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Jehovah’s Witnesses try to intimidate Mark O’Donnell, and it doesn’t go well for them

[Elders visit the O’Donnells after their Atlantic magazine appearance]

Mark O’Donnell (a/k/a ex-JW activist John Redwood) and his wife Kimmy were featured in a major Atlantic magazine piece last month about the coverup of child abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization. And now, the organization has struck back. Here’s what Mark posted about it today on Facebook…

Want to see what a cult looks like?

Yesterday, two certified letters arrived at our home following multiple weeks of elders banging on our door, including waking my wife up out of a dead sleep last Saturday morning.

These letters come from Watchtower LDC representative Joel Raniolo, the “judicial committee chairman.”

The body of elders of the Perry Hall Congregation has appointed a judicial committee to meet with you concerning allegations of wrongdoing involving Causing Divisions. We want to assure you of our genuine interest in your spiritual welfare and our heartfelt desire to provide you with assistance in this matter (Isaiah 1:18,19; James 5:12-14) You are also aware that these sins are serious, and if a person were guilty of such practices and found unrepentant, he would be subject to disfellowshipping. It is for these reasons that the judicial committee encourages you to meet with them on Monday, April 22nd at 6:00pm, at the Kingdom Hall located at 9821 Harford Rd., Parkville, MD…We sincerely hope that you will choose to attend this meeting to benefit from this Bible-based arrangement to shepherd those who are in need of assistance.


I’ve never met this man Joel Raniolo in my life — yet he suddenly has our home address, even after we’ve not stepped foot in that Kingdom Hall for over five years.

I called the phone number on these letters — which by the way is a masked phone number — and appears to be a Google Drive phone. After receiving no response, I rang Raniolo’s real phone number, where he refused to answer any questions.

The only question he would discuss was “What time will you meet with the committee?”

My reply: “How did you get my information?”

His reply: “When can you meet with the committee?”

My reply “What are you accusing me of, Joel? What exactly is ‘Causing Divisions'”?

His reply “When can you meet with the committee?”

My reply “It’s a simple question Joel — what are you accusing me of?? You don’t even know me.”

His reply “So when can you meet with the committee?”

This went on for several minutes when Joel Raniolo finally hung up the phone.

At that point, I drove to the Kingdom Hall where there were no cars present, except the Circuit Overseer’s car at his residence. No answer there.

Next stop: Greg Miller’s home — the elder who has been hounding us for weeks and who came to our home banging on our door 24 hours after the release of the Atlantic article which featured our work exposing child abuse mishandling.

Both of Miller’s cars were present — including one car which my wife identified as the vehicle which followed her from our home down Taylor avenue in Parkville, before she was able to lose the 2 elders in the car.

Miller never answered the door, so I was not able to call the police there.

Next stop: Joel Raniolo’s home, where his wife answered the door. I advised her I was looking for the man who sent the two certified letters to my home. She tried to grab the letter, but I took it back — then advised her I was calling the police.

Her reply: “If you’re calling the police I’m calling the police.”

Ha! I had to chuckle at that one. I said thank you then promptly called Baltimore County police.

While waiting for the police, Raniolo arrived home and parked six feet away from my car, then immediately got out of his car and ran into his rented home and slammed the door. I called to him three times and he refused to even look in my direction. He just ran like a guilty person into his hiding place. Reminded me of a criminal hiding their face from the press.

Within an hour two officers arrived and took my complaint, provided a case number and recommended a peace order or restraining order against these men. They went into Raniolo’s home, then emerged and told me that of course, he denied harassment. They were very helpful.

These same police officers are from my precinct where they work with a 3rd officer I’ve already met with regarding child abuse allegations as well as threats received from a 4th elder named Harry Rehberger. It was clear they knew my complaint with the police department was well-founded, and they took detailed notes and entered the certified letters into evidence by imaging those letters on the spot.

These men are sick and twisted individuals capable of anything, from lies to slanderous accusations — even threatening my wife with their silly letters.

The unfortunate part for Joel Raniolo and the rest of these men is that what they have done has made matters much worse for themselves than if they had just left us alone.

We have not disrupted their meetings or services, and have not been at that Kingdom Hall in over 5 years, yet they decide to harass us immediately following our interview with the Atlantic magazine.

(Which by the was was called a well-respected magazine by their own Awake rag, er, mag)

The negative press and publicity surrounding these men will be something I imagine they will regret. Their actions are so cult-like it makes one wonder which is worse — Scientology or Jehovah’s Witnesses?

— Mark O’Donnell


The Bunker: Mark, you just received these letters yesterday, although they’re dated April 14? They refer to the hearing happening yesterday, on April 22.

Mark: The meeting was going to be postponed before I confronted the elder then called the police. So at this point I don’t know what they will do.

The Bunker: Well, it sounds like they got a good lesson about trying to intimidate you anyway.


Posted by Tony Ortega on Apri1 23, 2019 at 16:00

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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.)


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