Mirko Mellacca, former elder of Jehovah’s Witnesses: “We did not report child abuse”
“At least on 4 occasions, I have had to face sexual abuse of minors. For none of these events has ever been filed a complaint to the authorities “. Mirko Mellacca has for years played a leading role in Jehovah’s Witnesses. He explained to Fanpage.it why sexual violence against minors committed by members of the religious organization does not come to light.
“In 9 out of 10 cases, child sexual abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses is not reported. The desire of individual believers that children are protected is not in question. The problem lies in the ‘high tops’ that are always prized of the fact that certain things in their organization do not happen because they are ‘the people of God'”.
Mirko Mellacca is a 37-year-old computer programmer who has long played a key role in Jehovah’s Witnesses. “At least four times I had to face sexual violence against minors. There are three that I remember in a clearer way. For none of these events has ever been filed a complaint to the authorities”.
The son of parents converted to Jehovah’s cult, Mirko, is a teenager when his father asks him to be baptized. And he accepts without reservations. At the age of 27 he was appointed to the role of an elder . A “career” that will take him in a few years to become “coordinator of the body of the elderly”. “This allowed me to travel a lot and get to know more closely how this organization operates. I was a point of reference for hundreds of people – he explains – and I felt strong the spiritual responsibility that my figure required. To listen to my last speech there was a crowd of about 8000 people”.
Three years ago he was disfellowshipped, or expelled from the congregation to which he belonged. “After 8 hours of judicial committee decided to expel me. Not so much for what I had done, as for the role I held. If I could go back, I would take the courage in both hands and decide to dissociate myself voluntarily “.
Abandoned the geovista cult, Mellacca wrote a book in which he tells his experience . “I realized I was aware of information that 90% of witnesses do not know . Some information does not even know the majority of congregation elders. It is not my goal to throw mud or discredit any specific person, simply – he points out – I want to transmit real information, then each will draw the conclusions he deems most appropriate “.
Given that the official position of Jehovah’s Witnesses, contained in the book “Graze the flock of God”, is quite clear about the cases of pedophilia (“Child abuse constitutes a crime.) Never suggest not to report a case of abuse on minors to police or other authorities), Mellacca has a different opinion on how abuse is dealt with within the congregations.
Have you ever faced cases of child abuse?
“Yes, it happened at least on 4 occasions.Those I remember in a clearer way are three.The first case is that of a woman of about 35. The husband, who was in turn an elder, told me that his wife as a child she had been molested by her father , who at the time was already a baptized Jehovah’s Witness, following the directives that the central congregation had provided to the elderly, me and another elder, in this case her husband, We called Bethel (the headquarters of witnesses in Italy) to inform about the facts and await instructions.The answer, which I actually expected, was: ‘Sister (Jehovah’s followers call each other brother and sister, ed) must face the father to ask for what happened. If the father confirms, then he can proceed against him with a judicial committee. The husband and I reported to the woman what she should do. He burst into tears. For her it meant opening an old wound of over 20 years . It was clear: he would never have done it except that he was asked to be a ‘representative of Jehovah’. So he faced his father, who obviously denied everything. The question ended like this. We wrote a note that would be kept in a confidential file with the name of the two people involved, the indictment and the reaction of the accused person. Nothing more. Obviously the authorities were not contacted . I felt pretty bad “.
“In the second case, a 14-year-old girl confided to me an abuse right away, I asked her if the parents knew what happened and she said no, according to the directives received, I should have called ‘immedi- ) Bethel to wait for instructions This would have meant telling complete strangers who were in Rome what had happened to this little girl even before her parents knew. I thought about it a bit. And I decided not to make that phone call. Rather, I called my father and told him he would do well to have a chat with his daughter. Two days later his father, in tears, thanked me for having involved him immediately. He clearly did not know that I should have called Betel : those directives are confidential and for the exclusive use of the elderly. Despite this, he asked me to make sure that the matter remained private , he did not want the other elders to know it. Even this episode left me with a bitter taste “.
” The third case is perhaps the most indicative: I was called by a neighboring congregation to participate in a judiciary committee in charge of an elder, who had been accused by his sister-in-law of having abused her when she was only a child . of the years, he had repeatedly led the girl not to confess it: it had to be their secret.When he was then named an elder, he led her to believe that she had talked to the other elders and they had reassured him that it was all a place, certain mistakes can be committed’. In the period in which we faced the question, I remember that I did not sleep for a few days. The decision was to disassociate that old man, who continued to minimize what he had done. But the absurdity was that at the end of the committee I asked the other two elders: ‘Do you think this person should be reported to the authorities?’. We talked about it a bit. In the end we decided to write a letter to Bethel to ask how to behave. The answer came in a very short time: we had done well to disassociate that person. Point . The letter did not answer our question on the complaint at all. And the thing died there. Even today, nobody knows what this man did, neither the other witnesses, nor the local community. By the way:today that man has returned to being a witness of Jehovah . ”
What are the directives of the TGs on cases of pedophilia?
” The first is the rule of the two witnesses: to proceed internally, that is to form a judicial committee, it is necessary that there are two witnesses of sin.This applies to any sin, from drunkenness to smoking, from adultery to child abuse. In the case of abuse, however, it seems to me quite obviously that a pedophile does not call a third person before acting.It is an absurdity, and in this the authorities must intervene.A child who attends that environment is clearly in danger . It’s the reality, parents trust the organization, trust the elderly, and if the organization says it takes two witnesses, there are no arguments,this is the best thing because it is a divine disposition “.
“And then there is a second contradiction concerning relations with the authorities.” Until 30 years ago, the common idea among witnesses was not to report. “What do we do if one of us denounces another of Jehovah’s Witnesses? bad publicity. “Then they diverted slightly, leaving the decision to the parents: I do not encourage you to report and do not discourage yourself, you decide .” Now, for some months, the elderly are reminded parents that if they wish, they can Denounce An organization that needs to put down an education like this clearly has a very strong power over people’s lives.Why should a religious institution remind you of such a thing? Perhaps because up to now in 99 cases out of 100 these crimes have never been reported? “.
Why do cases of pedophilia not come to light?
“Those who are inside trust the organization that thinks they are in an iron barrel: those who come out of it do not always have the strength and the will to tell what they lived in. Some prefer to forget, others find themselves alone and for even if they survive it becomes a battle, some say, and I think that doing so is an absolutely necessary step to prevent others from getting hurt like it has happened too many times. ”
Why do not the parents of abused children report?
“Because organization is the supreme authority, Jesus is the head of the congregation, so if you have a problem the first thing you do is call the elders, who are ‘ stars in the hands of Christ .” Then, especially in the last period, you can also decide to denounce, but it is a next step.The organization teaches you that the secular authorities have been placed in their respective positions by God. “In essence it is God who allows the authorities to act. supreme authority is that of God, who obviously acts through his organization.In the past, control over the faithful was very close.One time, it was very difficult for a Jehovah’s Witness to come into contact with this information.Today it is not so and even the witnesses realize that something is wrong.And they do not always obey blindly “.