The Jehovah’s Witness community allegedly maintained a private list of hundreds of child molestation reports by “undocumented child molesters.”
According to The Atlantic, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which serves at the head of the Jehovah’s Witness organization, sent a survey to its 10,883 U.S. Kingdom Halls (worship places) regarding abuse within their community. The survey also asked how the community viewed the abusers and how widely known it was that they were abusers.
The reports were mailed back to Watchtower in blue envelopes and scanned into a computer, but the information was never shared with law enforcement.
In 2014, during a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed a Jehovah’s Witness leader molested him in 1986, an attorney for the Watchtower said that the U.S. headquarters received 775 blue envelopes from 1997 to 2001 but did not say how many had been sent in since then.
According to the Atlantic, the organization has a “two-witness rule” which provides Biblical justification for covering up child molestation: “Barring a confession, no member of the organization can be officially accused of committing a sin without two credible eyewitnesses who are willing to corroborate the accusation.”
“Child molesters rarely commit crimes in the presence of anyone else. This organization’s ‘rule’ is a disservice to communities. It protects predators and keeps survivors suffering in silence,” said Jeff Herman, a nationally recognized attorney for victims of sexual abuse.