silentlambs goes to court with Watchtower in New Hampshire
As the court cases continue to heat up and move forward through the justice system Watchtower continues to defend their "religious right" to hurt children and protect child molesters. On Monday of this week Watchtower was in court again with attorney Mario Moreno and Service Department heavy Gary Breaux sitting on the same side of the court room with a convicted child molester, Paul Berry that remains a Jehovah's Witness in good standing. Along with this bethel crew was two very nervous local elders and a local highly paid law firm.
What was the issue at hand? It seems brother Berry wishes to exercise his "religious privilege" to prevent testimony from implicating him for his crimes against his two daughters. Watchtower in their defense is ultimately providing brother Berry with unlimited "Worldwide Work" funds in the form of legal defense to prevent criminal conviction from his second daughter as well as civil litigation for negligence to provide monetary support for the damage caused by WT Policy. Though x-wife Sarah and mother of the two girls has waived her "privilege" in order to let the truth be known, WT says the "religious right" of brother Berry prevents any information discussed with her from being disclosed.
The clear implication is the WT feels their religious child endangerment policy is above the laws of the land and they can use the first amendment as a basis to defend that right.
As court proceeded Berry was called to the stand by WT attorneys. He refused to answer any question before first asking the judge that he did not want to endanger his "religious right." Brother Berry went on to say that he had met with elders six times but never confessed or discussed any wrongdoing on his part. Do you think he was telling the truth?
If convicted child molester Berry is telling the lie then who is it protecting that lie? It is interesting to note that Berry was appointed as a ministerial servant in the mid nineties and was serving when he was convicted. At the admission of the elders in attendance, Berry remains a Jehovah's Witness in "good standing," no doubt a proud member of the Wilton congregation. Berry is not being defeneded directly by WT as he is his on as counsel, but by WT defending their right for confidentiality they are also defending his right to religious privilege.
Why is this significant? When Sarah took the stand it was pointed out that she had approached the elders over a dozen times. Berry was twice brought up on charges of domestic violence during that time in which elders appeared at his hearings. Child services gave Sarah the ultimatum of being forced leave her husband or lose her children during this time. Sarah chose her children and left with them. The elders were well aware of this yet it would appear, told the congregation she did not have proper grounds for separation and removed her as a pioneer.
When the two local elders took the stand they looked scared to death, in the course of answering questions denied that they had ever taken any notes, ever recorded anything in the congregation file, and had never contacted the WT one time regarding this matter. Sarah remembered on one occasion an elder called the Service Department in front of her, he knew the telephone number so well he did not even have to look it up and seemed very familiar with the person he was talking to. Yet when on the stand after being sworn before God to tell the truth, it appears a little "theocratic warfare" was being called into play. Who does this lie protect? First WT legally so they can claim they knew nothing about it, second it protects a convicted child molester and assists his lie of never committing or confessing any wrongdoing.
Next on the stand came Gary Breaux a senior Service Department overseer. Grey headed and very distinguished, he carried a Bible with him and read scriptures nearly every time he gave an answer. Can you believe he read Mt 28:19,20? He did. In the opinion of those present it came across quite arrogant. It seemed more like he was preaching to the judge rather than answering very simple questions. How many scriptures did he actually read? (Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 20:28;1 Tim 3:1-7; Rom 13:1; Acts 5:29; Galatians 6:5;Proverbs 25:9; James 5:1-5; Ps 141:5; 2Cor 3) Do you think the judge got enough? Well then there was the quotes, WT 12/15/75 pg 764;Wt 4/1/71 pg 223;Wt 9/15/89 pg 10,11; Wt 11/15/91 pg 23. Most of this information was to establish why WT felt they had to right to maintain confidentiality when criminal acts are committed. It also was enlarged to cover even if the victim wished the information to be known the rights of the criminal must be protected with confidentiality leaving the victim with no cooperation.
Brother Breaux also got nailed on a couple of his scriptures. In Proverbs 25:9 he had to admit that there no mention of elders being required to keep matters confidential even though he made that application, but that it was their religious interpretation of the passage. It's kind of like saying, "It is this way because we said so." Not a good image to present when you are defending your right to abuse children on religious grounds. Another slip-up was when brother Breaux read a quote from one of the WT articles that stated, "confidentiality was one of the most violated areas by elders in the congregation."
When you are trying to defend your right of confidentiality it was not a good article to share. The attorney for the victims made good points of it much to their chagrin. Breaux did not help also by admitting that around sixty people could have access to confidential files sent to Service Department. Not so confidential are they? Mario Moreno sat throughout the proceeding on the child molester's side of the court room offering counsel and support to his buddies.
