Pennsylvania Opens Grand Jury Criminal Investigation Into Jehovah’s Witnesses; JW Survey Editor SubpoenaedBy Witness
I hope every JW here reads this article. Please!
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. Pennsylvania Opens Grand Jury Criminal Investigation Into Jehovah’s Witnesses; JW Survey Editor Subpoenaed
In 1884, the
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. was incorporated in the Court of Common Pleas in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The movement of Charles Taze Russell became an established religious business, a tax-exempt corporation that would go on to control the lives of more than 8 million devoted followers, One hundred years later and four hours southeast of Allegheny, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a tiled, heated baptismal pool in Crownsville Maryland. I was 16.
Thirty-five years after that, the
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. served me with a subpoena to testify in a Grand Jury investigation into alleged criminal activity by the very same religious organization to which I devoted the formative and working years of my life. Let me explain why this happened. Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, the only child of devoted Jehovah’s Witness parents who had embraced the religion following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the escalation of the Vietnam war. Jehovah’s Witnesses pounded the pavements of Baltimore, preaching the imminence of Armageddon.
Watchtower vice-president and oracle
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. famously came to Baltimore in 1966, delivering multiple conventions speeches, including the epic book-release of Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God. This 400+ page publication unveiled a shocking timetable of world events, including the revelation that 1975 would mark the most significant modern date in history. From that moment forward, everything changed. Urgency over the date 1975 drove Witnesses into a subtle frenzy, with Organization overseers using these new revelations as spiritual cattle prods, driving many to sell their homes and preach the news of the end of the world.
When I was 8 years old, 1975 came and went, but new predictions emerged, and the old ones were revised. As a child, I could not accept that I was being lied to, so I trusted Jehovah’s Witnesses and their appointed elders.
Among the most trusted elders was a man named Charles Brineshults. Charlie, as he was known, was a long-time appointed elder, a widower, and held the distinction of being one of the elite few remaining “anointed” Jehovah’s Witnesses on Earth. He was also a serial pedophile, but I didn’t know that.
Charles “Charlie” Brineshults Even as a child my instincts told me something was not right. Brineshults shuffled from family to family, latching on to the generosity of anyone who would take him in. Of course, the homes he selected and the families he embraced all had children. Vulnerable children.
It was not until about 10 years ago during a group vacation that a close friend and longstanding elder heard the name Brineshults in conversation, and he piped in “Oh yeah, he diddled kids, you didn’t know?”
“What?” I exclaimed as I shot a piercing gaze across the South Carolina beach resort, expecting to hear this was some kind of joke. But it wasn’t. As it turns out, it was an open secret among dozens of families and nearly all of the elders in the congregation circuits I grew up in.
I was horrified. At that moment I could instantly recall sitting in the rear of a Kingdom Hall after a meeting, watching Charlie approach me with my father nearby. “Mark is so polite when he answers the phone, I am very impressed He speaks to clearly and with such maturity.”
I was barely 10 years old. Like so many others, I was unaware I was being groomed, and were it not for the screen of my extra-protective mother, I would most certainly have been one of his many victims.
And then there was Ongsingco.
Louis Ongsingco was a charismatic Watchtower-appointed pioneer minister and self-declared pied piper of the local Jehovah’s Witness children. He was engaging, well-traveled, and he liked girls. Young girls.
Louis Ongsingco Louis was a jet-setting flight attendant who frequently returned from Paris or London with expensive chocolates and other gifts for the kids he liked the most. He was also a massage therapist.
He had a smooth-talking way of conversing with teen girls, advancing his hands further and further from their shoulders to their backs, then finally blurring the lines between friendly conduct and full-on sexual assault. I saw this myself.
I was barely a teenager when I approached local elder Robert “Bob” Manke about Ongsingco’s behavior with girls. Where else would I go? My parents couldn’t control Louis, and I didn’t know that this was a matter for the police. How could I? So I trusted that Manke and the other elders would handle the situation.
They didn’t. Instead, they told Ongsingco that I had outed him, which led to severe chastisement from Louis himself. It was frightening. Meanwhile, Louis kept up his behavior, and decades passed. After leaving the Witness religion in 2013, I wanted to see what happened to this man.
