Jehovah’s Witnesses sex abuse investigation
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The Charity Commission is investigating the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Britain as well as one of the congregations (Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses).
The investigation was first commenced in July 2013 and is continuing. Among the matters being investigated is the organisation’s handling of safeguarding issues such as how it protects children and adults who may be at risk of sex abuse.
The Charity Commission became concerned about the organisation’s safeguarding policies following several criminal cases involving historic sex abuse concerning people who appeared to be connected with the charity or Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations.
A former elder from the congregation at Moston, Greater Manchester, was jailed for nine months for abusing two girls then aged just five and ten. He made the news again when the congregation seemingly allowed him to question his two victims at a public meeting following his release from prison. Another former elder, was given a 12 year prison sentence for systematic sexual abuse after pleading guilty to 23 counts of indecent assault and sexual assault on a young girl over an eight year period.
The Commission has stressed that it will not be investigating specific allegations of abuse, historic or otherwise, as its brief is the proper regulation of charities. The Commission has therefore recommended that anyone who has concerns about instances of sex abuse involving any charity should report them to the police.
It has been established that Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations may be held liable for sex abuse carried out by their members and it is often possible to claim compensation for the abuse suffered even where the abuser may have died since.