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That $35 million judgment against Jehovah’s Witnesses? Montana’s high court just voided it.

[Montana’s supes]

John Redwood (a/k/a ex-JW activist Mark O’Donnell), just posted this shocking statement to his Facebook account, announcing that Montana’s Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling awarding $35 million to a woman who had been sexually abused as a child as a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses…

BREAKING NEWS:

The 2018 Montana verdict against Jehovah’s Witnesses has been reversed.

Plaintiff Lexi Nunez had been awarded $35 Million in compensatory and punitive damages as a direct result of Watchtower’s instruction to elders not to report her abuse.

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Watchtower has argued vigorously that Montana law allows members of clergy not to report child sexual abuse if their “established church practice” dictates that their investigation into allegations of child abuse is considered by the church as “confidential.”

Let me make this clear: The Church has used obfuscation and deception to convince the Montana Supreme Court that elders kept their intensive child abuse investigation confidential. This, despite the fact that the entire body of elders in Thompson Falls and multiple elders in the New York Service Department, and other congregation and family members were fully aware of the allegations of abuse.

The court has capitulated to Watchtower’s demand to consider their religious practices in this case as in keeping with their “established church practice” of delving deeply into child sexual abuse allegations, despite the complete lack of any qualifications to conduct such investigations.

This case highlights the utter failure of our mandatory reporting system, which is rendered null and void whenever a religion declares that civil law infringes on or becomes entangled with ecclesiastical rights.

Any other organization would be fully liable for violating the mandatory reporting statutes of Montana- but when it comes to religion, a free pass is issued on the basis of First Amendment Constitutional Rights.

This decision rendered today should be a wakeup call for all of us, a reminder that we have a long way to go to force changes in legislation which eliminate the kinds of laws which permit Jehovah’s Witnesses and others to silence victims of child abuse, and which obstruct justice and prevent the execution of professional police investigations of these crimes.

This is not over.

So, as in recent Scientology cases, a court decides that a religion can govern itself without outside interference by US courts, even in the case of child sexual abuse.

Welcome to the Taliban, American style.

Here’s a link to the ruling itself.

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