Tag Archives: child abuse

Watchtower v JW (a minor) Supreme Court documents (2019)

JW Leaks has published a full single volume of documents filed in the US Supreme Court in the matter of Watchtower v JW (a minor)


DOWNLOAD: Watchtower v JW (a minor) Supreme Court documents (2019)


Plaintiff and respondent J.W., through her guardian ad litem, sued defendant and appellant Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (Watchtower) and others for (1) negligence; (2) negligent supervision/failure to warn; (3) negligent hiring/retention; (4) negligent failure to warn, train, or educate J.W.; (5) sexual battery; and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress. In January 2014, J.W. filed a motion to compel further discovery responses. On February 11, the trial court granted the motion in part. The trial court’s order compelled Watchtower to produce all documents Watchtower received in response to a letter sent by Watchtower to Jehovah’s Witness congregations on March 14, 1997, concerning known molesters in the church (1997 Documents).

By November 2014, Watchtower had not produced the 1997 Documents, and J.W. moved for terminating sanctions. At a hearing on the sanctions motion, the trial court offered Watchtower four days to produce the 1997 Documents. Watchtower declined the offer and refused to produce the 1997 Documents. The trial court granted the motion for terminating sanctions and struck Watchtower’s answer. The trial court clerk entered Watchtower’s default. After considering evidence, the trial court entered judgment in favor of J.W. and awarded her $4,016,152.39.

On appeal, Watchtower raises four issues. First, Watchtower contends J.W. failed to allege proximate cause in her first amended complaint (FAC). Second, Watchtower asserts its right of due process was violated. Third, Watchtower contends terminating sanctions were excessive because lesser sanctions may have been effective. Fourth, Watchtower contends the trial court erred by denying Watchtower’s motion for relief from the terminating sanctions.

A central thesis of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.’s (“Watchtower”) petition is that if it, as a religious corporation, claims that a document is protected by the clergy privilege, the courts are powerless to come to a different conclusion; indeed, powerless to even inquire as to the viability of that claim. (Pet. at 15.) According to Watchtower, the mere act of conducting judicial proceedings related to the claim of privilege results in excessive entanglement with religion. (Pet. at 20.) This radical position is directly at odds with hundreds of years of judicial precedent adjudicating—sometimes applying and sometimes rejecting—state law claims of clergy privilege.

Applying its thesis to this case, Watchtower argues that it is constitutionally entitled to affirmatively invoke the clergy privilege and seek court rulings upholding that assertion, but simply ignore any adverse rulings. As it had done in two prior cases involving similar orders to produce documents evidencing child molestation by its members (“Molestation Files”), Watchtower employed this “heads I win, tails you lose” approach in this case. (See, e.g., Lopez v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 246 Cal.App.4th 566 (2016); Padron v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 16 Cal.App.5th 1246 (2017).) It gambled that it could disrespect the judicial process and ignore court orders while the court lacked the authority to take meaningful action to correct its disobedience. It lost that gamble and was defaulted.

The First Amendment does not exist to provide religious institutions with a free pass to operate outside of the law.


The Jehovah’s Witnesses want the Supreme Court to help them cover up sex abuse


In its Reply Brief filed this week in the Supreme Court, Watchtower claims it “is the ideal litigant to champion federal constitutional rights.” As evidence Watchtower cites a total of eight court cases in which it claims to have championed constitutional rights before the Supreme Court. An examination of those cited cases shows that Watchtower was not the plaintiff, defendant, petitioner, or respondent in seven of those eight cases.

Those eight cases cited by Watchtower are:

Schneider v. State of New Jersey, 308 U.S. 147 (1939)

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)

Martin v. City of Struthers, 319 U.S. 141 (1943)

Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943)

Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953)

Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977)

Thomas v. Review Board, 450 U.S. 707 (1981)

Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton, Ohio, 536 U.S. 150 (2002)


Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . Proclaimers of “soon” since 1879.

