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JW Canada: Judge authorizes class action for Jehovah's Witnesses sex abuse victims


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"The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is very hierarchical, led by men, and encourages a culture of silence," the judge ruled.

Citing a hierarchy that “encourages a culture of silence,” a Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized a class-action lawsuit for current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses in Quebec who were sexually abused by other members as minors.

Authorized last week, the class action argues the church’s internal reporting policies conceal abuse and have silenced hundreds of sexual assault complaints through the years. It seeks at least $250,000 in damages for each alleged victim.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Lisa Blais, a Quebec woman born into a Jehovah’s Witness family. She alleges she was repeatedly sexually abused and assaulted by her brother, 13 years older, beginning when she was only 10 months old.

It’s estimated there are roughly 27,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Quebec.

“Given that the lawsuit is based on sexual assaults, a class action is the appropriate measure,” Quebec Superior Court Judge Chantal Corriveau wrote in her 27-page decision. “It would be difficult and impracticable for members to individually come out of the shadows and try to make their claims known.”

The lawsuit targets the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, the parent company of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country, and another society based in Pennsylvania that’s responsible for the church’s communications and publications.

At the heart of the class action is whether the church failed to protect its members when they tried to denounce sexual abuse.

According to the lawsuit, Blais, now in her 40s, first spoke out about the alleged abuse when she was 16 years old. She sought help from her parents, another Jehovah’s Witness and an elder — members who act as spiritual leaders in different congregations — but says she was discouraged from reporting the abuse in order to protect the community.

Blais left her family at 17 and was officially disfellowshipped at 24.

Lawyers arguing against the class action contended Blais’s allegations were too vague, that her wounds stem from the incest and her parents failing to protect her from it, and that it isn’t the court’s place to interfere with religious practices.

But Corriveau found otherwise, ruling Blais’s allegations are “based on a set of substantiated facts.”

“The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is very hierarchical, led by men, and encourages a culture of silence,” Corriveau wrote. “The internal treatment of complaints of sexual abuse illustrates that.

“It is easy for the Tribunal to conclude that, as a result, victims who have not been encouraged or supported to denounce these assaults also do not have the courage to confront their aggressor and the organization in court by instituting an individual lawsuit.”

Reached for comment on the ruling, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada said it’s considering its options for appeal.

“The class action was authorized solely on the basis of unproven allegations,” a spokesperson wrote in a statement.

“If this matter proceeds to trial the facts will clearly show Jehovah’s Witnesses report allegations of abuse to the authorities, in line with the Youth Protection Act,” he added. “The well-being of children is of utmost importance to Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Blais’s lawyer, Sarah Woods, said her client was pleased with the ruling.

Lead plaintiffs in class-action suits involving child abuse often remain anonymous through the proceedings, but Blais chose not to.

According to the class-action application, filed two years ago, Blais wanted to lead the suit “in order to assist other victims” and “to provide access to justice” to other potential class members.

“There is a sense that if victims are willing to be the face of such a recourse,” Woods said on Monday, “that hopefully it will encourage other people to come forward and speak out.”

https://montrealgazette.com/news/judge-authorizes-class-action-for-jehovahs-witnesses-sex-abuse-victims

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Um, so, if all are Ministers in the JW Org, then all those that commit the crime of Child Abuse in the Org are Ministers. So it could rightly be said that JW Ministers commit Child Abuse. Some of

The Clergy Privilege is a PRIVILEGE THAT ONLY EXISTS IF IT IS CLAIMED!!!! If we RECANT it ... it will INSTANTLY cease to be a factor in any deliberations. That little piece of fluff is REMOV

This is NOT true ... from the legal sources you yourself quoted earlier ... go back and read your own citations. Your agenda has clouded your reading comprehension and perception skills. If

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12 hours ago, Indiana said:

She alleges she was repeatedly sexually abused and assaulted by her brother, 13 years older, beginning when she was only 10 months old

Let me get this straight. One child abuses another within a family, and it is the fault of the congregation elders?

Is it alleged that:

12 hours ago, Indiana said:

The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is very hierarchical, led by men, and encourages a culture of silence," the judge ruled.

Take them out of the picture for a moment. Are we to imagine that the mom and dad of this family would have otherwise marched their kids straight down to the police station to make sure justice was done? 

