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Jehovahs Witness Sexual Abuse Lawyer

For many years now, the Roman Catholic Church has been in the media spotlight for a long history of alleged occurrences of abuse among the priesthood. But thanks to some recently filed landmark lawsuits, a much smaller, more tight-lipped religious organization might soon be finding its place in the national hot seat.

Rumors have been rampant for years that the Jehovah's Witnesses Organization - a sect that many consider a cult - has systematically hidden thousands of child sexual abuse cases by its church elders while pressuring its members to keep quiet.

The personal injury lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC represent childhood assault survivors harmed by clergy, religious leaders, and laypeople in all religious organizations.

Were you, or a loved one, a child sexual abuse victim? If so, contact our Chicago sexual abuse lawyers today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to schedule a free consultation in a confidential setting to discuss filing a civil lawsuit.

We hold those facing sexual abuse allegations and religious institutions financially and legally accountable. Let us pursue legal action against the predator, religious leader and Jehovah's Witnesses organization through a child sex abuse lawsuit on your behalf.

Jehovahs Witness Sexual Abuse Attorney

Sex Assault Allegations Within the Jehovah's Witnesses

The culture of silence within the Jehovah's Witnesses organization could break open soon, starting with two separate sexual abuse lawsuits filed by Heather Steele, 48, and John Michael Ewing, 47. The two former sect members claim they were repeatedly molested as children by their church elders.

New York recently passed the Child Victims Act, which removes the statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. Steele and Ewing filed both lawsuits in Brooklyn the day the new law took effect.

The stories told by the two plaintiffs are different in scope, but as the New York Post reports, they reveal some common threads.

Steele says a church child abuser began fondling her as early as age 2 or 3 while riding in the back seat of her family's car, and he would even sexually abuse her while holding her on his lap during church meetings.

Abused Since Childhood

Ewing claims his abuse began as a teenager and continued four to six times per week for the next four years. But in both cases, when the children eventually told their parents, two disturbing things happened:

The parents reported the sexual abuse assaults to the church leadership rather than the police (at least at first). The church leadership handled the situation internally rather than reporting it to the authorities.

In Steele's personal injury case, the parents ultimately told the police of reports of child sexual abuse. The church elder was convicted of the claims of physical assault and served a prison sentence before returning to ministry in another congregation.

In Ewing's case, he reported the sexual abuse incident to the church when he was twenty-one years old and suffered the same punishment as his offending elder: Disfellowship from the Jehovah's witness religious organization for homosexual activity.

A Database of Abuse Allegations Involving Jehovah's Witnesses

There is evidence that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the nonprofit organization overseeing the Church, has been aware of the ongoing pattern of abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses involving church elders for over two decades.

As The Atlantic reports, in 1997, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society sent a letter to all its US Congregations with detailed instructions on reporting sex offenders.

The instructions were to write a full report answering twelve questions (including whether anyone else knew about the assault) and mail the answers to the Watchtower Society while keeping the files confidential.

The Society has quietly built this information into a secret database that may now contain tens of thousands of reports of sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses organization. However, most sexual abuse cases were never reported to the police, which, like Catholic Church leaders' decisions, has remained mostly under wraps even in defiance of multiple court orders.

Jehovahs Witness Sexual Abuse Lawyers

Jehovah's Witness Sexual Abuse Shrouded in Secrecy

How has this much-alleged child sexual abuse continued for so long among the Jehovah's Witnesses church elders with so little accountability? Much of the Jehovah's Witness abuse secrecy has to do with the beliefs of its membership - a common characteristic of cults - that people outside the church are unredeemed and, therefore, distrusted.

As law enforcement and the judicial system are considered "secular," the church prefers to deal with offenses internally because of clergy penitent privilege that fails to protect children and other victims from abuse within the Jehovah's Witness organization.

Legal Options for Victims of Jehovah's Witness Sexual Abuse

Childhood sexual abuse is a crime, and abusers can spend many years in prison if convicted. Sexual abuse victims and their families may also have the legal right to file civil lawsuits for financial damages against the perpetrator and against any religious group or organization that practiced negligence in allowing the sexual contact.

Despite the pattern of secrecy within the millenarian restorationist Christian denomination, congregants who report abuse have often seen justice served, at least partially.

civil claims filed alleging sexual abuse

Time Requirements to File Sex Assault Cases Against the Jehovah's Witness

There is a statute of limitations (time requirement for bringing sex abuse claims) in civil court to recover compensation for their abuse. Many sexual abuse survivors were children then and had no recourse if their parents would not report the abuse.

If the children do not report it as adults within the time frame permitted by law, they cannot bring charges or claims against their perpetrators.

