Interesting Developments In Australia

Discussion in 'In The News' started by wallflower, Feb 4, 2013.

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    wallflower

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    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2649236-Submissions-on-Behalf-of-Watchtower-Bible-and.html

    (From pages 98 and 99, paragraphs 9.352 and 9.353)

    9.352 Counsel Assisting considers that the following finding is available on the evidence:

    F65 Mr Jackson’s failure to have read or be familiar with the testimony of the survivor witnesses yet to have read or otherwise familiarised himself with the testimony of Jehovah’s Witness witnesses belies his stated empathy for the survivors and his stated recognition of the importance of their perspectives.



    9.353 This suggested finding did not have regard to the following facts and matters:

    (a) Written communications270 between those instructing Counsel Assisting and the lawyers representing Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia was to the effect that Mr Geoffrey Jackson’s views would be sought on “policy” matters and not that he would be called upon to offer testimony on specific cases.

    (b) It was explained that, Mr Jackson was in Australia for personal reasons due to his father’s terminal illness. In fact, Mr Geoffrey Jackson’s father passed away on 30 September 2015. In the circumstances, the view was taken that Mr Geoffrey Jackson should not be additionally burdened during that difficult time.

    (c) It was not put to Mr Geoffrey Jackson during his oral evidence that his failure to read or familiarise himself with the survivor’s stories belied his empathy for such persons. Natural justice requires that a person be confronted with such a complaint during the public hearing if the suggested finding is to be made.

    (d) The suggested finding can have no bearing on the two most important questions that must be addressed by the Commission concerning the prevention of child sexual abuse and to have better responses. The Commission is entitled to assistance to identify systemic issues and failings, not speculation about whether a person is or is not empathetic.

    (e) Moreover, Mr Geoffrey Jackson addressed in a forthright manner questions of apology271 and redress272 and expressed his empathy for survivors of sexual abuse.273 Such matters ought to result in a finding in his favour.

    (f) The suggested finding should reflect what Mr Geoffrey Jackson himself explained:274

    I wasn’t aware of the fact that I would be called before the Commission ... I haven’t lived in Australia for 36 years, and I haven’t certainly had a chance to look through the files ... The reason I came here was to care for my ailing father, and that has taken a lot of my time.275
     
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    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2649236-Submissions-on-Behalf-of-Watchtower-Bible-and.html

    (From pages 99 to 101, paragraphs 9.354 to 9.362)


    Available findings on the system of prevention of child sexual abuse – WWCC

    9.354 Counsel Assisting considers that the following finding is available on the evidence:

    F66 The documented practice of the Jehovah’s Witness organisation of not reporting child sexual abuse to the authorities undermines the efficacy of the working with children check system, a system to which the organisation says it subscribes and with which it says it complies.



    9.355 The statistical evidence provided to the Commission indicated that some 383 cases were reported to the authorities276 and in his evidence, Mr Toole stated that he had advised persons to report to the secular authorities to comply with mandatory reporting requirements.277

    9.356 Accordingly, this suggested finding is too broadly stated and should not be made in the terms expressed.



    Available findings on the system of prevention of child sexual abuse – risk of reoffending

    (Mr Spinks is the head of the Service Department of the Australian Bethel. BCG is one of two survivors of child abuse whose testimony has been included as part of the public hearing of the Royal Commission.)

    9.357 Counsel Assisting considers that the following finding is available on the evidence:

    F67 The practices and procedures of the Jehovah’s Witness organisation for the prevention of child sexual abuse, and in particular for the management of the risk of an abuser reoffending, do not take account of the actual risk of an offender reoffending and accordingly place children in the organisation at significant risk of sexual abuse
    .


    9.358 This suggested finding does not appear to have regard for the evidence given at the Commission. Showing an awareness of the danger, the policy states:

    “The elders should remain vigilant with regard to the conduct and activity of the accused ... The elders should be especially mindful of the activity of any who are known to have sexually abused a child in the past. They should also ensure that newly appointed elders are made aware of this caution.” (Letter October 1, 2012, paragraphs 11 & 12.)


    9.359 Additionally, the proposed finding fails to have regard to the evidence submitted to the Commission whereby, if required, “two elders should be assigned to meet with the parents of minor children in order to provide a warning.” – Letter to Bodies of Elders, October 1, 2012 paragraph 13.

