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Child Abuse Records Reveal Extensive Data Collection by Jehovah’s Witnesses

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For those that may think the CSA problem in the JW Org has been 'put to bed'. It hasn't.  


Attorneys representing Alexis Nunez have filed a motion to compel the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York to turn over at least 10 pages of detailed database records involving abuser Max Reyes and three of his victims, including plaintiff Nunez.

According to documents tendered to the Sanders County Montana Court, Watchtower attorney Joel Taylor emailed three of the ten pages in question to the Nunez team on the eve of the final day of the 2018 trial held in Thompson Falls Montana. Taylor purportedly presented the sensitive documents as part of his strategy for closing arguments the next day.

The three pages in question have now been released in court filings, but attorneys for Nunez are demanding the entire 10-page dossier.

The database pages reveal the shocking extent of Watchtower’s internal child abuse investigations, including the disclosure that Watchtower Legal Department directors register whether or not victims of child abuse are “willing participants” in their own sexual abuse.


The documents combine notes taken by Jehovah’s Witness elders with answers to questions posed by the Watchtower Legal Department in New York, blended with additional data used by the Witnesses’ Service Department to determine how abusers and victims should be managed inside the congregation.

Minor victims designated as “willing participants” are treated as adults and subjected to judicial hearings and disfellowshipping.


Why Demand the CM Database Pages?

As the Watchtower Organization continues to collect vast amounts of data related to sexual crimes, criminals, and victims, survivors are demanding answers for why this information is held by a religious institution and not promptly turned over to the relevant authorities.

Jehovah’s Witnesses currently subscribe to a policy where local elders are prevented from reporting child abuse unless the parent corporation Watchtower is unable to find a legal exception to the reporting requirement. The Church’s Legal Department has taken the position that what’s good enough for the Catholic Church is good enough for Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Witnesses believe they can project the Catholic confessional model upon all communications between members and their elders, regardless of whether the communications occurred in a confessional setting.

The Catholic model was originally set up to protect communications between a single confessor and his priest, but the Jehovah’s Witnesses expand the definition of protected communications to include their entire body of elders and all conversations with anyone involved in alleged wrongdoing.

In addition to the clergy-penitent confidentiality claims argued by the Witnesses, attorney-client privilege has become a decisive factor and key reason why Witness elders are instructed to promptly call Watchtower’s Legal Department when they learn of child abuse allegations – instead of calling the police.

Watchtower Plays Semantics

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Watchtower organization continues to deny that it maintains a database of child molesters and victims by arguing over the very definition of the word “database.”

On February 4th 2021, plaintiff Nunez ordered the discovery of multiple documents from Watchtower files, including a description of the “CM Database.”

The Jehovah’s Witness legal department responded by declaring that the documents demanded are not part of any kind of database, and that labeling it a database is a mischaracterization of the facts. Court records disclose Watchtower’s responses to the requests:


Describe the CM database by providing the following information. What is the name or designation the JW Defendants give to the database?

Generally describe the information contained in the database.

When was the database created?


ANSWER: [from Watchtower] Defendants object to this request because it is vague and ambiguous in that the term “CM database” is defined by a mischaracterization of what the documents attached as Exhibit A are: entries from the Watchtower Legal Department’ s electronic telephone record keeping system reflecting privileged communications with clients. Defendants further object to this interrogatory on the grounds that it is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible information.”

It is difficult to imagine that the Court will not see past the semantics game played by Watchtower, given the awareness that the information collected by this “electronic telephonic record keeping system” is shared with the Service Department of Watchtower. The Service Department of Jehovah’s Witnesses maintains a “Hub” database of Jehovah’s Witness information that is designed to consolidate member data for more than 8 million adherents, known as “publishers.” That information contains extensive personal information about each member, including internal judicial documents such as the S-77 Notice of Disfellowshipping or Disassociation.



Jehovah’s Witness Data Collection, where Publisher Identification is incorporated into the HuB Database. Image: leaked Watchtower video.


In 2017, sensitive documents and videos were leaked from inside Watchtower headquarters, revealing the extent of their data collection schemes. A program called HuB (Headquarters-unity-Branch) was announced as the replacement for their preceding global database and management system known as “Admin.”

Also announced was the “Records Management” system for maintaining vast amounts of organizational data in a centralized database. Old paper records were scanned into this new system using highly sophisticated equipment and character-recognition software, further enhancing the Organization’s ability to track every aspect of the Witnesses’ corporate empire, including sensitive personal data.

Judge Elizabeth Best now presides over the Montana case and will rule whether or not Watchtower will be compelled to turn over the 7 pages of data in question. The release of those documents may well have an adverse impact on the Jehovah’s Witness defense.

The trial date has been set for September, 2022.   So it continues. 

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For those that may think the CSA problem in the JW Org has been 'put to bed'. It hasn't.   https://jwwatch.org/child-abuse-2/child-abuse-records-reveal-extensive-data-collection-by-jehovahs-witne

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