In December of 2014 Barry Furlong took to the stand to defend himself against accusations of rape and sexual abuse. Furlong, aged 68, was accused of abusing children as young as five during his time as a Jehovah’s Witness in the Kinson Congregation in Bournemouth.
The charges included four counts of rape, four counts of indecent assault and six counts of indecency with a child, all of which Furlong denied, describing the charges as ‘absolutely false’ and a ‘total fabrication’.
Incredibly, Furlong even claimed that one of the children had “lunged” at him and touched him inappropriately, and that he told her to stop. The victim, who could not be named, explained how Furlong had told her she would not get into the “new order” if she told anyone what was happening to her.
The court found Furlong guilty of four counts of indecent assault and four counts of indecency with a child (while acquitting him of four counts of rape and two of gross indecency with a child), and sentenced him to five years in prison.
Furlong had been a Ministerial Servant in the Kinson Congregation, and was abusing girls during the 70s, 80s and 90s. He admitted that during this time, allegations had been made against him and congregation elders had been informed. Nobody reported the accusations to the police.
Looked upon as a pillar of the community, Furlong has been married for 42 years and worked as a fireman between 1964 and 1970. He then worked for the post office for 17 years before retiring on medical grounds.
One of his victims has bravely waived her anonymity to talk about her ordeal. Helen Doe described how her parents didn’t believe her because of their faith. She says they chose to report the crime to the elders and NOT to the police. But the elders refused to take her accusations seriously.
“In effect I got told I was lying, I was a naughty girl, I was filthy and dirty and not to mention it again, and to get on with my life,” she told a reporter. “Mum and dad didn’t believe me because of their religion, but children’s welfare should come first, not religious beliefs. Now I feel guilty because perhaps if I had reported this at the time other people would not have suffered.”
Mrs Doe opened up about her feelings about the trial. “The trial was the most terrifying thing I have ever done. You know you are telling the truth but you are sitting in front of 12 people who are making a judgement on everything you say. But I would say to anyone worried about coming forward about child abuse that you shouldn’t be frightened. He only got five years, but it is still some sort of punishment and we can move on now.”
Speaking to the Bournemouth Echo, Mrs Doe describes the impact the abuse has had on her life: “All my life I wondered if I should have said something and I worry that other people may have suffered because I did not. He did some very bad stuff, but I put it at the back of my mind, like having it locked away in a suitcase you don’t want to open. I used to cry myself to sleep at night; I used to pray to God ‘make it stop’. I would lie in bed with my eyes shut thinking that I had done something wrong. I was too scared all my life to take this to the police. But now I have, perhaps, in a couple of years, I may be able to have a normal life.”
Mrs Doe said she came forward when she heard Furlong was being investigated for abusing another girl, and praised the work of the police in bringing her case to the court. “They were so determined, but never gave us false hope. They worked really hard,” she said, adding that she felt vindicated by the guilty verdicts that came from the trial.
The London bethel was contacted and asked for their response to the comments made by Mrs Doe. They say the religion has “an absolute and unequivocal abhorrence of child abuse.” They also claim their communities support victims of abuse, but wouldn’t automatically report alleged crimes to the police as it is deemed a matter for the victims and their families to decide for themselves.
In a statement the church said “unrepentant wrongdoers” were expelled from the church and shunned by members.
A problem that’s not going away
In recent years, we are seeing more and more cases of this nature worldwide. The pattern of abuse and the covering up by the Witnesses is becoming all too familiar. The blanket statements of denial that are issued following these cases are simply no longer adequate.
Victims are not receiving support and they receive no encouragement to contact police, even though a crime has been committed. Most victims and their families find themselves being shunned for coming forward and can even find themselves disfellowshipped from the congregation, as in my own case.
Elders have been found to refuse to cooperate with police and attend court. Vital documents are held back from authorities, even when they are subpoenaed. It is no longer acceptable for these issues to be dealt with quietly and secretively. When a law has been broken, elders are simply not equipped or trained to deal with it. Victims of abuse at the hands of monsters like Furlong deserve better.