    9.360 Mr Spinks testified:278

    “… do we understand that someone who has abused a child can offend again? Yes, very clearly! Does that move us to say that we will never allow a child abuser to return to the congregation? ... I think if that was the case no-one would be released from prison, there’d be no programs in place. So we are not naïve as to the fact that a child abuser can reoffend, and that’s written in our own publications.”279

    9.361 In the case of BCG’s father, he remains disfellowshipped from the congregation because of the considered risk of reoffending, for instance while he fails to accept responsibility for his actions.280 The fact that a record is kept of any individual who associates with a congregation and has been accused of child sexual abuse or related offences, is a strong indication of the policy to monitor those accused and protect children in the congregation.

    9.362 Accordingly, this suggested finding F67 should be disregarded.
     
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    wallflower

    wallflower Moderator

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    Unless an elder has a qualification as a psychologist/psychiatrist, he is not qualified nor had the necessary training required, to be able to assess the risk of re-offending.

    Keeping a record of the presence of a paedophile in the congregation is not sufficient proof of being able to assess the risk of re-offending. You have to be able to "get inside" their mind (mentally speaking.) Psychology is a little more complicated than that.
     
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    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2649236-Submissions-on-Behalf-of-Watchtower-Bible-and.html

    (From pages 101 and 102, paragraphs 9.363 to 9.365)

    Available findings on the accessibility of procedures and policies


    9.363 Counsel Assisting considers that the following finding is available on the evidence:

    F68 The Jehovah’s Witness organisation’s documented procedures for reporting on and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse are deficient in that they are not documented in such a way as to be easily accessible in one document and available to all interested or affected parties and some matters that are stated to be the policies or practices of the organisation are not recorded at all.


    9.364 The recommendation to review documentation procedures is under consideration by Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, to imply that policies or practices of the organisation are ”deficient” is inconsistent with the evidence given by Mr Spinks to the Commission.281

    9.365 Accordingly, this suggested finding F68 that “Jehovah’s Witnesses’ documented procedures for reporting on and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse are deficient” should not be made.
     
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    wallflower

    wallflower Moderator

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    Like other organisations, the one I work for has a Policy and Procedures Manual. It is HUGE - as big as a phone book. One of the many subjects covered in this document is "Prevention of Abuse and Neglect."

    I may not be able to recite it from memory but I know where to find that policy and procedure in the manual. It lays out the whole protocol to be followed, the required documentation as well as the chain of command.

    For an experiment, I have often wanted to go up to an elder at the Hall and ask him to show me the Watchtower Society's policy and procedure on handling child abuse.
     
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    wallflower

    wallflower Moderator

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    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2649236-Submissions-on-Behalf-of-Watchtower-Bible-and.html

    (From page 102, paragraphs 9.366 to 9.369)

    9.366 Counsel Assisting considers that the following two findings are available on the evidence:

    F69 Members of the Jehovah’s Witness organisation who no longer want to be subject to the organisation’s rules and discipline have no alternative than to leave the organisation which requires that they disassociate from it.


    9.367 The policies and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses do not require any individual who no longer wants to be subject to their “rules and discipline” to formally disassociate themselves. They can simply stop associating with the congregation. Such individuals are not shunned.

    9.368 In any event, however, there appears to be no systemic connection between an adult making a decision to leave an organisation and child sexual abuse. Suggested finding F69 has no relevance to preventing, or improving responses to, child sexual abuse, and it is clearly outside the scope of the Terms of Reference of the Commission, and Counsel Assisting did not provide evidence to the contrary.

    9.369 Jehovah’s Witnesses attended the Commission’s public hearing to assist the Commission with the task of addressing the prevention and responses to child sexual abuse. Jehovah’s Witnesses were not asked to address questions regarding persons who wished to leave the organisation.
     
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    When Angus Stewart (Counsel for Royal Commission) wrote his submission, he explained that a survivor of child abuse may feel that their case has been mishandled and they can feel unsupported as a result of this. If the paedophile still attends the Hall where the survivor attends, then this adds further trauma to the survivor's experience. The survivor may choose to stop attending.

    That was the reason for including the subject of shunning as part of the investigation into child abuse procedures.

