In 2015, there was a trial of sorts called to address the concerns of the Australian Government about how Jehovah’s Witnesses were handling CSA cases as a matter of policy. They managed to compel one of the governing body members, the highest position of authority in the JW organization, to testify before them. Jeffrey Jackson is one of 7 (at the time) governing body members and he spoke for the organization. The Australian Royal Commission had a lot of really good questions for Jackson and they had a lot of insider knowledge that isn’t released to the public. I’m not sure how they got their hands on this knowledge but I was deeply impressed with the questions they were able to ask because of it.
Jackson starts off by swearing an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on a copy of his own New World Translation of The Bible. Before Jehovah God he swears that. Then he begins answering some set up questions about the structure of Jehovah’s Witnesses and how they operate. He starts lying almost immediately. As soon as it would be more convenient if his words didn’t match reality, his words stop matching reality. I’d like to know how anyone who truly believes in a God could break an oath sworn to it. His justification is certainly- all is fair in the interest of spreading his religion. How very convenient for him that “God” always agrees with whatever Jeffrey’s opinion is.
Eventually they move on to the crux of the matter. Child mistreatment and how those cases are addressed and reported. In the case of JWs- they aren’t reported at all. The policy was that you needed 2 witnesses to any “sin” or it didn’t happen. A policy predators were very familiar with. If a target of theirs spoke up (already a rare and difficult thing for a child to do in that situation) they simply moved to a new congregation and started over. The old congregation couldn’t tell the new one any complaints had been made because there weren’t 2 complaintents, and they wouldn’t want to risk the good reputation of humans trash on the word of a single child.
Even more disturbing than what happened after an accusation was made is HOW an accusation had to be made. The child, who is traumatized and likely has been threatened and shamed, must sit in a room with the person who caused that harm and 3 other full grown men and accuse him to his face before all of them. The same was true of women. If a woman was violated she had to confront her violator in that same room of adult men. If they didn’t, or more likely couldn’t, then the accusation wasn’t treated as real. It was thrown out and ignored completely.
Police were never involved in any step. Counselors were never involved. The elders (the 3 grown men I mentioned before) in any given congregation were encouraged to block any kind of investigation and go to jail for perjury before giving up the information to help a child get some justice. That rule was changed after a few years. Elders didn’t have to keep their silence if it meant jail time, but no other changes were made. There were no protections put in place, no lessening of the 2 witness rule, no increase in supervision when an adult was left with a child, no note about contacting the police immediately or at all, absolutely nothing.