When it comes to covering up abuse, Jehovah’s Witnesses are rivaling the Catholic Church, if not the Orthodox Jewish community in New York.
Trey Bundy of the Center for Investigative Reporting has a long and detailed expose of the policies used by JW church leaders that shows just how horribly they handle abuse cases, going so far as to tell local spiritual leaders “to form confidential committees to handle potential criminal matters internally” rather than going to the police.
Within the organization, the Watchtower has final say over who is considered a serial child abuser. According to a 2012 Watchtower memo: “Not every individual who has sexually abused a child in the past is considered a ‘predator.’ The (Watchtower), not the local body of elders, determines whether an individual who has sexually abused children in the past will be considered a ‘predator.’”
Internal documents obtained by Reveal show that the Witnesses have systematically instructed elders and other leaders to keep child sexual abuse confidential, while collecting detailed information on congregants who prey on children.
John Cedars, who has been writing about this problem for a long time, spoke with Bundy for this piece and praises the final product:
Trey’s superb 4,500+ word article, posted to the Reveal website, is a hard-hitting expose of Watchtower that leaves no stone unturned when it comes to uncovering the horrendous extent of the organization’s negligence in dealing with known pedophiles.
I spoke to Trey on Skype a number of months ago after being put in touch with him by Barbara Anderson, another of his sources. I was immediately impressed with how committed he was to verifying his facts (not a universal preoccupation among reporters), and trying to gather as much information and as many contacts as possible.
By the time of our second catch-up conversation, Trey knew more about certain aspects of the organization than I did — so you can imagine how excited I am now that the first wave of his work is now in circulation. And I am led to believe more material will follow.
It’s really a horrifying account that shows yet another problem with top-down religion. (If any Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on your door, be sure to ask them about it and see what happens.)
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