Jehovah's Witnesses under fire from former congregants who say child sex abuse was hushed
$10.5 Million Lawsuit Against Jehovah's Witnesses Organizations Velicia Alston, who says she was molested as a child, wants to change the way Jehovah's Witnesses' leadership responds to child sexual abuse.
By Aimee Green December 01, 2014
Two people who say that as children they were sexually abused by a leader in a Hillsboro Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation filed a $10.5 million lawsuit Monday – among the first in Oregon to accuse the religious organization of hiding decades of sexual abuse.
Attorneys for Velicia Alston, 39, and an unnamed man said the Jehovah’s Witnesses leadership continues to cover up sexual abuse against children by leaders. They say it is more than a decade behind other organizations, such as the Catholic Church, that have been forced to address their problems through many years of civil litigation.
“There is a crisis of silence in the Jehovah's Witness organization," said Irwin Zalkin, one of several attorneys representing Alston and the man. Zalkin described the religious organization as "more concerned about protecting its reputation than it is about protecting its children."
For example, Zalkin said the seven men who make up the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Governing Body have a policy requiring a confession from the perpetrator or two eyewitnesses to the abuse before leaders will take any action.
“Even if they do disfellowship a perpetrator, they don’t tell the congregation why,” Zalkin said during a news conference Monday in Portland. “No one but the elders can ever know that there is a child predator lurking in that congregation.”
Zalkin said Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders don’t call police. Rather, Zalkin said, they take the position that although Oregon law defines clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse, they don’t need to report the abuse because it was a privileged religious communication.....
See Haunting Photos of the Sites of Child Abuse
The very ordinariness of both the context and the location of child abuse in Ireland struck photographer Kim Haughton as profoundly disturbing.
In a damning 2009 report, Ireland’s independently-run Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse – which spent nine years investigating thousands of allegations of abuse at religious-run institutions – spoke of a culture of “endemic sexual abuse” in the country’s Catholic boys’ schools and of the “deferential and submissive attitude” of the Irish state towards the religious orders who ran them.
What emerged from the investigation, and from a separate Dublin-specific inquiry concluded the same year, was that institutional child abuse was widespread and that it had occurred not only in schools, but in many places where young people were in the care of religious orders. The commissions also revealed that very often when children reported the abuse, they were largely ignored and even punished, with many of the adult perpetrators being relocated to new parishes by church officials. The state, too, had willfully turned a blind eye....