The Jehovah’s Witnesses are the latest organization to be implicated in the sexual abuse of children, and what we are learning is not good. According to a new documentary released by Oxygen, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have allegedly covered up countless allegations of sexual abuse of minors. This is unacceptable, and the team at Soloff & Zervanos, P.C. is here to help victims, having represented numerous child sexual abuse survivors within the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
What is being revealed in this documentary?
Oxygen has released a two-part documentary, The Witnesses, which compiles five years of reporting from the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Trey Bundy. Bundy interviewed Soloff & Zervanos attorney Jeffrey Fritz for the documentary and survivors of sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The investigation has revealed an extensive effort from within the Jehovah’s Witness organization to cover up all allegations of sexual abuse perpetrated within the organization. The investigation states that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the Witnesses’ nonprofit oversight wing, has been collecting data from its American congregations about child sexual abuse. Included in the information they gather about sexual abuse is:
- The type of abuse that occurs
- The frequency of abuse
- Personal information of the perpetrators
- How the victim and perpetrator were perceived within the congregation
- Whether they had “lived down any notoriety in the community”
- How many people knew about the abuse
Specifically, elders in congregations were told not to report the allegations or known instances of abuse to law enforcement authorities or their congregations at-large.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses may have been collecting sexual abuse reports from as far back as 1989, and none of their internal documents have instructed that police become involved. As recently as 2014, the organization stressed that these allegations or known instances of abuse should be kept completely confidential.
We need to be very clear about what the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been working to cover up – known instances of children being sexually abused by other members, including clergy, within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization. Many current and former members of the Witnesses have said that they were threatened with disfellowshipping (ex-communication) if they spoke up about child abuse. This would result in them being shunned by other Witnesses, including their family, friends, and employers.
Victims of sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses deserve to be heard, and they deserve to be compensated for what happened to them.
We are helping Jehovah’s Witness victims secure compensation for what happened
If you or someone you love has been a victim of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, you need to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., our Philadelphia child sexual abuse attorneys are ready to help victims recover the compensation they are entitled to. This can include:
- Pain and suffering damages
- Compensation for counseling
- Punitive damages against the perpetrator(s) of the abuse
- The person who abused you
- Institutions they worked for
- Institutions that covered up the abuse