July 23, 2003
Re: Update on Jehovah's Witness Child Abuse Civil Trial - Vicki Boer v. Watch Tower et. al. and Possible News Story for CP on Recent July 18, 2003 Hearing
Thank you for doing all of the news stories on the Victoria Boer v. Watch Tower (Jehovah's Witnesses) Child Abuse Civil case. You have helped many thousands of people understand what this is all about and your reports may possibly help change this organization's policies to protect little kids. I usually just Email James McCarten over updates to this case, but, I understand James is still on paternity leave.
As Mr. Oliveira reported for CP on June 30, 2003 (Note: http://canadaeast.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20030630/CPN/20587021&amp;cachetime=15
), Her Honour, Judge Anne Molloy, wrote a June 26, 2003 decision where she found the Watch Tower negligent for making Vicki Boer, a child rape victim, think she had to confront her father, the accused molester, on December 29, 1989 in Shelburne, Ontario. Her Honour awarded Vicki Boer 5,000 dollars for the harm caused by the Watch Tower. I noted that the court case also became precedent setting in that a highly respected Judge has now recognized that Jehovah's Witness children and adults have no free will in this religious organization. With no free will, the Court has put a huge duty on the elders of the religion to protect rank and file Jehovah's Witnesses from harm during religious activities.
Suggested News Story on July 18, 2003 Court Hearing
Mr Oliveira indicated in his June 30, 2003 report that "still, she [Vicki Boer] said she can't put the past entirely behind her, because she was waiting to find out if the judgment will include payment for her court fees, well in excess of $5,000".
For your information there was a hearing on Legal costs (court fees) on July 18, 2003 at 361 University Ave., Room 4-4 (from 9:50 a.m. to about 10:15 am). I attended the hearing and below is my update for Canadian Press on the legal costs hearing.
Colin Stevenson, the Watch Tower's legal counsel, and Charles Mark, Vicki Boer's lawyer, gave oral arguments and submitted briefs to Her Honour, Judge Anne Molloy.
Based on my notes and observations in the court room, and through the filed court papers, I was somewhat surprised that Colin Stevenson (the Watch Tower's lawyer) asked the Court (Judge Anne Molloy) for Vicki Boer to pay for a substantial chunk of the Watch Tower's 160,000 plus dollar legal bill for this court case. I understand that Mr. Stevenson believes that the Watch Tower is entitled to some legal costs because the Watch Tower was not found negligent in some of their actions with respect to Vicki Boer.
I could see Mr. Stevenson's argument if this was an outrageous false case brought by Vicki but I think on June 26, 2003 Her Honour did rule in favour of Vicki and thus giving the case merit.
I also think a lot of people find it troubling that the Watch Tower is asking for Vicki (a child abuse victim) to pay their legal costs since this religious organization is publically portraying themselves as a group who "abhors the wicked" and who has told news organizations such as yourselves that it cares about victims of abuse and is compassionate towards them.
It seems to me from a "moral" point of view, and no doubt many other people would agree, that asking for legal costs that would bankrupt a middle class person like Vicki Boer, looks more like a multi-million dollar religious group trying to take out retribution/retaliation on a child abuse victim - who, as Her Honour pointed out in her decision (pp 49-53), still suffers serious psychological problems from the abuse - rather than a religious group showing "care and compassion" to a known Jehovah's Witness child abuse victim. The thought of now losing the family's financial assets to a multi-million dollar religious group that a Court found wronged Vicki, could push this innocent and troubled child abuse survivor over the edge much like the thought of the "confrontation" with Vicki's father did.
I think a lot of people would be very interested in this part of the legal costs story and I hope you find it news worthy. I don't think even the Catholic Church during its abuse scandal has tried using the law to its advantage in such a situation.
Other Information from the July 18, 2003 Hearing
Charles Mark (Vicki Boer's attorney) argued that Vicki's costs should be picked up by the Watch Tower since they were found negligent. Mr. Mark also noted (and Mr. Stevenson confirmed) that Vicki and the Watch Tower worked an offer to settle the case for 56,000 dollars (including legal costs) with an apology before the trial started in September 2002. But the offer was only acceptable to the Watch Tower if Vicki would agree to a "gag" where her or her immediate family could not publically report the abuse.
It is interesting finding out about this offer because to this day, the Watch Tower has publically denied Vicki's claim, never apologized publically to Vicki like they did in this private offer and has never told their rank and file (including the Shelburne congregation that came to court every day in support of the Watch Tower at the September, 2002 trial) about the offer and apology.
Her Honour had never seen this offer to settle document or previous offers. Her Honour seemed very interested in this offer to settle document in determining legal costs and other offers of settlement. She requested the Defendant's lawyer, Colin Stevenson, to produce the offer of settlements with further legal briefs in order that Her Honour could make a decision on legal costs, if any, to be awarded to the Plaintiff or Defendant.
The lawyers for the Watch Tower and Vicki Boer are required to make these legal submissions within the next two weeks to the Court. Then Her Honour (according to her) is likely to rule around August 22 - 25, 2003 on legal costs.
I hope the update helps and you find the story newsworthy to report. I have not heard if there are any appeals planned. I will let you know if I find out.
Watch Tower's Assets (via Tax Returns) to prove its worth:
Click this Federal Government search engine: