Child Abuse Attorney Tells Church: Protect Little Ones

When she was 12-years-old, Karen’s uncle, Mark Sewell – a ministerial servant in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, began sexually abusing her. While she was still in her teens, Karen reported him to her church and ran into a brick wall of religious doctrine.

Child Abuse Attorney's Life Goal Protecting Children

Karen Faces Abuser

In a heroic act of courage, Karen went before the church elders, a group of older men, and described her abuse in “minute detail”.  All this occurred while she was sitting in the same room as her uncle. A Jehovah’s Witness “judicial committee” consists of bringing the accuser and the accused together.  The result, according to the elders, was a no-fault she-said-he-said.

Jehovah’s Witness Dogma

Karen’s uncle is the son of an elder who was a trusted member in the local British Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation. One of the problems she faced is herchurch’s “all-encompassing lifestyle, with members encouraged to socialise and marry within the group.”

The church has a closed-circuit, in-house procedure for handling child abuse. Should teens choose a boyfriend or girlfriend outside of this religious circle, they are “disfellowshipped” or shunned. What teen could bear such a heavy burden?

The church, formally known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, has 8 million members throughout the world. This branch of the Christian faith follows the Bible literally and interprets it to mean that two people must witness a crime.

Unfortunately sexual abuse of a child is often a lonely victimization. In this case, a second witness, Wendy, had been raped by Sewell, too. She also came forward to her church elders.

Karen Beats Abuser

The young  women were forced to go outside of their religion to the public court systems to get Sewell convicted to 14 years in prison. A High Court rule against the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “for failing to protect a child from sexual abuse by a paedophile.” The church is appealing the decision but insisted child abuse is an important concern.

Child Abuse Attorney

Attorney Victor Vieth‘s life’s goal is to end child abuse. He is the executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center and speaks about the church,

“A Gospel-centered institution embraces truth and transparency, understanding that Christ is truth and light and has achieved victory over darkness because of His willingness to hide nothing on the cross… A Gospel-centered culture will drive individuals and institutions to obey the God-ordained civil authorities who are charged with protecting our little ones and punishing those who harm them.”

Churches Reforming

Karen, now in her 30’s, and Wendy hope to force the Jehovah’s Witnesses to change their policies. A number of Christian and other religions are reforming their policies regarding the protection of their children:

    • Roman Catholic Church: reforming its child safeguarding policies following numerous court cases in the US and Europe against priests for the sexual abuse of children.
    • United Methodist Church: conducting its own recent inquiry into abuse allegations dating back to 1950.
    • Church of England: holding an internal inquiry.
    • Haredi Jewish Community: Israeli authorities deported Todros Grynhaus, who was trying to avoid conviction for sex offences against girls. He was jailed for 13 years. This case prompted the UK’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, to urge members to report child sex abuse.

Islam: Muslim girls rarely speak of sexual abuse, because that would bring shame on them and their family. However, sexual and physical abuse at Islamic religious schools (madrassas) have resulted in some prosecutions.

Who will protect our children against sexual abuse monsters, if we do not?

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About Gloria Christie

Gloria Christie founded Gloria Christie Reports, a common sense column about liberal politics. She wrote for Addictinginfo.org, the Kansas City Star, Where High Technology Meets Politics for London’s IDG-Connect Blog and The Best Times. Her total readership is over 5 million. Christie has an MS in radio-TV-film and an MPA in business/government relations. She was a systemic problems consulting expert for Fortune 100/500 businesses here and off-shore. Christie invented and implemented the first computerized patient chart. She also worked on Howard Dean’s, John Kerry’s, and Barak Obama’s presidential campaigns. She is particularly interested in liberal politics, high-tech, complex systems, and change. Like her Facebook page, visit her website, and follow her onTwitter. Click here to buy Gloria Christie a vodka martini.

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