As a result, many victims have suffered in silence for decades, only realizing that they should have come forward too late.

The good news is widespread change may be on the horizon concerning the second challenge.

Several states have followed New York's example in extending or eliminating the statute. On January 1, 2020, California will enact a similar law that raises the law's restriction age from 26 to 40. The L.A. Times reports that the justice system is bracing for a deluge of lawsuits.

As adult victims are given more power to hold the child abuse predator accountable and the church or other religious organizations that enabled the abuse, we may soon see the shroud of secrecy begin to unravel.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse by the Jehovah's Witness Church, the time to come forward is now. Our sexual abuse lawyers appreciate your situation and take every measure to protect your privacy while aggressively pursuing a claim. Talk to a lawyer today for a free consultation.

Lawyers for Jehovahs Witness Sexual Abuse Claims

Church Members' Response to Sexual Abuse Allegations within the Jehovah's Witness Organization

According to victims of child sexual abuse in the Jehovah's Witness organization, the organizational structure and how it addresses allegations of abuse lead to cover-ups and victims being blamed for their incident.

The organization has a "two-witness rule." There must be at least two witnesses, the victim and someone else, for leaders to consider the sexual abuse.

In addition, parents of victims of sexual assault are often not allowed to bring charges against the alleged abuser. However, if another child in the congregation is victimized, church elders may expel the accused from the church and demand that they avoid contact with their victim.

However, there have been multiple cases of these sexual predators returning or continuing abusive behavior.

The mere knowledge of the existence of child sexual abusers in the Jehovah's Witnesses organization is enough to destroy lives, regardless of the two-witness rule. However, this issue becomes even more concerning when discussing why congregation members do not come forward with reports.

Refusing to Hold Child Abuse Predators Accountable

Many victims claim that they were threatened or shamed into silence by their Jehovah's Witnesses leaders, who refused to hold their abusers accountable.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has made it clear that its members must distinguish between "apologizing" and "confessing," even in cases of sex assault. They refuse to apologize for mistakes or wrongdoing because they claim that none of them have ever done anything wrong.

They believe that the only reason a Jehovah's Witness would be at fault is if they were not being obedient to God and his word as outlined in the Bible.

As you can see, many factors keep Jehovah's Witness victims of sexual abuse from coming forward about the assault.

The Jehovah's Witnesses organization has been accused of withholding vital information from members about child sexual abuse. Many experts believe this is a systematic practice to keep victims quiet throughout the Jehovah's Witness church.

In addition, there are allegations that local church leaders believe it is their responsibility to follow instructions from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. However, this often leaves them unable or unwilling to make decisions independently.

Jehovahs Witness Sexual Abuse Law Firm

Jehovah's Witness and Child Sexual Abuse

According to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Jehovah's Witnesses have been reproved or warned about dealing with accusations of child sexual abuse. This Christian sect has refused to report sexual assault to civil authorities for decades, even in cases where the abuser confessed.

Reports indicate that Jehovah's Witnesses have a reputation for practicing a form of "shunning" for those who choose to leave the denomination. Jehovah's Witness leaders themselves have confirmed this.

In addition, many former members of the Jehovah's Witnesses group have claimed that it was not uncommon for older disciples to marry and start families with Jehovah's witnesses who were young children.

They claim that, in these cases, the older member of the family would often serve as a ministerial servant or an elder—positions of power and trust within the congregation. It allowed him to take advantage of his authority for years or decades before finally being held accountable.

Disfellowshipped or Excommunicated

Jehovah's Witness leaders use ex-communication to punish those who break the rules and refuse to repent. Ironically, these members refer to this process as "disfellowshipping."

Christians claim that the Bible teaches them to forgive others as God has forgiven them. However, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that forgiving the excommunicated means that if one person in the church sins, the whole congregation is at fault.

For this reason, members caught sinning must be punished before returning to full fellowship.

Congregation Shunning after Sexual Abuse Claims

According to Jehovah's Witnesses, disfellowshipping occurs when Jehovah's Witnesses willingly and knowingly break God's rules, believing that only the church elders are authorized to declare someone "disfellowshipped." However, each disfellowshipping is subject to review at a congregation judicial committee meeting.

The process can take up to several months when the accused member is not allowed contact with members of the congregation.

They cannot participate in church activities, including the Lord's Supper, and taking a public prayer for a family member is not allowed. They are also barred from attending weddings or funerals of relatives who remain on the membership rolls.

In some cases, disfellowshipped members report that they are not shunned because they no longer worship the same God.

