Are Jehovah's Witnesses Allowed (without being Shunned) to Report Child Molesters to the Authorities without having Two Witnesses? Are Jehovah's Witnesses Allowed to Notify other Congregation Members about the Molester without being Shunned?

"Jeff Tucker, one of the Mount Shasta Kingdom Hall elders, says there were not enough eye-witnesses to go to the police." ("Christianity Today", February 2nd 2001 )

"Anthony Val enti who appeared in court at the hearing of the Pandellos had stated under oath, as an elder he had encouraged the victims to not report the matter to the police regarding Clement Pandello. The record of the court shows Val enti justified his advice with a reference to the Bible verse, which stated not to take your brother to court." (SPIEGEL ONLINE Germany News - June 12th 2002 ; URL: http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/0 ,1518,198436,00.html)

"Erica Rodriguez repeated to DATELINE the way she was treated when she reported her molestation. When she informed the elders at her congregation in Sacramento of the sexual abuse of Beliz who was not yet disfellowshipped, the elders told her to not report the crime to the police. They went on to threaten her with disfellowshipping if she tried to report the matter: "if you go to the police, you will be condemned by God." " (SPIEGEL ONLINE Germany News - June 12th 2002 ; URL: http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/0 ,1518,198436,00.html)

"Brown said ...the church has published several articles over the last 20 years encouraging members to report sexual abuse and child molesters. "We handle transgression and sin," he said. "But if that involves criminal activity, we say that should be reported to the government." " (THE SPOKANE REVIEW, Sunday, January 27, 2002 )

[J.R. Brown, Spokesman for Watchtower Society, speaking] "...we do not prohibit or discourage the victim or the victim's parents from reporting child abuse to the authorities even if the alleged perpetrator is one of Jehovah's Witnesses." ("The Paducah Sun" ( Kentucky ) Newspaper, January 5th 2001 )

"Church officials... did say they report crimes to the proper authorities. "We have no objection to a crime being handled," said J.R. Brown, director of the Office of Public Information for the national organization. "In no way do we conflict with how police or other authorities handle these cases." But church officials strongly denied Anderson 's allegation. "The two-witnesses requirement applies to how we handle transgressions or sins as a church," Brown said. "It has nothing to do with how we handle a crime. "We are a church made up of families ... We would not allow predators to get away with this," Brown said." ( SACRAMENTO BEE, Saturday, January 26, 2002 )

"[J.R.] Brown said the church does not necessarily equate reporting the matter to law enforcement to protecting the child because "not all the time does government authority provide the protection the child needs. We don't say automatically that, but unfortunately too many reports show that's the case. You can be sure they're going to take what action is necessary to see that the child is protected." " (The Paducah Sun ( Kentucky ) Newspaper, January 28th 2001 )

Members are free at all times to report abuse to secular authorities, Brown said. "This is a personal decision on how you want to handle this," he said. (Associated Press, February 11th 2001 )

"Members at Bowen's old Kingdom Hall in Draffenville say the church does not bar them from reporting abuse. They say they may council ab user s to report their actions to authorities. But they admit discouraging members from telling just anybody. "The difference between needless gossip, let's say, and withholding information from those who have a right to know is two different things completely," says Jehovah's Witness Bruce Waite. J.R. Brown, national Jehovah's Witness public information director, says proceedings against Bowen are confidential." ( Kentucky NewsChannel 6 News, May 2002)

When asked if the parents of the victim would be allowed to tell fellow congregates why a member is disfellowshipped, Moreno replied, "That would be their choice. We don't tell them that, but it would be their choice. Is that encouraged? No." ("The Paducah Sun" Newspaper, January 28th 2001 )

"J.R. Brown... said the church does not interfere with the reporting of a crime." (TRI-CITY HERALD, Wednesday, January 23, 2002 )

