Article courtesy of Info-Secte, Canada
Child abuse royal commission: Jehovah’s Witnesses reveals father’s abuse
· THE AUSTRALIAN
· JULY 28, 2015
A Jehovah’s Witness elder says he believed a young woman had been sexually abused by her father but could not take action because he did not have a second witness.
The elder, Dino Ali, told the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse said “divine law” required two witnesses to a crime or for the perpetrator to confess.
Asked why he could not take action, even though he believed the then-18-year-old woman that her father had tried to rape her, he said:
“We couldn’t … Because there was only the person who was aware or knew that that had happened. We [did] not have another person to corroborate.”
Mr Ali said that members of the Jehovah’s Witness church believed that it was up to a victim of a crime to make a report to police.
Asked if this extended even to crimes such as murder, he said he would try very hard to convince the witness to make a report to police and would not do so himself.
Earlier, the Royal Commission heard testimony from the woman, now 43, who said she and all three of her sisters had been abused by her father, who was a senior member of the Jehovah’s Witness church.
The woman, known as BCG, told the commission she was discouraged from reporting the abuse to police and warned she could be “disfellowshipped” or excommunicated if she did so.
She said her father sexually abused her when she was 17, while her mother and six siblings were away.
The first time it happened, she said he came naked into her bed at night and touched her all over body and tried to have sexual intercourse with her.
He quoted bible scriptures to her while the abuse was occurring and said: “You have to be obedient to me.”
She said she reported the abuse to several elders — including Mr Ali — but was told they could not hear her allegations without her father present.
BCG said she later learned her mother had been aware the father had sexually abused her older sister when she was just two years old and had also abused her two younger sisters, then just five and eight.
She told the commission that outside members of the community were known as “worldly people” and members of the Jehovah’s Witness were taught they could not be trusted.
Following the church’s investigation of the abuse, BCG said she became depressed and tried to commit suicide. She said she was forced to report the suicide attempt to church elders and was chastised because it was considered a “wrongdoing” against the church.
The woman said she believed members of the congregation had been aware her father had been physically abusive while she was growing up because she went to Jehovah’s Witness meetings with a black eye and bleeding from welts he had inflicted with a belt.
The father was “disfellowshipped” from the church but was welcomed back a few years later.
After this, she told a church elder she wanted to report the abuse to police because she believed the congregation was “not safe”.
However, the elder replied: “He is now a brother again … If you take it to the police you will bring reproach upon Jehovah’s name and you will be disfellowshipped for doing that.”
She said members of the church were taught that those who were disfellowshipped would be killed by Jehovah and that Armageddon was imminent. It also meant she would be cut off from the community.
The father was subsequently convicted in 2004, after three trials, for unlawful and indecent assault and attempted rape and sentenced to three years imprisonment.
BCG told the commission that her father left her mother for another woman, and then tried to set up her older sister with the new partner’s then husband.
The abuse was formally investigated by three male elders, who asked BCG if she “enjoyed” the abuse. She said she felt they were “getting off” on what she told them.
The woman said she used “to pray to Jehovah to put angels” around her bed to stop her father’s abuse but he didn’t help her, and the abuse did not stop.
She said during a meeting with church elders, her father accused her of seducing him.
“At the time I said to my father ‘you’re my father, you’re big and fat, why would I seduce you’,” she said.
Her father was disfellowshipped not for what he did to his daughters, because that required two witnesses, but for “other loose conduct”.
She finally moved to Townsville from the North Queensland town near Mareeba where she had been living, and left the church. She said after she did so, she was “completely shunned, ostracised and avoided” by the congregation.