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,
Chairman of the judicial committee
Draffenville Body of Elders
PO Box 788
Benton , KY 42025
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:
“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.
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