SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [Chicago IL]
July 7, 2023
By Zack Hiner
A Pennsylvania grand jury investigating child sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses community has charged another five people with raping or molesting children as young as 4, the latest developments in an ongoing probe that has identified 14 suspects.
In the allegations that were made public on Friday, Attorney General Michelle Henry said that the men had groomed or obtained access to the kids using the church, sometimes by inviting them into the kid’s family’s house. One woman said that between the ages of 7 and 12, a church member who was 18 at the time of the assaults raped her at least 50 times. Related charges have appeared against other perpetrators.
We strongly suspect that the named defendants have other victims, some of whom the statute of limitations likely expired. Just think about how many victims could have been spared if the courtroom doors were open longer for criminal and civil claims.
It is terrifying to consider how criminals take advantage of our confidence by lying and operating in secret to harm those who are most defenseless and using faith-based groups as their shield. These crimes and cover-up are far from a thing of the past, it is very much a thing of the present and future. Reforming outdated statutes of limitations is crucial because it gives the public information by exposing those who have caused great harm. It is a known fact that sexual predators can not be cured but rather it continues up until death.
We know that pursuing justice against these perpetrators would not be possible if it were not for the strength and courage of the brave victims who stepped forward. These charges read like so many others that have been heard for the past several decades, abuse facilitated within a faith-based community. Abusive men who weaponized their affiliation with a congregation to prey upon their victims. We’ve seen this before. Yet just because this is nothing new doesn’t mean that the actions aren’t just as horrific. We believe this is the tip of the iceberg and hope that further charges will be brought against others complicit in these crimes.
To us, these tragedies serve as an example that abuse should be reported to law enforcement only. We sincerely hope that anyone else who may have been harmed or has knowledge involving these crimes or others within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, call the Office of Attorney General hotline at 888-538-8541.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)