A group of former Jehovah witness members are coming out to sue the organisation over alleged s3xual abuse when they were younger.
The accusers revealed that the organisation has a policy of not punishing alleged child s3x abuse unless a second person, alongside the accuser, has witnessed it – or an abuser confesses.
The Jehovah’s Witness group countered the claim saying its elders “comply with child-abuse reporting laws even if there is only one witness”, though, and always tell police if a child is in danger.
But one former elder said it had been failing to involve the authorities. A victim, John Viney said his abuser had gone on to abuse other children
John, said he was abused between the ages of nine and 13, by “a distant family member who was an active Jehovah’s Witness”, added children were still being abused and the religious organisation was “inadvertently” protecting their abusers.
“The way that Jehovah’s Witnesses handle matters within the congregation, it’s a closed shop,” he told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.
“I know for a fact now that there are parents that haven’t done anything about the abuse of their children by others because they don’t want to bring reproach on Jehovah’s name.”
Mr. Viney’s own daughter, Karen, was also abused as a child but has since spoken out about it publicly. Although, Mr. Viney disowned her after she left the organisation.
“When I was an elder and a dad, I put being an elder absolutely first,” he said. “And that was a mistake.”
Mr. Viney said he had eventually reported his own abuser to the police, in 2019, after years of being too “ashamed”, only to be told the man had gone on to abuse other children and died in prison.
Thomas Beale, a solicitor representing some of the former members, said they had decided to seek compensation after asking the group for an apology only to find it “denying what has happened or refusing to engage”.
Another accuser said after she had been abused she was visited by elders of the organisation who had quoted the scripture “about why we should keep it in-house, not follow the laws of the land”. And she had been asked to recount explicit details, with the elders “glaring at me”.
Several former members have also told BBC News they were made to discuss their allegations with the elders at a “judicial committee”, while their alleged abuser sat next to them.
Emma’s revealed that her abuser was jailed for two years but was welcomed back into the organisation.
To counter the claims of these groups, A Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman said: “The only way that a child abuser can gain access to children in a religious organisation like ours, which does not have any programmes that separate children from their parents, is through parents themselves.”
He said that for “decades”, the organisation had educated parents “about the dangers of child abuse and how they can protect their children” and parents and victims were informed they had the right to report the matter to the authorities.