There is a part of me that thinks what really gets in sticks in the craw of this judge is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are “hierarchical”, whatever that is supposed to mean, and that they are “led by men,” as though anything less than a free-for-all is evil.

Perhaps it is even implied that men are inherently evil, so that the greatest travesty of all is to be led by them.

 

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My guess is that it's not what happened within the family  ... it was the coverup within the Congregation that the Law is concerned about, as respects the Congregation.

Same thing happened to Richard Nixon ... it was not the Watergate burglaries (for which he had plausible deniability) ... it was the systemic coverup that destroyed his Presidency.

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2 minutes ago, James Thomas Rook Jr. said:

My guess is that it's not what happened within the family  ... it was the coverup within the Congregation

 

It is not possible to mishandle what you never attempted to handle in the first place.

The clear implication of rulings such as this is that religious organizations ought not to look into the conduct of its members, for it is only by doing so that they can step into messes like this.

“Be like the mainline churches,” the ruling says in effect. “Preach to them on Sunday and be done with it. It’s none of your business whether they apply it or not.”

However, the verse says that it is their business. “You, the one preaching, “Do not steal,” do you steal?  You, the one saying, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?” If you claim that your teachings improve the moral fiber, you must have mechanisms in place to ensure that that is indeed the case, especially if your view of God is that he insists on a “clean” people.

Framed that way, the ruling is a state attempt to regulate religion and could be argued on that basis.

Plus, such thinking completely ignores the far superior role of prevention of CSA, in order to zero in exclusively on meting out punishment when it occurs, as though THAT is the means for the problem to be solved. How’s that project going, anyhow? Thirty years into the all-out CSA war, is it just about snuffed out? Or is it only the tip of the iceberg that has been revealed?

I’ll take the kids you have criticized, Caleb and Sophia, any day, for teaching parents how to protect their children.

https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/children/become-jehovahs-friend/videos/protect-your-children/

 I’ll take the 2017 Regional Conventions any day, in which every Witness in the world was assembled to hear detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might take place, so that parents, the obvious first line of defense, can be vigilant.

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@TrueTomHarley Quote "It is not possible to mishandle what you never attempted to handle in the first place."

Ah is that how they think they can get away with it then ? They listen to the details but don't help. 

But aren't the Elders supposed to be, a rock, or, a sheltering place from the storm ? No ? 

From the news report " According to the lawsuit, Blais, now in her 40s, first spoke out about the alleged abuse when she was 16 years old. She sought help from her parents, another Jehovah’s Witness and an elder — members who act as spiritual leaders in different congregations — but says she was discouraged from reporting the abuse in order to protect the community. "

Now if that is true it helps to confirm what I and many others believe, that Elders and others within the JW Org try to keep it all secret. 

This 16 year old girl needed help but was told to just keep quiet. Was she still being abused at 16 ? Was her father an Elder ?  Presumably it will all come to light in the court case, if such actually happens. 

But one good thing is that it gives opportunity to other victims to speak up now.  

As the report says, it would be very difficult for one individual to take the JW Org / Watchtower soc' to court. The Org would have top lawyers, but one individual could not afford such. So a large group of victims working together makes sense. 

But of course TTH and others still will not agree with any of it. 

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But surely Billy if these problems have been going on for fifty years or more, and the JW Org has a bethal/head office in each country , then surely someone within each head office should be up to date on all procedures. These are not new problems. The GB or their legal department has 20 years worth of accusations on record just in the USA, and probably much more earthwide. I cannot see any excuses to any of this. 

And if all Elders were told to report everything to the police and/or outside authorities then it would probably make their lives a lot easier. 

It could be announced from the platform in every KH that all types of crimes reported to the Elders would be reported to the authorities. Then people would be able to make the decision whether to tell the Elders or not. 

Apart from some strange idea of wanting to know how many pedophiles are in the JW Org, what is the point of just keeping it all on record ? Keeping records is not protecting anyone. And our neighbours are supposed to be everyone, so the protection of everyone, especially children, is important. How can keeping internal record protect people outside the Org ? Are the Elders going to follow pedophiles around all day to keep them from attacking people outside ? 

Tell the authorities, the Police, then the matter can be dealt with by those trained to deal with it. 

 

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57 minutes ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

It could be announced from the platform in every KH that all types of crimes reported to the Elders would be reported to the authorities. Then people would be able to make the decision whether to tell the Elders or not.  

