The Church and Child Abuse

We are all familiar with the odious stories of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and the trail of damaged lives as a result of sex crimes that were ignored or covered up. However, the Catholic faith is not alone in facing the legal consequences of their leaders’ actions.

This week in Oakland California a jury ruled that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the organization that oversees the Jehovah’s Witnesses, must pay more than $20 million to 26-year-old Candace Conti, who was sexually assaulted by a church member, not a leader or an elder, when she was nine years old and attending the North Fremont Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The core of the case against the church was church policy enacted in 1989 that instructed church leaders to keep child abuse accusations secret. The tragically flawed policy meant that while the church leaders were aware of Ms. Conti’s allegations, they took no steps to confront her offender or protect her or other children from his criminal behavior. As well, the jury heard that sex offender, Jonathan Kendrick, had a year earlier been convicted of misdemeanor child molestation and nothing was done to ensure that he did not victimize children in the North Fremont congregation.

The Church’s policy only came to light as a result of Ms. Conti’s lawsuit and the disclosure requirements of a civil lawsuit.

The attorney for the Church advised the media the verdict would be appealed and that the notion that a rank-and-file member of a church, not a leader or elder, could be the cause for an enormous compensatory award was inappropriate.

Ms. Conti’s lawyer said that the verdict is the largest ever ordered for a victim of sexual abuse involving a religious institution.

Sex offender Jonathan Kendrick was also convicted in 2004 of molesting another girl. He has not yet been charged criminally for his assaults of Ms. Conti.

It is outrageous that the church, a sanctuary of peace and hope, can be allowed to operate as a haven for the sexually depraved. This case sends a strong message to churches and other faith ministries that children must come first and that sexual deviants must be exposed for who they are, no matter the position they hold.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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6 thoughts on “The Church and Child Abuse

  1. One does not have to research very far to discover from the evidence of hundreds of former JWs, that this predatory organization has nothing to do with real Christianity. Additionally, most mainline Christian authorities and acadmics clearly label the JWs as a cult, which has all the social dangers that are typiclay ascribed to a religious cult, that include social manipulation, mind control, and inappropriate interpersonal power relationships. Exploitive allegiances and multilayered levels of secrecy apparently for the benefit of the central controlling few, are all typical of JWs. There is no social redeeming value to this organization. Despite its wide negative exposure for what it really is, and the many persecutions and prosecutions against it down through the years, has remained like a serious infection in society that apparently cannot be extinguished. The organization has left a trail of thousands of victims, who seriously suffer emotional and psychiatric disorders attributed to their involvement in this cult. Control of money of its members is also significant.

  2. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a policy within their religion that protects pedophiles.

    The official policy is that the elders of the “Church” are supposed to handle the matter internally, without contacting the police. They do this so that shame will not be brought on the religion.

    It’s important that they keep a squeaky clean image to the public. Remember they believe they are the only “True” religion and all other Christian Churches are under the control of Satan. JW’s are not supposed to sue other JW’s or involve the police or courts.

    They believe these are Satan’s organizations and any crime by a JW should be dealt with internally.The elders will contact the police ONLY if they’re forced to by state law. Otherwise they are forced to follow official policy from headquarters. Some states require that “priests” or “pastors” report child abuse to the authorities. If they are not forced to report them than they cover it up.
    You might actually get a unreported pedophile knocking on your door next time they show up peddling pamphlets and selling “Eternal Life”.

    Danny Haszard *tell the truth don’t be afraid*

  3. This case has many holes & it has been appealed. I doubt Ms. Conti will see any $$ from the WTBS. (Q: Why didn’t Ms. Conti’s parents go to the police when this happened?)

  4. Thanks for the great post. It reminds me that i have to bring more structure into my blogging. Your blog is very interesting.

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