worth far more." The Pioneer Cabin sequoia in Northern California's Calaveras Big Trees State Park was carved into a tunnel in the late 19th century. It fell on Sunday, brought down by a massive storm. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/09/508919216/iconic-sequoia-tunnel-tree-brought-down-by-california-storm
  11. By @superorly07
  12. All youth of the congregation in Brea, California, gathered for an extensive Family Worship Night.
  13. Todos los jóvenes de la congregación en Brea, California, se reunieron para una extensa Noche de Adoración Familiar.
  14. Predicación metropolitana especial en Chinatown, San Francisco, California.
  15. Grupo de servicio para la predicación nocturna en Orange County, California, Estados Unidos. Grupo de servicio para la predicación nocturna en Orange County, California, Estados Unidos. http://ift.tt/2bdu5vT Via
  16. Children enjoying the convention in San Diego, California, USA by @Mva_Micky
  17. PLEASE SHARE #Missing #Calif teen: Bethanie Clubb, age 17, of #Tulare, #California, was last seen by friends in the 1900 block of East Harvard Street in Tulare on October 14, 2016. Bethanie is 5’4” tall, weighs 118 lbs., has blonde hair and bluish green eyes. She was last seen wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and light colored converse. Anyone with information on her location, please contact the Tulare Police Department at (559) 684-4290 or your local law enforcement agency by dialing 911.
  18. The Watchotwer Tract Society, commonly referred to as the Jehovah's Witnesses, is asking a San Diego Superior Court judge to return the bond money it posted as a result of an August ruling from a California appellate court which found the $13.5 million dollar sexual assault judgement against the church was too harsh. The church filed the motion to return the bond money on October 7. Jose Lopez, now aged 38, filed his lawsuit in June 2012 alleging that elder church member, Gonzalo Campos, of the Linda Vista Spanish Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses molested him during bible study sessions when he was seven years old. Campos had been accused of molesting young boys before. According to Lopez's complaint, senior church officials were aware of his behavior before the incident with Lopez had occurred. Three years before Campos allegedly assaulted Lopez, a 12-year-old boy who shared a room with Campos accused the then-18-year-old Campos of trying to have sex with him. During the following years, seven other church members lodged similar accusations against Campos, as well as the church for trying to bury the allegations. Now, only two complaints remain; Lopez's case, which will be sent back to the trial court for a new judgement amount, and a lawsuit from former Linda Vista congregation member Osbaldo Padron. Padron sued Campos and the church over similar molestation charges in 2013. In that lawsuit Padron claims that Campos molested him on numerous occasions in 1994 and 1995. In June of this year, superior court judge Richard Strauss, as reported by the Reader, imposed $4000 per-day sanctions on the church for failing to turn over documents to Padron's attorneys during discovery. The church has since filed an appeal over those sanctions. The appellate court has yet to rule on the appeal. In Lopez's case, the church appealed the $13.5 million judgement, as well as additional sanctions against the Jehovah's Witnesses in August of this year. In its appeal the church claimed judge Joan Lewis should have imposed less severe sanctions. The appellate court's August 2016 ruling: "We conclude the court erred in ordering terminating sanctions because there was no evidence that lesser sanctions would have failed to obtain Watchtower's compliance with the document production order and because there were other possible sanctions that could have effectively remedied the discovery violation. On remand, the court has broad discretion to start with a different sanction that does not wholly eliminate Watchtower's right to a trial." According to court documents, Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America issued two bonds to the court on behalf of the Jehovah's Witnesses in 2014. One of which totaled $20.2 million while the other was for $56,698. The two sides will be in court on October 20 to discuss the motion. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2016/oct/15/ticker-jehovahs-witnesses-relief-appellate-court/#
  19. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/10/09/christian-homeless-shelter-cant-give-away-food-because-other-christians-complained-about-it/? Homeless people who rely on the Rescue Mission workers for food are left to scramble because other Christians don’t want to be around that kind of riff-raff

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