After a brief investigation, I discovered that Louis Ongsingco went on to sexually assault multiple women, both Jehovah’s Witnesses, and non-Witnesses. By 2001 at least seven different women filed two lawsuits against Ongsingco.
These lawsuits are independent of additional allegations against Ongsingco, including those of two women who claim that Ongsingco placed his hands down the front of their shirts when they were teenagers.
One of those women came forward to the Atlantic in 2019 and was interviewed by journalist Doug Quenqua, who investigated Jehovah’s Witnesses in his article
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. The Atlantic Article
In 2018 I was introduced to journalist Douglas Quenqua, a respected writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, CNBC, Buzzfeed, and other periodicals. Doug had learned that I had received hundreds of pages of child abuse case documents from several Jehovah’s Witness congregations, and he wanted to learn more.
Over the course of 2018, we spent a number of days discussing these documents, and why Jehovah’s Witnesses had not reported these cases to the police. The incidents were horrifying, and worse yet, they revealed that most of the perpetrators were still at large, and were in contact with children.
On March 22nd, 2019, the Atlantic released Doug’s article. 24 Hours later, two elders rang our doorbell before 10 AM. We did not answer. When we checked our security camera later, it was apparent who these men were. They were church elders from the Perry Hall Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Maryland.
One of the two elders is the father of a woman who was sexually assaulted by not one, but two Jehovah’s Witness men. The men were Brineshults and Ongsingco.
Two Church Elders at my door, seeking to disfellowship I remember thinking how pathetic it was to be chased down by the very men who have been covering up child abuse for years, and whose children were among the victims.
On April 14th, 2019, Watchtower representative and local church elder Joel Raniolo mailed two certified letters to my home, demanding that we attend a judicial hearing at the Perry Hall church. When reached, Raniolo refused to divulge why he had sent the letters, and how he had obtained our personal information.
On May 14th, 2019, another Church elder announced to the Perry Hall congregation that Mark and Kimberly O’Donnell are no longer Jehovah’s Witnesses. It had been 35 years since my indoctrination and baptism back in February 1984.
The Pennsylvania Grand Jury
In the weeks following the release of the Atlantic article, national and global attention became focused on the Jehovah’s Witness religion. In particular, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General took notice of the allegations of corruption within the Witness Organization.
The State of Pennsylvania is no stranger to the cover-up of abuse within religious organizations. In 2018, the Attorney General’s office released the
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , following multiple substantiated reports of child sexual abuse and corresponding cover-ups. On July 2nd, 2019 I was interviewed in my home by the Deputy Assistant Attorney General of Pennsylvania, along with a Special Investigator for the State. For more than three hours I provided documentation and details concerning the policies and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially in connection with child abuse.
On July 29th a Special Investigator arrived at my Baltimore home and served a subpoena for me to appear before the 45th Investigative Grand Jury of the State of Pennsylvania.
Finally, on August 22nd, 2019, I arrived at the State Capitol before 7.30 AM and was sworn in by
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. in his chambers. Moments later I entered the large Grand Jury room, where 23 grand jurors and approximately 12-15 alternates were stationed at their desks, positioned to take notes and record their questions on paper. A Grand Jury is a special tool used by state and federal governments to investigate criminal allegations against persons or institutions. The powers of grand juries are wide-ranging and potent. They include the ability to subpoena and compel witnesses to testify, and those witnesses are encouraged to speak freely and without fear of reprisal.
Any form of retaliation is taken seriously by the office of the Attorney General and the presiding judge. Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses had already executed retaliation on my wife and me in response to our efforts to shed light on the epidemic child abuse problem within the religion.
My testimony lasted more than two straight hours as I sat facing the Grand Jury and the Deputy Attorney General, together with several State Attorneys and Special Investigators.
Grand Juries can be cathartic experiences for cooperative witnesses who testify on the side of civil justice. That was my experience.
For the first half of my initial testimony, I recounted my personal history within the Jehovah’s Witness religion, beginning with my religiously isolated childhood. It was an opportunity to share my experiences with a large group of citizens who will ultimately make important decisions when they vote on the choices presented to them.
