Bowen wants hearing delayed

Paducah Sun July 20, 2002

Staff and wire reports

DRAFFENVILLE, Ky.

A former Jehovah's Witness elder is asking that an excommuni­cation hearing rescheduled for Wednesday be pushed back again because of the short notice.

 

Bill Bowen, 44, of Draffenville faces expulsion from the church f for publicly criticizing the church's handling of sexual abuse allegations. In a letter to the elder who will chair his judicial hearing, Bowen said he is unable to meet Wednesday and hoped to reschedule on "a date acceptable to all concerned."

 

Bowen had a hearing scheduled in May, but it did not take place, because the elders scheduled to bear the case did not. show up, Bowen said.

 

Bowen resigned as, a church elder in December 2000 to protest the church's policy on handling sex­ual abuse cases. He has complained that child-sex allegations are gener­ally not reported to secular authorities by the Jehovah's Witnesses because of the church's closed nature and insistence on handling, problems internally.

 

Church leaders have denied wrongdoing.

J. R. Brown, a spokesman for the ' denomination, has said that parents are not punished by the church for going to the police first in cases of child molestation.

 

He also said if the church judicial committee finds a member guilty of molestation the member is removed from all positions of responsibility and may not evangelize door-to-door without being accompanied by a fellow Jehovah's Witness.

 

Members of the church, even family members, are required to shun those who are excommunicated or disfellewshipped. Three others who have spoken out against the church's policies' have been disfellowshipped in recent months. They are Barbara Anderson, of Normandy Tenn. and Carl and Barbara Pandelo, of Belmar, N.J.