When “C” was a little girl growing up in the UK, she was sexually abused multiple times by Jehovah’s Witnesses ministerial servant Peter Stewart. She wasn’t his only victim, either, and when the Watchtower Society found out, they simply stripped Stewart of his title without also revoking his access to children or turning him into the authorities.
So C’s abuse continued for another four years… until she hit the age of nine.
The abuse took place at a number of locations, including Kingdom Hall, a place of worship used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, with Stewart forcing her to keep silent by telling her “she was sinning” and “she would not be saved”.
In 2001, he was finally going to be arrested for his abuse of C, but Stewart died shortly before the police got to him. He was 72 at the time.
As you might imagine, being a victim of child abuse has affected C profoundly, even as she’s in her twenties today. She ultimately filed a lawsuit against the Watchtower Society, basically saying they were liable for what she went through because they didn’t keep Stewart away from her despite knowing he was a pedophile.
She got a little bit of justice today:
A woman who claimed Jehovah’s Witness elders failed to protect her from sex abuse carried out by a convicted paedophile has won a £275,000 payout [$437,000].
A judge ruled the organisation was liable for the abuse because it failed to take “safeguarding steps” after Stewart admitted abusing another child.
Mr Justice Globe said he was “satisfied” the defendants should be “held responsible” for the abuse, which took place between 1989 and 1994.
It is the first civil case in the UK of historical sexual abuse brought against the Christian-based religious movement.
The organization says they’ll appeal the decision. But with the victory, more child abuse victims may come forward knowing the court is taking these issues seriously.
They deserve the same sort of justice they were denied within the religious organization. And the Witnesses need to answer for their own negligence. Let’s hope this is just the first of many punishments the Watchtower Society receives for looking the other way at such a serious problem in their own ranks.
(via Misha Anouk)