Do Elders Require the Victim to Confront the Accused Molester in the Same Room? Is this done alone, or with others in the Room?

"John Robert (J.R.) Brown, director of the office of Public Information at the home office in Brooklyn , rejects what Bowen says. Brown states they do not [have the] molested child confront the accused in presence of parents and three elders." (SPIEGEL ONLINE Germany News - June 12th 2002 ; URL: http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/0>,1518,198436,00.html)

"When any one of Jehovah's Witnesses is accused of an act of child abuse, the local congregation elders are expected to investigate. Two elders meet separately with the accused and the acc user to see what each says on the matter. If the accused denies the charge, the two elders may arrange for him and the victim to restate their position in each other's presence, with elders also there. If during that meeting the accused still denies the charges and there are no others who can substantiate them, the elders cannot take action within the congregation at that time." (Official Watchtower Society JW-Media.org Statement, May 2002)

"Sometimes one may feel that a relative or a member of one's immediate family is involved [in sexually abusing them]. Remember the dubious nature of some "repressed memories" when it comes to identifying the one suspected of being a perpetrator. In such a situation, as long as the matter has not been firmly established, keeping contact with the family at least by occasional visits, by letter, or by telephone would show that one is trying to follow a Scriptural course.--Compare Ephesians 6:1-3. What if the sufferer decides that he wants to make an accusation? [FOOTNOTE SAYS: It may also be necessary for the step outlined in this paragraph to be taken if the matter has become common knowledge in the congregation.] Then the two elders can advise him that, in line with the principle at Matthew 18:15 , he should personally approach the accused about the matter. If the acc user is not emotionally able to do this face-to-face, it can be done by telephone or perhaps by writing a letter. In this way the one accused is given the opportunity to go on record before Jehovah with his answer to the accusation. He may even be able to present evidence that he could not have committed the abuse. Or perhaps the one accused will confess, and a reconciliation may be achieved. What a blessing that would be! If there is a confession, the two elders can handle matters further in accor dan ce with Scriptural principles. 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 as an innocent person. The Bible says that there must be two or three witnesses before judicial action can be taken. (2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19) Even if more than one person "remembers" abuse by the same 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. What if the one accused though denying the wrongdoing is really guilty? Does he "get away with it," as it were? Certainly not! The question of his guilt or innocence can be safely left in Jehovah's hands. "The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading directly to judgment, but as for other men their sins also become manifest later." (1 Timothy 5:24; Romans 12:19 ; 14:12 ) The book of Proverbs says: "The expectation of the righteous ones is a rejoicing, but the very hope of the wicked ones will perish." "When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes." (Proverbs 10:28; 11:7) Ultimately, Jehovah God and Christ Jesus render everlasting judgment in justice.--1 Corinthians 4:5." (Quotes from The Watchtower, November 1, 1995 Issue, http://www.watchtower.org/library/w/1995/11/1a/article_01.htm )

"It is only natural to feel angry when one has suffered abuse. Nevertheless, the ties that bind families can be strong, and you may not want to cut off all contact with your parents. You may even be willing to consider a reconciliation. Much, though, would depend on the circumstances. Victims are sometimes inclined to forgive their parents outright--not excusing the abuse, but refusing to be consumed with resentment or controlled by fear. Preferring to avoid an emotional confrontation, some are content to 'have their say in their heart' and let matters rest.-Psalm 4:4. You may come to feel, however, that matters can be resolved only by confronting your parents with the abuse--in person, by phone, or by letter. (Compare Matthew 18:15.) If so, be sure you have recovered sufficiently--or at least have enough support--to withstand the emotional storm that might erupt. Since little will be accomplished by a shouting match, try to be firm but calm. (Proverbs 29:11) You might proceed by stating (1) what took place, (2) how it has affected you, and (3) what you expect from them now (such as apologies, payment for doctor bills, or changes in conduct). At the very least, bringing matters out in the open may help dispel any lingering feelings that you are powerless. And it just might pave the way for a new relationship with your parents. For example, your father might acknowledge the abuse, expressing deep remorse. He may also have made sincere efforts to change, perhaps by getting treatment for alcohol addiction or by pursuing a study of the Bible. Your mother may likewise beg your forgiveness for her having failed to protect you. Sometimes a full reconciliation may result. However, do not be surprised if you still feel ambivalent about your parents and prefer not to rush into a close relationship with them. At the very least, though, you may be able to resume reasonable family dealings. On the other hand, the confrontation may trigger a torrent of denial and verbal abuse from the molester and other family members. Worse, you may discover that he is still a threat to you. Forgiveness may then be inappropriate, a close relationship impossible.--Compare Psalm 139:21. In any event, it may take considerable time before your hurt feelings subside. You may need to remind yourself repeatedly that final justice belongs to God." (Quotes from Awake!, October 8, 1991 Issue, Pages 10-11)