Karen is herself a victim of child sex abuse as a Jehovah’s Witness. You can read more about her story here and here.
- ‘Trusted’ Jehovah’s Witness ‘raped and sexually abused girls’
- ‘It was a cover up’: Woman sexually-abused by leading member of Jehovah’s Witness community speaks out
- “I used to cry myself to sleep” – victim of former Jehovah’s Witness Barry Furlong speaks out after court ordeal
- Jehovah’s Witness report article
21 thoughts on “Victim of pedophile Barry Furlong urges that “children’s welfare should come first””
Your writing style made reading a difficult subject that much easier.
Look forward to your next articles!
Karen I applaude you for writing of such a horror story especially since your a victim yourself. My heart goes out to all those who have experienced such atrocitys at the hand of protected pedophiles.
Such things have occurred in my own family and I can attest to the fact that it is one of the most difficult things a victim has to go through their whole life. Some are never helped and fall into a deep abyss to fade away from life through many vices because of the abuse.
Again thank you for being brave enough to write such a article from someone who knows firsthand the feelings of a victim.
May many more be helped to get through such horrific circumstances through the exposing of these Abusers who reside In the mist of this seriously flawed organization.
Just remember this is nothing new as the Jehovah’s Witness founder Charles Taze Russell was accused of molestation as well and thus is why his wife divorced him. Good article good job keep them coming.
Excellent article, powerful and true.
Karen, I so much admire you and all who come forward who have suffered from abuse. When I was 8 years old, I was left alone with a 12 year old boy whose family were close friends with my family. I wasn’t a Witness then but he grabbed me and wouldn’t let go and I screamed and kicked and screamed and he finally let go of me but that was 60 years ago and I have never told another living soul about it. When my family and his family would visit, I kept myself in my room and I never went over to their house again until he left home. So, even though I wasn’t violated, I recognize how terribly difficult it must have been to talk about what happened to you and especially with the abuser being related to you when I couldn’t tell anybody what happened with me and I wasn’t even violated.
I don’t believe for one minute that the Society really abhors child abuse like they like to tell the press. I found this in an article going way back to the Dec. 1, 1960 Watchtower on page 727 and I am going to quote the whole paragraph so as not to take anything out of context. Notice that the only ones the Watchtower seems to be concerned about when it comes to child abuse is if the “parents” of the child are willing to forgive the abuser. It doesn’t take into account the child at all. I don’t believe the Society has ever cared that much over the welfare of the children in the congregations and it sure shows up in this article from 1960.
“Say the adultery was committed with the husband or with the wife of another couple in the same congregation or another congregation, or with a minor person under parental care or under a guardian. Then others who are seriously affected by the moral offense would come into the picture. The husband whose wife was violated, or the wife whose husband sinned with another’s wife, or the parents whose child was corrupted-do they forgive? Or do they want disciplinary action to be taken against the immoral married person? The innocent marriage mate may forgive for these others who have been hurt. Such personal, domestic forgiveness does not settle outside accounts for the guilty one. It cannot squash outside demands for disciplinary action by the congregation or demands for reparation through legal action outside in the courts of the land. The congregation may therefore decide to disfellowship despite the innocent mate’s personal forgiveness to the wrongdoer.”
Hi Karen, Thank you so much for your thoughtful and insightful article. What bothers me so much is that WT’s policies are responsible for so much heartache and they won’t take responsibility for their actions. It is so unbelievable that they continue to claim that they hate child abuse and support the victims. As far as I can see, all they do is refuse to listen to or cooperate with these victims and re-victimize them. They fight them every step of the way and offer no help or words of support to them. They are belligerent and proud. WT has leveled so much criticism at the Catholic church over the years but it seems to me that the Catholic church has handled their child abuse scandal in a far more Christian and compassionate manner. They don’t care about the wounds of child abuse victims, they only care about themselves. It’s appalling.
Thank you Karen. I’m so sad for all the terror these children have had to endure. I am grateful that many of them are gaining the courage to speak up – it is the only way to shine a floodlight on the despicable organization known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Hiding a criminal is harboring, aiding, and abetting a criminal!!!!
