Watchtower Embarrassed in Court

June 17th, 2012

On June 14, 2012 an Oakland, California jury took very little time to decide that the Watchtower Society was guilty of failing to protect the children in its care. The jury decided that Jehovah’s Witnesses care more about protecting their organization’s reputation than it does the safety of their own children and young people at a Kingdom Hall. That verdict and its potential long-term effects on the Watchtower Society should not be underestimated.

Alameda County Courthouse, Hayward, CA
(where the lawsuit was filed)

Located on the inland side of San Francisco Bay in California, Alameda County has a very typical but diverse middle-class American population. The city of Fremont is located directly across the Bay from Menlo Park, the site of other court cases involving the Watchtower’s taking over a Kingdom Hall. Based on the number of court cases under way in just the San Francisco Bay area, the “faithful slave’s” Legal Department must be working a lot of overtime.

In the case known as “Doe v. The Watchtower Society Bible and Tract Society of New York,” the jury ordered the Watchtower Society and the real perpetrator to pay nearly $7 million compensatory damages. The following day, the same jury awarded the plaintiff another $21 million in punitive damages. The Watchtower is on the hook for all the punitive and 40% of the compensatory damages. Jonathan Kendrick, now a registered sex-offender, did not testify as part of an agreement to not have to actually pay his part of the damages.

An outside attorney, Jim McCabe, led the Watchtower Society’s defense team. He expressed his disappointment with the verdict, declaring that there will be appeals and outcome of the case is likely to take several years. “The Jehovah’s Witnesses hate child abuse and believe it’s a plague on humanity,” McCabe said. His opinion was that a religious organization could not be held responsible for the actions of one its members, especially a member who held no responsible assignment for the Kingdom Hall.

Although Jonathan Kendrick had been a Ministerial Servant at one time, McCabe claimed that the Watchtower should not share in the blame because he was not an elder, only an average Witness who attended meetings at the North Fremont Kingdom Hall, located about 30 miles south of Oakland, California. He presented the Watchtower’s claim was that it was not responsible for the acts of someone who was only a member. “[He, Kendrick] brought liability on the group [the Watchtower and the Kingdom Hall] for actions he alone may have taken.”

Observers and reporters of the trial pointed out that the real reason the Watchtower lost the case and may find appeals expensive and fruitless, is because it set very clear policies on how to treat known pedophiles and other criminals within a Kingdom Hall. Board of Elder letters issued by the Watchtower clearly instructed the elders in charge NOT TO REPORT alleged crimes to the local police immediately (in spite of state laws requiring such reports), but rather to call the Watchtower’s Legal Department first for instructions on how to proceed.

Read more about this case at JWSurvey.org.

The Watchtower further complicated their defense by instructing elders NOT TO WARN OTHER MEMBERS that a known molester was in their midst and that they should take steps to protect their children and restrict access to such persons.

The plaintiff’s lawyers provided concrete evidence that demonstrated that the Watchtower shared the blame in this and so many similar cases like it within their congregations.

Unlike earlier court cases that were eventually settled out of court, the plaintiff made it clear she was not interested in any settlement nor would she agree to non-disclosure. Instead, the plaintiff, 26-year Candace Conti, stated that she was not interested in getting rich from the court awarded damages. Her goal was to finally expose the Watchtower’s policies that put so many children at risk while protecting known sex offenders. She wanted to get the facts out to the public and fully expose the truth once and for all. It also helps that California law forbids “gag orders” on these kinds of cases.

Since Jonathan Kendrick molested Miss Conti in the 1990s, he was convicted for at least two other sex related crimes and is a state registered sex offender. Those who know him have indicated that he is still a Jehovah’s Witness “in good standing” and attends a Kingdom Hall near Oakley in nearby Contra Costa County. It is unlikely that he will ever be welcome again in the North Fremont Kingdom Hall.

Rick Simons, the plaintiff’s main attorney, called the verdict “the nation’s largest for a victim of sex abuse involving a religious institution.”

In 1989, the Watchtower published a policy instructing elders to keep reports of child sex abuse secret from Kingdom Hall members. In this case, the North Fremont elders did exactly that when they failed to inform the members in 1994 when they learned of Kendrick’s conviction for misdemeanor child molestation.

Read more about this case at Silent Lambs.

In spite of the elders having that knowledge, Kendrick had access to Miss Conti and other children in the North Fremont Kingdom Hall. He repeatedly molested her in 1995 and 1996. Miss Conti, now 26, was only 9 and 10 years old. Although the elders knew about the crime, they did not share that information with the rest of the congregation. Their secrecy allowed Kendrick the opportunity to molest other children as well.

