We spent the balance of the day welcoming those that were arriving early. Most notable was Roger Carlsson and Anders Christensson from Sweden . This was our first time to meet them and it was great to sit and talk about all that they had accomplished in Sweden to help children. It too was stunning to see the corrupt way WT handled the situation. If you would like to look at what happened check this link and look for the Sweden information.
They along with others were ecstatic to be there and it was great to visit and exchange stories till late in the evening.
Press conference at 10:30 am went well with the National AP religion writer along with three local networks to cover it. There was a live program on NBC that came in for an update also along with a Swedish program that came all the way to film for a new documentary. We had the ten foot silentlambs banner along with small and large lambs all over the room. The optics were great to view and got a lot of pictures. It was a full room and this is what was stated,
March 27, 2004 Press Conference
The purpose of the silentlambs summit is to alert and educate the public regarding institutional abuse awareness. When silentlambs was founded a little over three years ago, its purpose was to give a voice to survivors of child sexual abuse that had been silenced by the institution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Over 6,000 abused members have come forward to express their outrage at being silenced by the bad institutional polices of this organization.
Victims of Jehovah’s Witnesses abuse policy range from the recently released serial sex offender Carey Verse in California; forty plus victims of abuse that have filed lawsuits against the religion for negligence in dealing with their abuse; the dozens of members that were disfellowshipped and continue to be attacked by henchmen that serve as elders directed by home office, to the most famous celebrities such as Michael Jackson.
We have learned from these situations that bad institutional polices can decimate the lives of the innocent and empower predators to get away with the crime of rape. Yesterday in the Tennessean, J.R. Ross, P R spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses stated, “While accusations had been made that the church was shielding pedophiles, they had not been proved.” The evidence provided by the testimony of numerous abuse survivors though fifteen documentaries in eight different countries along with hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles around the world seem to not serve as “proof.” Once again abuse survivors are insulted and called liars by this institution. Sadly this is not just a one institution problem, today we have David Cerulli from SNA P , (Survivors Network for those Abused by P riests) he is a victim of their institutional policy on abuse; Sue Archibald from “Linkup” one of the oldest and largest clerical abuse awareness organizations. If the institutions they were victimized by practiced good policies they would not be here today.
To help the public be better educated on this issue we are releasing this new video called “silentlambs abuse awareness.” It is a compilation of four key programs that show three key areas that defines bad institutional policy:
Internal investigation of the crime of rape by untrained members of the institution.
Not reporting abuse to protect institutional reputation or key leaders within the organization.
Obstruction of justice by keeping records confidential that would allow prosecution of sex offenders.
These three things in practice allows children around the world to be harmed and their lives decimated while pedophiles are being protected and empowered by uti liz ing these bad institutional policies to their advantage. We wish to distribute this video in soon to be released DVD format to libraries, churches, day cares and any institution that wishes to educate their members on better polices to protect children.
Later this evening we are going to have a silentlambs “courage” award banquet. There we plan to recognize over forty advocates and abuse survivors that at great personal sacrifice have spoken out to protect children. Some of these recipients will be glad to speak with you this morning. Two in atten dan ce today are Roger Carlsson , and Anders Christensson visiting from Sweden along with many others that have stood up for what is morally and ethically right. We are happy they are able to be here.
Sunday morning at 10 am we are asking for two minutes of silence to recognize the courage of abuse survivors. We hope that all Jehovah’s Witness’ congregations and any other church or institution that wishes to do so will participate.
April is child abuse awareness month. We encourage advocates to wear a mint green ribbon or pin to suggest abuse awareness. Further silentlambs will travel to Washington DC on April 17 th to participate in the “march to stop the silence.” We invite anyone that wishes to do so to meet us there and march with us down P ennsylvania Avenue to raise money to protect children and raise abuse awareness. Details and instructions for participation can be found on the silentlambs website at www.silentlambs.org .
I would now like to invite David Cerulli and others to make a few comments about why they are here.
This now concludes the press conference.
See pictures of press conference here,
David Cerulli gave an excellent commentary about abuse and made an interesting comment about the abuse movement. He stated it was civil rights for children that we were fighting for and the efforts that are put forth in law and policy will protect children’s rights for years to come. Kim Norris gave some comments about the litigation of negligence and the WT. She stated the forty seven victims are currently involved in litigation and several more are soon to be filed. With her law firms efforts as well as several others across the USA there are close to sixty abuse survivors involved with civil lawsuits against the Watchtower Society. This appears to argue the point that no one is able to sue WT or win as has been stated numerous times by the WT legal department. They are being sued many more are coming forward and they are in fact losing ground everyday in defending their child molestation policy.
