Silentlambs is happy to announce the establishment of a sister organization in Denmark called “Silent Witnesses.” Maja Thorup is a former JW of over eighteen years and recently has started a mass of media coverage on the abuse issue in Denmark. Below is a listing of the articles and past coverage of the problem of abuse in this country. At silentlambs we wish to express our appreciation for the tireless efforts of all those that work to protect children. We wish Maja great success for her work in Denmark!
Jehovah’s Witnesses Reinstate Pedophile Ex-members
Dorte j. Thorsen
July 28, 2007
William H. Bowen, founder of a USA support group for victims of abuse, ‘Silentlambs’, states that it is quite common that no more than five months after being disfellowshipped convicted/confessed pedophile members of Jehovah’s Witnesses are reinstated.
Recently, in a press conference held by ‘Silentlambs’ it was announced that sixteen Americans molested as JW children gained a historic settlement from civil lawsuits filed against Watchtower. (Administrative name for Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Carit Stypinsky, the Public Relations spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses disagreed with the claims that Bowen stated to Kristeligt Dagbland on the amount of time it takes for a confessed child molester to be reinstated. “It does not take months, but we wait years before a disfellowshipped abuser is reinstated. Our first priority must be the children, but we will also take our Christian duties to assist the confessed pedophile serious,” he states.
According to Stypinsky, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark annually report one to two cases of child molestation to the police. “The brothers or sisters that confess to abuse typically face some type of sanction that follows them if they move to another congregation.”
“Discipline within the congregation does not always mean disfellowshipping,” according to Bowen, “All it takes for a confessed abuser among Jehovah’s Witnesses that has not been disfellowshipped to start all over again is to change congregations. Elders are instructed to protect the molesters’ identity.” Currently a disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witness, Frederick ”Rick” McLean from California, is one the fifteen most wanted men in USA because of numerous cases of molestation in various congregations.
Bowen himself was ordered to not report or warn the congregation about a fellow elder who moved to a congregation in West Kentucky in USA where Bowen was a member. Headquarters in Brooklyn, New York informed him to not report the matter to police and that only the local elders in his congregation could know information about the molester. This resulted in Bowen resigning as an elder after fifteen years of service. Bowen was a second generation member, active for forty-three years. Eighteen months later he was disfellowshipped for trying to help JW and XJW abuse survivors through the ‘Silentlambs’ organization.
Spokeswoman for ‘Silent Witnesses’, Maja Thorup says that the policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the same in Denmark as in the USA.
“I have never met one person who has at any time been informed about convicted pedophiles in the congregation,” she says. Jehovah’s Witness P R Spokesman, Stypinsky, disagrees.
A background check for sex offenders might assist such problems. The sex offender database, which shows whether the person has been convicted for pedophilia or not, has been a matter of law since July 2005 to all persons that works professionally with children and teens under the age of 15, for anyone that also volunteers. Last year the government issued 172,394 background checks for the sex offender database. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not use background checks for members of their organization.
“We do not have any particular child and youth programs, so we do not find it relevant to use sex offender background checks,” states JW spokesman, Stypinsky.
The procedure according to Stypinsky is that the elders always ask any candidate for positions of authority if he is has a history of child molestation or has tendencies to want to molest children. If the candidate answers, “No” then the elders consider this as adequate proof that he isn’t a pedophile.
Silent Witnesses versus Jehovah’s Witnesses
July 25, 2007
Molestation: Jehovah’s Witnesses are under pressure.
The accusations about pedophile members are increasing as sixteen American Jehovah’s Witnesses that were molested as children
received large settlements from Watchtower (administrative name for Jehovah’s Witnesses) in exchange for “gag orders” to never talk about being molested. In Denmark a new association called ‘Silent Witnesses’ offers help and support for the JW Danish victims.
Dorte J. Thorsen
“A Pedophile Paradise,” is the way William H. Bowen, National Director of USA based ‘Silentlambs’, an organization that helps victims of Jehovah’s Witness pedophiles puts it. In Denmark the Watchtower is subjected to similar sentiments.