"Gossip is talk that reveals something about the doings and the affairs of other persons. It may be someone's faults and mistakes that the gossiper is talking about. But even if the things said are true, the gossiper is in the wrong and reveals lack of love. The proverb says: "The one covering over transgression is seeking love, and he that keeps talking about a matter is separating those familiar with one another."--Pr 17:9. Sometimes matters are confidential, but the slanderer delights in revealing them to others who have no right to know. (Pr 11:13) The slanderer gets pleasure in revealing things that cause sensation. The one listening to slander is also wrong and is damaging himself. (Pr 20:19; 26:22) A person may be turned away from his friends because of some defamatory remark about them made by a slanderer, and enmities and divisions may develop.--Pr 16:28. The Scriptures foretell that the notable presence of slanderers would be one of the marks of "the last days." (2Ti 3:1-3) Such persons, men or women, if present among God's people, are to be reproved and corrected by responsible ones in the Christian congregation." (Quote from Insight on the Scriptures Volume 1, Page 990, Published in 1988)

"At least two witnesses are required to establish a charge of wrongdoing. (John 8:17; Hebrews 10:2) If the person denies the charge and your testimony is the only one, the matter will be left in Jehovah's hands. ... This is done in the knowledge that all things are openly exposed to Jehovah and that if the person is guilty, eventually his sins will catch up with him. ... But suppose the person does deny the charge and you are the only witness against him. Could you now be open to a countercharge of slander? No, not unless you have gossiped to those not involved in the matter." (Quote from The Watchtower, August 15th, 1997 Issue, Pages 27-28)

"If the accusation is denied, the elders should explain to the acc user that nothing more can be done in a judicial way. And the congregation will continue to view the one accused [molester] as an innocent person. The Bible says that there must be two or three witnesses before judicial action can be taken. (2 Cor.13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19) Even if more than one person remembers abuse by the individual, the nature of these recalls is just too uncertain to base judicial decisions on them without other supporting evidence. This does not mean that such memories are viewed as false (or that they are viewed as true). But Bible principles must be followed in establishing a matter judicially." (Quote from The Watchtower, November 1st 1995 Issue, Pages 28-29)

J.R. Brown, a spokesman for the denomination, said that parents are not punished by the church for going to the police first in cases of child molestation. (Associated Press News and also on CNN.com, Thursday, May 9, 2002 )

"[J.R. Brown] said there is no policy preventing notification of civil authorities of a crime. (Associated Press News Story, Tuesday, January 22, 2002 )

Church lawyer Moreno said it would be "ridiculous" for any elder to make such a threat [of Disfellowshipping], and if one did, it would contradict church policy. "That's not scriptural," he said. "We teach the Scriptures. The Scriptures don't say, 'If you file criminal charges against an ab user you're going to have eternal damnation.' The one in dan ger of eternal damnation is the ab user ." " ( Louisville Courier-Journal ( Kentucky ) Newspaper, January 4th 2001 )

Brown, the church spokesman, denied that victims are discouraged from reporting abuse or other crimes. "We make it clear that it is up to the individual whether to report. As you know, many choose not to," he said. "We don't chastise them." " (THE SPOKANE REVIEW, Wednesday, January 23, 2002 )

"Jehovah's Witness church officials in New York deny that the church hides criminal activity. "We have no such policy. Our policy allows for anyone who wishes to report the matter to the authorities to do so," J.R. Brown, national spokesman for the Jehovah's Witness organization, said. (CNS News, Friday, January 24, 2002 )

"The Watchtower has not yet had the chance to defend itself in court, although in a statement of defence it says it has "no knowledge of the allegations" that Boer was abused and that the abuse was never reported to church elders in Shelburne or to the Children's Aid Society. The defen dan ts also deny that two elders, Brian Cairns and Steve Brown, prevented Boer from reporting her allegations to the society or from seeking psychological help. "The defen dan ts deny they prevented the reporting of the subject matter to the proper authorities," the statement says. "To the contrary, the defen dan ts Brown and Cairns were instrumental in ensuring the matter was reported ...if the plaintiff chose not to seek advice from a psychiatrist or psychologist, it was solely of her own volition and because she believed such advice was unnecessary." They go on to argue Boer never "mitigated her losses" by seeking such help in the eight years between her original allegations and the filing of the suit." (Canadian Press News, September 9, 2002 )

