Draffenville Kentucky Congregation

of Jehovah's Witnesses

PO Box 788 Benton KY 42025

 

May 16, 2002

 

CONFIDENTIAL AND PERSONAL

 

William H. Bowen

Calvert City , KY 42029

 

Dear Brother Bowen:

 

The body of elders has appointed a judicial committee to meet with you concerning allegations that you have been causing divisions within the congregation and organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. The judicial committee invites you to meet with them on May 24, 2002 at 7:30 pm at the Kingdom Hall located at 86 Foust-Sledd Road , Benton , Kentucky . Feel free to call me at 270-436-2165 if these arrangements are not convenient for you. As a reminder, attorneys are not permitted at congregation judicial meetings.

 

Very Truly Yours,

 

 

George Bandarra

Chairman of the judicial committee

 

 

 

5-20-02

 

Draffenville Body of Elders

PO Box 788

Benton , KY 42025

 

Dear Brothers,

 

I am writing to request a withdrawal of recent comments in the press concerning the upcoming Judicial Hearing to be held on Friday. I might also mention I have received a reply in the way of confirmation as to our meeting on May 24 th at 7:30 pm and the appointment of George Banderra as chairman on the Judicial Committee. Thank you for you r r esponse and I might also request the names of any “witnesses” who may be appearing to make accusations. I feel it only fair to know these things in advance as it will help me to be able to prepare for this “proceeding” as well as to better understand how the charges for such an absurd accusation actually came about. I am sure you brothers would not want to surprise me with accusations and witnesses without me having a clue as to what you are talking about beforehand.

 

It has been noted that through the press certain areas have been established as not being part of the Judicial Hearing. It may help you brothers also to be aware of what has been stated publicly by those who represent headquarters and who direct your efforts:

 

Tullahoma News- May 11, “In an interview with the New York Post, JH spokesperson J.R. Brown stated that the threatened excommunications had nothing to do with the Dateline interview and that "church headquarters had no idea that these people would be on the show." Washington Post- May 11, “J.R. Brown, a national spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses, confirmed that the four had been called to the hearings, but he said the proceedings may focus on "sins" unrelated to public comments on sexual abuse. He provided no specifics.” Newsday-May 8, “Pandelo and the others say they are being targeted because of their outspokenness, especially on sexual abuse of minors. A national spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses, which says it has 6 million members worldwide, categorically denied the allegations.”

I am glad to have public confirmation that the charge of “divisions” is not going to be based on any “public comments about sexual abuse” and anything related to the “Dateline interview,” as a result I am very interested to know what are your charges of “divisions” are related to.

A second area that gives greater cause for concern are the other comments that appear to be malicious and slanderous in their context, I offer you the following:

 

  1. Louisville -Courier- May 8, ”One suit filed in January by Erica Rodriguez, who said she was repeatedly abused by a church member years ago, claims an elder at her former congregation in Washington state threatened her with excommunication if she reported her ab user to police. A Watchtower statement denies this, saying that there are no sanctions against anyone who chooses to go to police, and that church elders and Watchtower did not know of the abuse until years after it had occurred.” This statement basically calls the victim, Erica a liar. We ask that the statement be retracted in writing and a written apology be sent to Erica for comments that re-victimized her again.
  2. Newsday-May 8, "You cannot be a known sex offender and hold any position of responsibility within the organization," said J.R. Brown, the spokesman. As you brothers know this is not true and is verified by comments in the 6-1-01 British BOE letter which states:

 

“There is one exception to the above direction: The elders may have written to the branch office and given full details about a former child ab user who is currently serving as an elder or ministerial servant. In such a case, if the branch office has decided that he can be appointed or continue serving in a position of trust because the sin occurred many years ago and because he has lived an exemplary life since then, his name should not appear on the List, nor is it necessary to pass on information about the brother’s past sin if he moves to another congregation unless contrary instructions have been given by the branch. If therefore, such an appointed man moves to another congregation a letter confirming the move should be sent, addressed to the Society’s Legal Department.”

 

Therefore in view of the above we ask for a retraction in writing of the above statement by JR Brown and a written apology for providing misinformation to the press as well as implying we were untruthful.

