We wrote in November that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were refusing to hand over internal documents related to a child sexual assault in a California court case, but it seems someone took the liberty of releasing at least some of them without the consent of the religion’s leaders.
The founder of MormonLeaks, apparently realizing that other religions also try to hide harmful details from the public, started “FaithLeaks” to further expose corruption among all religious groups. Yesterday, that organization published dozens of pages of documents outlining the Witnesses’ response to child sex assault allegations, and it wasn’t pretty.
The release was likely part of the database that the Witnesses are spending $4,000 per day to keep secret in the case brought by Osbaldo Padron, who sued the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society for failing to warn congregants of a child molester in their midsts. Court records have shown the Witnesses knew the offender, Gonzalo Campos, abused numerous children yet continued to promote him.
The 69 pages of documents that were just released “detail how Jehovah’s Witnesses authorities and church officials handled allegations of repeated sexual assault by one of its local leaders,” according to Gizmodo.
The interviews and detailed notes compiled by church authorities about molestation and rape allegations are horrific. The 33 documents also provide a staggering play-by-play of how the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society — the parent corporation and governing body for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, often simply referred to as “the Watchtower” — handled the case internally over the course of nearly a decade — playing therapist, prosecutor, jury, and judge — and the lengths to which they went to keep these accusations away from the “worldly court of law.”
The documents further show that a committee of Jehovah’s Witness elders found credible allegations that a father sexually abused his two daughters in 1999 but chose to sit on the information. Their reasoning was that one of the two daughters wasn’t ready to face her father and formally accuse him, as the religion’s policy requires.
Once she went through with the process years later, a spiritually guided trial was held and he was disfellowshipped. However, a year later he was reinstated. The documents show that Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders cast shade on one accuser and her husband for trying to take this matter to secular law enforcement.
While the details in these documents are grim, there is a silver lining. The leak provides information about numerous sexual assault cases, along with details about the inner workings of a religion that were previously unknown. That could lead to justice for at least some of the victims.
If the religious organizations can’t clean up their own messes, let’s hope people with access to their deliberations have the courage to leak more documents to people who will actually take them seriously.
(Image via Shutterstock)