Clergy Abuse Victims

Watchtower Instructs Elders to Keep Child Abuse Secret

Jehovah’s Witnesses have a child sex abuse problem.  JWs have a problem because Watchtower teaches elders to keep the abuse secret.  That’s right!  You read that correctly:


But don’t take my word for it.  I’ve included the testimony from Watchtower’s representative, Doug Chappel.  You can read it here.  And, I’ve included links to the actual transcript.

Here is testimony from Watchtower’s representative:

Q. Okay, let me get back and make sure this is very clear because we are talking about what Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Elders are taught, what the policies are.  They are taught that if the legal department says “you don’t have to report” — do you follow me?
A. Yes.
Q. That the Elders are taught, “You must keep it confidential.” Yes?
A. Yes.
Q. They must — they’re taught they must keep it confidential. Even if the child says, and I quote, “This is not me asking for confidentiality,” the Elders are still instructed “You keep your mouth shut and you don’t report it.” That’s true, isn’t it?
A. Yes.
Q. They even go — Jehovah’s Witnesses even go a step further and they tell these Elders, “If you tell Child Protective Services after legal tells you ‘We don’t think you have to report'” — they tell the Elders “You’re breaking our confidentiality policy”?
A. Yes.

Testimony from Doug Chappel.  He was the representative for Watchtower at trial.  Nunez v Watchtower.  Page 212 of the transcript.  You can read it here:

Watchtower tells elders that they must answer to God if they report child molesters to law enforcement.

Q. Sir, I’m looking at your first sworn testimony, Page 141, Line 20. First of all my question, “Is it a bad thing that he reported to law enforcement?” Your answer is, “Well, it wasn’t required and so he knows what the Bible says about confidentiality in Proverbs and so if he decides to go ahead and report it, then that’s between him and Jehovah. He knows what Jehovah requires of him as an Elder and so if he decides to do something different, then he has to answer to Jehovah for that.” That was your testimony, wasn’t it?
A. Yes.

Testimony from Doug Chappel, representative for Watchtower.  Page 213 of the transcript.

When elders in Montana failed to notify the police about a known child molester, they were following Watchtower policies.

Q. Now, let me ask you in conclusion about something that is super important. When you look at this board right here (indicating), we’re going to ask about the Elders one, two, and three. Let’s ask about these Elders right here (indicating). Did they do everything the way they were taught to do it by the Jehovah’s Witnesses as I’ve shown it on this board?
A. Yes.
Q. When they did not notify the police, that was them following policies as they were instructed, right?
A. Yes.
Q. These Elders right here at CCJW, when they failed to notify the police, were they following the policies just as they are taught to do?
A. Yes.

Testimony from Doug Chappel, representative for Watchtower.  Page 236 of the transcript.

These are Watchtower’s own words.  Watchtower teaches elders not to report child sex abuse.  If you were abused and JWs failed to report your abuse to authorities, you may have a claim for damages.  You can contact my office to discuss your options.