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Watchtower of Britain found liable for actions of child rapist Peter Stewart

Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, the Body of Elders in the Loughborough Blackbrook Congregation, and the Body of Elders in the Loughborough Southwood Congregation have been found liable for the actions of child rapist Peter Stewart.


[2015] EWHC 1722 (QB)

19 June 2015

3. The claimant, who is now 29 years of age, claims damages for personal injury and loss arising out of being sexually assaulted by Peter Stewart, now deceased, between 1989 and 1994, when she was between about the ages of 4 and 9. Quantum has been agreed subject to liability.

4. The first defendants are the over-arching body of the second and third defendants. It is common ground that, if the second and/or third defendants are liable, then the first defendants will satisfy the judgment on behalf of the other defendants. The Blackbrook and Southwood Jehovah’s Witness Congregations are the direct or indirect successors of the congregation that was originally known as the Loughborough Limehurst Jehovah’s Witness Congregation, then split into two congregations known as the Limehurst Jehovah’s Witness Congregation and the Garendon Park Jehovah’s Witness Congregation, which congregations are central to the factual matrix of the case…

Vicarious liability

124. That leaves the issue of vicarious liability for the elders. As summarised earlier in paragraphs 10-18, the elders had additional responsibilities to those held by ministerial servants. They were even closer and more integrated with congregational issues than were ministerial servants. They had a spiritual role and partly exercised that role, via the judicial committee, and decisions of the body consequent upon decisions of the judicial committee. The decisions that emanated from the judicial committee and thereafter from the body of elders were a fundamental part of the role of the elders within the organisation. The second and third defendants are the trustees and successors of the Garendon Park and Limehurst Congregations. They are unincorporated associations who have taken over the responsibility of the congregations. In circumstances where, having applied the two-stage test, I have already found they are vicariously liable for the actions of Peter Stewart, I also find they are vicariously liable for the actions of the elders in relation to the above breach of duty arising from the findings of the judicial committee in 1990.


125. For all of these reasons, I am satisfied that the defendants should be held responsible for what Peter Stewart did between 1989 and 1994. The claim succeeds. Judgment should be entered for the claimant. An order will need to be drawn up to reflect the agreement as to quantum.

Download Judgment:

A v Watchtower Britain and Loughborough Blackbrook Congregation – [2015] EWHC 1722 (QB) – pdf


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Jehovah’s Witnesses Ordered To Pay $13.5 Million In Child Abuse Case

Documents relating to the court hearing available for download –

Declaration of Gerrit Losch (Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses) – 4 February 2014 – pdf

Lopez – Judgment filed 10-29-14 – pdf Lopez First Amended Complaint filed 03-01-13 – pdf

Motion to Amend to Allege Punitive Damages 2-5-1 – pdf


PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY ZALKIN LAW FIRM Superior Court Judge Joan M. Lewis has entered a judgment against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (Watchtower) for $13.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages in a civil lawsuit filed by the Zalkin Law Firm on behalf of a victim of sexual abuse who was a child member of the Linda Vista Spanish Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1986. Irwin Zalkin led his firm’s team of sexual abuse attorneys in this case.

The case involved child sexual abuse by alleged child molester Gonzalo Campos within two local San Diego congregations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Zalkin Law Firm filed this civil lawsuit in February of 2013 (Case No: 37-2012-00099849-CU-PO-CTL). The plaintiff, Jose Lopez, was a minor child whose family was active in the congregation at the time of the alleged abuse.

“Mr. Lopez has suffered for years as a result of this abuse and we are pleased that he will finally receive justice and compensation as a result of Judge Lewis’ strong ruling against the Watchtower,” said Irwin Zalkin, attorney representing Mr. Lopez. “This ruling may hopefully awake the Jehovah’s Witnesses leadership to the standards of morality and care for children that our society demands.”

Judge Lewis entered a default judgment against the Watchtower, the corporate head of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, after it refused to obey court orders to produce any documents they may have regarding the problem of sexual abuse of children within congregations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the United States. In addition, Watchtower also refused a court order to produce the longest serving member of its governing body for a deposition. Both the Fourth District Court of Appeals, and the California Supreme Court rebuffed Watchtower’s efforts the reverse Judge Lewis’ orders on these matters. Despite the decision of the Appeals Court and the California Supreme Court, Watchtower still refused to produce the documents or the witness.

