JEHOVAH'S WITNESS LAWYERS
Houston Jehovah's Witness Abuse Lawyer
It is a sad reality that some of the people you put the most trust in would take advantage of that sense of trust. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen recently, this is very often the case. Allegations of abuse within religious sects have been growing in number over the past few decades. One of these religions is that of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you or a loved one has been victim to abuse by a member or leader in the Jehovah’s Witness religion, you have a right to make your voice heard and receive compensation for your trauma. Our Houston Jehovah witness lawyers at Reich & Binstock can help you do that. Contact us today at 713-622-7271 or via our online intake form.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse occurs when offenders use force, threaten victims, or take advantage of victims who are unable to give permission. The majority of victims and offenders are familiar with each other. Shock, anxiety, and denial are common first reactions to sexual abuse. Anxiety, terror, and post-traumatic stress disorder are examples of long-term symptoms. While efforts to rehabilitate sex offenders have shown to be ineffective, psychological therapies for survivors, particularly group therapy, have shown to be helpful.
What Are the Four Types of Abuse?
In Texas today, 184 children will be abused. In Texas alone, almost 65,000 incidents of abuse and neglect were confirmed last year. One in every four girls and one in every six boys are sexually assaulted before they turn eighteen. Below, we list the four major forms of childhood abuse. Physical abuse, mental abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse are the four primary kinds of child abuse.
- Neglect includes insufficient health care, education, supervision, environmental protection, and unmet basic necessities such as clothes and food. It is the most common form of child abuse.
- Physical abuse includes actions such as beating, biting, shaking, or burning the child. The line between physical discipline and abuse is blurry. Rib fractures are the most prevalent finding in those who have been physically abused.
- Psychological abuse includes humiliation, scaring or terrorizing the child, verbally abusing them, and more. These acts may lead to future psychological illnesses in the child.
- Sexual abuse includes a broad range of actions. Generally, sexual abuse in children does not necessarily need to involve sexual contact with the child. It also involves exposing a child to explicit material.
What to Do if You Suspect Sexual Abuse
If you suspect a kid is being abused, you may be unsure of what to do or how to respond. Sexual abuse of children is a crime that frequently goes unnoticed. You have the power to make a good influence in this child’s life, regardless of your function as a parent or other family member, coach, teacher, religious leader, or babysitter. Below, we list the steps of how to respond to suspicions of child sexual abuse.
- Know the signs. The warning symptoms of child sexual abuse are not always evident, and understanding them might save a kid’s life. You may observe behavioral or physical changes in a kid that indicate that he or she is being mistreated.
- Speak with the victim. Keep in mind that you should create as non-threatening an environment as possible.
- Report your suspicions. Reporting a crime such as sexual abuse may be difficult and emotionally taxing. Keep in mind that reporting abuse allows you to help someone who is unable to protect themselves. You may be legally required to report suspicions of abuse depending on where you reside and your position in the child’s life.
Jehovah’s Witness Sexual Assault Allegations
Claims have recently surfaced accusing Jehovah’s Witnesses of concealing years of sexual abuse allegations inside their community. Elders in the church allegedly told other leaders not to disclose allegations of sexual assault to police so that the church could handle the situation internally. According to the recent revelations, the church kept a roster of sexual offenders in the congregation for decades, following numerous individuals.
Victims of sexual assault inside the Jehovah’s Witness religion are now coming forward in the aftermath of the controversy to demand justice from their abusers and the organization for allowing the abuse to continue unchecked. The church may have enabled numerous sexual predators to continue to harm more victims by neglecting to disclose these sexual abuse claims, even going so far as to suppress repeat reports.
What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a subset of Christianity with nearly 9 million members. They receive their teachings from a publication known as The Watchtower. Though Jehovah’s Witnesses are said to be a sect of Christianity, they do not share many of the same beliefs. Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe that the Bible is, for the most part, accurate. However, they also believe that a lot of parts of the Bible are simply metaphorical.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in Hell, but they believe in Satan and claim he is currently in control of the current world. They also do not believe in the Trinity – that is, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Also, according to their religion, only 144,000 anointed people will go to Heaven in the End Times to rule alongside Jesus Christ.
Is There a History of Jehovah’s Witness Sexual Abuse?
Similar to many other denominations and religions, a growing number of abuse allegations has come forward in the Jehovah’s Witness religion. It is just one religious organization of thousands where claims of sexual abuse and enabling of abuse have come forward.
Cases of abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses date back decades, with many victims claiming they were sexually molested by elders of the church. Some victims were just toddlers when the abuse started.
Like with many other religions, members of the sect are taught to respect their leaders and officials as the highest earthly authority. For some, this puts church leaders ahead of even police and politicians. Jehovah’s Witnesses possess a strong authoritarian culture and teach unflinching obedience towards their leaders. Because of this, many participants of the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that their officials truly are of the highest authority and that if they cannot remedy their situation, no one can. This is why, after confiding in these leaders and reporting their assaults with no avail, victims of abuse generally have no other way to stand up for themselves.
