Jehovah`s Witness/Royal Commission
Since you are in the area, can you please shed some light on what is going on with the Royal Commission in Australia?
Nice to hear from you, but unfortunately it had to be on such a sad topic. I though someone might have raised that.
It is a sad fact of life that in this world such things as child abuse happens. We on;y have to look to the Bible to see how good people go bad, ie the angel that became Satan, King Solomon and Judas. So it should not surprise us that individuals that claim to follow the Christ in our day, that some will make major sinful mistakes.
From the media reports that have appeared on overseas outlets I have seen on the internet, it seems that a very distorted view has been given about the royal commission that has been happening here in Australia. The few reports that I have seen have given the impression that it was set up solely to investigates child sexual assaults only within our organisation.
I made it a point of following the commission (in relation to JWs) and reading each days transcript and looking at the “evidence” and reports submitted. (still going through the 1000s of pages)
The facts are that when JWs come before the royal commission it was on day 147 of the public hearings and JWs were before the commissioner for 8 days.
The purpose of the Royal Commission was to hold “formal public hearings to examine evidence about child sexual abuse and how institutions responded to allegations of abuse.”
The Royal Commission held its First Sitting at the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday 3 April 2013.
The list of “institutions” that were/are to be looked at are
33 The Salvation Army (Southern Territory), October 2015, Adelaide
32 Geelong Grammar, September 2015, Melbourne
31 Retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, August 2015, Sydney
30 State run youth training and reception centres, August 2015, Melbourne
29, Jehovah's Witnesses, July 2015, Sydney
28, Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat, November 2015, Melbourne
27, Health Care Providers, May 2015, Sydney
26, St Joseph's Orphanage, April 2015, Rockhampton
25, Redress and civil litigation, March 2015, Sydney
24, Out-of-home care, March and June 2015, Sydney
23, Knox Grammar, February 2015, Sydney
22, Yeshivah, February 2015, Melbourne
21, Satyananda Yoga Ashram, December 2014, Sydney
20, Hutchins School, November 2014, Hobart
19, Bethcar Children's Home, October 2014, Sydney
18, Australian Christian Churches, October 2014, Sydney
17, Retta Dixon Home, September 2014, Darwin
16, Melbourne Response, August 2014, Melbourne
15, Swimming Australia, July 2014, Sydney
14, Diocese of Wollongong, June 2014, Sydney
13, Marist Brothers, June 2014, Canberra
12, Perth school, May 2014, Perth
11, Christian Brothers, April 2014, Perth
10, Salvation Army (Eastern Territory), March 2014, Sydney
9, St Ann's Special School, March 2014, Adelaide
8, Towards Healing, March 2014, Sydney
7, Parramatta Girls and Hay Institution, February 2014, Sydney
6, Toowoomba, February 2014, Brisbane
5, Salvation Army (NSW and QLD), January 2014, Sydney
4, Towards Healing, December 2013, Sydney
3, North Coast Children's Home, November 2013, Sydney
2, YMCA, October 2013, Sydney
1, Scouts, September 2013, Sydney
As far as the WTBS (JWs) the commissions aim was to explore “... an examination of the systems, policies and procedures in place within the Jehovah's Witness Church and Watchtower Australia for responding to allegations of child sexual abuse, and the mechanisms in place to prevent child sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witness Church.”
The hearing involving JWs heard submissions form two victims of child sex abuse, that occurred between 25 and 30 years ago. The Commission heard their recollections on how matters were handled as well from evidence by the elders involved in looking into the allegations. Much of the evidence involved notes taken at the time as well as many letters in relation to the matters. Some of the concerns raised by the "victims" had to deal with the then procedure of telling their accounts to men, and, about the concerns of the perpetrators being reinstated as JWs. As can be expected there were problems with remembering finer details from that length of time as well as differences of opinion in to what actually transpired.
The commission heard evidence of the things that have been put in place by JWs over many years as well as evidence of the many warnings and education material for parents.
The Royal Commission operates like a court, but it is not a “legal” institution. Its roll is to examine evidence and make recommendations. In the opening address by the person in the roll of the “prosecutor” he made the statement that therfe were 1006 cases of “child sex abuse” on file at the Australian Branch of the WBTS from 1950 until the present (65 years) of alleged child abuse The various media outlets in several countries reported that there were 1006 cases.
It must also be remembered that child sexual abuse covers from rape to just inappropriate touching. No distinction is made the records as to the gravity or severity of the abuse. What the papers did not reveal is that these allegations also included reports of “attacks” on JW minor children from perpetrators that were not connected with JWs. Many were non JW family members. The number given included all “alledged attackes” even those for which there was no evidence or could be proved in any way.
A law firm did an analysis of the data provided by the WTS over that 65 year period the break down into several, various components. Bellow is just one of those that shows what the number of 1006 cases is made up of
Non family, non Witness - - - - - - - - - - - - - 199 reports
Family, non Witness - - - - - --- - - - 470 reports
Elders; where victims were family and or non family - - - - - 18
Ministerial Servants; where victims were family and or non family - 32
Parishioners; where victims were family and or non family - - - - 287 reports
- - - - - - - - - 1006 reports
As far as “clergy” being responsible for such attacks in the 65 years there were only 18 reports. In total over that 65 year period there were 337 cases of JWs committing these offences not 1006 as the reports seemed to suggest.
Also, the media reports also did not tell us that in the last 10 years since 2005 there were only 2 cases reported of elders and 3 cases of ministerial servants. All five case were handled by the secular authorities.
Until very recently it has not been law for elders (church “priests”/ ministers) to report such matters to the authorities. However it has been the policy to inform the guardians of these children that it is their responsibility if they so wished to report it to the authorities. That does not apply to all states evidently. (That was one thing the commission wants to see changed - to have uniform laws on reporting)
Well that is a brief overview of the evidence given