Next on the program was Roger Carlosson from Sweden, he spoke of a horrendous case in which a sister discovered after trying to report her molester that he had also later molested a relative who was also a sister in the congregation. In each case the matter was covered up. Roger mentioned since the airing of the Swedish program on JW’s and child abuse over sixty victims have come forward to report their abuse was covered up. This is significant in that Sweden only has a population of twenty-two million. He mentioned that when a young man that spoke of his abuse on the program, “Anders” that Watchtower mentioned at the district convention a member of the governing body had been personally assigned to guide the Swedish branch on how to proceed, shortly there after Watchtower committed $100,000 in “Worldwide Work” donations to take out newspapers advertisements to call Anders a liar. Half of the major newspapers turned them down flat so as a result only around $50,000 was actually spent. If you would like to read what was written check out this link,
For the full story look at this link,
At this point Anders from the program came forward to speak about his treatment by Wt as well as how important it was to not remain silent about abuse. He stated it was a turning point in his life for the better and helped him to see who really was at fault.
This concluded the press conference and several abuse survivors were able to do interviews. On Sunday the following article came out in the local paper, the Tennessean.
Silentlambs target ‘bad policy’ regarding child abuse
By Michele E. Shaw
More than two dozen people from around the world gathered in Nashville this weekend in an attempt to heighten abuse awareness of the sexual abuse of children.
Bill Bowen, national director of Silentlambs, said this first international conference may have been small but expects the number of supporters to grow.
“What we did (Saturday) was show a video that we hope to release to churches, day cares, schools and any place that has children.” he said yesterday. “In that video you can see how bad policy created bad situations for children over and over again.”
Bowen began his crusade against child abuse when he was a Jehovah’s Witness. He said that as an elder in the church, he was made aware of abuse situations, but the church’s doctrine did nothing for the young victims.
“They would be asked if they had two eyewitnesses to the abuse,” he said. “And the ab user would always deny it, so what are the children to do?”
He said the church has a uniform policy on how to handle situations, including child abuse. He said the policy is less than adequate. He also said a difference exists between the Witnesses and the Catholic Church.
“In the Catholic Church you have mainly little boys being abuse by church officials,” he said. “But here, you are looking at little girls, and little boys, being abused by family members and friends.”
J. R. Brown, public affairs spokesman at the world headquarters of the Witnesses’ Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, in New York , said the church agrees with Silentlambs’ goal “to minimize or eliminate the sexual abuse of children” but disputes the groups’ specific allegations.
“We do not view them as our enemies,” Brown said.
Heather Berry, 21, said she drove from New Hampshire to attend the summit because she supports what Bowen is trying to do for children. “They are welcoming everybody now,” Berry said. “It’s not just about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s about kids , and as an abuse survivor, it is nice to know there are so many other s tori es out there.”
Roger Carlsson , from Sweden , said he is no longer an elder of the church, but when he was he knew of several abuse cases. “The only thing is that is news is the problem is far more sever than I thought,” he said. “ I had no idea about all (the worldwide) cases.”
Bowen said silentlambs in no way labels the Jehovah’s Witness church as an enemy. “They are not bad people, but there are some bad polices in the church,” he said. “We are fighting for children in all institutional situations, be they churches, schools or whatever.”
Silentlambs, founded in 2001, has formed a loose interfaith alliance with two older groups that emerged from the Roman Catholic abuse scandals. The Linkup, based in Louisville KY , and Survivors Network of those Abused by P riests, or SNA P , with offices in Chicago and St. Louis .
Linkup leader Susan Archibald is joining the Silentlambs board, and Bowen is joining Linkup’s board. The issue has international ramifications for the Witnesses, who report about 1 million U.S. followers and 6 million worldwide.
The article basically said it all in addition to the reporting of Richard Ostling the national Religion reporter for the Associated Press.
The program was entitled, “How we can help combat ignorance and apathy when it relates to child abuse.” We find it interesting in the press comments of WT Press spokesman “JR Brown” on Friday that he seemed to confirm the need for our meeting. He said , ''Generally, the purpose of a cleric or minister is to entertain confessions of sin the person has committed and try to help the individual restore thei r r elationship with God,'' Brown said. ''I don't know of any religious organization that has required all of its ministers to report every case of child abuse.''
Good ignorance and apathy “JR” as the reporter noted even the Catholic Church requires all abuse reported now.