Why Do Religions, Like Jehovah’s Witness, Cover Up Sexual Abuse?
Many of these cases didn’t go unreported. Accounts tell of survivors confiding in trusted church leaders about their assaults, but instead of protecting its members, the leaders chose to protect the reputation of the church and its elders.
The organization that oversees the religion, the Watchtower, has a policy that dictates when abuse is reported to an elder of the church, no further action should be taken unless there were at least two witnesses to the assault. This essentially eliminates most cases, as molesters and abusers never willingly act in the company of others. The Jehovah’s Witness headquarters has paid millions of dollars to keep countless numbers of reported scandals quiet.
Is There a Database of Jehovah’s Witness Child Sex Abuse?
The Watchtower may have unintentionally created what might be the world’s largest database of undocumented child molesters. In 1997, they sent a letter to each worldwide Jehovah’s Witness congregation addressing the legal risk they faced with having reports of child molestation come forward.
In the letter were instructions on how to deal with child predators within the church. It instructed congregations to write a detailed report answering questions such as “Was this a one time occurrence, or did the accused have a history of molestation?” and “Does anyone else know about the abuse?” Once the report was written, the congregation was to mail it to the Watchtower’s headquarters and keep a sealed copy in their own confidential file.
Now, at least two decades’ worth of names, addresses, and details of abuse (likely reaching the tens of thousands) has been documented by the Jehovah’s Witness headquarters. However, despite having multiple court orders demanding the release of the information, the Watchtower refuses to comply in handing over this data.
What Is the Two-Witness Rule?
According to the two-witness rule that Jehovah’s Witnesses adhere to, if two witnesses did not see the crime in question, they simply do nothing. Therefore, unless they have either a confession or two witnesses to the crime, they do not take action against the accused member. This two-witness rule is based in their scripture, specifically in Deuteronomy 19:15. This passage states, “No single witness can convict another for any error or any sin that he may commit. On the testimony of two witnesses, or on the testimony of three witnesses, the matter should be established.”
When a Jehovah’s Witness commits a major offense, such as child abuse, local figureheads might convene a judicial committee to decide whether the perpetrator should be excommunicated. The elders, however, are ordered to leave the case to God’s judgment in the absence of a confession or the evidence of two witnesses to verify the charges.
Prosecutors faced with persuading juries that a crime happened based only on a minor’s accusations may find the absence of eyewitnesses in most child sexual abuse cases frustrating. Nonetheless, similar cases are filed in courts all throughout the country every day, and they frequently end in guilty pleas or convictions. The bar of evidence is so high among Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations that certain charges are disregarded even when local authorities believe they are legitimate.
Legal Options for Victims of Jehovah’s Witness Sexual Abuse
Sexual assault is a heinous crime, and if convicted, perpetrators might face a lengthy jail sentence. Victims and their families may have the legal right to sue for financial damages in civil court, both against the offender and any institution (including religious groups) that was negligent in enabling the abuse to occur.
Despite the missionary Christian congregation’s tradition of secrecy, worshippers who refuse to stay quiet and expose abuse have often seen justice delivered, at least in part.
Despite this, sexual assault victims of Jehovah’s Witnesses encounter a number of obstacles in their quest for justice and recompense. The first obstacle may be a contradiction within their beliefs, which instructs them to distrust authority while yet maintaining discipline inside Jehovah’s congregation.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Jehovah’s Witness Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
In civil court, there is a statute of limitations for recovering compensation for sexual abuse. Many sexual assault victims were minors at the time, and they had no recourse if their parents refused to report the abuse.
Children cannot file accusations or claims against their offenders if they do not report it as adults within the time limit allowed by law. As a result, many victims have suffered in secret for decades, only to realize too late that they should have reported their abuse.
In Texas, the time period during which a sex offense can be prosecuted before a court might be as long as 20 years after the alleged incident. Depending on the sex offense, there may be no time restriction at all for prosecution.
Furthermore, there is no statute of limitations in Texas for sexual assault or indecency with a minor. You can be prosecuted for such offenses at any time after the claimed incident, regardless of how long it has been since it occurred.
What Compensation Is Available for Victims of Jehovah’s Witness Sexual Abuse?
In civil court, a victim of sexual abuse can file a claim for compensation. Victims have received millions of dollars in compensation from the organization with which the offender was connected in some circumstances.
In many cases, victims receive the following types of compensation.
- Therapy or counseling costs
- Medical care
- Lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment or loss of consortium
Contact the Jehovah Witness Lawyers at Reich & Binstock
If you or someone you love has been a victim of abuse by a member or leader of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion, you may be entitled to receive compensation as well as punitive damages from your abuser. Our Jehovah witness lawyers at Reich & Binstock understand how serious of a situation this is and how traumatic it can be to come forward. We will walk you through the legal process and help you in every step of the way while we work to efficiently resolve your case. Call our Houston office at 713-622-7271 or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation now.
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.