Candace Conti speaking at a news conference in 2013
Candace Conti speaking at a news conference in 2013

In June 2012 the online community of free-thinking current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses was rocked by the news of a multimillion dollar verdict against Watchtower in a case regarding the mishandling of child sex abuse.

News of the development spread quickly, with several newspapers in the United States, the UK and Canada providing coverage of the verdict.

The plaintiff Candace Conti, who has repeatedly insisted that she pursued the judgment without any consideration for accepting a lucrative settlement, was awarded $28 million in damages (later reduced on appeal to around $11 million).

It took six days following the verdict for Watchtower to issue a brief statement on its website (then “jwmedia.org”) by way of acknowledgment. The statement, which has since been pulled from the internet entirely in the wake of JW.org being launched, quoted Watchtower attorney James McCabe as saying: “We respectfully disagree with the jury’s decision. This is the first time that an organization was found responsible for the alleged misdeeds of a member who held no position of leadership or authority.”

Author Scott Terry, a friend of the Contis, was in court to hear Watchtower's oral argument
Author Scott Terry, a friend of the Contis, was in court to hear Watchtower’s oral argument

“We are very sorry for whatever harm this young lady may have suffered,” continued McCabe. “However, the organization is not responsible. We now look to the Court of Appeals for a thorough review of this case.”

It has taken more than two years of legal wrangling and procrastination (during which time Patterson was offered as surety by Watchtower in an attempt to defray its legal expenses), but Watchtower’s lawyers finally arrived at the Supreme Court of California in San Francisco on Wednesday, January 14 to present the oral argument for their appeal.

Scott Terry, author of Cowboys, Armageddon and The Truth (and a personal friend of Candace Conti and her mother Kathleen) was in court to show his support for Candace. He wrote about his experience on Facebook. (To read the full text, click here.)

“John Williams, Counsel for the WBTS, spoke first,” wrote Terry. “He really only had two points to make, which is that it could not be proven that any elders in the Fremont congregation had specifically assigned children to go out in public field service (door to door preaching, for those unfamiliar with the term) with a known child molester. His second point was that even though Conti had been put in danger by pairing her with someone who the congregation’s elders knew to be a predator, the WBTS should not be held liable for events that happened within a congregation.”

Terry goes on to describe how John Williams was followed by a “Brother McCabe” of the Fremont congregation (one assumes the same McCabe who was quoted on JWmedia.org), who addressed the judge by essentially repeating the same arguments put forward by Williams. McCabe even, we are told, quoted scriptures in the courtroom in an effort to drive home his point.

“In response, one judge read a piece of court testimony from a witness that the WBTS had previously called to their defense,” reports Terry. “That testimony, from a fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses, contradicted McCabe and Williams’ statements. Field service assignments are often determined by elders, the evidence showed.”

Candace graduated as a Veterinary Technician in the summer of 2014
Candace graduated as a Veterinary Technician in the summer of 2014

Rick Simons, attorney to Candace Conti (who was interviewed together with Candace by readers of JWsurvey not so long ago), then gave a response to the oral arguments that was described by Terry as “brief, but effective.”

“Brother McCabe from the Fremont congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses was not someone I found believable,” wrote Terry, in summary. “In my opinion, the court did not find him believable. They questioned him very specifically on certain statements, and even voiced frustration at his inability or refusal to answer their very pointed questions.”

It is now expected to take two to three weeks for the court to respond to Watchtower’s oral argument, during which time Candace, her fiance and her mother face an anxious wait to determine whether justice has been finally served.

But in the words of another of Candace’s supporters, activist Julia Douglas, “Whatever is ultimately decided, Candace Conti is a trailblazer and a hero for the XJW community… [Her] job is done. Anything more is only icing on the cake.”

 

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JWsurvey articles on Candace Conti (in date order)…

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59 thoughts on “Watchtower appears in court to give oral arguments in appeal against Candace Conti verdict

  • January 16, 2015 at 10:26 am
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    Hopefully this snowball will roll, and roll, until it smashes into the watchtower. I can hardly wait. Much much love goes out to the conti fam.

