Plaintiffs pretrial statement
Plaintiffs issue a preliminary pretrial statement.
July 13th, 2020
“A. BRIEF FACTUAL OUTLINE OF PLAINTIFF’S CASE
This case revolves around the serial sexual of abuse of Plaintiffs when they were children in the 1970s and 80s. The abuse was committed by Defendant Mapley, Sr. and Gunner Haines (“Haines”), both members of the Jehovah Witnesses’ local congregation in Hardin, Montana (“Hardin Congregation”). Elders of the Hardin Congregation became aware of the abuse but concealed the abuse instead of alerting Montana authorities as required by law. The elders did this at the direction of the Jehovah Witnesses’ national organizations, Defendant Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (“WTPA”) and Defendant Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York (“WTNY”), who directed the Hardin Congregation to actively protect the pedophiles and the church from anyone trying to enforce or abide by Montana law. As a result, the known and preventable sex abuse of Plaintiffs was allowed to continue unhindered for years, causing Plaintiffs severe, permanent, and ongoing damages.”
“D. LEGAL THEORY UNDERLYING PLAINTIFF’S CLAIMS
1. Negligence: against all Defendants. Defendants each owed Plaintiffs the duty to act the care that a reasonable person would exercise. Without limitation, WTPA and WTNY breached such duty by: implementing policies that protected pedophiles and directed local congregations to not report child sex abuse to authorities; failing to take reasonable steps to prevent known and unknown sexual predators from sexually abusing children in the Hardin Congregation; publishing material and directives that protected sexual predators within the Hardin Congregation and failed to protect victims of sexual abuse committed by agents and representatives of WTPA and WTNY; failing to report known sexual abuse committed by agents and representatives of WTPA and WTNY; ignoring mandatory reporting laws and keeping known child sex abuse secret; failing to train its employees and agents to prevent, identify, investigate, respond to, or report to the proper authorities the sexual abuse of children; failing to properly and thoroughly investigate, respond to, and report the sexual abuse of Plaintiffs; employing, promoting, and allowing Martin Svensen to continue to act as Senior Elder despite being a known child abuser; and fostering an environment where sexual predators like Mapley Sr. and Haines could abuse children, including the Plaintiffs, without consequence. Defendant Mapley Sr. in both his individual capacity and as an agent and representative of WTPA and WTNY, breached such duty by sexually abusing Plaintiffs and failing to take reasonable steps to protect them from sexual abuse. As a direct and proximate cause of Defendants’ breaches, Plaintiffs have suffered severe, permanent, and ongoing damages. Fisher v. Swift Transp. Co., Inc., 181 P.3d 601, 606 (Mont. 2008) (setting forth elements of negligence).”
“2. Negligence per se: against all Defendants. Defendants violated Montana’s mandatory reporting statute as it existed at all times relevant to this case, including all years before 1979, by not reporting the sexual abuse of Plaintiffs as required by the mandatory reporting statute. R.C.M. 10-1304 Montana’s mandatory reporting statute in effect at the time that Defendants became aware of such abuse was enacted to protect a specific class of people: children who are victims of abuse or neglect. Plaintiffs were member of such class. Plaintiffs’ injuries are the sort that the statute was enacted to prevent. The statute was intended to regulate members of Defendants’ class. As a direct and proximate cause of Defendants’ violation of the statute, Plaintiffs have suffered severe, permanent, and ongoing damages. Maier v. Wilson, 409 P.3d 878, 883 (Mont. 2017) (setting forth the elements of negligence per se).
“3. Battery: against Defendant Mapley Sr. Defendant Mapley Sr. acted intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with Plaintiffs when he sexually abused them. An offensive and harmful contact with Plaintiffs occurred as a result. As a direct and proximate cause of such intentional acts, Plaintiffs have suffered severe, permanent, and ongoing damages…”