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Jury Orders Jehovah’s Witnesses Church Pay $35 Million to Sexual Abuse Victim

Jehovah's Witnesses headquarters, The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
The Jehovah's Witnesses headquarters in New York, called the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Image via Flickr Loozrboy

A Montana jury slapped the Jehovah’s Witnesses church with a $35 million penalty. Two women filed a lawsuit against Max Reyes, an elder of the church, for sex abuse but the financial compensation was awarded to only one of the women. The monetary relief is awarded against the local congregation in Thompson Falls and the church’s operational headquarters in New York.

The Thompson Falls congregation together with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are to pay $4 million in compensation and $31 in punitive damages. Reyes is an elder with the Thompson Falls congregation. The jury gave the ruling after a 3-day trial for a lawsuit first filed in 2016.

According to the women, Reyes raped and sexually molested them over 13 years. The church elder sexually assaulted them both from the early 1990s to late 2000s. When Reyes’ sordid activities became known to the local church leadership, they relieved him of his position and excommunicated him. However, the church reinstated Reyes again after 14 years away from the church.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society headquarters was found culpable in Elder Reyes’ sexual offenses, just as the local Thompson Falls congregation. Judge James Manley found the local and headquarters church guilty of Reyes misdemeanors in two areas. The church reinstated him to his position when they could reasonably foresee he would continue to sexually harass women; and they failed to hand him over to law enforcement in accordance with Montana’s mandatory reporting law.

Pssst, while you're here...

Few weeks before the jury gave the verdict, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s lawyers requested the Montana Supreme Court to overrule Judge Manley’s rulings and even keep the trial stalled. But the Supreme Court failed to accede to this request.

The Australian Royal Commission, which conducted a comprehensive investigation into the church,  published several reports condemning the Jehovah’s Witnesses for church policies that state offensive issues must be resolved internally by local congregational elders. The commission said it is better to report offensive issues to law enforcement instead of having local church elders handle it within themselves. The commission also condemns policies that require aggrieved members of the church to produce two witnesses to any offense before the leadership can initiate proceedings against the accused.

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28 Comments

  1. Bryon Boswell September 29, 2018

    Any organization with that many criminals would be called a gang
    All members would be guilty of supporting gang crimes.

    Reply
  2. Betty Major September 29, 2018

    The perpetrators should have to pay up

    Reply
  3. Betty Branum September 29, 2018

    Not surprised.

    Reply
  4. Regina Arlon Cutts September 29, 2018

    A very sad story, glad they have to pay, but why just one lady .!!!!

    Reply
  5. Chari Hayes September 29, 2018

    Churches should never be able to police themselves.

    Reply
  6. Roberta Coyle September 29, 2018

    Wow so sad for these victims always thought they were very religious but to hide then reinstate this felon penalty is justified

    Reply
  7. Betty Jansen September 29, 2018

    The devils are everywhere!!!!

    Reply
  8. Charles Freedom September 29, 2018

    Great….now also arrest their asses….or better yet shoot every one of those sexual predators asap.

    Reply
    1. John B. Schwartz September 30, 2018

      We are a nation of laws first unless you’re a Trumpy

    2. Charles Freedom September 30, 2018

      Nope people like trumpy are the ones who allow all this.

  9. Fred Latimer September 29, 2018

    If this had been the Catholic Church, there would have been screaming headlines. Watch how fast this story disappears.

    Reply
  10. Linda Kelly September 29, 2018

    That’s a start!

    Reply
  11. JoAnn Connor September 29, 2018

    How come the same hasn’t been done to the Catholic Church?

    Reply
    1. Ron Berey September 30, 2018

      dam good question

  12. Deborah Anderson September 29, 2018

    It’s about time. They take your money in the name of God rape our sons or daughters fuck them

    Reply
  13. vinny September 29, 2018

    Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) predicted the end of the world, IN WRITING, numerous times. Not once did they come true. They truly are known for their ‘False Predictions’ the world over.

    JWs are taught that they alone are TRUE Christians and that all other people not JW will soon be destroyed. This is no exaggeration.

    JWs will allow their own children TO DIE rather than accept a life saving blood transfusion even in severe medical emergencies. It has already happened THOUSANDS of times!

    Just like this mother died unnecessarily! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/shropshire/7078455.stm

    Two recently in Canada! http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42002996

    Or this teenager that also DIED: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_midlands/8690785.stm

    This pregnant JW and her baby died.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3027599/Jehovah-s-Witness-baby-die-refuses-blood-transfusion-seven-months-pregnant-cancer-80-chance-surviving-treatment.html

    JW’s NEEDLESSLY die for this sorry blood policy today.

