Child sexual abuse – hate or condemnation

I think that most people in New Zealand would strongly condemn child sex abuse, if not hate it.

The handling of child sexual abuse in churches has justifiably attracted scrutiny and condemnation. The Catholic Church has been found guilty of aiding and abetting on going abuse through inaction, failure to perpetrators to account, and shielding them from the law.

The report from The Spinoff is also disturbing – Silent lambs: Child sexual abuse and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Best known for their door-to-door evangelising, Jehovah’s Witnesses are on a quest to save the ‘wicked’ from damnation. For victims of sexual abuse within the organisation, however, that quest has seen perpetrators shielded from justice. Amy Parsons-King has met several survivors as part of an investigation for The Spinoff. These are their stories.

The sexual abuse began almost immediately, and continued across the years Parkes and his family lived in the flat. Even after he and his wife found their own home, still it continued.

When Naomi was 15, her father, a senior member, or “elder”, of their New Brighton Jehovah’s Witness congregation, became aware of the abuse. He was furious and asked fellow elders to investigate.

Why didn’t he ask the police to investigate?

Under Jehovah’s Witnesses protocol, when a member of the organisation is alleged to have committed a serious “wrongdoing”, elders are instructed to confront the accused. When presented with the allegations, Parkes admitted to sexually abusing her, Naomi says. Parkes confirmed the abuse took place when The Spinoff spoke to him earlier this year. At the time, Parkes’ confession meant a judicial committee was formed to determine his level of repentance, and what disciplinary action should be taken.

The hearing was held at Parkes’ congregation. Naomi attended with two male elders, as did Parkes. “I basically had to say everything that happened in front of four men and my abuser,” she says.

That’s an appalling way to handle it.

Despite Parkes’ confession, the blame was shifted onto her, Naomi says. “He made comments that I seemed older than what I was, and that I enjoyed the attention he gave me. I did enjoy it in the beginning. He’d brush my hair and talk to me, but I took nothing from that. There’s nothing I put out there as a 10-year-old girl to sexually entice him. He pretty much made me feel like I asked for it.”

Victim blaming is common. In this situation it is despicable.

Elders ruled that Parkes’ punishment for sexually abusing Naomi across several years was to be “disfellowshipment”, a sanction which sees a wrongdoer excommunicated, with members directed to cease all links. Protocol requires that elders advise the congregation that the disfellowshipped person is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness. In Parkes’ case, as in others investigated by The Spinoff,  church members say they were not made aware of the nature of the offending that led to the disfellowshipment.

The judicial committee’s proposed compensation for Naomi’s trauma, to “help get her through”, was extra Bible studies.

Parkes’s alleged offending against Naomi was never reported to the Police.

That’s just one example.

Naomi’s experience is not unique. It fits a pattern of experiences recounted in recent years by people who allege they were sexually abused as children within the Jehovah’s Witness organisation. In her case, and in others, the process by which such allegations were dealt with emphasised internal investigation, judgment and punishment, without recourse to criminal prosecution.

It should be the victim’s prerogative whether they report abuse to the police, but in this sort of church situation it would be very difficult for children and young people to do.

According to one former Jehovah’s Witness elder the child protection policies within the organisation are so lacking that some estranged members describe it as “a paedophile’s paradise”. Paul Quilter, who spent 35 years as a member of the organisation, including 10 years as an elder in a Hamilton congregation, told The Spinoff that when he first saw that description used on an ex-Jehovah’s Witness forum he thought it was outrageous.

“But then when you actually read the reports of victims and you see how they were told to only trust fellow Witnesses because, everybody outside the organisation was worldly and ‘bad’ and therefore not to be trusted, you realise this type of mentality makes reporting child abuse to authorities almost impossible.”

And this is based on Biblical adherence.

The organisation demands strict and literal adherence to its Bible, The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Any perceived wrongdoing of Jehovah’s Witnesses including “fornication, adultery, homosexuality, blasphemy, apostasy, and similar gross sins” are investigated through what is called a “judicial committee”. For such a proxy court to even be established, a 2000-year-old biblical principle is applied to substantiate the wrongdoing. This “two witness rule” derives from scriptures such as Genesis 19:15, which states: “No single witness may convict another for any error or any sin that he may commit.  On the testimony of two witnesses or on the testimony of three witnesses the matter should be established.”

The Church should not be investigating at all, let alone using processes that having nothing to do with modern law.

Naomi says she is appalled to hear Parkes, much like Debbie’s abuser Owen Tutty, has been reinstated within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “There are plenty of children in the congregations, there always are,” she says.

“He could be sitting next to one right now.”

If claims in the Spinoff report are credible – and there seems to be sufficient cause for concern – there should be something like a Commission of Inquiry into this.

52 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  July 23, 2018

    Hmmm…here’s the thing. If I had a choice between a Tory, a Socialist, a bro or a highly respected community citizen, who was to protect my back…I would rather choose a JW.

    People who run sensitive businesses and government contractors always try to use cleaning services run by JW.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  July 23, 2018

      Whats a bit of kiddie fiddling swept under the carpet in the scheme of things as long as the sensitive files are ok and the office is spotless, eh?

      • Good luck with finding a JW cleaner or cleaning company, anyway. They are a tiny % of the population, 1 in 340 or about .3%.

        I think that we can safely dismiss the idea of people seeking out JW cleaning companies as too far-fetched to be remotely believable and based upon nothing but Corky making things up as he goes along .

