Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Jehovah’s Witnesses test new legal strategy to combat child abuse claims: Call it incest

Watchtower has made the claim that most JW child abuse cases involve incest.

The reason they are making this argument is not that this statement is necessarily true — it’s a strategic legal position.

By claiming most JW cases are incestuous, they are attempting to conceal the names of perpetrators of abuse. Their argument is that by revealing the names of pedophiles, you will expose the names of victims, since it’s easy to connect the dots between a relative and their victim.

Last August, a Federal lawsuit was filed by a Mormon attorney on behalf of at least six active Jehovah’s Witnesses — all claiming that by exposing their names (in court documents) they would be irreparably harmed.


By December, at least three more names were slated to be added to this lawsuit. Out of the nine active JWs who were party to this Federal lawsuit, three were alleged pedophiles.

I will be reporting more on this case shortly, but for the record, this case was dismissed in January.

The fact that the case was even filed in the first place is powerful evidence of what is going on behind the scenes with Jehovah’s Witnesses, child abuse, and their legal strategy.

The Mormon Church was funding attorney Robert Crockett to represent these Jehovah’s Witnesses (including alleged pedophiles) in an effort to suppress the release of their names in court documents.

In 1981, the Awake! magazine released an article titled “Incest — The Hidden Crime”

Here’s a portion of it, in the name of Fair Use…

Handling the Problem

Handling incest has not proved easy. It is a secret crime. Families often try to keep it hidden. Mothers who know that “something is going on” may turn a blind eye, afraid of disrupting the family. Children who report their parents may come under strong pressure to withdraw the complaint. Yet, in the experience of many specialists, children rarely lie about incest.

Some feel that prison is not always the answer for the molester. Hence, counseling centers have been set up where these families can be treated as a whole. Explaining what he thinks is very important in such treatment, Hank Giarretto says: “[The father] must face the daughter and accept full responsibility for whatever happened.” This may be difficult for the father to do; but it is a way he can try to undo some of the harm that has been done to the child.

Outsiders can help too. Many victims have testified how, through patient, considerate and selfless care, they were assisted to overcome the emotional confusion and start planning for the future. The scars may never completely disappear, but with persistence, they will at least recede into the background. — Awake!, February 8, 1981

This “article” contains some of the most bizarre statements you will ever read about child abuse. For example, “Children who report their parents may come under strong pressure to withdraw the complaint. Yet in the experience of many specialists, children rarely lie about incest.”

First — if a child is brave enough to report abuse to an adult, that adult should always report the abuse to the police, especially if they are a mandated reporter (like an elder).

Second — it is well-known by the testimony of countless survivors of abuse, that Jehovah’s Witness elders THEMSELVES are the ones who have discouraged these victims from speaking to the authorities!!

How disingenuous it is for the Awake magazine to criticize the pressure placed on victims of abuse, when it is their own elders who have attempted to suppress reporting abuse to the authorities?

Let me remind you of what Watchtower’s own Phillip Brumley told me last October when I asked him about the Montana child abuse case.

Brumley said, “Those elders had neither the right nor the duty to report that abuse.”

Next — think about this Awake article, where it says “Children rarely lie about incest.” Yet in the Montana case, Watchtower went on record calling the older of the three victims a liar, accusing her of lying about her report of abuse to the elders in 1998. Watchtower attorney Joel Taylor accused the victim of falsifying her statement for financial gain in court.

Watchtower continues to impale itself by making statements like “children rarely lie about incest,” then simultaneously claim that elders must apply the Two Witness rule to prevent false allegations from ruining the life of someone falsely accused.

Think about what I just said.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim that incest victims rarely lie about their abuse, then claim that the Two Witness rule is vital to establish the truth of an abuse claim.

Finally, examine what the Awake article said under the subtopic “Handling the Problem.”

“Some feel that prison is not always the answer for the molester.”

The article goes on to explain how families can deal with incest by employing “counseling” instead of prison.

