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  1. 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
  2. Meanwhile in Montana: HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana jury has ruled that the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization must pay $34 million to a woman who says the church covered up her sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a congregation member. Neil Smith, an attorney representing the 32-year-old woman, says the jury’s verdict Wednesday in the lawsuit sends a message to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New York headquarters to stop prioritizing church secrecy over children’s safety. Jehovah’s Witness officials did not immediately respond to a call or email for comment. The monetary award must be reviewed by the trial judge. The jury dismissed claims by a second woman who alleged abuse by the same man in Thompson Falls in the 1990s. The jury concluded church elders did not receive notice of the second woman’s abuse and therefore did not have a duty to tell authorities. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- When will this one make the jw news feed?
  3. Montana - De Jehova’s Getuigen kerk moet ruim dertig miljoen euro betalen aan een vrouw die zegt seksueel misbruikt te zijn. Het slachtoffer uit Montana, nu 21, werd als kind belaagd door een lid van de kerk, zo schrijft de New York Post. De overkoepelende organisatie van Jehova’s Getuigen heeft van alles geprobeerd om de zaak onder het tapijt te schuiven. De man tegen wie de beschuldigingen waren ingediend, werd in 2004 uit de kerk gezet, maar een jaar later alweer in genade aangenomen. Intern werd tegen leden zelfs gezegd dat ze dit soort zaken nooit aan de politie mochten melden. De kerk, die vindt dat de zaak verjaard is, heeft al aangekondigd in beroep te gaan. Advocaat Neil Smith zegt namens het slachtoffer dat hij hoopt dat de boodschap nu eindelijk eens doordringt in de kerk. „Zodat er in de toekomst niet nog meer slachtoffers vallen.” De zaak in Montana is er een van tientallen die in de laatste jaren in heel Amerika zijn ingediend tegen de Jehova’s Getuigen. https://www.telegraaf.nl/nieuws/2618344/jehova-s-moeten-30-miljoen-betalen
  4. Two women who say they were sexually abused as children have alleged that the Jehovah's Witnesses failed to report their abuser to authorities in Montana. By MATT VOLZ, Associated Press HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Two women who say they were sexually abused as children have alleged that the Jehovah's Witnesses failed to report their abuser to authorities in Montana and instead punished him internally by expelling him from the congregation until he repented the following year. A trial begins Monday in the tiny city of Thompson Falls for one of dozens of lawsuits filed nationwide in the last decade over claims of child sexual abuse in Jehovah's Witness congregations. Worldwide, there have been more allegations of mismanagement and cover-ups of sexual abuse by Jehovah's Witness clergy and members, including cases in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. "It appears to be a widespread issue within the Jehovah's Witnesses," said Devin Storey, an attorney whose San Diego law firm has handled about three dozen sex abuse lawsuits against the Christian religious organization. "Less is being reported than should be." Officials at the World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses did not have an immediate comment Wednesday. A policy posted on its website says it abhors child abuse and views it as a crime. "The elders do not shield any perpetrator of child abuse from the authorities," the policy says. The New York-based religious organization has 8.5 million members and 120,000 congregations around the world. The number of abuse lawsuits surged at about the same time as similar allegations of abuse and cover-ups within the Roman Catholic church, but the Jehovah's Witness cases haven't received the same national attention. The Montana trial involves two women, now 32 and 21, who are suing the national Jehovah's Witness organization and its Thompson Falls congregation. One woman alleges a family member abused her and her brother in the 1990s. The abuse continued in the mid-2000s with the second woman, the first woman's niece, after the congregation's elders expelled the abuser from the congregation in 2004 and reinstated him the next year, according to the lawsuit. The women say the local and national organizations were negligent and violated a Montana law that requires them to report abuse to outside authorities. They are seeking an unspecified amount in damages. Their attorney, Jim Molloy, declined to comment Wednesday. Jehovah's Witness attorneys did not respond to messages left by phone and email. In court filings, they don't deny the abuse happened but say Montana law exempts elders from reporting "internal ecclesiastical proceedings on a congregation member's serious sin." The church also contends that the national organization isn't liable for the actions by Thompson Falls elders and that too much time has passed for the women to sue. The state Supreme Court this week rejected the Jehovah's Witnesses request to delay the trial and take over the case. Both sides acknowledge that when a person is accused of sexual abuse, elders in a Jehovah's Witness congregation are required to first contact the headquarters' legal department to determine their next step. The organization's policy says it will instruct elders to report the matter if a minor is still in danger of abuse or if there is another valid reason. Storey, the San Diego attorney, said that is a new policy change. Otherwise, Jehovah's Witness elders meet as a judicial committee to investigate "the sinful conduct ... and decide whether the sinner is repentant before God," according to a description of the process provided by Jehovah's Witnesses in court filings. Unrepentant offenders are expelled, and strict confidentiality is maintained, according to the filings. In this case, the congregation was not required to report to authorities, according to Jehovah's Witness attorney Kathleen DeSoto. "The Constitution bars the court from contradicting a religious organization on issues of religious beliefs, including canon law, church doctrine and established church practice," she wrote in her argument to the Montana Supreme Court. Storey said the Jehovah's Witnesses take a very broad view of laws that protect discussions made in confession or other discussions between clergy and a congregation member — broader than the law allows. The organization appears to be trying to improve but have kept policies such as the two-witness rule, which says no action will be taken against a church member without testimony from at least two witnesses, he said. "By maintaining that particular aspect of their policy, it will be difficult for them to eradicate the issue," Storey said. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/montana/articles/2018-09-19/jehovahs-witnesses-accused-of-mishandling-abuse-in-montana

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