Monday, 25 October 2010

Does the Watchtower Society Protect Pedophiles From the Authorities?

Bill Bowen's letter of resignation as an elder and (as they were then known) Presiding Overseer;
25 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Dear Brothers,
I am writing to resign as an elder and Presiding Overseer effective the date of this letter. I bear no ill will or malice toward anyone in the congregation or the Body of Elders. In my twenty-plus years of special service I have enjoyed many privileges, of which there have been many fond memories. So, it is with sadness I must make the following statement: I simply cannot agree with an organizational policy that as an elder I am required to enforce. This policy, in my opinion, has harmed thousands, is leaving many unprotected, and provides refuge to outright criminals.
I am referring to Watchtower policy to keep information about pedophiles confidential. Pedophiles are protected by a code of silence and in many cases remain, Ministerial Servants, Elders, Pioneers, Circuit, District Overseers, members of the Bethel Family, etc., while their victims suffer in silence or face sanctions. This policy is unethical and immoral in my opinion.
As an elder, I am instructed (1994 Elder School) if it is one person’s word against another and not two witnesses to the wrong, no action would be taken and no authorities would be notified. The victim? Cautioned to keep silent or face discipline within the congregation that could go as far as being disfellowshipped for slander.
This policy was again stated to the public in The Watchtower 1995, 11/1 pages 28-29 in the Article, ”Comfort for Those With a Stricken Spirit”, under the heading, “What Can Elders Do?” it plainly states:
“If the accusation is denied, the elders should explain to the accuser that nothing more can be done in a judicial way. And the congregation will continue to view the one accused as an innocent person. The Bible says that there must be two or three witnesses before judicial action can be taken. (2Cor.13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19) Even if more than one person “remembers” abuse by the individual, the nature of these recalls is just too uncertain to base judicial decisions on them without other supporting evidence. This does not mean that such “memories” are viewed as false (or that they are viewed as true). But Bible principles must be followed in establishing a matter judicially.”
Does this offer comfort to those with a stricken spirit?
How often are there witnesses with “supporting evidence” to an act of child molestation?
If two different persons recall abuse by one pedophile, how could he be viewed as “an innocent” man?
How hard would it be for a person with the disposition to molest children to deny the act when accused?
The 3-14-97 Letter to Bodies of Elders, page 2, paragraph 5, states:

“It may be possible that some who were guilty of child molestation were or are now serving as elders, ministerial servants, or regular or special pioneers. Others may have been guilty of child molestation before they were baptized. The bodies of elders should not query individuals. However, the body of elders should discuss this matter and give the Society a report on anyone who is currently serving or who formerly served in a society-appointed position in your congregation who is known to have been guilty of child molestation in the past.” Paragraph 6 continues at the end: “this information is not to be made available to those not involved.”
The only way a person within the organization can be guilty of child molestation is by confession, conviction by a court of law, or by the mouth of two witnesses who were there for the same event. For the individual who meets this criteria, the above information states the “body of elders should not query individuals” and “this information is not to be made available to those not involved.” For those who do not meet the above criteria, as in the case of a victim who accuses a person of molesting them, the code of silence is even more strictly enforced. What about potential victims, parents of children who do not know of these accusations? They are left in the dark without any knowledge that their children could be exposed to an accused sex offender on a regular basis.
These directives make the Watchtower organization a pedophile paradise, where children can be freely molested, as long as there is not substantial evidence or two witnesses to the same event, pedophiles are protected by Watchtower policy which is enforced by the Body of Elders.
How often are there witnesses to an act of child molestation? How can there be evidence of molestation, when 90% of the time the crime is reported weeks or sometimes years later? How many pedophiles will tell the truth, knowing if they do they could go to jail?
Does the fact that the average pedophile will molest seventy children in his lifetime and is never convicted of a crime mean we should allow them anonymity within our organization?
Due to this organizational policy, we have become saturated with pedophiles holding positions from top to bottom within our organization, in my opinion. In my forty-plus years in the organization, I have yet to find one congregation that did not have serious problems with children being molested.
The most incriminating fact lay with it not even being a matter of record, as in many cases when it is one word against another, not one word is recorded within the congregation file. Watchtower policy gives no direction in this regard. When elders call or write the Service Department for home office direction on how to handle matters involving child molestation, they are instructed that they will have to make the decision locally as to whether it should be taken care of judicially. The Service Department in effect lets local elders make the decision and as a result, the locals will take the responsibility if anything goes wrong. Thus protecting the Watchtower legally. How often will local elders in effect, “take care of a fellow accused elder,” protecting him from a judicial meeting using technicalities as an excuse? But when it comes to the victims, they are discredited, humiliated, and told to be silent. There is a silence of the lambs, the little ones, who look to You and Bodies of Elders for protection, but instead are crushed and ostracized by an organizational policy when they needed help the most. The Watchtower is protected; the pedophile is protected, too bad for the silent lamb.
How bad is it? With this policy you will allow one out of three “witness children” to be molested in their lifetime, in my opinion. I can no longer serve as an elder in an arrangement that promotes unethical and immoral behavior toward children. I refuse to support a pedophile refuge mentality that is promoted among Body of Elders around the world. Criminals should be ousted, identified, and punished to protect the innocent and give closure to the victim.
Each day that passes, more children are being molested, and victims suffer as abused lambs with a shepherd who seems not to care. For myself, I feel I can trust no one within the Watchtower organization with my children. If my children were to accuse a pedophile of molestation, all he would have to do is deny it and as a father I would be silenced with the threat of disfellowshiping if I were to try to say something (slander of a perceived innocent man) in a way of warning to protect others who may be in harms way. I state for the third time, this is wrong it is unethical and immoral to not protect children.
It is my sincere hope that this letter will result in an adjustment to completely overhaul Watchtower policy to address this horrific stance of protecting pedophiles and exposing children to danger.


