Plaintiffs response to motion
July 13th, 2020
Plaintiff issues response to Watch Tower Pennsylvania’s Motion to Dismiss.
“Over the course of several decades, members and elders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hardin, Montana (“Hardin Congregation”) engaged in a systematic pattern of sexually abusing children in the congregation. Defendant Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (“WTPA”), in conjunction with Defendant Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York (“WTNY”), directed the Hardin Congregation to actively protect the pedophiles and the church from anyone trying to enforce or abide by Montana law. With the assistance of WTPA, these pedophiles were able to abuse many different children, including Plaintiffs, and did so undetected by Montana authorities over the course of decades.”
“To obscure the unspeakable horror suffered by these kids, the collective Jehovah Witnesses entities seek to spread blame in an endless circle. WTPA is asking this Court to find that it does not have jurisdiction to hold WTPA accountable for the acts and omissions it directed the Hardin Congregation to take, i.e. to undermine Montana law and shield child rapists. As described in the Complaint, WTPA worked with WTNY to create a framework within which predators were free to abuse children without fear of prosecution and with the assurance that the church would not turn them in to law enforcement or case workers, teachers, counselors, or others that could have intervened on behalf of the children and stopped the abuse.”
“The named Jehovah Witness entities worked in concert to flaunt Montana law and allowed for many children in Montana to be victimized, and they did so to avoid legal liability. WTPA and WTNY called the shots. Together, they instructed the Hardin Congregation how to handle child sexual abuse at the hands of church members and the congregations complied with unfortunate efficacy. WTPA does not get to instruct the Hardin Congregation to protect sexual predators from Montana law on the one hand, and then ask for immunity from suit in Montana on the other. The intentionality of WTPA’s conduct in Montana, and the destructive impact it had on Plaintiffs’ lives, is what makes this case so important. WTPA is not above Montana law, and Plaintiffs are entitled to their proverbial day in court against WTPA.”
Plaintiffs generally allege in their Complaint that several high-ranking officials of Hardin’s local Jehovah Witness’s congregation repeatedly sexually abused them in the 1970s and 80s when Plaintiffs were children. See generally, Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 32-43. The same and additional church members knew of such abuse. However, based on the policies and direction of WTPA, those with knowledge of the abuse either did nothing to stop it or took action to conceal it, thereby actively facilitating the continuation of such abuse, and, in any event, never reported the abuse to the police or child protective services. Id. at ¶¶ 44-45. As a result, the known and completely preventable sexual of abuse of Plaintiffs was allowed to continue, causing them lifelong and severe damages…”
“While the Jehovah Witnesses use “dozens” of legal entities to conduct their business, Plaintiffs sued WTPA because evidence indicates that it played a central role in how child sexual abuse was concealed and facilitated at local congregations like the one in Hardin. Id. at ¶¶ 11-31; https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/watchtower-society/ (attached as Exhibit A). For instance, WTPA is involved in publishing the Jehovah Witnesses’ “Bible-based literature.” Ex. A. Such literature included directives to local congregations (such as the Hardin Congregation) to conceal child sexual abuse from local authorities and non-church members. Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 17-21; examples of written church policies attached as Exhibit B.”