The History of Silentlambs
In recent months there have been some speculations about how Silentlambs was started and where the origins of the organization began, for those reasons the following information should be helpful to establish the facts.
Silentlambs was solely founded by William H. Bowen. Bowen was a second generation Jehovah’s Witness that served as the Congregation Coordinator in a small western Kentucky congregation. He served as an elder for around fifteen years, was removed as an elder in 1992 for not backing down on a matter involving the appointment of a child molester. Bowen was reappointed in 1994 and used for many privileges following that reappointment. Bowen had a long career in the organization, served at headquarters called, “Bethel” from 77-79, pioneered for several years in his youth, taught many schools, participated in many judicial committees, had parts on district conventions and circuit assemblies since he was five years of age. His father served as an elder for over 40 years, was a presiding overseer, an assembly overseer and sub CO, so in his life he was involved in many inner workings of the organization.
In the year 2000 Bowen became aware that a fellow elder was a confessed child molester. Due to his past history in being removed in 1992 he knew that he needed to go straight by the book to have the matter addressed properly. Bowen worked for almost a year to have this person reported to police, especially due to the fact that in the process of investigating the original allegations, it was discovered that there was strong evidence to suggest another child was being molested. Numerous calls were made to the Service and Legal Departments along with involvement of three presiding overseers from nearby congregations. In the end the final decision was to keep everything confidential and simply remove the molester as an elder. In disgust Bowen started writing his letter of resignation in November of 2000. In the process of writing that letter he wrote a line,
“There is a silence of the lambs, the little ones, who look to You and Bodies of Elders for protection, but instead are crushed and ostracized by an organizational policy when they needed help the most. The Watchtower is protected; the pedophile is protected, too bad for the silent lamb.” Read the letter here
It was from that line that Bowen solely came up with the name “Silentlambs” to represent victims of abuse. After writing that letter he began posting anonymously on the internet as “Silentlambs”. Read first post here
In January of 2001 after threats from the organization to not do so and after resigning as an elder, he personally reported the child molester to authorities.
From that point he began to be inundated with emails from abuse survivors. There were so many stories being sent privately yet Watchtower spokesman were publicly denying that there were any problems with abuse or for that matter that there were any abuse survivors in the organization. See some examples here
Different ones privately approached Bowen and offered private advice and understanding of the inner workings of the organization. Understanding this was very helpful in having the fortitude to stand the ground on the abuse issue. We are grateful for their kind assistance.
In February 2001 Bowen had a sleepless night due to the blatant lies of Watchtower spokesmen along with the hundreds or horrific stories of the abused needed to be addressed. About 3am in the morning Bowen sat down at his computer and wrote the story, ”The Day The Lambs Roared” . The point of the story was that the voice of the victims could move mountains and silence the misrepresentation of WT spokesman. At that point Bowen sold two rare JW books to a collector for $1,000 and used that money to start the Silentlambs website in March of 2001. The picture of the cartoon lamb featured throughout the website (at the top of this article) was given to Silentlambs by an eleven year old abuse survivor and became the mascot for the organization. Bowen developed the content, creation, editing, and development of the silentlambs website. Three months later Bowen incorporated Silentlambs as a non-profit organization with three members on the board of directors, Bowen, his wife, and Rush Hunt an attorney from the Kentucky area. They were actually the founders of the Silentlambs organization.
Since that point in every newspaper, news cast and documentary done on the abuse issue Silentlambs has always firmly held that abuse survivors would be given a platform to speak out about their abuse. Whenever reporters attempted to make the story about Bowen or outside issues, he would refuse to go forward unless abuse survivors were featured first and primary before anything else. That formula has proven quiet successful as of 2013 over 27 documentaries have featured JW abuse survivors around the world. In addition, Silentlambs has assisted abuse survivors to appear in hundreds of newspaper articles and magazine articles around the world as well, including the New York Times and Newsweek.
In the spring of 2002 Silentlambs also assisted in bringing the first series of major civil lawsuits against Watchtower over the mishandling of child abuse. Silentlambs spent thousands of hours in legal research, provided key background material, and actually helped write the first lawsuit filed on behalf of abuse survivors. Bowen’s background as an elder was instrumental in educating the attorneys as to how the inner workings of the organization defined the abuse policy. For five years Watchtower Lawyers spent millions of “World Wide Work” donations to seek to evade paying for their crimes against children. In the end in March of 2007 it has been reported that they paid out over $12 million to several JW abuse survivors. The sad part is the victims were required to sign “gag” orders to prevent them from speaking about the settlements or the abuse they incurred. Once again Watchtower purposefully created “silent lambs”.
Silentlambs reported on these events as the abuse survivors once again needed a voice to expose this latest attempt to cover up abuse within the organization. Silentlambs received national coverage in May 2007 and provided copies of the actual settlement papers of each lawsuit. Once again at the press conference, six abuse survivors were given a platform to speak out about their abuse. Silentlambs was proud to help them have that moment.
In subsequent months others were able to obtain more detailed information about the lawsuits and now we are able to provide this information at no charge. You can read each of the lawsuits at this link along with several hundreds of pages of courts cases that have been filed over the last seven years, Read Here.
In 2012 the results were further realized with two lawsuits involving eight victims. Candace Conti actually went to court in a litigation that Watchtower thought they were going to win. The result was a humiliating defeat and a $28 million dollar judgement against them. The case continues and in the end the settlement will more that likely be in the $9-12 million dollar range, yet this case set precedents that will help future victims to come forward and seek assistance for Watchtower policy. Silentlambs worked with the Conti's since 2003 for the success of their case. For further information Read Here.
At the same time a second lawsuit in 2012 offered a settlement to seven victims without gag orders so that if they chose they would be able to speak out about their abuse as well. It is estimated that in 2012 Watchtower may have spent as much as $50 million dollars to settle lawsuits for victims that were hurt by their policies.
Over the last twelve years different ones have assisted Silentlambs with information and we greatly appreciate their help. When certain ones in the XJW movements have by their comments or actions insulted abuse survivors we have stood up to them as we have Watchtower spokesmen. That is the only course to take when you have an organization that has as its first priority - the support of abuse survivors.
At Silentlambs we are proud to say that we have appreciation and support from abuse survivors that are JWs and XJWs. At the same time we are maligned and hated by members from both groups for exposing their leaders for creating, covering up and defending the abuse policies of the organization including those past and present members of the Governing Body.
That is the history of Silentlambs and we hope that with your support we can continue to be a beacon to those that suffer and an education source to protect children.