That secret policy, as constructed and enforced by the Watchtower Society, has now been made public. The “cat is out of the bag” and “the genii is out of the bottle.” The Watchtower can deny the facts, lie, and even call this court case another example of “persecution of Jehovah’s people,” but the facts are finally on the table. The whole world now will soon know the real truth about “The Truth.”™ That revelation and judgment is proof that the Watchtower’s leaders have brought all of this down on their own heads.

The 58-year old Kendrick, a registered sex offender, was convicted in 2004 of molesting another girl in Contra Costa County, Simons said.

“That policy is still in place and it was a secret until, through the power of the court, it was put into evidence,” he said. “That policy was what this case was all about.”

Criminal charges have not been filed against Kendrick in connection with the Conti case, but authorities are investigating.

McCabe said there is a lot of dispute about the plaintiff’s accusations. “But if she was, in fact, abused then we feel horrible, and hope she can make a full recovery and lead a normal life.”

Conti said she had two goals in filing the lawsuit last year: She wanted to do whatever she could to protect children in the future and to encourage sex abuse victims who’ve been hurt by the policy of secrecy to come forward and make their voices heard. She knows that nothing can undo the pain and humiliation that she suffered at Kendrick’s hand and the Watchtower’s policies. But she hopes that the verdict will force the Watchtower to change its policies and give children and families better protection from sick or criminal members of a congregation.

“Hopefully, we can get them to change their policy. Maybe something good will good come out of it.”

Watchtower apologists are already complaining that the case had no merit and that the Watchtower is getting a raw deal. They are also hoping that the world in general doesn’t care enough to follow the case and its final outcome. One Watchtower supporter wrote, “No one really cares. Jehovah’s Witnesses are such a small religion that no one other than apostates and maybe some of Conti’s friends and family members will even take notice. Win or lose, a few million dollars won’t change a thing. The Governing Body makes the rules and they are guided by holy spirit – so who can fight against that? Sister Conti, her family, and all of her supporters will realize what a terrible mistake they made when Armageddon comes and Jehovah judges them as evil doers. I personally feel sorry for what happened to her, but I am more concerned that she gave up her everlasting life just to embarrass the Watchtower and to make herself rich.”

As editor of Ex-JW.com, I want to express my personal support for Miss Conti, her family, her supporters, and her legal team led by Rick Simons. By taking a firm stand against the Watchtower’s clearly illegal and damaging policies and exposing them to the world, she has done us all a great service. May she finally enjoy a life of peace, health, and freedom. I will do my best to make sure the word gets out about her successful pursuit of justice.

Thank you, Candace Conti!

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY

OAKLAND JURY HOLDS JEHOVAH WITNESSES RESPONSIBLE
FOR SEXUAL ABUSE OF FREMONT CHILD

An Alameda County Superior Court jury has found the Jehovah’s Witnesses legally responsible for the sexual abuse of a 9 year old former Fremont girl. The verdict, announced Wednesday June 13, found that the Elders who managed the North Fremont Jehovah’s Witness Congregation in the 1990s knew perpetrator Jonathan Kendrick had sexually molested another child, but kept his child abuse secret from the parents and families with children in the Congregation.

Kendrick went on to repeatedly sexually molest Candace Conti, now 26, over a two year period, using Jehovah Witnesses activities such as door to door neighborhood soliciting as his way to secretly gain control over his young victim. Kendrick was eventually convicted in 2004 of the sexual abuse of another young girl, and is now a Registered Sex Offender in California.

The key issue in the case, according to the victim’s attorney Rick Simons of Hayward, was the written policy of Watchtower New York, Inc., which instructed all Elders in Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregations in the United States to keep reports of child sex abusers within Jehovah’s Witnesses secret to avoid lawsuits. The case is believed to be the first in the nation to directly address the policy of secrecy, adopted in 1989, and still in force today.

Ms. Conti stated “I once wanted to be the best Jehovah’s Witness I could be. Now I feel I’m doing more to help other children in Jehovah’s Witnesses than I ever did walking door to door to spread the ‘good news’.”

The jury awarded $7 million dollars in damages, and will return Thursday to deliberate on whether or not punitive damages should be awarded.

Candace Conti spent 2 years trying to convince the Jehovah’s Witnesses, both in Southern California and in Fremont, to change the secrecy policy, but finally gave up and filed her lawsuit in 2011. “This young woman, who experienced brutal abuse as a child, could not tell anyone for several years, and has walked for many years in a nightmare of depression and isolation, has shown incredible courage in facing the powerful and secrecy laden organization that betrayed her into the hands of a monster” said Mr. Simons of his client.