  • January 16, 2015 at 10:41 am
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    Espero que seja o principio do fim da torre de vigia

  • January 16, 2015 at 10:52 am
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    i live in San Francisco, just across the bridge from fremont where this happened and met Candace she is so sweet and has come a long way from sufferring of this abuse. i am a fader, and never believed any of these “false accussations” until i woke up and it just so happened that a case not far from where i live came out to the public and made the news. The organization’s policies permit these terrible things to occur and they must pay for it so that they learn from it and FIX their policies, i have met quite a few abuse victims some are still in the org. My gf was a victim as well by a current member in “good standing”. i hope the organization learns from this.

    CM

  • January 16, 2015 at 11:10 am
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    I await with interest how this appeal progresses.

    The WTBTS has already lost any semblance of decency by allowing a known paedophile to abuse an innocent child. We all know that, and the wider world knows it too.

    I have the deepest and sincerest respect for Candace and Kathleen Conti. Their dignified and brave refusal to accept the disgusting cover up of Candace’s abuse are an example to us all. We must never cower in the face of oppression.

    I hope that the court finds in the Conti’s favour. Even if it doesn’t, Candace and Kathleen have shown the world what the WTBTS is really like. They have inspired other victims to come forward and the WTBTS is truly scared of the consequences.

    Peace be with you, Excelsior!

  • January 16, 2015 at 11:20 am
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    Candace, from those of us whose stories may never see the light of day….thank you for being our voice and shining a light on watchtower’s cruel misapplication of scripture and the gb’s failure to watch over the lamb’s under their protection…choosing instead to protect pedophiles. They WILL have to answer to a higher authority than man…of that I am certain.

  • January 16, 2015 at 11:37 am
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    Saying the perpetrator held no position of authority is a lie.

    Every one who undergoes baptism they claim is an ordained
    minister, now under the direction of their organisation.
    And are often reminded of their obligations to said org,

    I think, ” Speaking with Forked Tongue” is the expression?

  • January 16, 2015 at 12:38 pm
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    Ted, good point. If an “ordained minister” doesn’t have any authority, then who does.

    I wonder if anyone testified about that. Of course there are court rules against “hearsay” testimony. Seems like you might need a recording of a talk, or words from a WT publication, to make the point.

    I’ve certainly heard it myself, many times, in talks.

  • January 16, 2015 at 12:55 pm
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    A teacher I know has reported that an elders child is not allowed to be in class when she teaches about the US Constitution and the military (in history class).

    Is this a new thing the JWs are doing? Why would the society not want children to learn they have rights?

  • January 16, 2015 at 1:15 pm
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    The lawyers that showed up for the Society are a disgusting lot for trying to shift the blame back onto the elders. Shame on them for not taking the blame! It was no different than what Adam did when he said it was the woman that made him eat the fruit.

  • January 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm
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    The claim that ELDERS do not assign people to work together in Field Service is a BIG FAT LIE! I was an Elder for over 12 years and we assigned people all the time. In fact it was taught to assign different publishers to work together so that they all can get to know each other better etc. There were always many showing up for FS without a partner and we would assign them one to work with. Time to Fess up WT. Show humility and Repent. Just like you want others to do.

  • January 16, 2015 at 3:47 pm
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    In my opinion the Watchtower is just a corporation disguised as a religion, and corporations are all about money money money, they have no empathy. It is disgusting that they would try to shift blame and not take responsibility for what has happened to innocent children within this religion. How is it possible that God could be directing this religion (corporation)?

  • January 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm
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    adding to my last comment. It’s not that I am leaving the elders off. I am angry the Society didn’t apologize to Ms. Conti and try to make it right with her instead of trying to lyingly weasel out of paying her for her pain and suffering but instead tried to pass the buck.

  • January 16, 2015 at 6:26 pm
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    I certainly look forward to reading the court’s response to Watchtower’s oral arguments. Hopefully, justice will be done.

    @Ted

    To add to your point about Jonathan Kendrick being an ordained minister, if I’m not mistaken, I believe he served as a ministerial servant (an assistant to the elders) in the North Fremont Congregation as well.

