The Day Jehovah's Witnesses in Riverside California Blinked
On fairly short notice silentlambs sent out an advisory to the public that Jehovahýs Witnesses were once again going to court to speak as character witnesses for a convicted pedophile. You can read of similar circumstances at this link,
Earlier in the week on Monday a large group of Jehovah's Witnesses had made known their intention to come to court as they had for the last two years to publicly support and offer character statements for a man convicted on several counts of molesting his daughters. Brother Kanehe was disfellowshipped for confessing to child molestation in the early summer of 2002 but reinstated by August 2002. Why? As the elders stated, "Due to his great repentance." This is the man that beat his daughter when she finally said she would no longer be a silent lamb by staying silent about her abuse. Does that appear repentant to you? The mother supported bailing the molester out of jail and brought him back into the home thus forcing the youngest daughter out. Yet her actions caused no problem with her status as she remained a good example to the congregation by being appointed as an auxiliary pioneer. As the trial progressed numerous brothers and sisters would appear in court with bibles and watchtowers to show their open support for the pedophile while no one from the congregation offered any support for the victims during the two year process it took to get a conviction. That last step was on Friday November 12, 2002 at the sentencing hearing.
Silentlambs put out the word and it appears several of Brother Kanehe's supporters seemed to have lost their nerve and decided to not defended his character. Instead four steadfast pedophile supporters from the local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses stood in court with bibles in hand and went on to describe what a great guy the pedophile really was in their opinion. They said he was generous, loving, kind, a good worker, a good father, and deserved mercy from the Judge. In an apparent attempt to intimidate the court they stated that the molester had only made one mistake and God had forgiven him. In so many words basically putting forth the thought, what right did the Judge have to overrule God? Stupid, stupid stupid. Then to add insult to injury once again a Jehovah's Witness stood in court before a Judge and said they would be totally comfortable for this convicted pedophile to baby sit their children. This makes the third time this has been documented in the last four years and certainly shows the persistency of blind ignorance.
Apparently the Judge was not intimidated or impressed by Jehovah's Witnesses defense and faith in a man that molested his daughters on numerous occasions. The Judge mentioned that it was not a "one time" mistake but something that had occurred hundreds of times. Brother Kanehe was actually convicted on ten counts and therefore carrying a bible and trying to use God to intimidate the Judge just did not seem to make mercy go in favor of a pedophile. The Judge gave him the maximum sentence of twenty one years.
The advocates and victims of this man sat on the other side of the court room with little toy stuffed lambs in hand as their statement of truth. It was something the Judge noticed and the little lambs served to make a far more powerful statement than all the eloquent theocratic ministry school trained verbiage that the spokesmen for the pedophile could muster. The fact that the little lambs were known to be coming intimidated most of the Jehovah's Witnesses not to speak and helped those that supported abuse survivors say all that needed to be said. Is it somewhat ironic that Jehovah's Witnesses the pride themselves in being sheep should be intimidated by a little toy lamb? Once again the work of silentlambs was accomplished and abuse survivors were supported. Silentlambs forwarded numerous emails of encouraging comments to the sisters and they commented that in the last week they had gotten more support than through the entire trial process through silentlambs. Below are some comments from those that attended as well as the last remarks from the sisters themselves. What better way to end this newsletter than to let former silent lambs have the last word? Sisters, thank you for your courage and your brave stand to protect children.
Riverside California : November 12, 2004
The call went out from the silentlambs mailing list at 4:00 pm , November 8 2004 , which said in part:
"Can you stand in court with a silent lamb? On November 11, 2003 Howard Kanehe a Jehovahýs Witness in good standing was convicted of molesting his daughterýWhen the younger daughter made known she was going to press charges her father beat her and afterward her Jehovah's Witness mother kicked her out of the home, she was forced to live in her car till her sisters offered assistance. Last Friday was to be the sentencing hearing and twenty plus Jehovah's Witnesses appeared to offer character statements for the convicted child molester. Apparently this information was part of the congregation record as well in that Howard Kanehe was disfellowshipped in the early summer of 2002 for confessing to child molestation yet he was reinstated late summer of 2002 due to his great repentance. At silentlambs we have to wonder how beating your victim when they attempt to press charges qualifies as repentance. These young women should be supported and we are asking anyone that can to be there at the Riverside District court and stand with them on their side of the courtroom. Up to this point they have stood alone against the intimidation tactics of the local Jehovah's Witnesses. We ask for your help and support to not let these brave women stand alone."
Many tried to come but due to time and airfare couldn't; three made commitments to be there, two actually made it, one from California and one from Arizona . Obstacles were overcome with the same persistence and dedication that silentlambs has demonstrated since its inception in 2000. The representative from the Riverside County's Victims Advocates Office was moved nearly to tears by the presence of the advocates, she stated, "I can't tell you how much it means to me to know that strangers will travel all this way to help because they care more than the families, more than "the friends", more than the Jehovah's Witnesses. It means a lot to all of us here in Riverside County . Thank you so much for coming."
When survivors and their supporters finally hooked up together in front of the courthouse, the legal proceedings were behind them and the defen dan t had gotten twenty-one years of time behind bars to think about who he is and what he believes. HIS advocates and supporters;and there were way too many of these; have all that time to ponder over what they think, how they got to where they are and where they are going to go from here.
Over sandwiches, cookies, and coffee, the survivors and advocates discussed issues such as statutes of limitations, civil actions, family dynamics of molesters and victims, and even what society should do with young teenage sexual abuser s. They discussed too, whether Jehovah's Witnesses really believe that when they behave this way they are, to quote the brother of a molestation victim that is presently suing Watchtower, "pedophiles by proxy." They discussed whether Witnesses are aware then when they turn out in support of a child ab user that they in reality spur prosecutors and judges into more decisive action.
This group ; all women by the way-- didn't change the world that day, they probably didn't make a dent in society's problems. What they did do, though, was to form the bonds and strengthen the ties that will continue to build the stairways that will lead abuse survivors up and out of the darkness of self-blame and psychological paralysis. Words were spoken and action was taken that transforms, and will continue to transform, victims to survivors.
That is what happened in Riverside , California , on November 12, 2004 .
From the sisters,
We would like to personally thank all of you for your words of support and prayers. We had a court date this morning and we are so happy it is finally done. He got twenty-one years which with the new appeals rules was the max he could get. He had about a dozen backing him up throughout the trial that we saw throughout the court and today four JWs who spoke on his behalf including my mother and his ex boss who actually bailed him out the first time. They all pretty much said the same things that he was generous, loving, kind, a good father, a good provider. They also said that God had already forgiven him and he has paid and is very remorseful. They also said he only made "1" mistake and that his family needed him to heal. The judge was not very pleased with their statements. He stated this case was not about religion but about his crimes. He also said that this was not 1 mistake it was a mistake that he did over and over and over again. He also reminded them that the court has already been very generous because originally they could have charged him with over one hundred counts. He ended up with just ten. There were two silentlambs supporters that we were so happy to meet thanks to Bill Bowen and we are just happy it is finally over.
Thank you again, Sincerely,
Kiley, Angela and Andrea