There were moments of levity amidst the proceedings, including a curious exchange in which I discussed the history of the Witnesses’ custom Bible, the New World Translation. I explained how the translation was largely the brainchild of Frederick W. Franz, whose linguistic education was limited to a maximum of two years study of Greek, and no training in Hebrew.
The irony of this information was not lost upon the investigating members of the Grand Jury.
The Grand Jury and the JW Organization
As the morning progressed, my testimony turned North to the driving force behind the reason these people were assembled in this room- to comprehend whether the religious hierarchy which drives this religion is responsible for the failure to report the crime of child abuse.
A large whiteboard was placed to my left, facing the grand jurors. At the very top, the letters “GB” were written in large letters, then circled. It was clear that the Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania understood that the decisions and power of this religion lay at the top of a complicated network of corporations, congregations, Circuit Overseers, and churchgoers.
I spent some time attempting to explain the spider web of mechanisms used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, describing the difference between their view of the spiritual and the legal.
Branch Committees, Corporations, Circuit Overseers, Congregations, Elders, Ministerial Servants, Pioneers, Publishers- all of these found their way to the diagram of the Witness organization. Lines were drawn connecting all of the organizational machinery which comprises the Jehovah’s Witness religion. In the end, all roads terminated at the Governing Body.
After testifying for more than two hours, I was excused and held in a waiting area while the Grand Jurors scribbled their questions on paper and handed them to the Deputy Assistant Attorney General, after which I was brought back into the room, and given the opportunity to respond to the questions.
The process was dignified, thorough, but clearly an incremental process. Four months later, I found myself escorted once again into the halls of Pennsylvania justice, this time in a brand new government complex even more secure than the prior Strawberry Square location.
Grand juries are most often 18 months in length, with citizen jurors obliged to comply with the civic duty once per month for several days at a stretch. In some cases, grand juries are extended another 6 months. So it was no surprise that I returned 4 months after my initial testimony, this time to discuss documents.
The smoking gun of certain crimes lies in the creation of a paper trail of evidence that substantiates repetitive negligent or criminal behavior. If there’s one thing the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not lacking, it’s documents.
From the inception of Watch Tower Pennsylvania in 1884, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been in the document business. As the religion branched from printing Bibles and books to buying and selling real estate, the global corporations expanded, and so did the need to maintain centralized control over a growing member base.
By the 1970s, the Witnesses had tightened controls over congregation elders, formed Governing Body Committees, and published letters to all Elders on various corporation letterheads. They even began publishing a
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. with strict instructions that it be concealed from anyone not an elder. The expansion of congregation elder bodies meant that members trusted local elders to handle certain matters which would otherwise be best handled by law enforcement. Elder bodies became the police department for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
As the organization became further centralized, policy letters became the norm. While many documents dealt with routine activities for the church, other letters started to emerge which seemed to border on matters best left for law enforcement.
On July 1st, 1989, Watchtower New York issued a now-famous
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , labeled “confidential.” This letter warned elders not to divulge confidential information to “unauthorized” persons, including the police. It was clear that the rising number of child abuse cases in the Organization needed to be addressed, but Watchtower insisted that their New York Legal department act as first point of contact for any elders who learn of abuse.
This letter served as the opening salvo in a policy of obstruction of justice for victims of child abuse and the law enforcement agents who could have helped them.
On December 18th, 2019, I sat before the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, listening to the reading of the entire six-page letter from 1989.
It began to hit me how serious these letters were, and how vital they are to the investigation into Jehovah’s Witnesses. Every line, every paragraph was dissected and scrutinized. And then more letters were introduced.
On March 14, 1997, Watchtower released
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , and this time they asked for documentation of known child abusers serving in any congregation. It was, in effect, an official announcement of Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. On Page two, the letter stated:
This single sentence has formed the basis for a series of civil lawsuits in California in which
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. and his team have worked many years to expose, knowing that Watchtower is harboring the names of thousands of child abusers in its database. Many of the abusers are still at large and serving in positions of authority among Jehovah’s Witnesses. These were just a few of the many letters I reviewed and certified as authentic for the Pennsylvania Grand Jury.
What Effect Will the Grand Jury Have?
