At least 20 former Jehovah's Witnesses are suing the group over historical sexual abuse they say they suffered. The group has a policy of not punishing alleged child sex abuse unless a second person, alongside the accuser, has witnessed it - or an abuser confesses. It says its elders "comply with child-abuse reporting laws even if there is only one witness", though, and always tell police if a child is in danger. John Viney, who says he was abused between the ages of nine and 13, by "a distant family member who was an active Jehovah's Witness", added children were still being abused and the religious organisation was "inadvertently" protecting their abusers. Mr Viney's own daughter, Karen, was abused as a child - and has since spoken out about it publicly. But when she left the organisation, Mr Viney disowned her - something he has regretted ever since.
A Secret Database of Child Abuse
Jehovah's Witnesses' handling of child sex abuse - Wikipedia
Various individuals, courts and the media around the world have raised concerns about the manner in which cases of child sexual abuse are handled when they occur in congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Society's child abuse policies have been published in Jehovah's Witnesses' publications,   although more specific guidelines are only made available to elders, or on request. Press releases issued by the Watch Tower Society's Office of Public Information state that if a person accused of molestation repeatedly denies the charges of his victim, and there is no other witness to the incident, "the elders cannot take action within the congregation at that time", but would report to authorities if required by local laws. Some media and courts have reported that Jehovah's Witnesses employ organizational policies, which the group says are "Bible-based",  that make the reporting of sexual abuse difficult for members.
Jehovah's Witnesses' handling of child sex abuse
Brian Chase listened carefully from his Tucson, Ariz. But the agency was unsure of the scope of sexual abuse within the often-misunderstood religion, which was founded in Pittsburgh in the s. In the s, when he was a teenager, Chase said, he was drugged and raped by a man who belonged to his congregation. Decades would pass before Chase understood that their stories were common within Witness communities across the country, but rarely reported to police. Get the news you need to start your day.
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