(Investigator 93, 2003 November)

Information on protecting children from "Child Molesting" appeared in the Jehovah's Witness magazine Awake! in 1985 (January 22).

The article suggests that most molesters and sexual abusers of children are child minders, family friends and relatives of the parents. Unmentioned, however, is that many offenders are parents, step parents and – in the JW sect – people of influence such as the JW Elders.

Since the 1990s many ex JWs have told of sexual abuse by JW Elders. Sex in the Sect (1995), for example, is an autobiography by Vicki J, a JW female who grew up near Brisbane in Australia. She describes years of sexual molestation by her Overseer father.

In 1999 Main's Portland Press-Herald reported on a sexual molestation suit filed in the Cumberland County Court by Bryan Reece against another JW who had molested him during 1989-1992 while both attended the Kingdom Hall in Portland. Reece's position was that the congregation Elders and the JW hierarchy were all culpable.

A report in the Tri-City Herald (2001, August) said in part:

RITZVILLE – Erica Rodriguez and her mother, Alejandra Garza, broke down and cried when the verdict came in. It took slightly less than four hours for a seven-man, five-woman Adams County Superior Court to declare Manuel Beliz, 48, of Othello guilty of two counts of first-degree child rape and two counts of first-degree child molestation…

Rodriguez said she believed Beliz, a Jehovah's Witness elder, had also molested other girls and her whole purpose in coming forward was to keep him from doing it to someone else. She said that even though her church disfellowshipped Beliz – or removed him from the church – for six months, church elders pressured her not to report him to the police…

A jury convicted Beliz on two counts of first-degree child rape and two counts of first-degree child molestation in 1998. However, the state court of appeals granted Beliz the right to a new trial on the basis that then-deputy prosecutor Dennis Scott sought to exclude women from the jury panel.

Like other religions that hit the headlines in recent years for ignoring child sexual abuse JWs tried to handle the problem internally to avoid bad publicity. The following letter in Outreach Tidbits (2003 May/June) is representative of the JW approach:
  I was thirteen in 1975…

An elder talked my mother’s husband into getting baptized. While the elders were trying to make him act more spiritual he was trying to molest me… Instead of calling the police or going to a therapist, Mom went to the elders about his behavior.

A bunch of men who had no training in marriage problems or abuse issues…investigated things and decided it was Mom's fault that Lee was interested in her daughters. She was not a good enough wife. My mother believed them and did everything she could to keep him 'happy’. The elders also said it was my fault and my sister's, we wore our jeans too tight. Never did they blame Lee for having no self control or just being a pervert. My sister and I lived with fear…

These so-called religious men did nothing to protect the children. They didn't want Mom to tell the police, that would make the witnesses look bad and that just couldn't happen.  

The Paducah Sun reported about JWs as follows:
  Bill Bowen, who resigned his leadership in the congregation in December 2000 to protest the church's policy on reporting accused paedophiles to secular authorities, is charged with causing divisions in the church…

Barbara Anderson, a former researcher at the church's New York headquarters, and Carl and Barbara Pandelo, a New Jersey couple whose daughter was molested by Carl’s father, have been disfellowshipped in the last two weeks for talking to the media. The Pandelos spoke to the Sun for a January 2001 article, and they, Andersen and Bowen cooperated with the TV magazine "Dateline NBC"… (2002, May 25, p.14A)  

William Bowen founded an organization called Silent Lambs and started a website of the same name to expose JW child abuse. The claim surfaced that the WTS has over 23,000 child molesters on file for the USA:
  …William Bowen of Kentucky and Barbara Anderson a former office worker at Watchtower headquarters reveal files on these paedophiles the number being 23,120! … Lawsuits are now pending all across the country… 5,000 victims have now contacted William Bowen reporting personal abuses and molestation.
(Outreach Tidbits, 2002, July/August, pp. 3, 6)

Television documentaries about child abuse among JWs were recently broadcast in North America, England, Germany, Australia and Sweden.

New WTS policy as of mid 2002 prevents JW child-molesters going door to door alone and also gives JW victims the right to go to the police without elders hindering them.

Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses at: