Jehovah’s Witnesses Pay *$2,000,000+ to Gag Abuse Victim
Today the Legal arm of Jehovah’s Witnesses decided to settle with Stephanie Fessler after the second day of the trial continued to inundate them with egregious and outrageous allegations of hurting kids. For seventeen years the organization has been under fire for policies that require internal tribunals to require children to produce two eyewitnesses when abuse allegations come forward. Kids are routinely silenced with threats of expulsion if they try to alert others or report to authorities. The crux of the trial came when JWorg officials said they had never advised elders not to report abuse and that elders or members had never been expelled for reporting abuse. Evidence from the Dateline program, which aired in May 2002, provided a recording of the Legal Department advising Elder William H. Bowen to not report current allegations of abuse. William H Bowen was later disfellowshipped after being placed on restrictions and forbidden to go to ministry work. Bowen later formed the organization Silentlambs to give victims a voice and assist them with knowing they were not alone. Since that time over one hundred victims have filed lawsuits against the church, which has a long history of threatening victims into silence.
In the mid-1990’s a story is told of two from the JWorg legal team joking about how they were forcing victims to settle for much less than the $125,000 standard fee mandated by the Governing Body (leadership). Since that time the fees paid to victims has increased expediently. In 2007 seventeen victims received an average of $750,000 each in a legal battle that took six years for them to finally pay up. In 2013 seven victims of one man in California received an estimated payout of over $2,000,000each after fighting legally for over two years. In the one case that actually went to trial in 2014, an outraged jury awarded Candace Conti $28,000,000 from the atrocities committed and sanctioned by JWorg leadership. In all cases, the actual amount awarded is a carefully guarded secret, as JWorg does not wish members and the public to be aware of the tremendous amount of donated funds that are being spent to pay their legal teams to defend child molesters and prevent victims from being compensated. In this current case after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the pedophile and bluffing through two days of the actual trial, JWorg lawyers folded once again and wrote a check to silence another victim. The Governing Body has mandated that in each case to fight till the very end to exhaust the abuse survivors and make it more formidable to go up against them. The facts show each case that settles costs them more and more money in legal fees and in actual settlements. They are losing ground as precedents are being set legally to allow more victims to be compensated for their crimes against children. Currently due to their resistance to provide incriminating documents they are being required to pay $4,000 per day in penalties by a California Judge. They have appealed the decision for two years and soon will be required to pay or settle with one victim for $13,000,000 or more.
Who pays for this? Jehovah’s Witnesses who donate to the Worldwide Work along with the millions of dollars they collect in contributions tax-free from the public. A few pennies of each dollar go to protect a pedophile and keep their legal machine financed to obstruct justice and hurt victims. Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the wealthiest religions per-capita in the world. While providing little in the form of charity they rake in billions using their eight million members to generate tax-free funding.
This case illustrates how the legal policy of obstruction and deception is starting to crack in the JWorg strategy. The more victims know they have legal ground to sue and members having to defend the policies that allow the rape of children as they go to the public, represents mounting pressure for changes to be made internally for the better protection of children. Until this happens cases like this highlight the need for leadership to be sanctioned or removed to provide appropriate adjustments to protect kids.
*The $2,000,000 settlement figure is an estimate based on the past payments made to abuse survivors by JWorg.