The Jehovah's Witness Church settled a lawsuit brought by a victim of child sexual. The victim was represented by Jeffrey P. Fritz of our office. The terms of the confidential settlement cannot be disclosed, but the victim alleged that the church elders in her congregation intentionally did not report the child sexual abuse to the authorities. This is in direct violation of mandatory Pennsylvania reporting laws. To read further :
In 1997, an official directive was issued to all Jehovah's Witness elders instructing them to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the New York headquarters, and not the authorities, in a special blue envelope. The church now refuses to turn over to the court any information regarding the names and whereabouts of the child abusers disclosed in these specific blue envelopes. Read more about this institutional neglect of child abuse victims.
The Jehovah's Witnesses continue to claim an exemption to the law, mandated in 45 states, that requires all clergy to report known instances of child sexual abuse to the legal authorities. With more than a dozen lawsuits brought by alleged child abuse victims the Jehovah's Witnesses continue in their noncompliance with the law. Read more.
S&Z attorney Jeffrey Fritz, representing sexual abuse victim Stephanie Fessler, prevailed in a venue motion after a panel of judges found Jehovah's Witnesses' guilty of "abusive tactics" in their "last-minute gambit to delay trial" and have the case moved to York County from Philadelphia County. York County currently has the largest backlog of civil cases in Pennsylvania.
Evidence has been uncovered exposing the lengths to which the leadership of Jehovah's Witness has gone to cover-up allegations of child abuse within their church. Please read this article detailing some of the hardships imposed on victims of child abuse because of these institutional practices: