On September 21, 2004 the Fall River Superior Court reviewed a motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit regarding child abuse against the Watchtower. Attorney Joseph Desmond (atty. for JW's) argued the issue of separation of church and state, as well as stating the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has no control over the Attleboro & Seekonk congregations. He went on to further state it was a family problem because it was the victim's step-father, cousin's step-uncle and step-sister's biological father.
Mr. Desmond also stated that the congregation had no knowledge of Ralph Heroux's sexual deviances and besides he already pleaded guilty in criminal court. The was an especially curious comment because in May of 2002 Jane Doe 2 received a letter from the Bristol County District Attorney's Office stating that Jane Doe 2's name was given to them as being a victim of child abuse by the Seeknok and Attleboro congregations. When Jane Doe 2 called the Seekonk Congregation and spoke to Elder Joseph Azevdo they asked him "what are you doing to protect other children against this man?" Elder Azevdo stated, "Nothing we've done our job we reported him to the proper authority." Did they really think the Judge would not know this?
Victims lawyer Attorney Stephen Born brought a copy of the Watchtower & Awake with him and showed the Judge that on page 2 it shows that these magazines are published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. The law firm also has a real estate lawyer in their office that was able to link mortgage and real estate holding to the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society.
Attorney Born also argued that this was not a family problem but a Jehovah's Witness problem. He related to the Judge how Jane Doe 1 told the elders, her aunt and anyone who would listen about Ralph Heroux and what he did to the victim. The victim was told by the elders that it will all work out and that they needed to obey their molester/father. This was years before Jane Doe 2's mother met and married Ralph but because of the code of silence they never warned Jane Doe 2's mother and not only was Jane Doe 2 abused but a cousin (John Doe 1) as also abused as well. The Judge took the case under advisement and on September 27, 2004 refused to dismiss the case.
The case now moves forward toward trial and the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society in New York & Pennsylvania are also included in the lawsuit. For 25 years this case was covered up. The only way that was able to move forward was because Massachusetts passed a law in 2002 that stated if any clergy knows of about any abuse that took place they need to notify the authorities. Only when forced by new state laws and only then did the elders finally report the sexual abuse of several children.
Now Heroux has done a year in prison, followed by home confinement for two years on an electronic bracelet, probation for two years and parole for life. It was later discovered after Heroux was newly released from prison that an elder in his new congregation was in the process of arranging for Heroux to conduct a bible study with a woman and her two small children.
So is Watchtower winning the civil cases in the child abuse issue??
Apparently, this civil lawsuit as well as many others is steadily moving forward to establish legal precedents that will offer compensation to victims that have been hurt by current Watchtower policy on abuse and make the Governing Body pay a heavy penalty for hurting children in the future.