First give Ceasars things to Ceasar THEN Gods things to God!
The law of the land is to report a crime! If you know of a crime, please help victims who are fearfully being used sexually by these wolves in sheeps clothing. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS BELIEVE THE VICTIM! 9.9999999% they are telling the truth! Believe it!
Yes, it will get messy. Yes, he will go to jail. Yes, he deserves to go to jail because he is a hiding criminal. Yes, you deserve to be safe from criminals and so does the rest of the Kingdom Hall. Yes, you must tell law enforcement because a CRIME, a CRIME has been committed. This is not a man letting his sexual desires get the best of him- CHILD MOLESTATION AND RAPE is a CRIME.
This is not a matter for clergy to handle. In many cases these children are drugged, brainwashed to be in fear of telling, and given diseases ! CHILDREN ARE NOT JEZEBELS, they are INNOCENT VICTIMS. Don’t allow these crimes to keep happening because they will. They will keep happening and it will get worse and they will get more arrogant and brave and molest them in front of you even. Please tell police, the elders will do nothing. They have proven themselves time and time again that they will do nothing. They will talk to the free prisoner and have him step down from being an elder and then threaten the victims parents to not tell police or they would be disfellowshipped.
Gods way is first Ceasars things to Ceasar. Jesus said so. First tell the police because ITS THE LAW. Then tell your religious leaders.
CHILDREN ARE NOT SEXUAL BEINGS. If they are displaying sexual behavior it is because they are mimicking what they are being taught. Please believe them and then act. God gave adults responsibility to take care of innocent children. This problem will not go away. The elders will not be able to handle it because pedophilia is NOT CURABLE.
Tell the police now if you know about child abuse going on. Stop reading this, get off your computer, and tell the police now. Don’t second guess, don’t hesitate, do it now and save a child from sexual shame, torture, slavery, and exploitation.
On the latest jwbroadcasting under the hour talk on the left side is a 10 minute talk by Stephen Lett and towards the end he is telling Witnesses to reject “apostate” lies about how the Society protects pedophiles. It seems like damage control to me. In the talk Lett says if anybody protects children, it’s the Society. LIE, LIE, LIE!!!! These men know exactly what they are doing when they lie like that. Now I know for sure, they aren’t being misled like the rank and file. They know exactly what they are doing. The Bible says that Satan is the father of the lie so who are they following?
The Org. is sending conflicting messages (as usual). First they print articles demanding that children pay attention or die. Next they claim they protect children. By teaching children to not question authority and obey at any cost they are laying the groundwork for potential abuse, sexual or otherwise. Most children in the organization have lost their childhood in one way or another.
Thanks for your bravery, it will keep others from suffering
To anonymous. A heartfelt thanks for your contribution. God bless.
I am so grateful that in the Church of England all licensed workers are required to attend a Safeguarding session. The one in Canterbury diocese was brilliant and informative. It’s a shame they don’t have them in the Kingdom halls.
Thank you Mama Joy. Your words are special.
This rise in sexual abuse case. Which I guess isn’t a rise but really just “New Light” being raised over what has been happening for decades has really helped to cement that this organization is not just misguided. They are self serving and malicious and evil. I hope they are called to account for all the hurt they’ve allowed to happen to their “loyal sheep”.
Thank you Karen, and im so sorry for all the hurt…
The fact that recent gb members are mentioning child abuse, and apostate web sites is that we are being heard, and TTATT is a threat to them. LIES AND TRUTHS DONT MIX.
@Anonymous. I have just watched Stephen Letts latest 10 minute LECTURE on TV.jw.org and it is so AMATEURISH & JUVENILE it’s Embarrassing! He mentions Apostates accusing the Jehovahs Organisation not protecting a Children !! YES Mr Letts ! It has been DIABOLICAL the way abused children have been treated. The lecture is about ‘Maintain Oneness of Spirit’. He goes on to say a CORPSE is Peaceable but not a Peacemaker!! What UTTER DRIVEL this man speaks !! He mentions we are all equal not SUBTERRANEAN???! Read Phil 2v3 please Mr Letts !! These Governing Body Members are meant to have Holy Spirit???? The more I hear them ,Any of them speak it makes me aware they are RAMBLING IDIOTS!!
