Jehovah's Witness Church inquiry resumes

Sky News
August 3, 2015

A royal commission will continue to hear from senior officials of the Jehovah's Witness Church when it resumes its investigation into child sex abuse allegations on Monday.

In the witness stand on day five of the hearing will be church elders and officials from Watchtower Bible Tract Society of Australia - the church's legal entity.

Last week the commission heard from two women who who went through the Witnesses internal process for dealing with sex abuse allegations.

They revealed they were required to confront their abusers when they gave evidence at an internal judicial hearing before three elders - all men.

It was also revealed last week that the Jehovah's Witness Church's theocratic judicial system is based on biblical rules which require two witnesses to testify to a wrongdoing.

As sex abuse offences are rarely witnessed this system invariably benefits the abuser and can re-traumatise the abuse victim, the commission has pointed this out to church officials who have already given evidence.

There have been 1002 abuse cases investigated by the Jehovah's Witnesses since the 1950s and not one was reported to police.

On Friday Monica Applewhite, a US-based consultant, employed by the church to evaluate its procedures for the royal commission, said she thought the church was now accepting written evidence from abuse victims rather than expecting them to confront the alleged abuser.

She also agreed with Angus Stewart SC, counsel advising the commission, that the Jehovah's Witness Church was deficient when it came to current best practices in dealing with abuse allegations.



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