I cannot speculate on the full nature of this investigation, as these proceedings are sealed off from the public and the press. The Office of the Attorney General cannot confirm or deny that there is an investigation. They cannot confirm or deny that they will seek to investigate and subpoena specific individuals, such as victims, attorneys, experts, active elders, or members of the organization who serve at the highest level.
Subpoena for the 45th Investigative Grand Jury Only those who testify, and who have not been placed under a gag order from the presiding judge may discuss their testimony, if they choose to do so. Otherwise, until their investigation is complete, they will not comment.
There are a number of possible consequences of this Grand Jury investigation, and it may take some time before we see the results. One outcome is a presentment- a recommendation that charges be filed against a person or organization. Another outcome is a formal report, like the Catholic Church report released in 2018.
Whatever the case, the Office of the Attorney General has the power to issue search warrants and subpoenas, to compel testimony, and may even cross state lines to accomplish their work.
After a lifetime in the Jehovah’s Witness organization, having seen the damaging effects of child abuse and the cover-up of these crimes, I am thankful that the Government of Pennsylvania has finally turned its attention to the organization which silenced the voices of survivors and those who champion their rights.
Arrest Warrant Issued for Charles T. Russell over Contempt of Court for failure to pay Alimony to MariaBy Jack Ryan
For proof, you can view the newspaper clipping about it directly
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. (May 3, 1909). ============
PASTOR RUSSELL'S TROUBLES
A telegram from Pittsburg states that an attachment for the arrest of Pastor Charles T. Russell has been issued in that city for failure to pay alimony to his wife. Pastor Russell recently moved to Brooklyn, taking over the old Plymouth Bethel in Hicks street as a place of worship.
He also moved to this city [Brooklyn] the headquarters of the Millennial Dawn and Watch Tower Society of which he is the head.
Pastor Russell -- he does not want to be called doctor or reverend -- was divorced by his wife on a charge of cruelty. She was at first awarded $40 a month alimony, but this was later raised to $100.
The pastor refused to pay more than $40 and proceedings were started to have him arrested for contempt of court. The telegram from Pittsburg indicates that the wife was victorious in this action.
Pastor Russell cannot be arrested here on the Pittsburg court's order, it is said, but will be taken into custody if he returns to Pittsburg.
By The Librarian
Can you find more photos or videos related to this particular convention year?
or even better... were you there?
By Guest Nicole
The lawsuit was settled on Monday in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
A woman has settled a lawsuit against the Spring Grove Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and two of its supporting organizations, which alleged that elders failed to report instances of sexual abuse to law enforcement to protect their own reputation.
In the lawsuit, the woman said she’s suffered physical and emotional injuries after being abused between ages 14 and 16 by Terry Monheim, whom she met through the church.The Jehovah’s Witnesses became aware of it and “did nothing” to protect her, according to court documents.
The lawsuit was settled on Monday in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. The terms of the agreement are confidential.
“A matter with the Jehovah’s Witnesses has been resolved,” said Jeffrey Fritz, an attorney who represented the woman, now 28, of Lancaster County. The York Daily Record/Sunday News is not identifying her because she’s the survivor of a sexual crime.
The abuse took place between 2003 and 2005, according to the lawsuit. The woman later went to the Southwestern Regional Police Department, which filed charges against Monheim.
Monheim, now 64, of Hanover, pleaded guilty in 2012 to indecent assault and corruption of minors. She was sentenced to serve three to 23 months in York County Prison, as well as five years on probation.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses “exercise control in all aspects of congregants’ lives,” according to the lawsuit. If someone is accused of child molestation and denies wrongdoing, the complaint states, the congregation will not act unless there’s at least two eyewitnesses.
“It is outrageous conduct in this or any other society to have knowledge of past instances of abuse of children and fail to report same to law enforcement authorities or put into place any protective measures to protect children against abuse,” the lawsuit states.
Louis Lombardi II, an attorney who represented the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc. and Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses Inc., which provide support to local congregations, could not be reached.
Neither could Jud Aaron, an attorney who represented the Spring Grove Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor Monheim.
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By Guest Nicole
Todos sonrientes durante la predicación en el mercado de pulgas en Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Estados Unidos.
