Menlo Park: “The Truth” vs. the truth

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.

Read More


Menlo Park Kingdom Hall – Updates

Since the previous article about the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall court case was published two weeks ago, I’ve received some updates and a few corrections.

Corrections

The city limits of East Palo Alto, CA: One writer pointed out that the city limits of East Palo Alto do extend a few blocks west of the Bayshore Freeway (US 101). In the article I wrote, “Its [Menlo Park’s] eastern edge, the Bayshore Freeway (US 101), separates it from the community of East Palo Alto.”

While I was making the point that the freeway separates the “cultures” and the “economic status” of the two cities, I should have made it clearer where the real city limits are. Those sections of East Palo Alto that do fall on the west side of the freeway are more akin to the cities of Menlo Park and Palo Alto. That does not change the fact that the freeway clearly acts as a wall between the two communities in more ways than simple geography. That’s why I added the line, “The Bayshore Freeway and Santa Clara County Airport act as effective barriers, separating a wealthier Palo Alto from its much poorer neighboring city.”

The Kingdom Halls of Redwood City: Redwood City lies directly north and west of Menlo Park. It now has two Kingdom Halls. One is in the northwest section of the city (631 Iris Street) that is the home to two congregations, “North Redwood City” and “South San Mateo.” Both have predominately white, English-speaking members.

Redwood City's Iris Street Kingdom Hall

The Circuit Overseer involved in this court case, Paul Koehler, lives in a home next to this Kingdom Hall. Donations from the congregations he serves probably cover most of his expenses while he lives in that home.

The second Kingdom Hall is known as “South Redwood City.” I wrote: “[South] is now the home for two or three Spanish-speaking congregations.” I’ve been told that it actually services four Spanish-speaking congregations. It’s at 681 2nd Avenue.

Threats to a former Menlo Park elder: I wrote: “Jon Cobb Sr., one of the plaintiffs, allegedly received threats against himself and his family. It’s been reported that he has moved his family several hundred miles away…” Actually, the elder receiving those reported threats was Jason Cobb, the son of Jon Cobb Sr. and the CEO of the existing Menlo Park corporation.

It was also reported to me that Jason Cobb has refused to give up original copies of the corporation papers. He has allegedly received threats via email and possibly other means that have implied that he and his family are at risk.

Read More