I would bet real money that this would solve the problem ... or at least 95% of it .... for EVERYBODY concerned.

I wonder what ulterior motive is being cherished NOT to have this simple solution adopted everywhere?

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@JOHN BUTLER finds it irresistible to point out how I write books, and I hate to let him down. Perhaps from this episode another chapter can be written:

“Citing a hierarchy that ‘encourages a culture of silence,’ a Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized a class-action lawsuit for current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses in Quebec who were sexually abused by other members as minors....[The plaintiff] alleges she was repeatedly sexually abused and assaulted by her brother, 13 years older, beginning when she was only 10 months old.”

Do I understand this correctly? One child abuses another within a family, and it is the fault of the congregation elders?

The Canadian judge stated that: “The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is very hierarchical, led by men, and encourages a culture of silence.”

Take the organization out of the picture for a moment. Are we to imagine that the mom and dad of this family would have otherwise marched their kids straight down to the police station to make sure that proper punishment was meted out?

There is a part of me that thinks what really gets in sticks in the craw of this judge is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are “hierarchical,” as though any other organization is not, and that they are “led by men,” as though anything less than a free-for-all ought to be taboo. Perhaps she even implies that men are inherently evil, so that the greatest travesty of all is to be led by them.

However, says my nemesis: “My guess is that it's not what happened within the family. It was the coverup within the Congregation.”

Well—it is not possible to mishandle what you never attempted to handle in the first place.

The clear implication of rulings such as this is that religious organizations ought not to look into the conduct of its members, for it is only by doing so that they can find themselves in such a spot as this. “Be like the mainline churches,” the ruling says in effect. “Preach to them on Sunday and be done with it. It’s none of your business whether they apply it or not.”

However, the verse Christians feel obligated to follow says that it is their business. “You, the one preaching, “Do not steal,” do you steal?  You, the one saying, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?” (Romans 2:21) If you claim that your teachings improve the overall moral fiber, you must have mechanisms in place to ensure that that is in fact the case, especially if your view of God is that he insists on a “clean” people, as free of misconduct as possible.

Framed in this way, the ruling is a state attempt to regulate religion, and could be argued on that basis.

Plus, such thinking completely ignores the far superior role of prevention of child sexual abuse, in order to zero in exclusively on meting out punishment when it occurs, as though that is the means by which the problem will be solved. How’s that project going, anyhow? Thirty years into the all-out war against child sexual abuse, is it just about snuffed out? Or is it only the tip of the iceberg that has been revealed?

I’ll take the kids, Caleb and Sophia, video any day, for teaching parents how to protect their children. I’ll take the 2017 Regional Conventions any day, in which every Witness in the world was assembled to hear detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might take place, so that parents, the obvious first line of defense, can be vigilant. Who else assembles all its members and then trains them so?

***~~~***

 

“Jehovah’s Witnesses have a serious problem of child sexual abuse in their midst?”

 There are two ways of looking at this.

1.) They do not.

2.) They do, but the situation is far worse everywhere else.

One must look no farther than who is being outed as perpetrators. If you want to find deviants in most places, you look no further than the leaders. If you want the same ‘catch’ among Jehovah’s Witnesses, you must broaden your search to include, not just leaders, but everyone. A Jehovah’s Witness leader committing child sexual abuse is rare. Not unheard of, but rare. Elsewhere, it is the pattern.

Okay, if the leaders are not committing the child sexual abuse, are they nonetheless "hiding it?" How do they compare with other groups? It is a little hard to say. Nobody else has ever found it. They looked the other way, taking no interest in looking at wrongdoing within their midst. Thus, when child sexual abuse was found, it was a.) found entirely independent of religious affiliation, and b.) it was found that the leaders themselves were the abusers. How would members fare in comparison? There is no data. Nobody ever bothered to look.

Courts will go where courts will go. Will they take the above into account? Time will tell. There are few organizations with pockets--it doesn’t matter if they are religious or not--that are not being flooded with lawsuits today. In New York State, my own state, the governor has just signed into law a bill greatly lengthening the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Out of nowhere has appeared a major sponsor of programming I watch--a legal firm seeking to sign up clients. The ads briefly eclipsed other legal firms of accident litigation running non-stop ads of how “[So and So law firm] got me $3 million dollars, 15 times what the insurance company offered!” Put together, lawyers have become by far the premier sponsors of television. Can a society really endure that way?

