The Watchtower Society is a religious organization that has for decades wrapped the self-proclaimed title of “The Truth” around itself. On the other hand, it continues to use so-called “theocratic war strategy” in a misguided attempt to prevent secular courts from discovering the real truth about what happened at the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall in late 2009 and 2010.
But I have to give them credit for the strength of their survival instincts. So far Watchtower strategy has worked.
During August and September I was in direct contact with people very close to the Menlo Park court cases. My contacts DID NOT INCLUDE THE PLAINTIFFS or any of the former elders. That’s right – there are actually two court cases going on involving individuals connected to that scandal. The first is the ongoing case filed last summer in Federal District Court in San Francisco by two former elders, Jon Cobb Sr. and Walter Arlen St. Clair. There is also a second case in San Mateo County Superior Court filed by Jason Cobb, the former COBOE and CEO of the Menlo Park Hall’s non-profit corporation.
At the end of this article you will find links to copies of court documents that will bring you up to date on much of the case. You’ll find that they tell parts of the story, often in great detail. But what I now find more interesting are the back stories – great little tidbits that will probably never be reported or detailed in any of the official court documents.
I found that one thing is consistent whether you read the official court records or if you hear tales told through the local gossip grapevine: The Watchtower is taking this case very seriously and seems worried that the real truth about what has happened in Menlo Park may actually get wider publicity. I’m told that the defendants try to look confident and in control while at the Kingdom Hall, but everyone close to them knows they are worried about their future – even if the plaintiffs are only marginally successful in their lawsuit.
In the meatime, “The Truth” [Watchtower] is fighting every possibility that the real truth will eventually get out and be reported by a major news outlet.
While this reporter was in the Menlo Park and Redwood City area, I met with a couple of anonymous contacts and took phone calls from two others who are still afraid to meet with me personally. I noticed that no matter which side they take in this battle, their stories remain consistent with one theme: The Watchtower Society really screwed up! They sent the wrong people to do their dirty work. Instead of a weak-willed, kool-aid drinking, self-important group of sheepish elders – they found they were facing some brothers who were willing to stand up for what they know is right, in spite of the overwhelming odds against them.
To fight this battle, the Watchtower and their legal team are doing their very best to manipulate the system any way they can. At the moment they allegedly continue to ignore subpoenas for bank records and corporate documents that are critical to getting to the truth of these cases before the courts.
Take just a moment and consider this: Can anyone believe that a God of love, justice, and righteousness would permit His “earthly representatives” to use the same legal tactics that criminals have employed? Has this “organized religion” decided to follow the examples of “organized crime”? As always, I’ll let my readers view the documents and then decide for themselves.
For example: One of the main players in this drama, Circuit Overseer Paul G. Koehler Jr. is apparently someone who likes to be in the spotlight. He got his wish. There are many reports of his heavy-handed approach toward subordinates and his reputation as a “take-charge” and “take-no-prisoners” style manager.
One early report (as documented in court filings) tells of Koehler’s attempt to intimidate Jason Cobb, former COBOE at Menlo Park. In one case, he allegedly put his hands on Cobb and pushed him – an aggressive and clearly illegal act. Some witnesses to the altercation reported that Koehler often bragged about “his service as a military officer.” Evidently, Koehler felt this gave him some special privilege to lay his hands on another person without permission.
Several questions have been raised about Mr. Koehler’s qualifications as a circuit overseer. Is his approach to dealing with people appropriate for someone who is supposed to be a “loving shepherd” of a large group of Christians? Or does he act like a military officer who demands absolute obedience and immediate action on the part of his subordinates? And what are the facts about his self-professed military background?
It has been alleged by several of the brothers close to the events in Menlo Park that Koehler has on several occasions referred to his past experience as a “military officer.” At times he has allegedly mentioned his time as a “Navy SEAL.” Another witness alleges that when challenged about his claim that he was once a “SEAL,” Koehler allegedly replied that he never claimed to have been a “SEAL,” but rather a “Navy Seabee.”
So what were you, Mr. Koehler? Were you a SEAL? A Seabee? We’re you ever an officer? Just which branch of the United States military did you serve in? And when did you serve?
Having heard so many claims about Koehler’s military background, individuals close to the plaintiffs finally decided to investigate further to find out the truth about this self-proclaimed warrior. Their inquiries with the Navy and Marines were at first unsuccessful – but not because those service branches refused to reply. It was because they could find no records of a “Paul G. Koehler Jr.” within their files.
OK – perhaps Brother Koehler was in some super-secret military force and his records are sealed? While possible, that does not appear to be the case. According to the military records departments, they would still have a record of his enlistment, service dates, and ranks held – even if he was assigned to some secret special services group.
In any case, those close to the plaintiffs have in their possession documented proof from military archivists that no records of “Koehler, Paul George” exists in their veterans’ files.
Recently, Brother Koehler was reassigned to the Napa Circuit and no longer lives in the little house next door to the Redwood City Kingdom Hall. It has been reported that he may soon be getting a visit from representatives of the federal government. Maybe they, like us, would like to find out exactly which branch of the service he was in. I’m sure it’s only because they want to correct their records and just need a little more information from him to clear things up.
In addition to Mr. Koehler’s involvement, it also happens that a certain sister might be working as a court clerk. It’s alleged that this JW court clerk has involved herself in the case and apparently has rejected certain processes and subpoenas submitted by the plaintiff, Jason Cobb. I’m sure the officials of the court would love to know if that is a fact. All officers of the court are supposed to be “neutral parties” to a case – and if not, are supposed to recuse themselves, and that includes clerical employees and anyone else in control of files and documents. The courts appear to have been weak in supervising this aspect of their duties.
It is clear to me after reviewing the documents and talking to many who are close to the case, that the Watchtower will use any means available to them to hide the facts and to thwart justice if it protects their interests. For the Society’s officers and the Governing Body it’s not about “truth” or fair play. It’s all about money and property, not about Christian love and preaching “the good news of the Kingdom.”
The Watchtower Society has always been a publishing corporation first and a religion second. Now that they find it more difficult to make huge amounts of money printing magazines, books, and Bibles, they’ve decided to become real estate barons. They hide behind their religious facade, not only to maintain their tax-free status – but also to make it difficult for state and federal governments to look into their books and how they spend their money.
No matter how everything eventually turns out, the former elders of the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall have exposed a small chunk of the rotten truth about “The Truth.”
The leaders of the Watchtower Society have become the modern anti-type of the scribes and Pharisees. They have become the modern money-changers like those that Jesus threw out of the temple…
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” – Matt 23:27-29