Royal commission into child sexual abuse: Former Jehovah's Witness tells hearing of abuse by father who was church elder

By Danuta Kozaki
ABC News
July 28, 2015

Justice Peter McClellan (L) and commissioner Helen Milroy at the hearing. Justice McClellan questioned church elder Doug Jackson about the treatment of a witness.

A child abuse victim and former Jehovah's Witness has detailed how she was abused by her father, who was an elder with the church in north Queensland.

During its hearings in Sydney, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard the Jehovah's Witness church did not report any complaints to police involving the assault of children.

The 43-year-old witness codenamed BCG told the commission she spoke to the church hierarchy of the abuse against her and her three sisters, and was treated with disdain.

"It felt so wrong that my father's abuse affected me so much and yet didn't even qualify as something wrong in the eyes of Jehovah's witnesses who professed to be acting with the authority of Jehovah and the Holy Spirit which is considered to be above Australian law," she said.

BCG also told the commission the formal proceedings offered by the Jehovah's Witness church were woefully inadequate.

BCG said she had been interrogated by the church hierarchy in a committee meeting.

She said many years later she finally went to the police and her father was eventually convicted after three trials.

"The trials were easy compared to what I had been through with the elders during the committee meetings - at least the court has rules when questioning survivor witnesses," she said.

"The Jehovah's Witnesses can do what and insinuate whatever they want and there are no protections for the victims at all."

Earlier today, the commission's chairman, Justice Peter McClellan, questioned church elder Doug Jackson regarding the treatment of another witness, code-named BCB.

"Mr Jackson, it's plain from her evidence that she was very severely affected by these events. Do you agree?" he asked.

Mr Jackson replied: "I would say yes."

Justice McClellan then asked: "It's also plain the process that you engaged in inflicted further trauma on her. Do you understand that?"

Mr Jackson then replied: "I understand it, but at the time I don't think I appreciated it to that degree."

BCG told the commission that children in the Jehovah's Witness church are still vulnerable, especially as members are discouraged from going to the police.

"In my experience the church's current practices still favour and even protect paedophiles," she said.


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