    From the same organization that has an entire 100 + year history of similar bad and embarrasing policies.

    As a 15 year active JW (and an elder) here is my own story: http://www.bibletoday.com/archive/JW_Disassociation_letter_by_Vinny.htm#.W0E7_K2ZMVc

    JWs used to forbid Vaccinations and Organ Transplants (calling a life saving transplant “Cannibalism”) for a combined 33 years.

    This JW elder refused a kidney transplant and DIED only to have JWs say transplants are now OK 2 years later. http://ajwrb.org/debbie-shards-story

    JWs enforce extreme shunning for any JW that decides to leave their religion or who commits a sin without showing enough repentance in front of the elders.

    I have literally seen parents cut off all ties with their children solely because the kid did not want to remain a JW but went in another direction.

    Even the ex-JWs who leave the religion on their own, who are 100 percent truthful, sincere, love God, pay taxes, help others and more are still SHUNNED by all current JWs and marked as godless, proud, sinning apostates. The Awake magazine recently called them “mentally diseased”.

    And MANY contemplate suicide because the penalties of losing everything are simply TOO MUCH TO TAKE.

    But an honest question is: Why do so many JWs leave after being one time followers?

    As I eventually found out, the JW religion did say, IN WRITING, that the end would come in 1914 and then again in 1925. Was Jehovah directing all that? 1914 and 1925 came and went! They were proven false predictions. Period.

    They also said the end very likely would happen in 1975 and even commended (in the watchtower) witnesses for selling their houses and pioneering because of it.

    But 1975 came and went!

    They also said (for many decades) that the end would come before the generation born in 1914 passed away. In fact up until 1995 it was written inside each Awake magazine cover. Only they then had to change that meaning as well (including the Awake masthead) because that generation CAME AND WENT TOO.

    I was an active JW (and elder) for 15 years before leaving because of the blood and fractions policy 10 yrs ago. Today I’m shunned by all JWs simply because I left the religion.

    Most JWs simply accept everything the Watchtower teaches and says as “food from God”. Just like I did.

    Most believe God has chosen the Watchtower Society as his “channel”, which provides food from God Himself to their religion and ONLY their religion.

    But an honest look at the facts of the JW religion shows God has not chosen the WT for anything!

    Take a LOOK: http://www.freeminds.org/history/part2.htm

    ALL FROM THEIR OWN LITERATURE WITH DATES & PAGES TO SEE FOR YOURSELVES!!!

    Pages and pages of mistakes, embarrassments, false predictions, medical disasters, weird science, doctrinal failures and more for over 100 years now!

    Obviously ‘GOD’ would not get things wrong like this. Obviously ‘GOD’ did not provide bad food like that for their entire history.

    But most JWs have no idea about these things. They’re told to stay away from anything critical of their religion.

    For example: Was God’s spirit with JWs when they said Organ Transplants were a “conscience matter” in 1961?

    OR,

    Was God”s spirit with WT when they THEN SAID Organ Transplants are same as “Cannibalism” in 1967 and forbid them?

    OR, was God’s spirit with the WT when they THEN SAID Organ Transplants are NOT the same as cannibalism in 1980 and now allow them?

    Was God behind all those changes each time? Did ((GOD)) get all those things wrong each time? How many JWs like that elder above DIED by refusing kidney transplants, only later on to be told they’re OK to have now?

    Which is why some end up taking their lives due to losing their family or feel compelled to speak out about it, like me right here and now.

    And now because I walked away JWs are demanded to shun you for life (including your very own family).

    Examine this religion and ask as many questions as you can!

    Vinny

    Reply
  14. Tom Clayton September 29, 2018

    Perverts everywhere

    Reply
  15. Randy Hudson September 29, 2018

    Not surprised

    Reply
  16. Larry McDonald September 29, 2018

    And how much should the Catholic Church pay!!!!!!!

    Reply
  17. Skada River Geloi September 30, 2018

    That’s all? $35 million? That’s nothing.

    Reply
  18. Ronald Christensen October 5, 2018

    More fake Religion, and they own the Republican Party !

    Reply
  19. Jason Self October 5, 2018

    Not good enough

    #Pathetic
    #CriminalCharges

    Reply
  20. Shirley Hawkins October 5, 2018

    Not surprised that republicans setting up this story. God help us all.. Lock them up for fake news.God bless you that believes in him because he with you. God bless you.

    Reply
  21. Fred Latimer October 5, 2018

    As this doesn’t involve a Catholic priest, the story will get minimum exposure.

    Reply
  22. Bob Burge October 5, 2018

    Tax the churches!

    Reply
  23. Linda Nichols Johnson October 5, 2018

    Are they going to be asked to stand up for the National Anthem?

    Reply

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