Make no mistake. No one is saying that it is wrong to sue for grievances. But one must sometimes ask whether there will be any organized group on earth left standing when the suing is done. Of course, there will be some. Governments can just raise taxes to recoup legal payouts. Businesses can raise prices. But groups like the Boy Scouts, investigating bankruptcy at last report, are out of luck. One wonders how other voluntary organizations will fare.

The typical person congratulates the client who has come into an extraordinary bonanza via lawsuit. Then he opens his insurance premium bill. It calls to mind, as a rough parallel, the statement of Alexander Fraser that democracy can only endure until “the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury.” The world has become a lawyers’ playground, with massive transfers of money flowing in all directions--the barristers netting a third, they being the only consistent beneficiaries.

When the rules of the game change, you can hardly blame the small players for adjusting to accommodate them. There was a time, those my age will remember, when nothing was so crass as for lawyers to advertise. It was against their universal code of conduct, possibly even against the law. It explains the phrase “ambulance chaser”—you actually had to chase an ambulance to sign up a client before another lawyer could. You couldn’t just broadcast to the whole wide world that you were scouring the earth for clients.

Someone dear to me was sued several times with regard to property, in another matter that had a very long statute of limitations. When what proved to be the final lawsuit came in, the person sought to make defense through his insurance lawyer, but that one attempted contact several times and could not get a response from the firm bringing suit. Finally, that firm admitted that they were having a hard time locating their client. Seemingly, they had left no stone unturned in seeking business and had finally found “aggrieved” ones who’s cases were so tenuous that they couldn’t even be bothered to show up and make them.

I wonder, too, whether the popular demand for public apologies isn’t largely just a PR event, or even worse, an encouraged legal strategy to secure a clear admission of guilt, thereafter better enabling future lawsuits. Few things are done for the noble ‘window-dressing’ reasons that are given. At any rate, it is worth noting that when the government of Australia apologized for decades of child sexual abuse, and opposers praised that apology to the heavens because they thought they could thereby embarrass Jehovah’s Witnesses, the victims nonetheless rejected it as ‘too little, too late.’ Better than any apology is prevention. Of course, it is good to call in the grief counselors in the aftermath of a school shooting. But it is far better not to need them in the first place.

The situation is a far cry from the Quebec of 70 years ago, during which 400 Jehovah's Witnesses generated 1600 arrests, on charges as minor as peddling without a license but as major as sedition. A key case involving sedition was lost before the Supreme Court of Canada, but was overturned on a rarely-used provision of "rehearing," at which the Court acknowledged that Witness literature and ministry included nothing that incited to violence--a necessary ingredient of sedition--but only contained that which made a powerful faction squirm. The situation is much different today, with altogether different charges, and the game is barely recognizable. But deep within, is the underlying intent not nonetheless the same, cloaked behind a veneer of righteous indignation?

00

 

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Boring, read it all before. TTH just loves covering pages with words. :) 

Let's get horridly blunt here. 

If Jesus had been put to death because he had been a pedophile, then he would have died in shame not glory. 

The JW Org is not being shot down for trying to serve God properly, so do not try to kid yourselves or anyone else. 

The JW Org and its GB are being shot down for it's vile ways and it's sly deceptive practices. Trying to wash the outside of it's 'dish' but leavingth inside disgustingly filthy. 

Jesus served his heavenly Father fully and purely and has been rewarded for it. 

The GB and it's Org are also getting their payment right now. They are receiving the just punishments for the wicked deeds they have  performed. 

Do i care if the GB and the JW Org are wiped out by the heavy fines, no i don't. 

What i  care about is Almighty God having a clean and respected name. And i care about Jesus Christ sorting out this Earth by removing the wicked 'world' that exists upon it. 

The Nation of Israel was taken captive and left in ruin for its sins, but God raised it up again, so that it could serve its purpose.. 

I have faith enough to know that if the JW Org is what God wants to use, then he can raise it up again to serve his purpose. 

Time will tell us exactly what God wants to happen, because God's will is what will take place through Jesus Christ. 

Meanwhile Tom will keep writing books :) , and us lot here will keep on bickering. 

 

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4 hours ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

And if all Elders were told to report everything to the police and/or outside authorities then it would probably make their lives a lot easier. 

