Children Who Were Abused By Jehovah’s Witness Clergy Have Legal Rights
Individuals across the nation are reporting in record numbers that, as children, they were molested by clergy members. Investigations into these allegations reveal that thousands of children were and continue to be sexually abused by Catholic priests, Jewish Rabbis, Mormon Pastors, and other religious figures. Similarly, within the Jehovah’s Witness Community and the Watchtower organization, people are beginning to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse and secrecy.
Experiencing sexual abuse as a child often leads to a lifetime of struggle. When a victim is abused by a trusted member of the Jehovah’s Witness community, religious teacher or church leader, the silence, shame, and feelings of betrayal can lead to lasting depression, anxiety, and anger. The emotional trauma clergy sex abuse can cause, may be exacerbated by the reaction of the church and religious community.
If you or someone you love was sexually abused by a member of the Jehovah’s Witness church or organization, consider learning about your legal rights. Filing a claim against your abuser or the institution that concealed the abuse may be the best way to begin the healing process. Holding your abusers accountable for their actions may result in financial and emotional rewards that can help you start your recovery. For more information about your legal rights when a member of the clergy has sexually abused you, call Alonso Krangle at 516-350-5555.
Jehovah’s Witness Allegedly “Cover Up” Sexual Abuse By Members
There have been several lawsuits filed against the Jehovah’s Witness organization. One recent case, in particular, highlighted what is believed to be a wide-scale cover-up of sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness community and the Watchtower organization. A jury in Montana awarded a woman $35 million, believing her allegations that the Jehovah’s Witness church spent years hiding her abuse.
Like members of other religions, particularly Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to keep to themselves. The religion appears to isolate its members from the general public, collecting them into a tight-knit, secretive group. The church is central to the life of a Jehovah’s Witness child, its rules guide their actions, and its members are like family. To report being sexually abused by a member of the congregation takes tremendous courage and requires a witness to corroborate allegations before the church Elders will investigate the situation. This is the “two witness rule.” If the accusation is deemed “unfounded” the victim may be shunned or removed from the congregation. Even if the accusation is substantiated, there is usually no further action.
Allegedly, Elders in the Jehovah’s Witness church have taken active steps to discourage victims of sexual abuse from coming forward while simultaneously allowing those accused to remain active members of their congregations. Protecting the Jehovah’s Witness’s public reputation seems to be more important than protecting the children being sexually abused by its Elders.
Sexual Abuse By Jehovah’s Witness Elders Occurs In Various Ways
Most child victims of sexual abuse know their abuser. Religious Elders have ample opportunity to develop relationships of trust with their victims. Jehovah’s Witnesses are a tight-knit community. They worship, plan social events, learn, and deliver their messages together. When the church is the center of a child’s life, and sexual abuse occurs, it is confusing, shameful, and frightening.
Sexual abuse by a Jehovah’s Witness Elder might include:
- Groping a child or requesting he or she grope you
- Touching a child or asking he or she grope you
- Fondling a child or asking he or she grope you
- Taking indecent photos, videos
- Requesting inappropriate images or videos
- Showing inappropriate materials, pictures or videos
- Sexually charged talk
If you have experienced any of these events as a child, you have legal rights. Contact our clergy sexual abuse lawyer today and find out whether you can seek justice in a court of law.
Child Victims Act Helps Sexual Abuse Victims Pursue Legal Remedies
Filing a lawsuit against clergy members who commit sexual abuse and the churches who protect them is one way that victims can seek closure. Facing your abuser in court or receiving a monetary award may not change what happened, but it can help with your healing process. Accountability is something that victims of sexual abuse crave and deserve. Filing a lawsuit is one way to achieve that.
It can take decades for a child to find the courage to come forward with allegations against a church Elder or other clergy member who hurt them. It is often well into adulthood that victims of sexual abuse can begin to understand they were abused. Thankfully, New York legislators recognize this and have passed an appropriate law. The Child Victims Act gives individuals who were sexually abused as children, many years to come forward with their allegations. Child sexual abuse victims have until the age of 55 to file a civil suit against their abuser. They can seek criminal charges until the age of 28. With these changes, more victims can find the justice they deserve.
Our clergy sexual abuse lawyer Alonso Krangle understands the workings of the Jehovah’s Witness and Watchtower organizations and can help guide you through the civil suit process. If you were sexually abused by an Elder or any other member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, call us today for a free case evaluation. You can reach us at 516-350-5555. Don’t wait. Start your recovery today by finding out more about your legal rights.