In a first-of-its-kind lawsuit, attorney Sarah Woods has asked the Superior Court of Quebec to give her a green light to proceed with a class action lawsuit against the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Woods is filing the motion on behalf of anyone abused by elders in the church or minors who were abused by fellow JW congregation members.
The request was filed in the name of Lisa Blais, a Quebec Jehovah’s Witness who alleges she was abused for years by her older brother, also a Jehovah’s Witness.
Blais says she complained to church officials about the alleged abuses when she was 16, and claims Jehovah’s Witnesses did nothing to protect her. The allegations have not been proven in court.
If the lawsuit is allowed to proceed, Woods wants “$250,000 per complainant for moral and punitive damages.”
Remember that in Australia last year, a commission found that the JW organization did a piss-poor job of protecting children from sexual abuse.
That was, in part, due to the Watchtower Society’s own policies, like the “Two-Witness rule,” which says church elders shouldn’t take seriously a victim’s account of abuse unless another person witnessed it. Even though the only other person around may have be the abuser himself… The Commission also said many of the abusers weren’t disciplined in any significant way. In some cases, they were even allowed to remain in the organization, giving them an opportunity to strike again.
The Catholic Church is awful when it comes to abuse. We know that. But the JWs have smaller numbers, so their systemic problems often go under the radar or unnoticed. This lawsuit could be one powerful way to rectify that.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Heather for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)