    Does anyone know exactly what scriptures were cited by James McCabe in his oral argument?

  • January 16, 2015 at 7:28 pm
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    Oh how open are they with the members. How about letting them know the secret out of court settlements that have been paid out.

  • January 16, 2015 at 7:53 pm
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    One only has to look at their history on child abuse, what of the little boy that was abused by a known child molester, being placed as a bible study conductor by the elders, and Brown has the hide to say they had no responsibility, they abhor child abuse, well the facts show different.

    The rules come down from the top, and the elders obey the GB, the flock obey the elders, so the buck stops at the GB.

    I hope that the public are not swayed by the WT excuses, if the molester is not a person in authority, then all sisters and children in the congregation should not look to brothers as being in subjection, they should not take any orders from males as they have NO authority. Why even a sister has to be in subjection to an underage boy in field service or taking prayers.

    Males take the field service group, males decide who studies with who, males TAKE THE LEAD, whether they are elders or not, so all males have some authority by gender and as ministers over others.

  • January 17, 2015 at 12:06 am
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    Forget about the day of abuse, no offence intended Candace, if they, the Elders and Watchtower Society, had warned members of the congregations prior to any any field service arrangement, meeting or social gathering the abuse would not have taken place. The Watchtower has , through their policies, placed children in danger, what kind of brother would do that?

  • January 17, 2015 at 12:09 am
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    The real question is, why do the Watchtower Society keep the identification of paedophiles confidential?

  • January 17, 2015 at 12:18 am
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    I have a daughter who was sexually assaulted by a Jehovah’s witness. I want to know why he was given anonymity in another congregation?

  • January 17, 2015 at 12:32 am
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    Your a Witness to YHWH?
    There’s not a Jehu among you. Your body of self serving cowards, spat.
    This is a war.

  • January 17, 2015 at 12:38 am
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    I don’t know if it is possible, but the court should require WT to put a banner on their website. Something visible and spelled by the court, not WT. At least unaware people looking at their stuff can be noticed.

  • January 17, 2015 at 3:20 am
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    When a case comes before the committee, only those men on the committee know who or what is all involved. Even the other elders aren’t privy to those meetings. An elder could have another person in their car group who has been accused of a crime and as long as it hasn’t been taken to the police, that elder could be in the dark just as much as the rest in the congregation. We just assume that the elders get together and they all know but they don’t. That is how much of a secret all this stuff is. That could be because the more that know about it, the more likely the gossip is likely to start. But the real reason is the society started all this secrecy stuff so they couldn’t get sued for defamation of character. That is why they just say now when a person gets disfellowshiped is “So and so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses”.

    Another reason is so that anybody in the congregation can no longer converse with that person and find out what happened.

    If they simply disassociated themselves, they can’t say like they did in the past “So and so has been disfellowshiped for unchristian conduct”. So, what would they say instead? “So and so disassociated themselves?”

    If they did that, people would be curious. Why did so and so disassociate themselves? Maybe they’d be curious enough to ask questions since that person didn’t do anything like what is described in the Bible to get disfellowshiped for.

    All Ms. Conti was asking for was for the Society to change it’s rules on secrecy to protect the children. That’s all she wanted and the Society flat out refused. That is why the jury awarded her so much but even with that award, the Society can’t change it’s rules on secrecy. They have far too much to lose if they change the rules because of the ruling on disfellowshipping because of disassociation.

  • January 17, 2015 at 3:33 am
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    “The toiling of the iron bell brings the faithful to their knees”, (time, pink Floyd). Welcome to Pavlov’s dog.

  • January 17, 2015 at 3:59 am
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    Wrapped around your finger (not) The police:, song.x

  • January 17, 2015 at 4:09 am
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    There’s Greek god’s mentioned in the song? Shock , horror, really;-)?

  • January 17, 2015 at 4:39 am
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    @ Anonymous. Your last comment shows SO MUCH Insight how the Disfellowshipping & Disassociation works to a tee.It should be public knowledge the Reason why & what the Sin is like the Apostle Paul announced WHAT the ACTUAL Sin was at 1Corinthians 5v1,2 .!! So why doesn’t the GB follow the BIBLE???