    If the GB are unhappy with the Royal Commission investigating the shunning topic, the GB will have to "man up" and take responsibility for making the policies and procedures for dealing with child abuse.
     
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    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2649236-Submissions-on-Behalf-of-Watchtower-Bible-and.html

    (From pages 112 and 113, paragraphs 10.1 to 10.7)

    10.1 Ultimately, the Commission is required to make recommendations to the Australian Parliament about what can be done to better prevent child sexual abuse and what can be done to improve the responses to child sexual abuse. It is apparent that the Commission’s task involves addressing systemic issues and failings and not isolated incidents of sexual abuse.301

    10.2 A number of the suggested findings by Counsel Assisting do not seem to be directed towards “systemic” issues. It should be noted that in both cases the abuse took place in the context of the private home. In any event, the congregation elders viewed the wrongdoing seriously and took congregation action. Moreover, these cases are not representative of the present-day procedures of Jehovah’s Witnesses when addressing child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, those assisting the Commission appear to have misunderstood the relevant Jehovah’s Witnesses’ documents, which would not be the case with congregation elders who understand and implement the direction contained in the documents with the support of the Service Department.

    10.3 Jehovah’s Witnesses are a law-abiding community, committed to love of neighbour.302 They readily comply with mandatory reporting laws. They also obey any other statutes enacted to safeguard minors from sexual abuse.

    10.4 Jehovah’s Witnesses have demonstrated that they make adjustments where necessary and within the confines of their Scriptural beliefs. Several examples were given during oral testimony of what Jehovah’s Witnesses are prepared to do: for example, to review procedures, to consider whether procedures and practices should be consolidated into one document, and to seek additional independent legal advice.

    10.5 The very serious task entrusted to the Commission is not lost upon Jehovah’s Witnesses and for that reason, amongst others, Jehovah’s Witnesses have not sought to criticise any person doing their job. Jehovah’s Witnesses consider, however, that some of the criticisms made by Counsel Assisting go beyond what is necessary to assist the Commission in fulfilling its task or what is required by the Terms of Reference. They appear to be unjustified attacks on Jehovah’s Witnesses as a faith and the individual members thereof. These attacks seem to be the result of misinterpretations of the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses and of the Bible and the law.

    10.6 Proof of this can be seen by reference to suggested finding F56 concerning Mr Toole and the referral to the Law Society of New South Wales303 and the suggested finding F65 concerning Mr Geoffrey Jackson’s empathy for survivors.304 It was not put directly to Mr Toole that, the fact that he did not advise elders who sought his advice to report a matter to the police pursuant to s.316 Crimes Act (NSW) was a breach of his professional or ethical obligations so that he was not given the opportunity then to defend himself against any criticism. Moreover, in the greater scheme of things neither Mr Toole’s professional competence, nor Mr Geoffrey Jackson’s personal empathy for survivors, will have any bearing upon the important questions and the tasks facing the Commission and its ultimate recommendations. Unfortunately, the effect upon the reader is to prejudice the reader against two law-abiding citizens in circumstances where the criticism is not justified or relevant but instead assumes a state of affairs that neither person was required to defend.

    10.7 In addition to those two examples, suggested finding F70 (concerning membership of Jehovah’s Witnesses) is also based on Counsel Assisting’s misunderstanding of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs and practices. Further, this suggested finding is not related to either preventing or responding to child sexual abuse, and is a criticism that was not raised with Jehovah’s Witnesses at any time before the suggested finding. The suggested finding ought not to have been made by Counsel Assisting and should be withdrawn.
     
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    There is other detail in the report, but I just focused on the highlights.

    At this point in time, the Watchtower Society has about 2 years to amend its policies so that they meet best practice standards.
     
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    jehovahisgod Experienced Member

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    In USA news a man's life was saved by the technique I wrote on yahoo answers 1 month ago he was attacked by a pit bull which clamped on his throat he remembered what he read .


    Clamp onto the pit bulls nose with your teeth and when he tells cram your fisted arm straight down his throat plugging his windpipe.

    The man lived the pit bull is dead and judge Judy has the case he is during of course.
     
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    billy

    billy Guest

    Hi wallflower

    "10.3 Jehovah’s Witnesses are a law-abiding community, committed to love of neighbour.302 They readily comply with mandatory reporting laws. They also obey any other statutes enacted to safeguard minors from sexual abuse. ". - why have they not reported one case if this statement is true?

