MI5 accused of covering up sexual abuse at boys’ home
Court case to address alleged cover-up of British state involvement at the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland
Vikram Dodd and Richard Norton-Taylor
Sunday 15 February 2015
MI5 is facing allegations it was complicit in the sexual abuse of children, the high court in Northern Ireland will hear on Tuesday.
Victims of the abuse are taking legal action to force a full independent inquiry with the power to compel witnesses to testify and the security service to hand over documents.
The case, in Belfast, is the first in court over the alleged cover-up of British state involvement at the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. It is also the first of the recent sex abuse cases allegedly tying in the British state directly. Victims allege that the cover-up over Kincora has lasted decades....
Amnesty International branded Kincora “one of the biggest scandals of our age” and backed the victims’ calls for an inquiry with full powers: “There are longstanding claims that MI5 blocked one or more police investigations into Kincora in the 1970s in order to protect its own intelligence-gathering operation, a terrible indictment which raises the spectre of countless vulnerable boys having faced further years of brutal abuse....
Children are alleged to have suffered sustained sexual abuse after being taken from the east Belfast children’s home, run by a member of a Protestant paramilitary organisation, to be offered to men.
Lawyers for the victims will argue in court that “there is credible evidence (and it is therefore arguable) that the security forces and security services were aware of the abuse, permitted it to continue and colluded in protecting the individuals involved from investigation or prosecution”, according to papers lodged with the Belfast high court....
Three men were jailed for their part in abuse at Kincora in 1981, but attempts to establish the truth about British state involvement have been blocked. It has persistently been alleged that William McGrath, Kincora’s housemaster and the leader of an extreme evangelical Protestant group called Tara, was an informant for British intelligence. McGrath was jailed for sexual offences in 1981 and is now dead.
There have been limited inquiries into Kincora, but officers of the former Royal Ulster Constabulary, army intelligence officers, a former Northern Ireland ombudsman, and the judges conducting those earlier inquiries all said the truth about what went on there – and why it was allowed to continue for so many years – had been suppressed.
RUC officers were repeatedly refused permission in the 1980s to interview a senior MI5 official about the affair....
Did leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses cover up child sex abuse
February 16, 2015
In San Francisco, a woman is suing the Jehovah's Witnesses for failing to protect her from a known child abuser when she was a child. The Center for Investigative Reporting has shed light on accusations that religious leaders led a cover-up of child sex abuse. Special correspondent Trey Bundy of the CIR’s Reveal reports on how the organization is using the first amendment to fight these charges.
GWEN IFILL: Next: an investigation into child sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witness and accusations that religious leaders led a cover-up within inside some of the group’s 14,000 U.S. congregations....
TREY BUNDY: The case hinges on letters from Jehovah’s Witness leaders to the heads of local congregations. For almost 20 years, they have ordered them to send reports like this one for every known child abuser, to hide these cases from their congregations, and not to cooperate with law enforcement or the courts, unless instructed to.
They have refused judges’ orders to turn over these abuse reports, so no one knows how many cases like Conti’s are out there.
JAMES MCCABE, Jehovah’s Witnesses lawyer: Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse of any form.
TREY BUNDY: The Jehovah’s Witnesses insist that they comply with the law. And their lawyers argue that the First Amendment gives them the right to set child abuse policies as they see fit....
TREY BUNDY: Clarke never called the police. He followed Watchtower protocol. He wrote to New York headquarters, asking how to deal with Kendrick’s confession. They told him not to investigate the matter further.
Instead they said, “Provide him with strong scriptural counsel to avoid a repetition of such a serious offense.”
MICHAEL CLARKE: We don’t make that public to the congregation. It’s confidential.
TREY BUNDY: The elders didn’t warn other members that one of their own was a child abuser.
MAN: And that’s the policy and the practice of Jehovah’s Witnesses that you learned as an elder, correct?
MICHAEL CLARKE: Yes.
TREY BUNDY: Clarke says the elders told Kendrick not to be alone with children. But he was still allowed to join in congregation activities that included minors. A year later, one of those minors was Candace Conti....
TREY BUNDY: When Kendrick moved to the Oakley congregation, no one was told he was a child molester, not even Roger Bentley, who served as an elder there for 30 years. He reviewed this letter of introduction from Kendrick’s old congregation.
ROGER BENTLEY, Former Elder, Oakley Congregation: There’s no indication at all that he’s guilty of child abuse.
TREY BUNDY: So no mention of child abuse, but any mention of children?
ROGER BENTLEY: Well, if you read it, it very specifically says he’s a very interesting individual who has taken the lead with some young ones in the congregation and helped them from veering off course....
TREY BUNDY: The courts continue to grapple with the question: Should freedom of religion outweigh the responsibility to protect children?
In Candace Conti’s case, the jury overrode the First Amendment claims and decided the Watchtower and the North Fremont congregation were negligent and didn’t adequately protect her from abuse.
Kendrick maintains he never molested her. Pending appeal, she was awarded more than $15 million in compensation and damages. It’s the first time a jury has ordered the Watchtower to pay for its child abuse policies.
But for Kendrick’s other victim, her case against the Watchtower was thrown out. Even though Kendrick confessed to the abuse in this deposition and served about eight months in jail, the judge affirmed that the Watchtower’s policies were protected by the First Amendment. It wasn’t liable because the abuse occurred at home and not in the course of religious activity. The Watchtower had no obligation to warn the family about Kendrick’s past.
Kendrick is now free and still an active member of the Oakley congregation....