  • January 17, 2015 at 5:12 am
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    @gary can’t see how some of your comments add to the discussion,please could you make them case specific or desist.
    Respectfully

  • January 17, 2015 at 5:24 am
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    These got wrenching events have only just come to my notice. I walked away 20 years ago having served for decades as an elder. To my shame I now realise that I, as part of a commitee, released a self confessed paedophile and then a wife beater into the JW/general community free to carry on if they wished. Why? Because they claimed that they were repentant and could demonstrate it. That was not in our remit. We should have marched them to the Police Station up the road.

  • January 17, 2015 at 6:16 am
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    Seasick Steve, second one down, YouTube.
    Treasures.

  • January 17, 2015 at 7:19 am
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    In my experience, not all elders are discreet , their wives get to know
    what’s gone on in the committee room. This gives his family the
    advantage of foreknowledge regarding a member accused of a sexual
    offence but where the 2 witness rule left the case un proven, but why
    should not the rest of the congregation have the protection of
    such knowledge.

    The obvious and lawful thing for “Shepherds” charged with protecting
    the flock todo ( Using their terminology) is in cases of rape and
    Paedophilia, to inform the police immediately and not their masters
    in Brooklyn, whose only concern is, damage limitation.

  • January 17, 2015 at 8:45 am
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    the WT will lie through their teeth to save money, they are a business period and don’t give a hoot about the abused, seriously they are phonies.

  • January 17, 2015 at 9:36 am
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    First @ Ted as an ex elders daughter and subsequently ex elders wife – we knew EVERYTHING ! ALL THE TIME !
    Not to cheapen the issue here , does anyone know where Patterson, NY is ? Even though all the donations received thru the congregations went to fund the Patterson complex , it in no way compares to the value Brooklyn Bethel would bring if offered as a surety. Brooklyn Bethel overlooks Manhattan , the great city skyline of New York. Try to buy or rent anything in the Dumbo area (down under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges) So… if so confident in the appeal , why not Brooklyn?

  • January 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm
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    Ted, it may be obvious, but not necessarily lawful.

    Catholics have the option of confessing anonymously, here their face can’t be seen. That gives the priest a shield from the law.

    • January 18, 2015 at 6:36 am
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      But the priest can and will deny them absolution if they don’t follow through and confess to the proper
      authorities.

  • January 17, 2015 at 12:33 pm
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    @ da’

    I’ve known some elders who can keep secrets to themselves. But as you say, not all do.

    I’ve also known elders who are manipulative, using their position and knowledge of the flock for personal gain. But what else should we expect. As the leadership is, the followers comply. An organization led by hypocrites will attract and retain many of their ilk.

    Of course not all JWs are hypocrites. The slick WT sales pitch is insidious, and deceives many people.

  • January 17, 2015 at 5:07 pm
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    It is ironic that one of the key reasons elders hide so many problems in their congregations from the general public (as well as from each other) is to avoid “bringing reproach on Jehovah’s name.” This is of course a tactic learned from the mother-ship; these elders obviously don’t all handle these things in the same way world-wide by accident. It’s ironic because their behavior only AMPLIFIES the reproach they bring on the God they worship. This becomes obvious from a case like this, when their policy fails and comes crashing down on their heads.

    The multimillion dollar question really isn’t about a money settlement. It’s about whether or not God really finds their craven behavior acceptable. There are higher courts than the ones they are arguing at today that they should worry about.

  • January 17, 2015 at 7:20 pm
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    A pedophile who isn’t mentally certifiably insane (can’t control behavior even in public) knows how to groom their victims way in advance of the actual act. They know how to manipulate the family and the congregation as well as the elders. These people will become close friends with the family of the victim and will be inviting the elders and families over for fun and recreation. The victim will be showed so much attention and love and it will make it all the harder for the child to come forward and even when they get older, it will be much harder for them to tell what happened to them because they know they probably won’t be believed.

