While the Southern District Court of New York continues its investigation of President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, and other key political figures, the same storied “Mother Court” continues to dole out new subpoenas every week at the behest of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ printing corporation, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

This week, the Watch Tower organization initiated six new subpoena orders in the Southern District, targeting multiple independent YouTube accounts owned by Jehovah’s Witness whistleblowers.

Watch Tower Files Six New Subpoena Demands

In a recent JW Survey report released February 20th, it was revealed that the New York-based religious organization targeted Facebook with multiple threats of contempt of court for Facebook’s alleged non-compliance with a subpoena signed by Judge Cathy Seibel on October 16th 2018.

The subpoena demanded the identifying information of a single Facebook user account owned by an individual in Spain who professes to be an active Jehovah’s Witness. Ordinarily, accounts like this one would not draw the attention of the religious sect, but the religion targeted this person because of several posts containing material which had been leaked from inside the organization prior to official release.

Watch Tower fired up their legal machine to full thrust Monday February 25th when they submitted a 9-page letter to the Judge Seibel, accusing Facebook of “disregard for its statutory obligations and the judicial process,” adding that “Facebook should be held in contempt

The letter went on to state that “Facebook’s conduct borders on bad faith
and it should be held in contempt, directed to immediately comply with the subpoena, and be sanctioned in an amount to be determined by the Court for each day that it fails to comply with subpoena.” [sic]

On Wednesday, February 27th, Watch Tower suddenly withdrew its motion for contempt of court when it revealed that Facebook complied with the demand to produce the name and identifying information of the subject of the subpoena.

Watch Tower is now closing in on 50 subpoenas issued since mid-2017, sent to a wide-ranging group of social media sites and accounts which have hosted Jehovah’s Witness videos and documents.

The Latest Subpoenas

The Smoking Gun Video

Three of the six subpoenas filed this week by Watch Tower targeted the 2018 leak of an incriminating video titled “Records Management,” which spread across the internet last summer and was the focus of a searing expose in the Philadelphia Enquirer.

The original video featured Watchtower executive Shawn Bartlett teaching foreign Branch elders how to manage records destruction and management techniques. While not all procedures described were illegal, Bartlett anecdotally explained that keeping a single incriminating handwritten note once cost Watchtower New York upwards of $200,000 in one lawsuit. The message was clear: destroy everything that could be used against the organization.

Once leaked, the Records Management video was shared across numerous YouTube channels, all of which have become a target for Watch Tower. The shared videos were renamed by these user accounts, but all contained the same content:

  • Title of Video: ALERT! Watchtower destroying records – legal attacks by Satan’. LEAKED VIDEO. (JW Suicides)
  • Title of Video: Watchtower destroys crime records in the organization (Alfa Omega)
  • Title of Video: Mirrored – Watchtower Leaked Video Records Management (JW Victims)
Shawn Bartlett, Records Management and Auditing Executive

Many of the other targeted videos contain Spanish-language content from Spanish user accounts. In every single case, Watch Tower has targeted those accounts which have at least one video or document which is not available on its own JW.org website or tv.jw.org video content platform.

The posting or leaking of content without the express permission of the Jehovah’s Witness Governing Body is strictly forbidden, which is why the JW organization has escalated their efforts to snare the individuals responsible for the leaked material.

Secrecy: OK for Watch Tower, not for Others

On June 1, 1997, the Watchtower Magazine released an article titled “Secrecy in the name of the Lord”, in which the organization condemned the secrecy of notorious cults including Aum Shinrikyo and the Branch Davidians.

Just 3 months earlier, the Watchtower New York corporation of Jehovah’s Witnesses issued the infamous March 14th secret letter to all Bodies of Elders in which church clergymen were instructed to forward all known cases of appointed JW ministers found guilty of child molestation to Watchtower Headquarters.

The information was to be kept strictly confidential and not shared with anyone, including law enforcement officials or child protective services agents. The Jehovah’s Witness Organization received those reports in sealed “special blue envelopes” which formed the basis for the secret database of Witness child molesters.

It’s no secret to insiders of the Jehovah’s Witness organization that millions of dollars have been spent securing organizational data, including child abuse and other sensitive documents. in 2013, Watchtower purchased an independent telecom company and strung dedicated fiber cable between its New York corporate offices, used in part to isolate their ultra-private Legal and Service Department networks.