The verdict came in the courtroom of Judge Robert McGuiness in Dept. 22, Oakland.

Domain Web case #: HG11558324 (Jane Doe v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.)

UPDATE: OAKLAND JURY ADDS $21 MILLION DOLLARS IN PUNITIVE DAMAGES TO
JEHOVAH’S WITNESS CHILD SEX ABUSE CASE


The Oakland jury which found on Wednesday that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were responsible for the repeated sexual molestation of a then 9 and 10 year old girl has added an award of $21,000,001 in punitive damages against Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

The case is the first in the nation to expose the formerly secret written policy of watchtower, in place since 1989, which required all elders to keep the identities of known child abusers in its Congregations secret from parents and other members. The policy allowed Candace Conti to be abused by North Fremont Congregation member Jonathan Kendrick soon after he was known by the elders to have sexually abused another girl.

For more information contact:
Rick Simons: text and cell 510-917-2169/ rick@fjslaw.com/ office 510-582-1080×19

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Comments Feed18 Comments

  1. CC

    The Watchtower apologists may have a big surprise coming their way. It is my opinion that Jehovah is using court cases like this to expose the organization. Why in the world would Candace Conti lose everlasting life for speaking the truth? The ones who are lying and covering up the truth (aka the Governing Body) are the ones who are risking their future life prospects.

  2. Faith

    I am so proud of Candace Conti for being brave and determined enough to take her stand, and bring out the truth of her abuse. I wish that someone had took a stand long ago against these secret, hidden , child molesters in that religion. I have seen it happen first hand to my own brothers in the late 60′s and early 70′s. I also know what it’s like to have been molested (although not by a JW) at 11 yrs. old and my molester was arrested! It’s something that is hard to deal with through out your entire life, but much harder if the pedophile is not held accountable! I hope everyones hears about this case!

  3. Richard Schiller

    I just called this Rick Simons, was told i could be transferred to voicemail, asked my name, and when i said the words i was in a situation, the phone slammed down to hang up. People feud over two sides of the coin, is the accused being the victim of a lie. This is being looked at only because it is a position of power like a police or teacher (A.Hepburn /S.Mclaine Childrens Hour accusing them as lesbians until Shirley commits suicide for her feelings). One might think the innocent church Elder is the victim like the innocent teacher, or like innocent Michael Jackson; but there is another coin with two sides also. I had no friends, because i was femmy, and geeky in science, smart at 9, enjoyed my mom’s friends, asked all JWs why they had school friends when i chose not to, so added to that unbeleiver Dad wanted no kid guests over, and JW mom wanted no after-mess from JW kids. I had a card party & snacks with music at 21. Dad decided mom was leaving with him. A girl was dropped off by her dad who then told the elders i had no chaperone, he decided to stay as that chaperone (in the other room, closed door reading newspaper), and when showing them how to jitter-bug flip a girl over your shoulder (his daughter) he told the elder i had grabbed her boob. So i was not allowed any peace of mind to say how so, and was warned dont do it again… all from elders who didnt appoint a MS, who said to me after i told a joke he said with a flip wrist, is your brother FUNNY like you are, and the CO said they better appoint him. The mother died in car coming from a campsite home Easter Sunday bringing this same DF daughter to get the camera, and the dad decided to adulterate his daughter’s mother-in-law. This is the people who demanded i prove socialable by baby-sitting at 16, while others wondered if my willing to baby sit meant i was a child pervert. But you nonJW factory workers are the same, gay bashing me when i didnt know there was a 1987 sexual harrasment law for false accusations regarding my sex.

  4. Joanna Oz-Davis

    @CC – AMEN!!!! I read that quote and I couldn’t believe it! This person is so brainwashed that they wouldn’t even believe if his or her own kids tried to tell her that her kids had been abused. And believe me when I tell you, whatever ‘spirit’ the elders are being lead by, I will put my hand on the Bible and attest that it is NOT The Holy Spirit of the Bible. J.W.’s are, tragically, being betrayed by the Governing body, who are being lead by ‘Another Jesus, another spirit and another (see also: COUNTERFEIT) gospel’. 2 Cor 11:4

  5. Ray

    It is always advisable to call your lawyer right away when you get arrested. They tell you that when you get arrested.

    You don’t just exploit somebody if they haven’t even been convicted of a crime…. Although the JW’s disfellowship somebody from that organization if they are charged – even though they aren’t yet convicted of any crime..

    The JW organization aren’t responsible because they didn’t do anything wrong… Or illegal.