“There is a real protection in being a pedophile among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark, where they prefer to use policy to support the pedophile instead of the children. The children are on the bottom of the hierarchy in the sect and they are indoctrinated to obey and rarely dare to stand up to adults. On the rare occasion when a molested child comes forward with an accusation, they are met with a wall of distrust and policy application that make the victim feel like a liar,” says spokeswoman Maja Thorup of the ‘Silentlambs’ Danish sister organization, ‘Silent Witnesses’.
How many cases of molestation there are among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark is unknown. Jehovah’s Witness spokesman admit to reporting a couple a year but the real number is far higher according to Maja Thorup and ‘Silent Witnesses’.
According to the organization, ‘Save the Children’ every tenth child in Denmark is molested.
“Still it was only about twenty years ago that professionals started to talk about sexual exploitation of children,” says psychologist Kuno Sorensen from ‘Save the Children’.
“But we have accepted the fact that sexual molesting of children does occur – also in Denmark. The next and important step is to go to the authorities when we suspect that a child is molested. It might be very difficult to do this because we feel uncertain and fear we might be wrong. But it is possible to discuss this uncertainty anonymously with the police or other authorities like medical professionals and others that has much knowledge and experience with molested children,” says Kuno Sorensen
“Such a procedure is very difficult for a molested child among Jehovah’s Witnesses because a Witness child is aware of the enormous risk they take by confronting an adult, they risk getting in serious trouble themselves for confessing to molestation, so they stay silent and become traumatized, many for the rest of their lives. For these reasons even as adults many are afraid to speak out about their abuse.” she adds.
One reason for this is that they don’t want to be in the public limelight but also according to Thorup, they fear sanctions and shunning (disfellowshipping) from Jehovah’s Witnesses if they still have friends and family there.
An example of this in practice is a recent case when Jehovah’s Witness parents discovered that their six year old son was forced to perform oral sex in the Kingdom Hall (church building) at Amager, by a fifty-five year old man who also was a Jehovah’s Witness.
When the elders investigated, the child could not produce a second eye witness and so the case was dismissed on lack of evidence and the man of course did not confess. The molester to this day remains a Jehovah’s Witness in good standing, with all his privileges intact as he continues to have access to young people and children and goes out in the door to door service alone.
Jehovah’s Witnesses suggest that there is no need for an organization like ‘Silent Witnesses’.
“We do of course regret that things can go wrong. But as an organization we can’t do any more. In fact we already do more than most churches, the Danish church included,” remarks Stypinsky.
Maja Thorup disagrees.
“This isn’t at all what we at ‘Silent Witnesses’ hear from those individuals that have been victims of molesters among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Victims say that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not help, they silence children while giving pedophiles privileges and protection.”
When courage overcomes fear
Maja Thorup is spokeswoman for the association “Silent Witnesses” whose purpose is to help victims that have been molested by pedophile Jehovah’s Witnesses.
By Dorthe Thoresen
Speech isn’t counterfeit, it is truth and the only thing that works when one wants to stop pedophile Jehovah’s Witnesses, says Maja Thorup who is spokeswoman for the new association “Silent Witnesses” that offers help to those who have been sexually abused by pedophile Jehovah’s Witnesses. Maja Thorup was herself a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a child but she was not molested. But she did not escape what she today describes as brainwashing.
“As with most cults, the leaders in Jehovah’s Witnesses prefer to decide what their members can think and what their opinion should be so they can fully exercise control over them,” says Maja Thorup, who left the Watchtower Society as young person without much drama. After some years she joined the organization again, but 8 years ago she left again, for good, due to the organizations’ version of love she describes as ice cold.
Until recently this 45 year old woman managed to let go of the Watchtower indoctrination just last winter. As most ex Jehovah’s Witnesses she held a deep fear of Armageddon – doomsday for those with the wrong faith – which basically means Jehovah’s Witnesses and no one else will enter an eternal life in glory while everyone else will suffer and die.
“This fear of punishment from God is deeply indoctrinated into the children in the sect from an early age and is used as a tool by the elders and the leaders,” says Maja Thorup.
