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Former Jehovah’s Witnesses elder testifies in his molestation trial, gets 80 years in prison

[Roderick Watkins]

At his Facebook page, ex-JW activist Mark O’Donnell, posting as John Redwood on Facebook, reported from the scene at an Arkansas criminal trial, relating the dramatic events of what happened Thursday.

Redwood was there to see former Jehovah’s Witnesses elder Roderick Watkins tried for numerous allegations of child sexual abuse that took place over several years (and Watkins is also a suspect of additional abuse in Indiana, Redwood says).

In an unusual move, Watkins took the stand to testify in his own trial, something defense attorneys usually counsel against, and it appeared to backfire against the former church elder.

Watkins took the stand in the very end against better judgment and was torn to shreds by the elected prosecutor, who shouted at Watkins in an attempt to force him to admit his crimes and speak to the 50-60 Witnesses from Heber Springs who came to see justice. Watkins continued to deny the allegations of abuse, and offered no reason why this massive group of victims all came forward to accuse him of these crimes.

After finding Watkins guilty, the jury recommended a sentence of 80 years in prison, the maximum they could give under Arkansas law.

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Redwood lamented that the Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to court probably missed the larger picture that Watkins was moved around by the Watchtower organization and was given positions of such trust over many years.

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