‘Jehovah’s witnesses, a pedophile’s paradise’


This video from the USA says about itself:

Candace Conti: Former Jehovah’s Witness Takes on Church over Sex Abuse Allegations

13 March 2015

Candace Conti says the church failed to protect her from a predatory pedophile, which Jehovah’s Witnesses has denied.

Translated from daily Trouw in the Netherlands:

‘A paradise for pedophiles

Marinde van der Breggen and Rianne Oosterom

5:30, July 22, 2017

The way in which Jehovah’s Witnesses deal with abuse cases is traumatic for the victims, according to research by Trouw. Mark (37) was sexually abused as a child and fought for recognition. …

It was 1994 … Mark is fifteen and his grades at school are bad. Since a biology lecture on genital diseases, he is often awake at night. He is afraid he has a disease. When he returns from a meeting with Jehovah’s Witnesses [to which his family belongs], he says, “Mom, I want to tell you something.”

He tells what happened six years ago, when the 17-year-old son of the head of the church went upstairs with him “to play at being at school” or to “read” during Bible study. With a toilet roll under his arm.

For three years, from Mark’s seventh to his tenth year, Wilbert shut down the curtains of Mark’s bedroom almost every week and closed the door while congregation members underneath studied the words of Jehovah. It began as masturbating, says Mark. But it got worse.

“The abuse consisted mainly of oral intercourse. I had to do that with him. I had to get undressed and he touched my genitals. He shared his sexual fantasies, for example, about a woman from our municipality. He used violence. He beat me, abused power. ”

17-year-old Wilbert was already 2 meter tall, says Mark. “I had a lot of awe for him, so I listened to him. As a little boy, I thought: this is normal. What ‘we’ do should not happen really, he said often. When it was over, he said, “You can not tell this to anyone, because then Jehovah would become angry.”

With Jehovah’s Witnesses, the elders are detectives and judges at the same time. They investigate a possible crime and act if there is sufficient evidence with an internal trial. They consider abuse to be proven if there are two witnesses of abuse or a confession. If not, they do nothing about the situation.

The elders promised to talk to Wilbert. When they confronted him about the abuse, he denied everything. Because Mark is the only witness, the elders do nothing.

The elders or Mark’s parents did not go to the police. “My mother said: “When we would go to the police, then you would have big headlines and we do not want to harm the reputation of our religious community?”” …

It’s half a year after Mark informed his mother. …

When Mark confronts Wilbert about the abuse, he whitewashes it as just mutually masturbating. The elder demand that Mark should forget and forgive, he recalls. An impossible task, he finds. “I felt very lonely, could not tell my story for years.” What hurts him is that he remembers that an elder whitewashed the abuse as “child’s play”. …

The 23-year-old Mark is depressed. He gets ill, must swallow pills. The abuse hurts him.

He decides to tackle the battle again and approaches the national executive of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 2002 he wrote a letter to them: “It’s all so bad that I even dream about it in my sleep. And I’m terribly nervous.”

Letters go back and forth. But much is not happening, according to the correspondence seen by Trouw. …

If, after a number of years, Mark recovers from his depression by therapy, he gives up – it does not help. In 2008, he is finished with Jehovah’s Witnesses and leaves the community behind. …

After this phone call [when Mark tried yet again later] Mark has not heard anything for a while. Until he is called by one of the elders. They do not want to do anything against Wilbert because Mark no longer meets the “organizational requirements”: he no longer belongs to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Only if he would come back they might take steps. …

Mark succeeds in leaving the past for what it is. He thinks that something must change fundamentally with the Jehovah’s Witnesses concerning abuse. For that reason, he tells his story. “It’s a paradise for pedophiles,” he says.

Both Mark and Wilbert are not their real names.

Also translated from Trouw:

July 21, 2017

The way in which Jehovah’s Witnesses deal with abuse is traumatic to victims, according to research by Trouw. Victim Marianne de Voogd was taught French kissing by her elder.

Marianne de Voogd is thirteen years old when the elder massages her two ‘peas’ for the first time, as he calls her starting breasts. He also pinches them when they sit together on the back bench of a Bible study of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Meppel, says Marianne, now 53. She must keep the Bible in front of it.

She looks startedly at Elder Derk, one of the leaders of the Jehovah’s congregation. He looks back and does not stop. When she keeps the bible over her lap, he strokes her upper leg with his fingertips, she tells. The man of about fifty slowly gets higher and fondles between her legs. …

Derk threatens her too, she says. When he fondles her, he says, “This is our secret,” and “If you tell about this, nobody will believe you: I am an elder and very beloved in the congregation” and “If you open your mouth, then I will hurt you.’ …

When she was eighteen, in 1981, Marianne is expelled by the congregation because the elders think she has sex with her boyfriend while she is not married – that is sinful according to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The abuse continues to pursue her: for example, she can not stand people walking behind her at a railway station. She is in therapy, which lasts for years. …

These findings are in line with a report published by a National Australian Research Commission in November about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The conclusion: Children are insufficiently protected from abuse and the organization does not deal adequately with accusations.

Three out of four victims who spoke to Trouw were abused by elders.

See also here.

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