"A former Jehovah's Witness who says her church forced her to cover up years of sexual abuse by her father told Ontario Superior Court yesterday that church elders use the fear of Armageddon to silence her and other abuse victims. Vic tori a Boer, 31, testifying at the trial of her $700,000 lawsuit against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, said she was driven to the brink of suicide when society elders told her to pray, to preach and to forgive her father for the abuse -- but not to report it to the Children's Aid Society or doctors. "I was told if Armageddon came and my father went down for the abuse I would likely go down with him," Ms. Boer told the court. In fact, the entire Jehovah's Witness community where she lived in Shelburne, Ont., could be exposed to God's wrath if she handled the matter by "worldly" means, Ms. Boer said she was told. The defen dan ts -- the Watchtower Society and elders Brian Cairns, Steve Brown and John Didur -- deny preventing Ms. Boer from going to the authorities and argue they owed her no special duty of care as alleged in the suit. They accused Ms. Boer of "asking the church to pay for the sins of the father." " (Globe and Mail Canadian Newspaper, September 10, 2002 )

"A Jehovah's Witness elder who dealt with a sect member's complaint of sex abuse testified yesterday there was no need to call child-welfare authorities because the alleged perpetrator planned to report the abuse to his doctor. Alleged victim Vic tori a Boer is suing Steven Brown, as well as two other elders and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Mr. Brown denied he discouraged Ms. Boer from seeking medical help herself. Ms. Boer seemed reluctant to talk about the abuse, which was already four years in the past when Mr. Brown learned of it in December, 1989, and expressed frustration with another elder who had been pressing her to see a psychiatrist, Mr. Brown said. "What were we to do? Take a young girl and twist her arm, say go today?" Mr. Brown asked Ms. Boer's lawyer in Ontario Superior Court. He said he took the word of Ms. Boer's father, Gower Palmer, that he would speak to a doctor and later bring his daughter with him. "The doctor would have the resources to refer her. We didn't," Mr. Brown testified. "Our role was to be spiritual shepherds." He said he and other elders decided after two meetings with father and daughter that Mr. Palmer was penitent and, although he minimized what he had done, could be trusted to keep his word about reporting, and not harm his other children" (The Globe and Mail Canadian Newspaper, September 17, 2002)

"We view child molestation as a disgusting, abnormal and criminal practice. The congregation works to extend spiritual and practical support to victims of child abuse and focuses on their welfare. Yet the congregation primarily addresses the spiritual side of the issue. We leave the criminal and civil aspects in the hands of the courts, In fact, for years now our published policy has been to tell people they have the right to report. For example, the October 8, 1993 , Awake! provided the reminder: "Some legal experts advise reporting the abuse to the authorities as soon as possible. In some lands the legal system may require this," Also the policy document "Jehovah's Witnesses and Child Protection," which was posted on the authorized Web site as well as being distributed to researchers, explains "The elders may be required by law to report even uncorroborated or unsubstantiated allegations to the authorities. If so, we expect the elders to comply. Additionally, the victim may wish to report the matter to the authorities, and it is his or her absolute right to do so." Earlier this year, among other details provided in the letter read to all congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States was this paragraph: "We have long instructed elders to report allegations of child abuse to the authorities where required by law to do so, even where there is only one witness. (Romans 13:1) In any case, the elders know that if the victim wishes to make a report, it is his or her absolute right to do so.--Galatians 6:5," Thus Jehovah's Witnesses believe that it is the absolute right of the victim, his or her family, or any other concerned individuals to report the matter to the authorities. There are no congregation sanctions against anyone who reports an allegation of child abuse to the authorities. Our policy does not, however, dictate all of the specifics of the reporting. There are too many variables to stipulate anything beyond compliance with secular law." ( Jehovah's Witnesses Office of Public Information Press Release: Statement on silentlambs march, September 27, 2002 )