  6. Bob Rogers

    Richard Kelly’s two excellent books, Growing Up in Mama’s Club, and The Ghosts of Mama’s Club, show how the children of Jahovah’s Wittnesses suffer life-long trauma because of the stringent requirements of the “faith”. nNow we know the organization does nothing to protect children from sexual predators. When will these religious zealots practice what they, presumably, preach.

  7. Faith

    @ Ray…It’s advisable to call a lawyer when you are arrested, but when the JW’s hide the molesters crime within their organization, they can’t be arrested, if no one within the congregation is aware of the pedophile lurking among them, he is free to molest over and over again! That makes the GB not only responsible but also insensitive and cruel to those members who have no idea of their hidden secrets!

  8. Richard E.Kelly

    John, I am very impressed with the balanced reporting of this significant event. Keep up the good work.

  9. Joanna Oz-Davis

    Amen!!! It’s one thing if the Governing Body or the elders DIDN’T KNOW, but to know and keep it hidden; thus endangering kids in the congregation….. sorry but that does NOT sound like an organization that is ruled by GOD’S Holy Spirit. Though, I will grant, there IS a spirit at work in that organization.At least, in the rulership. The spirit spoken of, in 1 Peter 5:8 , which we are warned to be on our guard against! “Be sober. Be vigilant, for your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour!”

  10. Joanna Oz-Davis

    Those sound like great books. Definitely NOT light reading! Watchtower disciples are trying to work FOR salvation, and they’re being tragically deceived by those who are on a MEGALOMANIACAL power trip. Simple things like Family get togethers (i.e. Christmas, birthdays) are pagan. And God alone knows how many have died because of the UNbiblical view the Watchtower holds on the BLOOD transfusion issue. Leviticus 17:15 gives the remedy for such a transgression (which was DIETARY not MEDICAL) and it was the most LENIENT punishment under the law of Moses. Wash your clothes, take a bath and stay out of the city til Sundown. Keeping in mind, also, that this was an OLD TESTAMENT law that the Watchtower heirarchy UTTERLY misapplied! And it’s not even relevant, today, unless you’re Jewish and keep to Kosher laws. By today’s standards, the transgressor of that law could drive out of the city, find a laundrymat and wash the clothes that were made ceremonially unclean. Shower at a hotel. Go to a movie or the library til sundown and then drive back home. Nowhere NEAR the hardship that is placed on the shoulders of poor obedient J.W.’s who believe that taking a LIFE SAVING TREATMENT is AGAINST God’s law. NO WAY.

    Jesus spoke of guys like the ELDERS and GOVERNING body when He said that “You lay heavy burdens on men’s backs, and yet, will not so much lift a finger to shoulder one of those burdens, yourself!”

  11. Ken Talo

    Lets be clear about that law Joanna, Lev 17:14 clearly states that consuming even animal blood knowingly would result in getting cut off from Gods people; it was the unknowingly eating of blood from say a dead animal they found and consumed, that made them just unclean….to be fair. Thankyou

  12. Joanna Oz-Davis

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand WHY the Watchtower is so determined to be so UNFORGIVING about something so comparatively TRIVIAL. Why can’t they just believe that GOD WILL FORGIVE someone who is REPENTANT. If the person refuses to submit to that discipline, THEN he would pretty much cut themselves off, but why just COLD HEARTEDLY cut people off?!?! Would YOU want to be cut off for a sin you committed but were sorry for? God is not willing that ANY should perish but that all should come to REPENTANCE! (2 Peter 3:9) How many times did God forgive Israel when they returned to Him after they ended up in slavery, because of their sins? But He LOVES US.

    If you are a parent and your child does something you repeatedly warned against, do you just toss the kid out or do you forgive? Kids will test their parents’ patience as we test God, unfortunately. But GOD knows the HEART. He knows who genuinely LOVE Him and repent out of genuine remorse, or those who are going through the motions. But you know, He loves those people too, and weeps for their stiff-necked stubbornness.

    Besides, how can you bring someone back to the fold if you’re ignoring him or her. If I were disfellowshipped for saving the life of my child, by getting her a blood transfusion, I’d say, “FINE. I’m not going to let my own daughter die to obey a law that is NOT even in the Bible.”

