Reporting of child sex abuse has been mandated by two former Jehovah’s Witness elders after reports have been made that the organization is under the belief that it is only “answerable only to God”.
One of the elders, Duncan Corbett, has said that the protection of children and the handling of sexual abuse of minors should be removed from the church’s responsibility. “Let them deal with the sin and the authorities handle the crime,” he told a hearing in London.
Another former elder, Lloyd Evans, said: “This is a group that feels they are answerable only to God … They don’t feel as though they need to yield to any regulations that are imposed on them.”
The two former elders, in addition to another former Jehovah’s Witness and a survivor of abuse, Sarah Davies, told the investigators that the leaders of the organization insisted they be unquestioningly obeyed and respected.
Loyd Evans, who as a kid very rarely met people outside the faith, said there was “no room for deviation” within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “It can’t be overstated, the authority and influence that elders have.”
According to Corbett, elders are told that their appointment has been “approved by the Holy Spirit”. It was “drilled into the congregation that they must be submissive,” he said.
The elders did not need background checks but were asked a “one-off, once-in-a-lifetime” verbal question about sexual abuse.
A childhood victim of sex abuse, who chose to remain anonymous, said she had been sexually abused by a “ministerial servant” – which is someone just one level below an elder – and ran study groups in her congregation. He allegedly told her when she was under the age of nine, that she would die in the coming armageddon. The That perpetrator, Peter Stewart, only allegedly stopped the abuse when he went to prison.