Awake quotes psychologist Hank Giarretto, who suggests reconciliation between the abuser and his victim: “The father must face the daughter and accept full responsibility for whatever happened”

The Awake immediately follows Giarretto’s quote with the statement:

“This may be difficult for the father to do; but it is a way he can try to undo some of the harm that has been done to the child.”

Difficult for the father to do? What about the victim? For decades, Jehovah’s Witness elders subjected victims of incest and child abuse to interrogations, judicial committee hearings, and so-called reconciliation meetings with their abusers.

For victims, this is one of the most horrifying experiences of their lives. They were forced to re-live their sexual assaults in graphic detail- in front of their abusers, and were very often chastised, reproved, and even disfellowshipped for being a “consensual” or a willing participant in their own abuse.

The Awake article is an indictment of everything that is wrong with the horrific child abuse reporting policies of the Witness organization. Victims are re-victimized by the Two Witness rule, and if elders judge that a victim is complicit in a sexual act, the victim is treated as an offender.

Worse yet, the abuser is protected by the organization, and often supported by the local congregation when he winds up in court for his crimes.

The Awake article says:

“Not only the victim, but the molester, too, can suffer because of incest.”

It continues:

“One molester said: “I tried stopping it several times, and I told my stepdaughter that I had to stop because of what I was doing to the family.” But he did not stop. Another said his incestuous relationship left him with ‘permanent emotional scars.'”

Seriously? the Awake magazine interviewed a serial child molester? I think it goes without saying that they interviewed one of their own members, and there is no mention of whether they reported this individual to the authorities or not. I think we know the answer to that question.

The pedophile interview concludes with this statement:

“Besides this, remember that in most lands incest is against the law, punishable by a possible prison sentence. Surely, if all these facts were kept in mind, fewer parents would allow themselves to fall into incestuous relationships.”

I can’t even begin to unpack and comprehend the insanity of this statement.

Watchtower is suggesting that because incest is illegal, the law should serve as a deterrent? Really?

How about the fact that incest is simply immoral. Isn’t that enough for a “Christian” to determine that incest is abhorrent?

The Awake writer talks about someone “allowing” themselves to “fall into” an incestuous relationship. This reminds me of the elder’s letter mentioned in the Atlantic article, where one pedophile was described by elders as having “allowed” her stepdaughter to touch his penis.

I spoke to the survivor in this case, who reached out to me immediately after the Atlantic article was released, and she too was horrified that the elders described her abuse this way.

There are many takeaways from this Awake article from 1981, but the overall message we should all hear loud and clear is that the men who write and publish such articles are completely inept and unqualified to discuss and manage matters as serious as incest and child abuse.

Their reasoning is flawed and misleading, and their advice has a lasting detrimental impact on victims of abuse.

Instead of placing the blame on the pedophiles who commit such crimes, they suggest that victims share equal responsibility with their abusers. They quote scriptures to support the idea that victims should not dress provocatively, or associate with individuals who might later rape them.

The Awake article refers to the “Dinah” episode in the Bible, where Dinah associated with the wrong men and the blame for her rape was placed as much on her shoulders as that of her rapist.

In the end, instead of directing victims to the police, child protection agencies, and qualified professional counselors, they are directed to scriptures in the Bible for “comfort.”

The Bible is of little comfort to an abuse or incest victim, given the fact that it records multiple accounts of incest in a positive light. Adam and Eve’s children sleep with each other to procreate, and that’s OK.

Lot gets drunk two nights in a row and sleeps with both of his daughters, but that’s OK too. It’s all for God’s Kingdom.

The reality is that Jehovah’s Witnesses have a disturbingly warped, twisted viewpoint on child abuse, incest and other crimes. We really shouldn’t need “apostates” to explain this.

They hang themselves with their own words.

— Mark O’Donnell


Posted by Tony Ortega on Apri1 18, 2019 at 12:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Tony Ortega is a journalist who was formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He’s written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology’s harassment of Paulette Cooper titled ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely,’ and more recently a compilation of his stories, ‘Battlefield Scientology.’ He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world, as well as other subjects such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. You can reach him by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.)


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email