California law permits the court to strike the answer of a defendant that refuses to abide by a court order and to enter a default judgment against them. After giving Watchtower every opportunity to comply with her order, Judge Lewis issued the terminating sanction and entered a default judgment against Watchtower. She then ordered the Zalkin Law Firm lawyers for the victim to prove their case by putting on evidence to support the allegations of the victim’s complaint.

After hearing six days of testimony and presentation of written evidence, Judge Lewis was satisfied that the Plaintiff had more that adequately proved his case. Accordingly, she issued a judgment in favor of the Plaintiff in the amount of $13,500,000.00 that includes an award of $10,500,000 in punitive damages intended to punish Watchtower for its reprehensible conduct.

The case itself involved an alleged serial child molester by the name of Gonzalo Campos, who confessed to this molestation in a deposition which was part of the evidence in this case. At the time he sexually abuse the plaintiff, Jose Lopez, in 1986, who was only 7 years old, he was an ordained minister of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and had already abused four other children. Evidence in the case showed that Elders of the Linda Vista Congregation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses were aware as early as 1982 that Campos was a child molester but chose to take no action against him. Further evidence showed that Church leaders did not report him to law enforcement, they did not warn other parents of the congregation, they never checked to see if he might be abusing other children of the congregation, they allowed him to give Bible study to young children and ultimately recommended him to Jose’s mother as someone Jose should study Bible with.

According to the evidence presented in the case, after Campos spent months grooming Jose and sexually molesting him, Jose reported the molestation to his mother. She and her mentor, a senior female member of the congregation, reported the sexual abuse to a congregation elder appointed by Watchtower. That elder and another elder confirmed that the sexual abuse occurred. Both Jose’s mother and her mentor were told by church leaders not to say anything that it would get handled. Nothing was done, and ultimately, Jose and his mother disassociated themselves from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Case evidence presented in the trial further showed that despite the reports and confession by Campos of abusing a child in 1982 and Jose in 1986, he was allowed to remain in the congregation and over the next twelve years was actually elevated up the organizational ladder ultimately becoming an elder himself in 1993. During this time frame he has confessed to sexually abusing at least eight children.

Documents and testimony in the case showed that elders and the Watchtower took no action for almost a year after receiving a written complaint in April of 1994 from a mother of one of the victims whose son was molested by Campos in approximately 1984. During this time as an elder, he continued to abuse young Jehovah’s Witness children. Even after he was expelled as a known and confessed child molester, he was reinstated within a few years without any warning to parents of children within the congregation.

“Rather than reaching out to victims with support, the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in this case treated the victim as an adversary”, said Zalkin, who has filed cases in five other states on behalf of other Jehovah’s Witnesses childhood sexual abuse victims. “This court ruling is a clear condemnation of the disgraceful conduct of this organization, conduct that is totally contrary to what one would expect from a religious institution that promotes itself as living in the Truth.”

The Zalkin Law Firm With offices in San Diego and New York, The Zalkin Law Firm (www.zalkin.com) is one of the premier sexual abuse and personal injury law firms in the country. The firm’s lawyers have represented hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse and achieved groundbreaking results in numerous high-profile clergy abuse cases across the United States.

The Zalkin Law Firm has aggressively represented hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse, including former Boy Scouts. The firm has negotiated over $200 million in settlements in Catholic clergy sex abuse cases. The firm currently has more than 20 active lawsuits against the Jehovah’s Witnesses in five states, representing victims of childhood sexual abuse.


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Jehovah’s Witnesses Official Child Abuse Handling Procedure

The current Jehovah’s Witnesses official child abuse handling procedure letter to all bodies of elders (October 1, 2012) has been placed into public domain by the Australian (Victoria) government “Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious Oganisations”.

Official government web site link to letter:


Short link:


Jehovah's Witnesses official child abuse handling procedure letter

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