Supplementing their infrastructure, Watchtower purchased multiple $8,000+ professional scanners, capable of scanning hundreds of thousands of pages in a short period of time, used initially in their transition from Brooklyn New York to the Warwick headquarters compound. Documents are retained in multiple searchable data centers including the United States, Japan, and the Netherlands.

Watchtower June 1, 1997 - Secrecy
Watchtower June 1, 1997: Secrecy

The level of secrecy, Orwellian control, and the recent organizational dependence on technology and legal support appears to have overshadowed the fundamental concept of Christianity.

The gap between rank and file members of the organization and those who pull the corporate strings has become a massive chasm. The average Witness knows little or nothing of these things. They simply trust.

While millions of dollars in donated funds are dispensed to satisfy the rising number of child abuse lawsuits, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ legal department has curiously found the time and finances to aggressively tackle any suspected current or former member who shares their content.

The notion of “received free, give free” does not apply to the Jehovah’s Witness corporate empire. The Biblical image of a poor, but spiritually rich savior has been replaced with real estate holdings, printeries, lawyers, and an insulated, self-anointed, self-appointed board of directors.

“But there is nothing covered up that will not be uncovered, or secret that will not be found out”

Luke 12:2, New World translation

Watch Tower legal has screamed foul when there is a delay or failure to comply with their demands for irrelevant and meaningless social media account holder data; yet when it comes to critical child abuse documents subpoenaed by multiple courts, they take evasive maneuvers.

As of Thursday, February 28th, 2019, five of the six DMCA subpoenas have been signed by the judges assigned to each case.



“Watch Tower” refers to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the holder of printing copyrights. Most copyrights however are not registered officially with the United States Copyright Office

“Watchtower” refers to Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, the owners of real estate, including headquarters locations and Kingdom Halls.

Additional References:

Philly.com Video Exposing Records Management and Document Destruction by JWs

Watchtower in Focus: Episode 21- Subpoena Warfare

Mark O'Donnell

Mark O'Donnell is a former Jehovah's Witness turned whistleblower after discovering the disturbing child abuse epidemic within the religion. His story, along with the revelation of a secret database of child molesters were featured in the March 2019 online issue of the Atlantic Magazine: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/03/the-secret-jehovahs-witness-database-of-child-molesters/584311/ O'Donnell continues to investigate allegations of child abuse within the Witness organization, and works with law enforcement, attorneys, and survivors of abuse, writing about his findings on jwsurvey.org and other outlets.

81 thoughts on “Facebook Yields to Watch Tower Subpoena; Jehovah’s Witnesses Issue 6 More to YouTube

  • March 26, 2019 at 4:58 am

    They deserve blame for so much child abuse and child molestation! They’re actively censoring and destroying documents showing child abuse and child molestation. Now, they’re trying to go after individuals who are speaking out against their totalitarian, authoritarian, Orwellian society. “The Truth” is really “All Lies;” “Christian” is really “Immoral and Unethical Individual;” and “Society” is really a cult. The worse part is that, in their ideology, doing stuff against them is perceived as validation of their divinity. Thank you for putting this site up and publishing criticism of the organization :) It’s a great place where we, ex-Jehovah Witnesses or people who were raised in the religion and never became Jehovah Witnesses, can discuss the religious society :) I appreciate it.

  • March 27, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    After being out of this cesspool cult i’m so glad i no what i do now,many years of listening to fear and guilt talks as a kid and now knowing it was nothing but scary fantasy tales but which damaged my thinking at the time and also for about two years after i was DF,such court actions show me now it is nothing but a corporate business and using scare tactics to gain such profit,now there are thoses who are exposing this ,its now touching the “purse strings” as to say ,my mother is attached to this cult very strongly and scares me very much how it as manipulated her for nearly 40 years,also i still no people in the JW,who i say are kind people and yet blinded to this,its very sad to see,i have now moved away from Stockport United Kingdom to Tbilisi Georgia and will say its the best move i have done and settled down and married,but feel more exposing is to come especially with the new EU data protection policy,and no doubt with the abuse issues…..

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