She didn’t break with the Witnesses because of the pedophile cases, that realization came much later in the form of an article in one of the magazines printed by the sect, The Watchtower. After this she started to gather information which also became a personal process of liberation for Maja Thorup.
“When I finally was able to come to peace within myself a lot of emotional baggage was released and I started Silent Witnesses,” says the woman from Lemvig, which presently is a housewife with husband and 3 children.
Maja Thorup is fully aware that she risks a lot of inconvenience because of the new association, which will include resistance and criticism that might cause her to have to appear in public debates. But that goes with the territory although she likes an anonymous life better.
“The issues are too important for me to think about myself,” she says and adds that she is not afraid.
Maja is aware of cases where ex members and critics of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been threatened. She expects anonymous phone calls and letters but announces that it won’t stop her.
Maja Thorup has courage which she found when overcoming her inner fear. The fact that Maja Thorup has great strength does not surprise those who know her. She is motivated by love, compassion and consideration for all those who has suffered such injustice, says the press release.
July 25, 2007
Jehovah’s Witnesses Accused of Pedophile Paradise
A newly started association with the purpose of protecting children among Jehovah’s Witnesses now accuses the organization of protecting pedophile members, reports the paper Kristelig Dagblad.
The Catholic Church isn’t the only one who suffer from scandals regarding pedophiles. Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark suffers from problems with pedophiles too.
Spokesman Carit Stypinsky from Jehovah’s Witnesses admits that they report 2 or 3 cases a year to the Danish police. “The real number of molesters is far higher in my opinion,” says Maja Thorpe, spokeswoman for the newly started “Silent Witnesses” association which assists molestation victims from Jehovah’s Witnesses.
She claims that Jehovah’s Witnesses are protecting the pedophiles. “Jehovah’s Witnesses are protecting the adult molester and not the children who are at the bottom of the hierarchy,” she states.
An example of a recent concrete case involves a pedophile Jehovah’s Witness is reported from Aarhus in 2004. A 35 year old father reported his own father for molesting his granddaughter who was 8 years old when the abuse started.
The man was found guilty and sentenced by the court but remains a Jehovah’s Witness in good standing, even though according to the spokesman Carit Stypinsky there are precedents for disfellowshipping members found guilty of pedophilia.
“According to our guidelines there are degrees of sanctions,” says Carit Stypinsky, who is angry about the accusations from “Silent Witnesses” that Jehovah’s Witnesses protects pedophiles.
“On the contrary we are ahead of most religions when it comes to protecting children against being molested,” he says, and points to arrangements where convicted pedophiles are never left alone when they represent the Watchtower Organization in the door to door work.
Millions in compensation in USA
In the Watchtower there are no lay people they are all representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses because all of them are preaching in public. This also includes the convicted pedophile from Aarhus, who according to Carit Stypinsky always is accompanied by another adult while out in the public service.
In the USA the sister movement of “Silent Witnesses”, “Silentlambs” recently was helpful in assisting sixteen victims of Jehovah’s Witness child molesters to obtain a historical compensation. The exact sum is unknown but according to various sources it is a settlement of millions of dollars.
Before the Watchtower would settle the cases the victims were required to agree to a so-called “gag order”, which prevents the victims from being able to speak publicly about their abuse or the size of the compensation. Such a possibility does not exist in the Danish judiciary system.
Assistant professor in religious studies at Syddansk University Center, Anikka Hvithamar, warns against creating scapegoats in Denmark and urges people to consider if there is a difference between Jehovah’s Witnesses and the rest of the Danish society.
“Pedophilia is unfortunately quite common. It might appear psychologically convenient to point out a special and controversial group as guilty. An authoritarian and secretive sect like Jehovah’s Witnesses is a perfect candidate. But if you look at the rate of people leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses and that they condemn pedophilia. There might not be much difference between the organization and the rest of society, it’s just that some individuals lead a double life within the group,” she says.
Press coverage across Denmark
Victims of abuse that have spoken to media in Denmark read their stores here from 2004, http://www.silentlambs.org/Denmarknewsstory.htm
Read about Denmark JW PR Body of Elder Letters damage control, http://www.silentlambs.org/denmarkboe.htm