"In 1988, a terrified victim of childhood sex abuse - raised from birth as a Jehovah's Witness - did as allegedly instructed by church elders and confronted the ab user : her father. In so instructing Vicki Boer, those elders shattered the life, faith and family of a formerly devoted Witness and ought to be held to account, Boer's lawyer argued Monday. "She was almost like a turtle without a shell," Charles Mark told Ontario Court Justice Anne Molloy during day-long closing arguments in the civil case, which has been sitting for more than two weeks. "Her life had been built around the church, and because of the way this has been handled, her life is a mess." Church elders Brian Cairns, Steve Brown and John Didur, along with the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society of Canada, should never have forced Boer to confront her father about the abuse, Mark said. Instead, they should have reported the abuse to the Children's Aid Society and encouraged Boer to get counselling as soon as possible. "If that had been done, none of the confrontations would have had to take place." It was in keeping with the tenets of their faith that the elders in Shelburne, Ont., decided to compel Boer to confront her father, Gower Palmer, even though it was plain the idea of such a meeting was abhorrent to her, Mark said. "The descriptions . . .are those of a person who is on the edge of suicide. That's the degree to which it frightens her." ... Rather than immediately notify the Children's Aid Society and allow Boer to seek counselling outside the church, she was required, according to Biblical principles, to confront her father in 1988 and allow him to repent his alleged sins, the suit alleges. ... Anyone who runs afoul of the religion's strictest tenets will find themselves excommunicated, often to such an extent that they're shunned by their own family." (Canadian Press News Story, September 23, 2002 )

"Then 19, she [Vicki Boer] went to local elders Mr. Cairns and Mr. Brown, and they in turn asked for advice from Mr. Didur, an elder with the national Watchtower organization, she said. The men made her repeat her story over and over, she said, then insisted she not go to authorities but instead confront her father in the presence of Mr. Cairns and Mr. Brown and give him the chance to repent. "I told them I couldn't do it," she wept yesterday. "They said I had to." In two confrontations at his home, Ms. Boer's father accused her of exaggerating, she said. He did acknowledge some sexual impropriety, apologized to her and agreed to do some extra service for the Watchtower Society, she said. The elders then declared the matter closed. "They said they felt my father had shown signs of repentance, that he was a changed man," she said. They told her if she went to the CAS the family would be investigated, her father would lose his job and her mother would be left destitute, she said." (Globe and Mail Canadian Newspaper, September 10, 2002 )

"Rather than inform the Children's Aid Society and permit Boer to seek counselling outside the church, she was forced to confront her father and give him a chance to repent his alleged "sins," court has been told. Church elders also allegedly refused to allow her to see a psychologist, warning her that it would lead to an investigation and might cost her father his job and her mother her only source of financial support." (Canadian Press News, September 10, 2002 )

"Three years after the abuse ended, Boer told her mother her story, and church elders within their congregation in Shelburne, Ont., about 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto , were notified. But rather than inform the Children's Aid Society and permit Boer to seek counselling outside the church, she was forced to confront her father and give him a chance to repent his alleged "sins," court was told. At that meeting, she testified, her mother insisted the abuse was in the past and that it had already been dealt with. The elders agreed, saying the father "is really showing signs of spiritual repentance," she said. They also allegedly refused to allow her to see a psychologist, warning her that it would lead to an investigation and might cost her father his job and her mother her only source of financial support. "They said there's going to be consequences of that," she testified. "My father would lose her job, the family would be investigated and my mother would be destitute." " (Canadian Press News, September 9, 2002 )

"Rather than immediately inform the Children's Aid Society and permit Boer to seek counselling outside the church, she was required, according to Biblical principles, to confront her father and allow him to repent his alleged sins, the suit alleges." (Canadian Press News, September 12, 2002 )

"John Saunders, at the time a researcher at the Watchtower's Canadian headquarters in Georgetown , Ont., told court he recommended in a memo that in cases of sexual abuse, the victim and ab user should not be made to confront each other. "I included a note suggesting elders not force victims of abuse to face their ab user s, since these kinds of confrontations are potentially psychologically dan gerous," Saunders testified. The recommendation was not included in a July 1988 directive from the Georgetown office advising elders to follow provincial law and notify authorities immediately in cases of sexual abuse." (Canadian Press News, September 12, 2002 )

"Rather than immediately notify the Children's Aid Society and allow Boer to seek counselling outside the church, she was required, according to Biblical principles, to confront her father in 1988 and allow him to repent his alleged sins, the suit alleges. But none of the defen dan ts - not elders Steve Brown, Brian Cairns and John Didur, nor the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society of Canada - forced her to do anything she wasn't willing to do, Stevenson said. "I imagine that going to a confessional in the Catholic church can be very traumatic, given the confession one needs to make," Stevenson told Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy. "But at the end of the day, it's an issue of religious beliefs and religious principles, and if someone acts in accor dan ce with that belief or principle, so be it." For two weeks, Molloy has been getting a crash course in the ways of the Witnesses as Boer squares off against the church that shaped her life for more than 20 years. As she did Monday with Boer's lawyer Charles Mark during his closing, Molloy sparred with Stevenson throughout his final arguments, posing what-if scenarios and debating the finer points of common law as it applies to the dealings of a religious body. If the religious act in question is extreme, such as a rabbi urging someone to seek a divorce, she wondered aloud at one point, does that advice constitute negligence on the part of the rabbi? "That would be an unreasonable intrusion into the religious offices of the church," Stevenson replied. "The courts in the United States have said clergy malpractice suits cannot be maintained." Because they're acting solely as spiritual counsellors, he continued, religious figures such as priests, rabbis or church elders have no duty of care to their congregation members." (Canadian Press News Story, September 24, 2002 )