WARNING – This article contains sexually explicit content that is extremely disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.
According the to the Complaint (available here – use a VPN if needed, or on avoidjw.org) filed in Kings County Supreme Court on August 13, 2021 under the provisions of the Child Victims Act, the victim/plaintiff/stepdaughter suffered horrific sexual abuse between the years 1982 to 1988 when she was 10 to 16 years old during her stay at Bethel at the hands of her stepfather, William Briggs. She became a pioneer in 1987 or 1988.
William Briggs was employed (without any salary) by Watchtower to produce videos at Bethel/ God’s House. Due to his position, Plaintiff and her family split their time between Arizona and New York. Plaintiff and her family would spend three months in New York, where they lived at Bethel, then return back to Arizona for one month, and then go back to New York for three months, and so on and so forth.
Briggs used his stepdaughter as a sex slave during their stay at God’s House, sexually abusing her three to five times per week, and included, but was not limited to, sodomy, rape, forced oral copulation, and Briggs urinating in Plaintiff’s mouth.
The victim’s mother suffered from alcoholism. While Plaintiff’s family was living at Bethel, her mother would frequently consume alcohol to the point of incapacitation. Once she was incapacitated, Briggs would sexually abuse his stepdaughter in their room at God’s House.
In approximately 1986 when she was 14 years old, Plaintiff reported her sexual abuse to Michael Filla, an Elder who worked at Bethel. Mr. Filla did nothing in response including not making a report to the New York Police Department (NYPD). Briggs’ sexual abuse of his stepdaughter continued at Bethel after her report to Mr. Filla.
The victim subsequently sought help separately from and reported the sexual abuse to the following elders at Bethel:
- Ted Adams, the Overseer of all video projects
- Mr. Underwood, the Overseer of all international construction at Bethel
- Jack Barr, an Elder and a member of the Governing Body at the time. Mr. Barr told Plaintiff that he would relay her report to the entire Governing Body.
- Mr. Gerrit Losch
All five (5) Bethel elders did nothing in response to the victim’s report. After each report Briggs continued to use his daughter as a sex slave right under the nose of Watchtower and the Governing Body. There is no indication that none of the five (5) elders named above or the Governing called the NYPD or Child Protective Services.
About one week after her report to Mr. Jack Barr, he informed Plaintiff that the Governing Body had “taken care of it”. He told her that she should feel privileged for having the experiences that she had at Bethel and that her stepfather was too important to be disciplined because of his role in creating videos at Bethel. Mr. Barr said that they couldn’t do anything about her abuse because her stepfather had only admitted to digitally penetrating and not raping Plaintiff. Furthermore, Mr. Barr threatened the victim with religious sanctions if she continued to talk about her abuse, including being stripped of her privileges as a Pioneer.
Following her report to Mr. Barr, Plaintiff was removed from her mother and stepfather’s room at Bethel. Plaintiff was told that her stepfather would not be told why she was being removed from his room. Watchtower broke this guarantee and Briggs was later informed that the Plaintiff was removed from his room due to her accusations that he was sexually abusing her.
Briggs’ sexual abuse of Plaintiff continued when they returned to Arizona. Based on information and belief, while in Arizona Briggs escalated his behavior, including by physically abusing his stepdaughter, in retaliation for Plaintiff’s aforementioned reports.
In or around 1987, Plaintiff reported her ongoing sexual abuse to Mr. Gerrit Losch who responded that it had been handled, that Briggs was sufficiently repentant, and that Plaintiff should not talk to anybody else about the abuse anymore. Following the victim’s report to Mr. Losch, Briggs continued to sexually abuse his stepdaughter at their home in Arizona. There is no indication that Mr. Barr or the Governing Body called the NYPD.
It is unclear at this time, whether the victim’s mother attempted to make a police report or whether Watchtower officials threatened her with religious sanction should she report the sexual offenses to the NYPD.
Briggs was never disciplined or received religion sanctions by Watchtower or Governing Body for admitting to sexually abusing his stepdaughter. Additionally, the victim ignored Watchtower’s and the Governing Body’s directive to keep quiet about her sexual abuse and continued to report her abuse to several other Jehovah’s Witness members, including several more elders.
Watchtower and the Governing Body retaliated against Plaintiff by imposing religion sanctions, removing her religious privileges as a Pioneer in 1991. On the day that Plaintiff’s privileges were removed, she was also publicly reproved, and her perpetrator Briggs was elevated to the position of Elder. Watchtower and the Governing Body harbored, provided shelter and was permissible toward a religious member who was a monster criminal known only to them.
As a result, the victim sustained physical and psychological injuries, including, but not limited to, severe emotional distress, confusion, humiliation, fright, anxiety, a severe shock to her nervous system, and has been caused to suffer physical pain and mental anguish, emotional and psychological damage. Some or all of these injuries are of a permanent and lasting nature. The victim suffers from physical pain and mental anguish, and permanent emotional and psychological damage.
Watchtower’s Service Department has never made a mandated child abuse report to law enforcement. In this particular case, the Service Department did not inform the NYPD about Brigg’s criminal conduct. In court case after court case, it is abundantly evident that Watchtower is more interested in protecting its reputation; protecting their clergy-penitent and client-attorney privileges; rather than the safety of children.
It is also evident that in court case after court case, the Service Department never once advised local congregation elders to inform local law enforcement regarding allegations of child rape/molestation/criminal conduct; and the few elders that did so on their own accord, Watchtower retaliated by stripping off their religious privileges also.
Through policies of non-reporting to law enforcement and non-cooperation with criminal child molestation investigations, Watchtower and Governing Body aided and abetted, protected accused and admitted child molesters from criminal prosecution and thereby increased the risk of molestation of minors.
These are the same religious people that stand at the street corners, knocking on doors, writing letters and making telephone calls, in a planned effort to recruit unsuspecting members of the public into their perverted religion.
Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to abuse their freedom of religion, freedom of speech and other privileges to conveniently hide and endorse criminal acts against children in the communities in which they practice their religion.
It is now very evident more than ever that Jehovah’s Witnesses simply do not care. Stephen Lett made statements on a broadcast video that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not permissible towards pedophiles. However this particular case demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt, that Jehovah’s Witnesses remain a very dangerous threat to the safety and welfare of children in the community.
Be aware of ravenous wolves with poisoned teeth, who come in sheep’s clothing with promises of “paradise”.
Watchtower is the monster and bogeyman under the bed of children.
The victim is being represented by The Zalkin Law Firm.