William H. Bowen

Why aren't more Jehovah's Witnesses upset and angry about the Watch Tower Society's policies regarding the abuse of children?
Perhaps they think this sort of thing is made up, that the elders aren't discouraged from alerting the authorities to accusations of molestation? Maybe they don't believe that a man (or woman) within the Society can be accused of molestation, but because there are no witnesses to the abuse/assault no action by the elders is taken, not even contacting the authorities so that they can do their job and investigate the allegations?

If that's the case, maybe this news story from the BBC will open your eyes;

A Jehovah's Witness who groomed and sexually abused a boy has been jailed for six years and eight months.
Thomas Gold, 45, of Alloa, Clackmannanshire, was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh.
He previously admitted committing indecency at a house in Tullibody between November 1996, when the boy was seven years old, and November in 2003.
Unemployed Gold took the boy canvassing for the Jehovah's Witnesses and to the Kingdom Hall.
When he became a teenager, the victim told elders at his church about the abuse.
Advocate depute Alison Di Rollo said the church leaders told Gold his behaviour was wrong and warned that if it continued he would be "disfellowshipped", or expelled, because the church disapproved of homosexual behaviour.
They also tried to persuade Gold to go to the police.
'Systematically groomed'
The judge, Lord Bannatyne, said it was clear Gold's criminal conduct had "a considerable impact" on the victim.
He said that a background report on Gold had described him as having "systematically groomed" the youngster in order to sexually abuse him.
Defence solicitor advocate Brian Gilfedder said: "As far as the offence is concerned it is very difficult for me to stand here and say anything that could be described as mitigation.
"The accused is well aware and has been well aware that this was wrong. It is accepted by him that a sentence of imprisonment is inevitable."
Gold was placed on the sex offenders' register for the rest of his life and given a supervision for 40 months after his prison sentence.
"church leaders told Gold his behaviour was wrong and warned that if it continued he would be "disfellowshipped", or expelled, because the church disapproved of homosexual behaviour."

Since when is abusing a child "homosexual behaviour"? By all means "disapprove'' of "homosexual behaviour", but don't lump abusing a child in with it.

And elders? Man up. Rather than trying to persuade a man who's been accused (and I'm guessing admitted to) of abusing a child to go to the police do it yourself.


  1. As a 15 year zealous person for Jehovah (and elder) here is my story!

  2. The lying Bowen's letter is saturated with falsehood. Many of these lies are documented at Thirdwitness' website.

    Here's but one example:

    "This policy was again stated to the public in The Watchtower 1995, 11/1 pages 28-29 in the Article, ”Comfort for Those With a Stricken Spirit”, under the heading, “What Can Elders Do?” it plainly states:...If two different persons recall abuse by one pedophile, how could he be viewed as “an innocent” man?"

    Here Bowen makes it seem as though if two separate people testify that someone abused them, their testimony will be ignored unless it is to the same act of abuse (which is of course impossible). That is a total lie. The 1995 Watchtower was talking about repressed memories (note how "remembers" is in quotes). The elders' manuals make clear that two witnesses to the same type of sin on different occasions is acceptable as a basis for judicial action. ("Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock" p. 111; "Shepherding the Flock of God" p. 71.)

    As for the Thomas Gold case: Homosexual acts are simply sexual acts performed with a member of the same gender. Thomas Gold molested a boy, thus it was homosexuality; albeit worse than consensual sex. Put 2 and 2 together, note that the elders told him to go to the police. Clearly they saw it as more than just homosexuality, since homosexuality is not illegal.

    The elders may have messed up in not ensuring that the abuse was reported. However, in so doing they went against organization policy. One also wonders why the victim or his family did not report, as it is really primarily their responsibility.

    There is no systematic cover-up of child abuse in the organization. You knew this before your leaving the Witnesses. The elders are people too and so hate child abuse just as much as you and I. This letter to elders sums things up nicely.

  3. Completely and totally disturbing. What is worse is the responses i've heard by JW's: Jehovah will straighten it all out in the end.

  4. @StandFirm, I've address your disturbing response here. Can I ask, why do you see eagerly seek evidence when accusations are made against your organisation, yet seek no such evidence to prove they were chosen in 1919 by Jesus? You alarm me.

    @Apologetic Front - see StandFirm's response above....

  5. If one Elder has been found guilty of Child Abuse.
    Then another Elder has been found guilty of Child Abuse. And another Elder has been found guilty of Child Abuse. It would be reasonable to ask.

    What checks and balances are put in place to prevent this happening.

    The Watchtower may claim they have the best Child Protection Policy. If they have then this is commendable. However if an Elder or Elders have been found guilty of Child Abuse. Is the Watchtower overlooking something when deciding a man is qualified to be in a position of trust.

    The Bible states clearly the qualities a man has to measure up to. This too is commendable to have such a man. However the scriptures also state clearly this man should also have a fine testimony from people on the outside. This is a requirement of Scripture.

    We live in critical times, Child Abuse in society is real. Governments are putting in place checks and balances to help prevent children from being abused. They are demanding
    that those who are in a position of trust with Children undergo a police check to prove their suitability. If they are approved by such a check, they have a fine testimony from people on the outside.

    If a man refused to have a Police check then would Elders go ahead and appoint him? If they did and this man in time abused a Child. They themselves would have to bear some responsibility because they allowed the appointment without getting testimony from people on the outside. A scriptural requirement.

    Because of the prevalence of Child Abuse, Police checks are helping to prevent Child Abuse. Religions today can weed out Child Abusers. Before they are put in positions of trust with Children. Society is prepared to give their testimony regarding his appointment.