Perhaps I am being too tactful in my observations!! Should I make it more clear how I feel??
Anonymous, dear Lady, thank you for sharing your experience. That must have been very traumatic for you.
Also, thank you for highlighting Stephen Lett’s comments on the child abuse scandal. May his own lies come back to bite him!
This statement will directly result in many leaving his cult.
Thank you for your article, and your continued, invaluable contribution. You are a very fine person indeed.
Thank you, fellow posters, for some heartening comments. It is a comfort to me and to us all that we are not alone in our abhorance of what Watchtower does to innocent victims of child abuse.
We want to help and we want it stopped.
Peace be with you, Excelsior!
Again I must reiterate. This is exactly the reason why I keep myself informed on what the borg is currently telling/lying/covering their butts. I have a daughter who still goes to appease her mother. I am lucky that she is smart enough to know that its all bs. I still need to know what the latest and not so greatest is.
Thank you very much Karen for having the courage to report on this story and for writing such a beautifully written article!
There is probably not a child in the world who is going to come forward and report sex abuse to a parent so parents and caregivers have to know the child well enough to notice changes in their behavior that seems strange for their age. Some of the signs that a child may have been a victim of of sex abuse are:
Sudden loss of self-esteem
Suddenly starts to stutter
Suddenly suspicious, fearful or anxious
Suddenly becoming anti-social because somebody they trusted betrayed their trust and now they can’t trust anybody anymore
Suddenly wants to avoid a certain person. In the movie “Doubt” a nun noticed that when a priest was trying to talk to a boy at the convent, the boy didn’t want anything to do with the priest and the nun became suspicious because it was such an unusual reaction from the boy
Suddenly becomes disinterested in everything and is lost in their thoughts
Wants to go to bed fully clothed
Has signs of guilt (because they think they are responsible for the wrongdoing)
Develops an eating disorder (too much food or not enough)
Wants to wear many layers of clothing and doesn’t want to take outer layers of clothing off
Sexual knowledge inappropriate for their age ie. taking your hand and wanting you to touch their genitals
Regressive behavior ie. bed wetting or soiling
Self-destructive behavior, ie. drugs, suicide, self-mutilation, pregnancy
Unexplained money or gifts
Pain, itching or bleeding around the genital area
Difficulty walking or sitting because of pain to the genital area
If a parent suspects sexual abuse in their child, they need to take the child to the child’s doctor where the doctor can do an examination. If the doctor see that there definitely was abuse, the doctor has to report it to child-protective services. It is up to the parent to report it to the police. It could be that the child was abused by a minor child in the home and the parent doesn’t want that to go on the child’s record but still child-protective services has to be informed.
Once child-protective services knows what happened, they will get in touch with the parent to discuss what to do from then forward.
It is not easy to tell if a child has been abused or is dealing with other issues but if the parent is worried, they should go with their gut instincts and discuss it with their child and or take the child to the doctor for an examination or call a child-abuse hot line.
Pedophiles like to target women with minor children. A lot of gullible women fall prey to men like that and when their child comes forward to the mother that the step-dad abused them, the pedophile will many times, convince the mother that the child is jealous of the new man in her life and that is their way of getting rid of the new husband. So, a lot of the times, a child is not only betrayed by the abuser but by their own parent when the parent sides with the abuser.
Abuse almost always happens by somebody the child knows and loves and trusts. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, the only people they are supposed to associate with are other Witnesses so if that other person is a Witness, such as a Witness brother, uncle, step-father, father, or close friend of the family, that is the person who is the most likely to sexually abuse the child. It isn’t going to be a stranger in the community. It will be somebody close to them.
To tell on somebody who has abused them by somebody close to them is not going to happen naturally from a child. The parent has to be aware of their child to recognize behavior changes and drag it out of the child.
OMG … do JW leaders have strings on their backs and when pulled the same phrases come out?! Oh wait. They do. I forgot there for a moment, you know, as now I live in the real world.
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