968,000 people are reading in their newspaper about how Jehovah’s Witnesses have COVERED UP allegations of CHILD SEX ABUSE - Philadelphia InquirerBy Jack Ryan
This is B-I-G
With a readership of almost one million peopleÂ for the Sunday edition,Â The Philadelphia InquirerÂ has published a major FRONT PAGE article spread out over four pages in it's Sunday, April 29, 2018 edition
By JOHN BUTLER
I thought I'd just share this. Please read the whole article before judging it.
'Punished' for being sexually abused in York County: Jehovah's Witnesses' culture of cover-up
THE CHURCH ISOLATES ITS MEMBERS, SHAMES AND SHUNS VICTIMS WHO COME FORTH AND INSTRUCTS ELDERS TO KEEP REPORTS SECRET. AND CHILDREN ARE BEING ABUSED.
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By The Librarian
Three years after Erik Miranda was shot and killed early on a Sunday morning,Â the crime that remains unsolved, denying his family what they want most: closure.
Family members held a lantern vigil Thursday, Sept. 20 Â— the anniversary of the 24-year-old's death Â— at Kiwanis Lake.
York City Police officersÂ respondingÂ to reports of shots fired just before 6 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2015, found Miranda's body in an alleyway in the 200 block of Jefferson Avenue, where he lived with his mother.Â
Family members described him as a kind, caring man who was a devoted Jehovah's Witness. They said he had no enemies, which makes the homicide even more difficult to understand.
On Thursday, the family prayed together and released a handful of biodegradable lanterns into the sky above the lake to show they won't forgetÂ Miranda Â— orÂ the unknown killer who remains free.
Olga Davis, Miranda's cousin, said his mother, Maria Miranda, moved to Florida shortly after his death because she "couldn't stand it to live here anymore" after the pain of losing her son.
She hasn't returned since, and she wasn't present at the vigil Thursday night.
"I'm a mother, and if something happened to one of my babies like that, I don't know how I'd push on," DavisÂ said. "It's a kick in the stomach; I can't breathe. I can't rest at night knowing his killers are still out there, breathing and walking around, not paying for the injustice that's been done to us."
Jack Padro, Miranda's brother, said he wishes he could thank him for all that he did for him. He said he still struggles to suppress anger and negative frustration.
"I was always with him," Padro said. "He was a good person and helped me through the hard times. But now I can't even say thank you to him anymore."
The family still lives around the corner from where the shooting happened. Every year, the they meetÂ at the scene to celebrate Miranda's life.
Davis praised York City Police for making arrests in recent shootings, but notes the status of her cousin's case.
"The police have been doing a great job tracking the current shooters doing all these terrible things in York, but Erik's case is still cold," she said.
DavisÂ also praised local community organizations for their efforts to stop gun violence, but added the community is doing less to help grieving families such as hers.
Raul Miranda, left, and Olga Davis watch lanterns float over Kiwanis Lake in memory of Erick Miranda, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Miranda was murdered Sept. 20, 2015 in a drive-by shooting. His case is one of only a few cold cases in York City. John A. Pavoncello photoÂ (Photo: The York Dispatch)
"I don't know what can be done to stop it, andÂ I don't know how they're going to stop it," Davis said. "York is just tired. We're sick of shootings; we're afraid to walk to the store."
Although Davis said knowing who the killer isÂ won't take all of the pain away, itÂ is the closest thing to closure the family can hope for.
York City Police Chief Troy Bankert explained in an email the process of handling unsolved homicide case.
"Homicides do not have statute of limitations, therefore they remain open," the chiefÂ said. "When a homicide is unsolved, we review the case as needed.Â However, typically, new evidence is presented which is then immediately followed up on.Â We do the initial investigation until all evidence is reviewed and all witnesses are questioned."
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 717-846-1234 or text "yorktips" and then the message to 847411.
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By Jack Ryan
Whelp, it “only” took two years, but they finally had closing on the Halifax, PA KH that they stole from the folks that paid for it Because of expansion in the area, it was built in 1985, had a mortgage of about 80k, and then a renovation / pavement mortgage of about 50k. Also the land was purchased outright by a widow, and donated, which was about $26,400. Shuttered the place in 2016. Closed on it last week.
Started with approx 100 pubs.
Closed with approx 70 pubs.
And now that money goes to those sons of bitches.
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. - Flair Me