Everyone registered and got special silentlambs name tags along with paperwork. Each person in attendance received as a gift a special green and gold ink pen with the words engraved in gold on the side, “silentlambs-silent no more.” It was a way to let everyone know how much we appreciated their support. We also had red and black ink pens for everyone that were donated by a Jehovah’s Witness abuse survivor that could not attend.
Saturday afternoon the program started with Jean Kraus opening the program with comments about not being silent. She also shared the silentlambs mission statement. You can read it here,
See the pictures here,
Jean then followed up with introducing the silentlambs board of directors. There names are Stephen Campbell, Susan Archibald, Jean Kraus, Sheila Bowen, William H. Bowen. It is good to note two members of the board are Jehovah’s Witnesses in “good standing” and two other members have never been JW’s but serve as advocates on abuse issues. Three members of the silentlambs board are abuse survivors. Each member of the board was asked to tell something about their background and gave those in atten dan ce a perspective about why they were part of silentlambs. If you wish to review the program you may do so here,
The next part was offered by Kim Norris. She gave much interesting information about her work in litigating for abuse survivors. Jehovah’s Witnesses is her specialty she only works with these type cases at present. Currently there are 47 clients in legal process with Watchtower. She mentioned that she has talked or dealt with around 2,000 JW abuse survivors. The parameters for the cases they file was described and we were helped to see just how narrow they were. At the same time once things are established by legal precedent it will open up the way for many more to litigate. She mentioned more than once that what she was dealing with was just the tip of the iceberg in her opinion. So that when these cases start to succeed it will open the way for many others. It was wonderful information and helped to see the scope and firm direction that things were going in.
Next on the program we presented the “institutional abuse awareness” program. It consisted of the introductory material on the website along with a new video with an introduction from William H. Bowen about how to recognize bad policy in an institutional setting. The video will soon be available on DVD for a low cost to distribute to institutions, libraries, and law enforcement around the world. Many there expressed interest in the distribution program. It is just a matter of dropping by with the information and leaving it along with a brochure. We will have further information on this as it develops on the website. Bear in mind this is an expensive program and it will need your financial support to continue.
The next part of the program was truly great in that several abuse survivors spoke about how they were helped and also how to speak out on abuse. Susan Archibald with Linkup spoke about her abuse and hoe she had moved forward by her work. Roger Carlsson gave more stunning information on the situation in Sweden as well as Anders give some heartfelt comments on how speaking out changed his life and gave hi m c losure. Heather Berry and her mother also gave some touching comments along with others expressing appreciation for silentlambs for helping them to speak out on abuse. This part of the program ran longer than expected so we had to shorten the last part.
The final part dealt with local activism and how we can get active in our local community. We mentioned that we were traveling to Washington DC on April 17 th and invited all in atten dan ce to be there as well as to invite others in their local community to march with us. We offered ten suggestions for what we might do during April which is Child Abuse Awareness Month. If you would like to look at the suggestions check out this link,
If the reader would like to attend the DC March check out this link for attendance and registration,
The program ended with a nice round of applause and time for everyone to get ready for ht silentlambs banquet. At the banquet the tables were set with green and yellow table cloths along with candles on each table. The catered meal had three courses and the food was excellent. After the meal was finished William H. Bowen started the awards program by talking about why the silentlambs courage award was started to begin with. Corey Pandelo was the first silentlambs courage award recipient in August of 2002. She was a victim of abuse and gave a lengthy interview with Dateline. She never got on the program as most of her interview ended up on the cutting room floor. Corey remains a JW in good standing though her in-laws shun her parents for speaking out on abuse to protect her. Corey received her courage award on the front steps of the 25 building in front of WT headquarters. Eleven others were the first to be awarded on those steps including Pat Garza the woman that accused Ted Jaracz of molesting her as a child on the front steps. Pat had made her accusations since 1994 and was ignored and silenced by WT thugs. Her stand in front of WT was a true turning point for her for after that she participated in several newspaper and television interviews until her death fro m c ancer a few months later. These are just two s tori es that were told that night, there were several more of courage and bravery that was part of the first silentlambs courage awards presented. That night the first courage award was presented to Ted and Geny Shanks. When they tried to expose abuse in the mid 1970’s they were both disfellowshipped to silence them. Geny passed away last year and it meant a great deal to Ted to see he r r eceived this honor. In total seventy-five courage awards were presented, each had a story and a purpose that ultimately protected children. the program went much longer than anticipated but we think everyone enjoyed the message and happiness that the recipients offered at being there.
After the banquet we had everyone to the hospitality suite for refreshments and fellowship. It was a nice visit that lasted late into the night.
