Attorney Irwin Zalkin of the of Zalkin Law Firm answers the question. I am a Jehovah’s Witness and we have been told that we should not talk to anyone other than our church Elder’s about the sexual abuse we suffered as a child. I was abused by a JW Elder what should I do?
The Jehovah witnesses have a real problem with how they respond to claims of childhood sexual abuse, especially claims against and elder or a ministerial servant.
According to the policies of the Jehovah witnesses, once a complaint is made known to an elder. That elder then has to engage two other elders to conduct a so-called investigation. If there is an admission by the perpetrator or two eyewitnesses to the abuse then a judicial committee will be formed and action will be taken and either that perpetrator will be reproved, if they are sufficiently repentant or they will be dis-fellowshipped.
The real problem with that is, is that rarely do you have two eyewitnesses to the abuse of a child and certainly it’s even more rare for a perpetrator to admit to it so the policy is flawed to begin with.
What you should do if you are a victim of abuse by a Jehovah witness elder is go to law enforcement. Yes, the elders will do everything to convince you not to. You will even perhaps get a call from the service committee or the legal department of the watchtower to convince you not to but you need to go to law enforcement. Only law enforcement can conduct a proper investigation and get counseling, get help.
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