Watchtower Reply to Jury Verdict

The Watchtower released an official public statement about the $28 million jury verdict awarded to a former Jehovah’s Witness in California. The court found that the Watchtower Society, the North Fremont Kingdom Hall (CA), and Jehovah’s Witness Jonathan Kendrick shared liability in connection with the sexual abuse experienced by a nine-year old girl in the mid 1990s.

From JW-media.org
For Immediate Release
June 20, 2012

Jehovah’s Witnesses to appeal jury verdict
in California case

NEW YORK—Jehovah’s Witnesses will appeal the decision of a California jury in a court case involving alleged acts of child abuse.

The jury rendered a multimillion-dollar damage award to a woman who claimed that she was molested as a child by a member of a local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At trial, the plaintiff claimed that the policies of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society contributed to the alleged abuse. “We respectfully disagree with the jury’s decision. This is the first time that an organization was found responsible for the alleged misdeeds of a member who held no position of leadership or authority,” states James McCabe, an attorney representing Watchtower in the case. “We are very sorry for whatever harm this young lady may have suffered. However, the organization is not responsible. We now look to the Court of Appeals for a thorough review of this case.”

J. R. Brown, a spokesman at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses, commented: “The fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse and strive to protect children from such acts is well-known. The individual members of any organization must ultimately bear the responsibility for their own actions, particularly when the acts are so flagrantly against the morals and principles of the organization and society.”

Media Contact:
J. R. Brown, Office of Public Information, tel. +1 718 560 5600

There are many personal stories that describe how the Watchtower handles child abuse complaints. I’ll respond in more depth on this subject in a future article.


Conti Verdict Explained

There are many questions about the recent jury verdict against the Watchtower Society in California that awarded Ms. Candace Conti $28 million in damages. The following video briefly explains the details in a calm and factual manner.

Thanks to Cedars (JWSurvey.org), “cantleave,” and “nugget,” all current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses, for putting together this excellent presentation.

I can not urge you enough – please share this with all of your friends and family, especially those who are still Jehovah’s Witnesses or have been victims of child abuse.

The Candace Conti Verdict Explained
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ELBt4mA7sI

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Watchtower Embarrassed in Court

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.

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“Jehovah’s Friend” DVD announced

The Watchtower Society is releasing a four-part DVD called “Become Jehovah’s Friend” at the 2012 summer District Conventions. As with many new releases, within hours of its first distribution on June 26th, active Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower critics had posted all of the DVD’s segments on YouTube.com.

Within days the Watchtower filed copyright infringement complaints, obligating YouTube.com to take most of them down and send warning notices to the original posters.

During a 2012 District Assembly in Oregon USA, the speaker announcing the new release  repeatedly emphasized that this DVD’s videos are not about entertaining Jehovah’s Witnesses’ children, but rather to “inculcate them.” -Deut. 6:6,7.

After seeing these videos, ask yourself if you really want the Watchtower Society inculcating your children.

in·cul·cate   [in-kuhl-keyt, in-kuhl-keyt] Show IPA
verb (used with object), in·cul·cat·ed, in·cul·cat·ing.
1. to implant by repeated statement or admonition;
teach persistently and earnestly (usually followed by upon or in ): to inculcate virtue in the young.
2. to cause or influence (someone) to accept an idea or feeling (usually followed by with ):
Socrates inculcated his pupils with the love of truth.

New humorous versions and extended critical commentaries went up on YouTube almost overnight. Since the law allows for “fair use” of copyrighted material when used in satire, parody, commentary, or criticism, that’s exactly what happened. Within days, it was almost impossible to see the original Watchtower versions, but there was a virtual smorgasbord of both hilarious and severely critical versions of elements of the DVD widely available and accessible.

Rather than offer my own commentary on the quality, competence, or logic of the original DVD at this time, I will instead provide you with some excellent examples of modified versions. I’m sure that some of these adaptations will be keeping the Governing Body Awake! at night for the next few months. The brothers at Bethel who actually wrote the scripts and prepped the visuals will probably be getting missionary assignments in remote villages in Borneo or as Special Pioneers in Somalia.

Enjoy!

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Menlo Park Kingdom Hall: The State Lawsuit

The Menlo Park Kingdom Hall takeover scandal is like a movie monster that just won’t die.

Three former elders have filed Court cases in San Francisco Federal Court (dismissed), San Mateo Superior Court in Redwood City (dismissed), and earlier this year another case that is progressing in San Jose Federal Court. There was another filing in federal court on April, 2012 [Cobb & Cobb Sr. v. Chase Bank] that is still developing.

These court cases all center around four Menlo Park elders that the Watchtower Society removed and replaced in the summer of 2010. Three of the elders decided to challenge their replacement as officers of the non-profit corporation that owned and managed the land, building, and financial assets connected to the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall.

Over the past two years, Ex-JW.com has provided our readers with ongoing articles and PDF copies of most relevant court documents. This post presents the transcript of the state case heard in the Superior Court of San Mateo County, California on February 22, 2012. The original transcript is quite lengthy, so it’s been broken into seven parts for ease of reading and downloading. Below the link to each section there is an abbreviated synopsis for quick reference.

Those close to the case suggest that our readers give special attention to section 6 below. Defendant Ernest Brede, the current COBOE at Menlo Park, describes events during and after the takeover, and testifies under oath that the existing board of directors was never officially voted out of office. Instead, as directed by a Watchtower Society attorney, a new corporation was simply formed to replace the existing corporation. That is a clear violation of California corporation law.

As you read the full transcript of this case, you may notice that while the court gave the appearance of being fair, the judge sustained practically every objection made by the Watchtower’s attorneys – even to the point of designating printed and signed letters and publications issued by the Watchtower as being “hearsay.” While it often seems that the judge would give Jason Cobb a little slack (he was appearing “pro per” and had not been given time to fully prepare for that day’s trial), he tended to rule for the defense on most critical issues as they came up.

It’s interesting to note that the Watchtower seems to have changed its official position about what kind of religion it really is. For decades the Society has criticized the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and most mainstream Protestant denominations, for being “hierarchies.” Instead of being ruled from the top down by a pope or archbishop, Jehovah’s Witnesses have traditionally presented themselves as groups of Bible students meeting together in small groups, directed in an ecclesiastical “theocratic arrangement.” Watchtower publications still promote the idea that appointments of local elders and special pioneers are directed by holy spirit, not from direct orders by branch office managers.

Watchtower attorney Calvin Rouse destroys that claim forever as officially recorded on pages 4 and 5 (segment 1). Rouse states emphatically, “We are a hierarchical religion just like the Catholic Church.” What follows is even more enlightening.

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Dick Kelly Exorcises His Ghosts

Richard E. Kelly’s latest book, The Ghosts from Mama’s Club, has just been released. Copies are available at Amazon.com in popular paperback (208 pages; $16.95) and as a Kindle downloadable e-book ($9.95).

Kelly promised a sequel to his 2008 autobiography, Growing Up in Mama’s Club, a vivid description of the first twenty years of his life as a reluctant Jehovah’s Witness. Ghosts covers the next forty-plus years, starting with his last few weeks in New York as a Bethel volunteer.

Readers of Growing up in Mama’s Club were almost unanimous in their praise for its honesty and revealing recollections of “Dickie’s” early life. On the other hand, most agreed that he left them wanting more; they wanted more stories about his life during and after his months at Bethel. They wanted him to share more insider secrets about the leaders of the Watchtower Society, and how he survived after leaving the organization. For many readers it seemed that he’d ended his book prematurely, leaving them hanging. Everyone wanted to know what happened to “Dickie”?

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