How a Jehovah's Witness Sexual Abuse Law Firm Can Help Months, Years, and Decades After the Abuse Happened

Are you a victim of sexual molestation involving a member of a religious organization and ready to hold those responsible for their unacceptable behavior accountable? If so, a sexual abuse lawyer holding religious organizations like Jehovah's Witnesses and the Catholic Church accountable can help.

Our attorneys provide a safe, confidential environment to discuss what and when the abuse happened recently or long ago. We use the law to show that the sexual predator and their religious leaders covered up what happened and ensure they are held financially accountable.

Our JW child molestation lawyers work with abused victims to confront all those responsible through legal means. Taking action can stop unacceptable behavior, so others are not also hurt.

There are many benefits to using a lawyer in a sexual abuse case, including:

  • First, a lawyer can help you file a compensation claim. Filing a claim can help you recover damages for the abuse that you suffered.
  • Second, a lawyer can help you negotiate with the insurance company. Insurance companies are often willing to offer a settlement if they know that a lawyer represents the victim.
  • Third, a lawyer can help you take your case to court. If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, your lawyer can represent you in court and fight for the damages you deserve.

Jehovah Witnesses Sexual Abuse FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions by victims of sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witness organization. We appreciate that these questions may give rise to additional questions and concerns.

Consequently, we invite you to contact our law firm for a free consultation with an experienced sexual abuse lawyer who has helped other survivors regain their lives.

What Is the Definition of Sex Assault?

According to the American Psychological Association, sex assault is an unwanted sexual activity where the abuser threatens, uses force, or takes advantage of innocent victims without consent. Nearly all victims of physical assault know their abuser.

Many abuse survivors immediately react to assault through disbelief, fear, or shock. Over time, their symptoms can include PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), fear, anxiety, and depression.

What Is Inappropriate Touching?

An act involving inappropriate touching includes another person touching an innocent victim's private parts that make them uncomfortable, sad, or confused.

Inappropriate touching can occur on unclothed and clothed areas of the body, including the abuser putting their hands in the victim's pants or under their shirt/blouse.

Many sexual offenders tell their victims to keep their "secret" and not tell anyone for fear that the victim will get in trouble. The sexually abused deserve respective privacy like all others.

What Are Some Examples of Child Sex Abuse?

Underage adolescents and children do not have the mental and psychological development to consent to any inappropriate touching behavior that might make them uncomfortable, sad, or depressed.

Psychologists defined child sex assault fondling to include:

  • Fondling the minor's breasts, genitals, or anus for any unnecessary reason, including sexual pleasure
  • Making the adolescent or child touch another's genitals, breast, or anus
  • Playing sexual games with children
  • Other inappropriate behaviors that do not include touching or fondling a child include:
    • Exposing your genitals or breasts
    • Sharing pornography
    • Making sexual remarks
    • Peeping into bathrooms and bedrooms
    • Making or watching a child undress, post, or perform sexual behaviors, including taking photographs

What Should You Do If You Observe Sexual Abuse?

Did you witness an assault or suspect it is happening within the Jehovah's Witnesses or another religious institution? Report it directly to law enforcement so the incident can be investigated, and perpetrators can be held legally accountable.

Many cases of abuse have been uncovered when the episodes have been reported to authorities. Not only do these processes hold the perpetrators accountable, but it also prevents these sexual predators from perpetuating the abuse on others.

What Compensation is Available to The Victim of Jehovah's Witnesses Abuse?

A victim of assault can pursue a claim for compensation in civil court. In some cases, victims have been awarded millions of dollars in compensation from the perpetrator's organization.

Most states allow the victim of abuse to recover compensation for:

  • Counseling and therapy expenses
  • Medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

If you have questions about a potential claim, contact our legal team today for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer.

What Are The 4 Types of Abuse?

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the four types of abuse of an innocent victim involve:

  • Physical abuse, including battery and non-consensual touching
  • Sexual assault, including children, adolescents, and adults involving rape
  • Sodomy, molestation, fondling, child pornography, etc.
  • Neglect, including physical, mental, emotional, psychological, psychosocial negligence, and financial exploitation

However, leaders handle Jehovah's Witness sexual abuse claims involving children using their "two-witness rule." The two-witness rule restricts any organization member from investigating allegations of physical assault unless the victim produces at least a second witness to the crime.

Jehovahs Witness Sexual Abuse Attorneys

Hire Jehovah's Witness Sexual Abuse Lawyers to Resolve your Legal Claims

The personal assault attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC are experienced with prosecuting claims and lawsuits involving Jehovah's Witness.

Are you or a loved one the victim of sexual assault perpetrated by a Jehovah's Witness church member? Contact our law firm for a free review of your legal rights and ability to pursue legal action against them on a contingency fee basis.

Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our sex assault attorneys about your sexual abusers remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship with our law firm.

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