Legal Recourse For Victims of Jehovah’s Witness Sexual Abuse
A generous legal contributor to Legal Herald, attorney Bobby Thompson helps survivors of sexual violence find justice in civil courts by bringing forth church sex abuse lawsuits. We’ve asked him to discuss the legal options available to those who have been sexually abused in the Jehovah’s Witnesses community, and he kindly shared the following insight.
“It is regrettable to see how the Jehovah’s Witnesses community has been in the midst of a sexual abuse scandal in recent times. Brave victims of sexual abuse by congregation members and clergy have come forward with lawsuits against the organization, alleging that church policy encourages handling allegations of sexual abuse in-house instead of contacting law enforcement. As you can imagine, this can allow predators to go unpunished and continue abusing their victims,” Bobby explained.
Mr. Thompson also added, “In most states, religious leaders are legally required to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement. However, church leaders have been accused of pressuring their victims to let the church settle accusations of sexual abuse instead of contacting the police. When sexual abuse occurs in a religious organization, it’s important to determine if the organization’s negligence allowed the abuse to occur. These organizations can be held liable for negligence like failing to report suspected abuse to law enforcement, both by the criminal and the civil justice systems.”
Location of Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Thousand Oaks, CA