When it came time for Bowen to be called the court room exploded on the WT side as they threw everything but the kitchen sink to prevent him from testifying. What were they so afraid of? Finally after the judge gave them fair options they allowed him to be called.
Bowen carried a lamb instead of a Bible with him on the stand. It stood for the silent lambs. It seemed the judge listened intently as responses were made to questions. The gist was summarizing Bowen's experience as a JW and then asking him about how confidentiality is kept in the congregation. Bowen was able to explain how the congregation file works, how a df report is filed with Service Department, how a child molestation report is made, along with other goodies WT would have cared to have stayed off the record.
Bowen was then interviewed on a one to one basis with the WT hired attorney and Mario Moreno. Moreno remained silent, perhaps he did not want to associate with a Df person but he sure listened. An area that was focused on was trying to get Bowen to admit that confession is obligatory or you will lose salvation. This of course is not true and Bowen refused to agree. What did he base his assumption on? The 1972 KM Question Box on confessing sin. This is used on a regular basis to determine if an elder would continue to qualify if it was discovered in years past he had broken Gods Law. The KM is as follows,
*** km 10/72 p. 8 Question Box ***
"What is meant by 'some years ago' on page 170, paragraph two, in the 'Organization' book?
This indicates more than a year or two. It may be noted that it did not say "many years ago." So it is not an exact number of years, but more like two or three years. It was not intended to have a brother go back into the distant past to bring up wrongs of which he repented years ago and that have evidently been forgiven by Jehovah and are not being practiced now.
In many cases the wrongs occurred prior to the time when the "Watchtower" drew attention to what the Scriptures say on such misconduct.
If a brother has been serving faithfully for some years and has seen evidence of Jehovah's blessings upon him, why should he now step down from office? If he has the right viewpoint now on conduct and will give good counsel he should be able to continue to serve. If the local body of elders see that he has the respect of the congregation and has shown the proper qualifications over the last two or three years, he may remain in his position of service. Must wrongdoing be brought to public attention after many years? The book (page 168) under "Public Reproof" quotes 1 Timothy 5:20 and mentions reproof of those who confess to committing more than one offense. But it really has to do with recent events. The "Interlinear" refers to those "sinning," something going on at the time. So if repentance occurred some years ago, three years ago or more, and sinning ceased, and he is respected by the congregation, it is not necessary now to publicly reprove one who committed more than one offense "some years ago."
So what is the point? If you keep your nose clean you remain an elder. If you commit a sin that violates the rules of the organization, then all you have to do is discontinue the sin for 2-3 years and your way of life shows you have God's blessing. If you have God's blessing then how could you be destroyed for not confessing to the elders? If you have God's blessing then you remain an elder. If you have God's blessing then why should you ever bring it up to begin with? As you will note this article does not necessarily say that you have to bring it up. So if a matter comes out that you kept hidden and you can get past 2-3 years, no harm no foul, no privileges lost. I think this would certainly give the average brother or sister pause about confession. If a person immediately comes forward they risk DF and that is a two years process to get back and off all restrictions, even then it is three and five years before you can be a ministerial servant or elder. A much simpler way would be to keep quiet and after three years while keeping all privileges you get a pat on the back for having God's blessing. Think about it.
Bowen was called back on Tuesday and the silentlambs website was brought up as a way to try and discredit him. The lawyer repeatedly asked if the website attacked the "belief" of Jehovah's Witnesses, to which Bowen continued to reply, "Absolutely not." Numerous other issues were addressed in about one hour on the stand.
The Judge will make a ruling in about a week, there was an optimism that this decision would be favorable and move matters forward on deposing the governing body and compel them to answer questions without hiding behind the first amendment. It also could perhaps create enough evidence to convict Berry again on further charges of child molestation without Watchtower protection.
We went out to lunch afterward. It was interesting to see the local hired wt attorney leave in an expensive black Lexus. It is estimated Watchtower is paying his firm $250,000 - $500,000 a year to work this case full time. So can you guess who are helping pay for his car? It would appear all those that contribute to the worldwide work. By defending themselves legally on "religious privilege and confidentiality" WT in effect is giving Brother Berry the best representation money can buy as he remains a JW in good standing. Just think if he ever breaks out of jail he could move to where the need is greater and serve as an elder. We are sure he thanks Jehovah every night for the benefits he has received from WT policy, too bad for the raped children.
You can view a few pictures of who was there. The WT people ran out so fast we could not catch them on camera.
Review the pictures here,
WT In Court