  1. WPSD 6- May 8, “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.” Brother Waite is well aware of the current confessed child molester in the Draffenville Congregation. Brother Waite may or may not know that the victim of the child rapist was threatened into silence when all she had to do was sign a police report to put him in jail. Therefore his statement is based on misinformation according to the actual actions of local elders. Therefore we ask for a complete retraction in writing of his statement to press and a written apology to the victim for barring her from reporting the man who raped her.
  2. New York Post, May 9, ”While the four believe the show's impending broadcast has spurred the church's actions, church spokesman J.R. Brown said that before Tuesday, church headquarters had no idea that these people would be on the show.” This is a false statement based on an avalanche of proof otherwise, for example: Tri City Herald, August 18, 2001 , “ Barbara Anderson , part of a group fighting clergy-based sex crimes, is one of about 20 advocates from around the country who traveled to Adams County for the trial to lend support to Rodriguez. Anderson previously worked as a research assistant in the Jehovah's Witnesses New York headquarters. She said she gave the Dateline news show, which had a crew covering the Beliz trial, documentation describing how the church's leadership is well aware of sexual child abuse within its organization and helps cover it up.” Also WPSD has made the Dateline interview known since February, 2001. Therefore I ask that this false statement be retracted in writing and a written apology be sent to the four victims who are facing Judicial Hearings.
  3. New York Post, May 9,”He also said local congregations decided to charge them with various spiritual violations.” AP-May 9,”In a statement issued from their headquarters, the Jehovah's Witnesses said that church leaders are "required by the Holy Scriptures to see to it that the congregation remains clean and unified ." Tullahoma News- May 11, ”Brown also said that local congregation decided to charge the members with various spiritual violations.” Washington Post, May 11, “J.R. Brown, a national spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses, confirmed that the four had been called to the hearings, but he said the proceedings may focus on "sins" unrelated to public comments on sexual abuse. He provided no specifics.” Tennessean- May 11, “People in the organization who are accused of sex abuse are subject to a hearing like the one Anderson attended yesterday, Brown said.” All these statements are slanderous and infer or imply unchristian and ungodly conduct being the basis for these Judicial Hearings, this of course is absolutely untrue, therefore I ask for a written retraction of these statements and a written apology to each of the four victims who are facing Judicial Hearings.
  4. Asbury Park Press, May 14, “Semonian said he did not know about the Pandelo case. He said anyone convicted of child molestation cannot hold a position of authority in the church and cannot perfor m c hurch work alone.” AP- May 9, “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. And he said that anyone found guilty of molestation by a church judicial committee is removed from all positions of responsibility and cannot evangelize door-to-door without being accompanied by a fellow Jehovah's Witness.” As you brothers well know these statements are totally false as child molesters are allowed to eventually serve again if enough time passes, please note the 6-1-01 British BOE letter: “There is one exception to the above direction: The elders may have written to the branch office and given full details about a former child ab user who is currently serving as an elder or ministerial servant. In such a case, if the branch office has decided that he can be appointed or continue serving in a position of trust because the sin occurred many years ago and because he has lived an exemplary life since then, his name should not appear on the List, nor is it necessary to pass on information about the brother’s past sin if he moves to another congregation unless contrary instructions have been given by the branch. If therefore, such an appointed man moves to another congregation a letter confirming the move should be sent, addressed to the Society’s Legal Department.”

In addition, there is no written or verbal policy regarding a child molester working in pairs in the door-to-door ministry, for further confirmation please read the form letter sent out when elders are removed for child molestation:

“Now that we have given careful and prayerful consideration to all the factors in the case of Brother xxxxx xxxxx, we believe that what is stated in the foregoing applies to him. Hence, you should not extend to him any specific responsibility that could be construed as an assigned duty, even though some assignments might be considered minor. He should not be used to handle accounts, literature, magazines, subscriptions, or terri tori es. Nor would he be used as an atten dan t, microphone handler, to operate sound equipment, to represent the congregation in prayer, or to present "Announcements" on the Service Meeting. He would not be used as the reader at the Congregation Book Study or Watchtower Study, nor to conduct a meeting for field service. It would be advisable not to have a book study in his home. And, he would not qualify to auxiliary o r r egular pioneer. Whereas he could volunteer to assist with general care of the Kingdom Hall where he attends meetings, he could not be approved to work on other Kingdom Halls or Assembly Halls. He may give student talks on the Theocratic Ministry School and share in non-teaching parts on the Service Meeting, provided that his doing so will not be offensive to those in the congregation who know of his past wrongdoing.”

“Please be reminded of the following direction that appears in the Society's March 14, 1997 , confidential letter to all bodies of elders regarding known child molesters: "Individuals who have manifested a weakness in this regard should be sensitive to their need not to be alone with children. They should refrain from holding children or displaying other forms of affection for them. It would be appropriate for elders to give kindly cautions to any who are doing things that may be a temptation or a cause for concern to others in the congregation." (1 Corinthians 10:12,32) This would include not allowing children (other than his own) to spend the night in his home, not working in field service with a child, not cultivating friendships with children, and the like.”

“After a number of additional years have gone by, you may wonder whether certain privileges can be extended to this brother. If he has continued to build a commendable record, if there are no complaints either by his victim(s) or by relatives, and if the body of elders concludes that no one would find fault with his being given extra privileges of a minor nature in the congregation, you may write the Society and make known your observations and recommendations, indicating how you feel he can be used in the congregation. Explain clearly what the current feeling is toward him on the part of the one(s) he wronged and by relatives, and how the congregation views him now. Direction from the Society should be obtained before certain privileges are extended to him.”

In view of the above, Watchtower spokesman have misstated facts and misrepresented actual Watchtower Policy to the Press and Public. I ask for a written retraction of the fallacious statements and a written apology to be given to the four victims of these Judicial Hearings.

While we understand that honest hearted ones can make mistakes, when brothers in oversight positions mislead the public and slander victims of abuse they in effect “beat their brothers,”(Matt. 24:39) thus showing a lack of compassion and putting their fellow brothers and sisters in a negative light. It brings to mind the scripture in Jeremiah 23:1-3 that states: “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasturage,” is the utterance of Jehovah…’Here I am turning my attention upon you for the badness of your dealings.” We certainly hope in attempting to look out for our spiritual welfare the errors committed above were not intentional and therefore humbly request full retractions, apologies and kind regard for those who have suffered as a result of these comments. As the scripture in Proverbs19: 9 states, “The false witness will not be free from punishment, and he that launches forth lies will perish.” It is our hope you brothers would never fall into that category, so we await your quick response in correcting these matters.

Please respond in writing so as to not give any appearance of being deceptive and truly showing a desire to right this blatant look of wrong committed publicly against your fellow brothers and sisters. For me personally please honor my previous request for all correspondence to go to my attorney in writing. We respectfully await your swift reply, and along with this letter goes our warm Christian love.

Very truly yours,

 

William H. Bowen

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