Last month the Dallas-based Turley Law Firm filed a civil lawsuit against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc. and Reginald Tyrone Jackson. The Petition outlines the sexual exploitation and abuse of children in Metroplex congregations in Plano, Dallas and Greenville, Texas, USA.
Six people broke their silence to tell of sexual, physical and emotional abuse suffered in the late 80s and early 90s, when they were between the ages of 4 and 14. Two perpetrators are referred to in the Petition – one an elder, the other a circuit overseer.
The Petition claims the abuse was not reported at the time because the petitioners and their families were threatened with discipline and harm if they spoke to anyone about the molestations. The plaintiffs are not named due to the nature of the allegations.
Details have been reported by Fox4News Dallas Fort Worth…
The Petition also alleges that the defendants were negligent and committed various forms of fraud. The fraud stems from allegations that congregation leaders misrepresented themselves as people of trust, and the WBTS should have been responsible for oversight since its “authority flows down from it to the local levels.”
$1 million in damages is being claimed by each of the six plaintiffs for the alleged lasting psychological and emotional harm that the abuse has caused in their lives. They are also seeking punitive and exemplary damages to send a clear message to Watchtower, highlighting their responsibility.
Steven Schulte, a lawyer with the Turley Law Firm, told the Plano Star Courier that Watchtower “is the top of the chain of command; they oversee and are involved in the decision-making … daily function – everything has to be approved… They are intimately involved … have absolute authority over the congregation and had every reason to know [of the abuse].”
Around 1990, the Governing Body appointed Jackson as an Elder. The Petition states:
“In spite of their knowledge of Jackson’s conduct with children, the Governing Body did not report this conduct to the authorities and did not otherwise warn members or the general public of Jackson’s wrongdoings. Instead, it remained silent, allowing Jackson to remain in a position of authority, trust, and control over children of the congregation, to repeatedly sexually abuse and molest them.”
“These victims were not permitted to report their experiences to outside authorities or to other persons within the organization, aside from elders or overseers, despite secular laws and duties regarding the reporting of child abuse.”
The Petition also alleges that this was not a single perpetrator operating within the congregations. Another alleged abuser, a circuit overseer, is also referred to as “A.”
The Petition says of “A”…
“The Governing Body had reason to know, at least by the early-1990s, that “A” was using his position of authority and trust as circuit overseer to manipulate and engage in sexually inappropriate conduct with children….. In spite of their knowledge surrounding “A”’s conduct with children, the Governing Body did not report “A”’s conduct to the authorities and did not otherwise warn members or the general public of “A”’s wrongdoings. Instead, as with Jackson, it remained silent, allowing “A” to remain in a position of authority, so he could repeatedly sexually abuse and molest members of the congregations.”
The Petition also claims…
“Defendants did everything possible to avoid disclosing these perpetrators’ inappropriate conduct and abuse of children and what they knew about their wrongful conduct with children. Defendants knew that Plaintiffs were ignorant of this inappropriate conduct and that it was potentially harmful to them, as innocent and sheltered children, and that the children did not understand the perpetrators, who were their spiritual leaders, and in a position of trust, would hurt them while satisfying the predators’ own sexual desires.”
None of this is surprising. Week after week, in country after country, abuse survivors are speaking out. At the same time the Governing Body makes no apology to those who have suffered, refuses to change the two witness policy, and allows perpetrators to return to congregations while making no mention to the rank and file membership.