Fear and Lack of Evidence Hold Abuse Victims From Filing Lawsuits Against the Jehovah’s Witnesses
As states across the country begin to change laws preventing sexual abuse survivors from seeking justice for their abuse, experts anticipate thousands of child sex abuse victims will come forward soon to file lawsuits against alleged abusers. On the opening day of the Child Victims Act, hundreds of New Yorkers filed lawsuits against alleged abusers across the state. These survivors named institutions including the Boy Scouts of America, private schools, and the Catholic Church as responsible parties for hiding sexual predators within their walls and failing to protect children from molestation.
While increasing numbers of survivors step forward to pursue justice, reports indicate sexual abuse victims within the Jehovah’s Witnesses may struggle to come forward, no matter how much they want justice. Through a series of interviews, VICE discovered many Jehovah’s Witness abuse victims may not file claims out of fear of being ostracized by their congregation and not having enough evidence to support a claim.
Former Jehovah’s Witnesses recounted how sexual abuse claims within the Jehovah’s Witnesses either get dismissed for a lack of witnesses to the abuse or secretly swept under the rug through private reports to the Watchtower Society, the parent company of Jehovah’s Witness congregations. Allegedly, Jehovah’s Witness elders are instructed to report sexual abuse claims directly to the New York-based corporation and not local authorities to preserve the face of the religion.
“They understand themselves to be God’s organization on earth, so they call themselves a theocracy,” said Mathew Schmalz, a professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. “After all, if this is God’s organization, they shouldn’t be doing bad things.” Schmalz indicates that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ leadership focuses on protecting the reputation of the organization through strict abuse reporting rules, rules that prevent many abuse victims from being heard and helped.
To read VICE’s full investigation, click here.
Jehovah’s Witness Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
If you or a loved one was abused by a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, you are not alone. While your congregation may have dismissed your claims, we will not. We value your voice and want to be your advocate during this difficult time.
Many states across the U.S. have changed their statutes of limitations on sexual abuse to allow more time for survivors to come forward. These changes may give you a second chance to come forward, call out your abuser, and protect future children within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. To learn more about your legal options, call us today at 1.866.428.2529. Our representatives are available 24/7 to answer your questions and assist your case needs. We work hard to ensure any information you share with us is kept confidential.