Sunday national press coverage of silentlambs summit click the link,
Sunday came early with a little field service. It is interesting to note that we met witnesses at a couple of the Kingdom Halls. The first was a Spanish congregation and I do not think they understood much of what was said, the second was a group of elders meeting that once approached appeared scared to death of the little lamb. They declined to touch it and said they “knew our game.” When we mentioned our game was to protect children they said they didn’t need any help and shut the door. We left the lamb and bulletin anyway on the door, perhaps it will cause someone to think. We had a nice car group of four people which included a JW sister and David Cerulli from SNAP along with the AP reporter. We made our return visits with stuffed lambs and an abuse awareness bulletin. Sad to say we had a lot of not at homes but we left them with a positive message anyway. What was it? Click to the link to review,
To see pictures of our service day click here,
If the information protects one child it will have accomplished its purpose. On the bulletin distributed locally we asked for each congregation to have two minutes of silence at 10 am to remember the courage of abuse survivors. We did at the conference if they didn’t, shame on them.
The conference started with a continental breakfast at the hospitality suite. The donuts were generously provided by the local Kroger store at no charge for silentlambs. We started off with a presentation by Susan Archibald on how to get active in raising abuse awareness. She described a new progra m c alled the “Farm” to give abuse survivors a place to come to for healing. It is a 1300 acre farm that will feature therapists, housing, workshops, and work projects to help abuse survivors move forward in their healing. It was a fantastic program along with many suggestions on how to help raise abuse awareness. David Cerulli with SNAP spoke next about the many projects that were being done with SNAP . He pointed out that SNAP was not just for Catholics abut was reaching out to all abuse survivors. They have chapters set up across the USA and would welcome any silentlambs that might wish to participate. Me mentioned that they were active politically to change laws regarding abuse reporting and would like to see silentlambs assist in this work of testifying before state legislatures to assist in that regard. They also distribute leaflets in front of churches and other public places, volunteers are always needed. Each presentation of David and Susan lasted about one hour and it was great to see how much involvement that members of silentlambs could assist with. David mentioned there conference would be in Denver this year on June 11-13 if you need further information on atten dan ce you can check out their websites at www.snapnetwork.org or www.thelinkup.org these are professional organizations that we can work with to raise abuse awareness as well as have support in local areas. They know silentlambs and welcome anyone associated to be part of their functions.
Well that concluded the first international silentlambs summit. It was an uplifting empowering event to anyone that attended and certainly something we will want to repeat next year. It is interesting to note that a little over thirty people attended the conference and seven new people came forward from the Nashville area to speak to silentlambs after seeing the media coverage. One person is a well known song writer and author who lives in Nashville , all were survivors of JW abuse.
Was the conference a success? When you consider that we were covered by all major television news networks with at least twelve news s tori es on three different days. The local newspaper covered the conference with s tori es on Friday and Saturday. The National Associated press went nationwide on Sunday a prime news day. Hundreds of newspapers across the country carried the story. What was it? Read below. Also on Monday morning William H. Bowen did a three hour interview with MTV for a documentary on Michael Jackson that will air on the VH1 music channel later this summer. The program will be called “What ever happened to baby “J?” To see pictures of the interview look here,
On Friday of this week we expect another major nationwide story through the A P that will provide further information. As many may recall in our earlier comments about the silentlambs summit we made this observation;
After fifteen documentaries and eight different countries as well as hundreds of news and magazine articles it appears the real "truth" of these matters is there for anyone to see that may wish to do so. Thousands have been helped to see they are not alone; they were not at fault and have the right to stand up to those that hurt them. They are no longer silent lambs. Each event that silentlambs has planned has had that as its central purpose, that is, to allow abuse survivors to have a voice and show them they are believed and supported. The "silentlambs summit" will be yet another opportunity for those that wish to offer support and give a voice to those that cannot speak for them, if you see any event as important view this one as something significant for you to be apart of. You will not regret the time effort and expense put forth by supporting this conference. This is your chance to "walk the walk" so to speak and help be a voice to make a difference in the interests of protecting children.
We believe those goals were amply accomplished. Silentlambs once again created a platform for abuse survivors to speak out, be recognized and appreciated. When you accomplish those ideals it is something that all who attended were tremendously proud to be associated with. Our next event will be in Washington DC . National press will be there, thousands of abuse survivors and advocates. Somewhere in the middle of it all will be a ten foot silentlambs banner with many silent lambs that are “silent no more.”
We hope to see you there.
Old links to silentlambs summit info,