Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to help the justice system in child abuse cases
Denomination Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to cooperate with the Public Prosecution Service in a lawsuit against a suspect of child abuse. The suspect is a Jehovah witness. The Public Prosecutor demanded a document containing a confession of the perpetrator, but the organization does not want to give that document, the OM confirms after reporting RTL Nieuws .
The 31-year-old Samet G. was convicted last week for abusing his ten-year-younger niece. The abuse occurred largely in the period that both were underage. That is why the court pronounced two judgments. The mother of the victim made a declaration on behalf of her daughter in 2015.
The court imposed a suspended prison sentence of 6 months plus 3 months ofconditional juvenile detention. The penalty is lower than usual in these cases, because the case has dragged on for so long. The perpetrator also received a community service of 240 hours and has to pay damages of more than 10,000 euros. G. appealed against the decision.
G. confessed to the court that he had his niece several times touched. In 2011 he was put on non-active by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The court considers the sexual penetration of the victim’s body when she was younger than 12, and between her twelfth and sixteenth years of age, proven.
G. would also have made a confession internally, but he does not want to share the organization with the law. In doing so, Jehovah’s Witnesses invoke the right of non-disclosure.
In February it already appeared that the organization had for years kept records of accusations of child sexual abuse. Perpetrators are tried internally by the society and not reported to the police. The reports of internal “lawsuits” are not shared with the judiciary.
At the end of 2017 a hotline was opened for victims of abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the first month dozens of reports came in, last month that had risen to several hundred. Because the organization refuses to cooperate in research into sexual abuse within the religious community, the Lower House called for an independent investigation last month .
Note from the editors: an earlier version of this article referred to an imposed conditional prison sentence of 6 months and compensation of more than 6,000 euros. Because the offenses occurred during the period that perpetrator and victim were both minors and adults, the judge pronounced two judgments simultaneously. In the old article only the statement about the period of majority is included.