    Even trained psychologists have a difficult if almost impossible way of spotting these sociopaths because they are so cunning and clever in the way they get away with this crime so why in the world wouldn’t almost any elder be deceived by them, either with a denial or if proved what they did, a make believe repentance especially if this person is a good friend of theirs?

    If trained psychologist can be fooled by these people, obviously so will the elders be fooled. These people are criminals and the Watchtower makes it so easy for them to get away with their crimes for a number of reasons”

    1) The two witness rule
    2) Most articles printed in the magazines put the blame on the victims instead of the criminal giving these people an excuse in their own minds of their behavior
    3) The society doesn’t look at it as a crime but a “weakness”
    4) There is no encouragement for the victims to go to the police first but to contact the elders first, in which case, valuable evidence would be lost
    5) Victims and families are shamed into “forgiving” the pedophile because “nobody is perfect” and if they can’t forgive the abuser, then Jehovah won’t forgive them
    4) The victim and their families are forbidden to talk about what happened to the victim on the threat of being expelled
    5) The elders will tell the victim and the family that if they report the crime to the police that it will bring reproach on Jehovah and it is better to forgive
    6) If there aren’t any other witnesses to the crime, the elders will do their own investigation and give the pedophile a chance to either confess or deny the accusation and if the abuser denies the claim, nothing will be done and if the abuser confesses the crime, they will be able to convince the elders of their repentance and nothing will be done either, except either a public reproof or a private reproof and in either case, nobody will know why the person was reproved.
    7) There is only one way a confessed pedophile will be disfellowshipped and that is if he confessed and was not sorry for what he did or there are more than one witness coming forward with the same story or there is sperm from a police investigation and he had denied the accusation beforehand
    8) If the person was disfellowshipped, nobody in the congregation is allowed to know why, thus the secrecy and the person will be allowed back into the congregation when the elders have decided the person is repentant and then again nobody is to know what happened to cause the disfelloshipping.
    9) The only way that the congregation will come to a jury trial of a witness and support that person, is if that witness did not confess to the crime or there weren’t two witnesses and the elders could not disfellowship that person. The only way they will support the victim is if that pedophile confessed to the crime and was not sorry for what they did. Even if the person confessed to the crime, the pedophile can still appear before the committee and try and convince the committee that the victim enticed him into do his crime and could very well be believed if they are that good an actor and the elders are gullible.

    The most important thing to the Society is their face. They claim to be the only true religion and that is the facade that they insist on projecting to the public and nobody and no child is worth it, to stand in their way of the public impression they so desperately want to project, so that that religion doesn’t lose “face”.

  • January 17, 2015 at 8:05 pm
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    Another reason for the secrecy is, very few people can bring themselves to openly discuss sexuality, in frank terms. To many people, it’s hush hush, or taboo, especially in a public setting, and even more so in mixed company. If they mention it at all, they tend to use words that obscure the true nature of the subject at hand.

  • January 17, 2015 at 9:25 pm
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    @Anonymous .Good Analysis of the situation in your above comment .Recently in our meetings Elders have been saying in their items on bible highlights how PURE& CLEAN our Organisation is compared to other Religions .Very SAD really to be spouting this rubbish when I can see certain ones squirming in their seats knowing what is happening in court trial after court trial !! Sickening !!

  • January 18, 2015 at 2:33 am
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    I think that mandatory shunning should stop.
    I don’t know why a person is no longer a JW, they may be right, they may be wrong, I believe that’s the person’s choice.
    Otherwise it’s abusive.
    If your claiming that Lloyd is an apostate please provide evidence. You are yet to prove him a lair. In each and every occasion I found him to be truthful. A scriptural definition of apostasy is that it’s a person on the inside and he is not in either case. Why is he described as an apostate? To be honest, if his father makes his own mind up fair enough but if he hasn’t remove your spiritual gun.

  • January 18, 2015 at 2:46 am
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    You may say that Lloyd was a Jehovah’s witnesses, I disagree. He had not yet (at the time) been given his right to decide. It was an emotional and believe that he was doing the right thing yet he’d not yet been given that freedom, how can he be an apostate then? I think it’s wrong to shun these young people.

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