    ” What goes INTO the mouth doesn’t defile a man. For that which goes into the mouth goes through the body and is eventually eliminated, but what comes OUT; Murders, adulteries, thefts, ….THESE defile a man (or woman). “

  13. Joanna Oz-Davis

    P.S. It just dawned on me, (WELL, D’UH) …. that law was OLD TESTAMENT. If you are a believer in CHRIST, you’re under the NEW Covenant, not the old. At one point, Peter is told, “Kill and eat.” Peter tries arguing with God; reminding Him of Old Testament Law, (Like God doesn’t remember this, right?) And He says to Peter, “What I have called CLEAN you shall not declare unclean

    I’m in agreement that EATING blood, is pretty disgusting, but there is a difference between dietary issues, which, unless you’re a Jewish person who keeps a Kosher home, doesn’t apply now. Medically speaking, there is NO connection. I know because I asked a nurse who works at a blood donor clinic. She explained the difference between the CIRCULATORY system and the DIGESTIVE system. Two different body functions. If our blood was digested, we’d all be dead. It’s like a city…. would you have your income tax return prepared by the Health Department or public Transit? No. Would you go to a plumber if you needed open heart surgery? I hope not! Check it out online. It is NEVER against Jehovah’s law to SAVE a life. HE decides what happens. Not us.

  14. Michael Rodney

    I wonder if this ever happens in the Spanish congregations, from what I hear the Spanish and English congregations are very different in their way of doing things…and plus I really don’t think any Latin person would touch a child like that, yeah they would beat them but never touch inappropriately…. that’s clearly a white person syndrome…ergo eat your face off…Christian hypocrites!

  15. Publisher

    THIS IS A VERY IGNORANT WEBSITE IT MAKES JEHOVAHS WITNESSES LOOK VERY BAD YOU CANT JUDGE A WHOLE CONGREGATION ON WHAT ONE PERSON DID. THE ELDERS ARE REQUIRED TO BE SECRETIVE FOR A REASON AND IF THE SISTER SHOULD HAVE WENT TO THE ELDERS IN PRIVATE AND THEY WOULD HAVE RESOLVED THE PROBLEM ALOT OF YOU PEOPLE ARE IGNORANT ABOUT JEHOVAHS WITNESSES AND THIS SITE DOESNT MAKE IT ANY BETTER JEHOVAH WILL DEAL WITH ALL OF YOU THE GOVERNING BODY IS RAN BY HOLY SPIRIT IF YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT JEHOVAHS WITNESSES GO TO THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE http://WWW.JW.ORG

  16. Faith

    Publisher…The Govering Body, and the elders who go along with, allow, and take part in hiding the abuse, are the ones who make Jehovah’s Witnesses look bad. Most comments made on this site are from former JW’s, including myself. I assume you just take their word on how or what to believe, just as we once did. If you would read more articles on this site, pertaining to the beliefs of that organization, you would find proof that most everything they teach is indeed false. I have witnessed first hand their coverups, involving my own family. So I can assure you that we are not the ignorant ones!

  17. Faith

    * correction on spelling..Governing *

  18. Elijahovah

    I find it irrelevent that issue be made whether one witness saw the child abused or two witnesses saw it. The reason is because if they favor someone, a criminal, someone disgust in their thinking, then they support that person even if there are 20 witnesses as i had in a back room. THEY brought these 20 witnesses in (i didnt) who all knew what the elder did. And yet their resolution was have the elder apologize so he could give the sunday talk tomorrow. 30 minutes earlier in a back room alone with me, he said, i have done nothing wrong, and all the elders know youre out to get us one by one. Then they called my dominant mother (who they all feared) to drag me back to the Hall against my will thru coersion (fear), so that i could be forced to hear his apology, they said me not being christian if i dont accept it. The apology was i am sorry i ever did anything for you. So imagine this same story with someone who raped a child. I was 25. I was forced by coersion to Uhaul his belongings whose weight pulled apart my transmission. I was told to go home because they feared i had TB like my mother in the hospital (neither of us had it). BUT first had to finish he trip from illinois to Houtson to deliver his things. I declared kidnapping, and the bible student driving my car refused out of fear of this elder. When i got to Houston, i couldnt speak, and so sick yet BK hired me and i moved in with a stranger & his GF that the elder declared is running to the world. These were the first things of a 6 page letter of abuse including a promised job by a Trimlyne elder who renigged saying he doesnt hire witnesses. So to win Conti’s case, the issue of 2 witnesses doesnt cover having witnesses and saying because you the child are not an elder it is not your right to punish an elder by exposing hs sin, and so slander is a greater excommunication than the pedophile fornication. They always wait until after the court case decides, so how come they didnt turn it to the courts to begin with. One scripture: WHY are you taking your brothers to the court of the pagan or wicked nations? To answer that apostle’s question, it is, because the brothers are not listening to Jehovah’s spirit to remove the corrupt one, and so Jehovah’s spirit has to use the nations court as it did Babylon against Jerusalem, as it used Persian kings to rule Jews, and as it used Roma against Jerusalem. Yes, then it is a shame, but not solely on those going to the courts.

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