Amarillo woman accuses elder of
June 5, 2003
AMARILLO, Texas- An Amarillo woman has sued the Jehovah's Witnesses and its groups in Dumas and Amarillo, claiming an elder sexually abused her while the organization's officials took no action to halt it.
Philip Brumley, general counsel for the national group, said Thursday that the organization will look into the allegations.
"Our hearts go out to anyone who suffered abuse as a child, in any fashion," he said. "We're unable at this point to state any particulars concerning this case because we were only apprised of it two days ago."
The negligence suit filed Tuesday in 251st District Court in Potter County by a woman identified only as Amy B. names as defendants Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Larry Kelley and several other organizations, including the Dumas Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses and the Amarillo-Southwest Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
According to the suit, the Jehovah's Witnesses organization appointed Kelley as elder of the Dumas congregation sometime before 1988, and that he used his position to sexually abuse children. The organization's officials learned of the alleged abuse while Kelley was an elder but did not report it to authorities or warn other members, the suit states.
In 1988, Kelley was transferred to the Amarillo-Southwest Congregation where he used his leadership post to abuse other children, including the 23-year-old plaintiff, who was 8 years old at the time of the alleged abuse, according to the lawsuit.
The suit claims Kelley was convicted of indecency with a child/sexual contact in 1992.
Additionally, the suit claims the organizations knew or should have known for five years that Kelley was sexually abusing young girls within the congregation and that they failed to act.
The suit seeks unspecified damages for medical expenses, counseling and psychological treatment, and other damages.
Kelley could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.