Child sex abuse royal commission hears Jehovah's Witness Church did not sanction self-confessed paedophile

ABC News
July 29, 2015

Justice Peter McClellan (left) and Commissioner Helen Milroy at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing.

A paedophile who admitted to molesting his daughters was not believed or sanctioned for it by the Jehovah's Witness Church, the royal commission into child sex abuse hears.

It is the second day that church elder Dino Ali has been questioned about the way he responded to one particularly shocking case of abuse.

Yesterday a woman known by the initials BCG, who was a member of the Mareeba congregation in Far North Queensland in the 1980s, 1990s, told the commission that when she spoke to the church hierarchy of the abuse against her and her three sisters she was treated with disdain.

This morning, in the face of new evidence, Mr Ali was questioned by counsel for BCG, Pauline David, about why no finding of abuse was made despite the perpetrator BCH making a confession.

Pauline David: So a confession of itself is sufficient evidence, isn't it? To prove that...

Dino Ali: It is, yes. Quite true.

Ms David: But in this case, you just ignored it.

Mr Ali: No.

Ms David: Well you weren't satisfied with it, were you?

Mr Ali: No, we needed, I think ... it's hard to define that except to say that the person might say things on the spur of the moment because they needed to get out of that situation. We needed to follow through to make sure that eventually this was the case — that this was true that we could act on it.

Yesterday Mr Ali gave contrary evidence that there was no confession or corroborating witness accounts, therefore the abuse could not be proved under biblical law.

The commission has heard the church has not reported a single suspected perpetrator of child sexual abuse to police despite there being more than 1,000 since 1950.

BCH was eventually tried and jailed once his daughter left the church and reported the abuse to police.

Mr Ali was questioned by counsel assisting the commission, Angus Stewart, this morning about why the church did not take that step itself, seeming to suggest the church believed it was up to the perpetrators to report themselves.

Angus Stewart: Do you not think this man should go to jail?

Dino Ali: I'm very happy that eventually he did for what he did.

Mr Stewart: Well, that was only because BCG, some years later, found the strength after she'd left the church to report to the police. In the interim, you and your colleagues didn't report to the police at all.

Mr Ali: No, we didn't.

Mr Stewart asked him whether it was appropriate for the perpetrator BCH to be walking the streets and continuing an ordinary life after the allegations.

"It's certainly not a good thing for him to be freely doing what he was doing," Mr Ali said.

Yesterday BCG gave evidence that her father sexually abused her on a number of occasions over a two-week period when she was 17 years old.

She believes he may also have abused her around the age of five, and her three sisters have said they were also abused at a young age.

"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 said the formal proceedings offered by the church were woefully inadequate.

"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."


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