To go against the word of the Jehovah’s Witness organization would be like going against God’s word. At least, that is what has kept many people within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization from reporting instances of child sex abuse. A new documentary on Oxygen has revealed that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have likely been hiding instances of child sex abuse for decades and have threatened members who wanted to speak out. At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., our child sex abuse attorneys in Philadelphia are here to help any victims obtain the justice and compensation they deserve.
Every time we learn about massive cover-ups of child sexual abuse within major organizations, the same question always emerges – how could they possibly have kept this hidden for so long?
While we may never have a good answer for that, time and time again, we see that it has to do with leaders putting severe pressure on members within the organization. In instances involving religious organizations, going against the word of the leaders can seem like going against the word of God. At least, that is how former Jehovah’s Witness elder Roger Bentley described is.
Earlier this year, Roger Bentley confirmed that he had read internal memos from Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the Jehovah’s Witnesses oversight wing. He said that these memos gave instructions to elders on how to respond to allegations of child abuse within their organization. In most cases, the instructions revolve around never reporting the incident to law enforcement and keeping the names of abusers completely confidential.
These instructions have stayed mostly the same since 1989, which was when a memo obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting was written. The memo says, among other things, that “Improper use of the tongue by an elder can result in serious legal problems for the individual, the congregation, and even the Society.”
In other words, if you speak out about child sex abuse within this organization, you are bringing doom to yourself and the organization.
These threats, which continued as recently as 2014, have worked. Now, though, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are dealing with an outing of their behavior thanks to this documentary. At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., our team hopes that victims are able to come forward and that those who knew about child sex abuse speak up.
If you or somebody you care about has been sexually abused while a member of the Jehovah’s Witness organization, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., we are ready to help you get through this. Our goal is to ensure that you obtain justice and compensation for what happened, including coverage of the following: