The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been holding public hearings in Sydney, Australia. These public hearings began on Monday July 27 2015 for the church of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are referred to as Case Study 29. The scope and purpose of the public hearing was to inquire into:
1. The experience of survivors of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Australia.
2. The response of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to allegations, reports or complaints of child sexual abuse within the Church.
3. The systems, policies and procedures in place within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd for raising and responding to allegations of or concerns about child sexual abuse within the Church.
4. The systems, policies and procedures in place within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to prevent child sexual abuse within the Church.
5. Any related matters.
Here are some interesting facts regarding child sexual abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses that were brought out as part of that hearing:
1. The child sexual abuse cases span 77 years, beginning in 1938 right up to 2015.
2. There was at least 1732 children who were sexually abused. Over 650 of those children were abused by family members.
3. At least 170 of the children sexually abused were under the age of 5.
4. There was 1006 alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of that number, 15 were women.
5. 579 of the alleged abusers confessed to their crime(s). 306 did not. Of the remaining 121, it’s unclear whether they confessed or not.
6. 95 of the alleged child abusers were not Jehovah’s Witnesses when they committed their first sexual abuse.
7. 65 of the alleged child abusers were ministerial servants; 42 were elders; 8 were pioneers; and 1 was a circuit overseer.
8. At least 56 ministerial servants and 27 elders were deleted from their roles. 6 elders and 2 ministerial servants were re-appointed to their roles.
9. Over 33 ministerial servants, 13 elders and 1 pioneer were disfellowshipped.
10. 14 ministerial servants, 4 elders and 1 pioneer were convicted for Child Sexual Abuse by the Australian authorities, yet 3 of those elders and 3 of those ministerial servants were never disfellowshipped for their crimes.
11. Not a single instance of Child Sexual Abuse was ever reported to the authorities by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
These figures are staggering when you consider that Australia is a large country, but with a small population of almost 24 million. It is clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses did not report child sexual abuse to the authorities because they were more interested in protecting their “godly” image rather than protecting their children from sexual predators.