Couldn't agree with you more on this! However, it really is not a be all and end all solution, not for the victim. You know yourself that the police do not always act. So if elders were told to report to the police every time, it would actually be in the elder's interest to do so, but not necessarily in the interest of the victim. The elders could wash their hands clean off the whole situation by passing it onto the police. Which is great, no more civil lawsuits for the organization. Done. But reporting to the police does not always guarantee justice for the victim. In fact, where the victim wishes to keep it within the family, (for example if the perp. is one of the parents) then it could cause more heartache for all involved. Of course in all this it is only the perpetrator that should be the one who is punished. But it often doesn't work like that....

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12 hours ago, Anna said:

Couldn't agree with you more on this! However, it really is not a be all and end all solution, not for the victim. You know yourself that the police do not always act. So if elders were told to report to the police every time, it would actually be in the elder's interest to do so, but not necessarily in the interest of the victim. The elders could wash their hands clean off the whole situation by passing it onto the police. Which is great, no more civil lawsuits for the organization. Done. But reporting to the police does not always guarantee justice for the victim. In fact, where the victim wishes to keep it within the family, (for example if the perp. is one of the parents) then it could cause more heartache for all involved. Of course in all this it is only the perpetrator that should be the one who is punished. But it often doesn't work like that....

@Anna quote "The elders could wash their hands clean off the whole situation" 

The Elders could wash their hands of the legal side of the situation and help the JW Org to show honesty and openness.

Then the Elders could deal with the spiritual side of the situation. 

Even if the police did not take action, the Org should have written proof that the situation was reported. Thereby putting the responsibility for the legal side of the matter squarely where it belongs. 

In my opinion the victim should not have the right to keep it within the family. I know that sounds heartless but if there is a definite pedophile in the family then that one needs reporting to the Police. It would safeguard others outside the family and in my opinion it is part of showing love to neighbour quite literally as it may be a neighbours child that suffers next if the person is not reported. 

Plus if the perp' is one of the parents then that parent needs removing or the child needs removing from that situation. 

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I will repeat what i wrote previously. 

It could be announced from the platform in every KH that all types of crimes reported to the Elders would be reported to the authorities. Then people would be able to make the decision whether to tell the Elders or not.

If it was made clear that ALL CRIMES would be reported to the authorities then I wonder if that would remove the 'clergy privilege' excuse. 

As for the others things you mentioned Billy, if they are not crimes then the authorities do not need to be involved. I suppose in some countries homosexuality may still be a crime, I don't know. 

Did I read on here that an Elder at the ARC said that he would not report a murder ?  If so then where is his love of neighbour ? 

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And a third of the sun was struck and a third of the moon and a third of the stars, in order that a third of them might be darkened and the day might not have light for a third of it, and the night likewise."   The lawless "lights" (the "sun" "moon" and "stars" of the organization) are not able to shine light on what is about to happen. But the righteous ones can see. "You will certainly see the distinction between the righteous one and the wicked one" and "the wicked will be cast out into the darkness" but the righteous ones will have light.   The "third" of the righteous ones will be "killed" as to the old Babylonish ways. The Bible says not all will be "killed" by these plagues:   "But the rest of the people who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands; they did not stop worshipping the demons and the idols of gold and silver and copper and stone and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.  And they did not repent of their murders nor of their spiritistic practices nor of their sexual immorality nor of their thefts."   The next trumpet talks about the locusts. That's when the UN comes to Bethel and all the other religions. Satan is the angel of the abyss. Jesus holds the keys, but he permits Satan to have the key of the abyss for this event, because the UN will be Jehovah's sword of execution, just like the Babylonians and the Romans were in the past for disciplining the unfaithful Israelites who killed God's prophets, including God's own Son. "And the ten horns that you saw and the wild beast, these will hate the prostitute and will make her devastated and naked, and they will eat up her flesh and completely burn her with fire.  For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, yes, to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished." "Start at my sanctuary, with the elders in front of the house."    Jehovah is cleaning house. All His ways are justice. Praise Jah!
    • Integrating NFTs on Instagram will give creators and artists a new way to monetize their content and open up new possibilities for brands and businesses to use NFTs as a marketing tool. For those who are new to the world of NFTs, I recommend checking out tipsogram.com. They have some great tips and tutorials on getting started with NFTs and using them on Instagram.
    • Wow, this is some exciting news! It's great to see Instagram, one of the most popular social media platforms, diving into the NFT space. It's not just the platform, but Meta Platforms are also in the game.
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