    Do you know what the policy is now as they stated that they have changed their procedures ?
     
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    billy

    billy Guest

    Yes wallflower you would think that the society would have some Manuel supplied to the congregations as all institutions have to deal with this problem - I think another problem is the secretiveness of it all - if there is a crime being committed in a congregation then the whole congregation should know and others as well - that would be the loving thing to do and also gives support to the victim in knowing that people care - transparency of policies instead of secret policy books only being given to the top levels of hierarchy is concerning - the mosaic law was provided for all the Israelites to read
     
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    wallflower Moderator

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    Hi Billy

    I will write a bit more about your question later in the day when I've got some spare time. Sorry, have to go.
     
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    wallflower Moderator

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    Hi Billy

    This part just sounds like "lip service" to me. If they have changed any part of their policy, then this is where they need to spell out in a specific manner what changes have been implemented.

    I don't see any updates on the Royal Commission website that indicate to me, that any amendments have been documented.

    The Watchtower Society will be required to meet with the Royal Commission for follow-up reviews to see what changes are being made. This will be done during the 2 year period. (That's how long the Watchtower Society has to amend the policy so that it meets best practice standards.)
     
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    Frank Conger

    Frank Conger Guest

    Hi Wallflower:

    Sounds a lot like the "dog and pony" shows they have in the U.S. Congress. They talk and talk and talk and yet in the end nothing changes and they shake hands and depart. Same old, Same old! Also, in the case of the Watchtower and any other religion that has this problem, "While men were sleeping, his enemy came and oversowed weeds in among the wheat and left. 26 When the stalk sprouted and produced fruit, then the weeds also appeared." Matthew 13

    There are good and faithful men and women in every organization, and then there are the weeds. Often times though the weeds work their way into positions of authority, which makes things very difficult to change.

    Frank
     
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    wallflower Moderator

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    Hi Frank

    My take on this is that the Watchtower Society will not budge on the stand they have taken on the child abuse issue. There is no acknowledgement of the problem nor do they express a willingness to work along with the Royal Commission.

    It would not surprise me if the Watchtower Society lost its tax exemption status over this. I would not be surprised if the Australian Government banned Jehovah's Witnesses in the country. It has happened before, in the 1940's.
     
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    Frank Conger

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    They are a stiff necked people, they are

    Frank
     
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    wallflower Moderator

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    I haven't posted on this thread for some time. The work of the Australian Royal Commission into Child Abuse continues. I understand that the recommendations are due to to be submitted to the Australian Government in late 2017.
     
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    Frank Conger

    Frank Conger Guest

    Meanwhile, chidren continue to be molested both inside and outside of Jehovah's Witnesses as the gov't drags this process out for months and years. I don't think they really care, they just have to make it look like they do.
     
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    wallflower Moderator

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    I agree that the wheels of justice turn slowly, unfortunately. The submission date of late 2017 is not an extension. It has been just over a year since the Watchtower Society was publicly interviewed by the Royal Commission. The Watchtower Society was given 2 years to amend its policies and procedures so that they meet best practice standards.

    When I read on other forums, I notice that every so often, someone will comment about how the Royal Commission has come and gone and it doesn't seem to have done anything. But the Royal Commission is not finished. Behind the scenes, the testimonies of survivors of child abuse are being gathered (as well as work on the redress scheme for compensation for these individuals.)

    This is just my personal opinion only, but I feel as if this is "the calm before the storm." I think that the Australian Bethel is now taking the Royal Commission seriously (I don't believe they did initially.)

    A call was put out to the congregations in Australia, asking for any brothers/sisters who are lawyers and accountants, to offer their services to the Australian Bethel. The Royal Commission has been given a copy of this letter.

    I also think that its interesting that the printing workload of the Australian Bethel is now handled by the branch in Japan. That's not unusual in itself, as there have been occasions in the past where the Japanese Bethel has handled the printing workload for Australia when there were temporary issues happening at the Australian Bethel. What's different this time, is that this change is a permanent one. In my opinion, I'm guessing that the Australian Bethel is preparing itself for a possible scenario, where it may be forced to close down. Time will tell.
     

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