        • Griff

           /  July 23, 2018

          At one stage JW’s did run a lot of cleaning businesses in NZ.
          I dont know if that still holds true .
          As they are pacifists I would rather someone who would fight behind my back if the shite hits the fan .

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  July 23, 2018

            I think not. But Corky wouldn’t know….unless he emailed all those who employ cleaners and asked them. I am surprised that he doesn’t claim to have done this.

            • Corky

               /  July 23, 2018

              No need. I hired them at one stage. Sorry that Griff burst your bubble. Better luck next time. Maybe you should do more emailing before posting. Just a suggestion.

            • Oh, right. I should have seen that coming. Of course you have.Just as you knew people in the nurses union, were told by a television studio who was in the audience, were in the horticultural industry…..it goes on and on.

              What on earth do you take people for ?

              You have claimed insider information far too many times.

              I can’t think why you suggest emailing before posting. Emailing whom ?
              Bullshitters Anonymous to see it you’re a member ?

            • Corky

               /  July 23, 2018

              ”Just as you knew people in the nurses union, were told by a television studio who was in the audience, were in the horticultural industry.

              1- Wrong. I knew nurses at a given hospital who told me about the strike.

              2- Were told by a television studio who was in the audience,??

              3- Were in the horticultural industry. Correct.

              Look, I’m sorry if you have had a boring life. Please don’t take it out on me. Get a pet. Join Aged Concern.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              The whole country knew about the strike long before it happened. It was on the news and in the papers. You told us about it when it was already happening !

              You claimed to have emailed a show (Jeremy someone) to ask about the Muslims in the audience and been told that they were indeed Muslims and had asked for a room to use for prayers. I knew that this would never happen, having had experience with studios here and knowing that the audience wouldn’t be there long enough for anything like that.

              What did you do in the ‘horticultural industry ? Mow lawns ?

              My life has not been boring at all, but as you wouldn’t believe me if I told you about it, I won’t waste my time. It would be beyond you, anyway.

            • Corky

               /  July 23, 2018

              ”The whole country knew about the strike long before it happened. It was on the news and in the papers. You told us about it when it was already happening ”

              Wrong.

              ”You claimed to have emailed a show (Jeremy someone) to ask about the Muslims in the audience and been told that they were indeed Muslims and had asked for a room to use for prayers. I knew that this would never happen.”

              Correct. I was joking. I thought everyone would know that.

              ”What did you do in the ‘horticultural industry ? Mow lawns ?”

              Go to peoples property. Check out what they needed to grow Kiwi fruit and other stuff. Stays, 2.5 high tensile wire. Posts. Irrigation and well drilling. Lochinvar Station was one customer and I helped sell close to a million dollars of product for one order.

              ”My life has not been boring at all, but as you wouldn’t believe me if I told you about it, I won’t waste my time. It would be beyond you, anyway.

              Correct.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              You were not joking, that was obvious. If you had been, you’d have said so. You haven’t enough sense of humour. It’s too late to make that claim, sorry. You were sprung as knowing nothing about what you were talking about.

              Anyone can google requirements for this and that. It proves nothing.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              If you mean Lochinver Station,, what did you sell them ?

        • Corky

           /  July 23, 2018

          I see Kitty is dribbling again…about something she knows nothing about. So much for wanting me to go away.

          @Highflyer

          I was just trying to bring a little balance. Too often we get a handful of allegations and then people perceive the JHW religion as suddenly kiddy fiddlers. I agree the Police should have been called. I can guess why the Police weren’t called. The JHW may be weird by our standards but that doesn’t make the majority of them bad. They have excommunicated the offender. That basically is hell if the ex member cannot adjust to life outside of his religion.

          • Corky babbling as usual, claiming that he knows somehing that the rest of the world doesn’t.

            It is so unlikely that anyone would go out of their way to find a JW company because the business was ‘sensitive’ that one can safely dismiss this. And as I doubt if Corky has any proof of this, or government departments doing it, one can dismiss it as another of his fantasies. He has claimed inside knowledge of other things and used the statement that he emailed X as proof too many times for it to be credible now (if it ever was)

            Government contracts go to the company that offers best value for money. Religion is not a factor.

            • Corky

               /  July 23, 2018

              ”Government contracts go to the company that offers best value for money. Religion is not a factor.”

              That is just plain wrong. Best value for money does not come into it where destruction of important documents, or working in sensitive areas is involved.

              So we now know you are just trying to sound informed.

              For your information. Such firms are given a set of protocols to follow . That is part of the contract. Plus the company must have sound in house protocols in place. All people involved with the cleaning company must be vetted by the Police and SiS.

              Such companies may be spot check at anytime. And sometimes rubbish may have to be destroyed while officials look on.

              I admit I can’t talk for all government departments or businessess. I relate what I know of personally.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              The SIS ????

              😀 😀 😀

            • Griff said merely that at one time JWs ran a lot of cleaning companies and that he didn’t know if they still did. This is hardly conforming who used them and why.

              Griff, Corky once told YNZ that I had said that I had ‘feral whites’ across the road from me, although I had never mentioned the people here….they are, in fact, a young, professional couple ! He also knew that I lived on a widow’s benefit ( these no longer exist) and couldn’t possibly have insurance (?) .These were a few of the fabrications.You will see why caution is advised…

            • Corky

               /  July 23, 2018

              ”It is so unlikely that anyone would go out of their way to find a JW company because the business was ‘sensitive’ that one can safely dismiss this.”

              V

              ‘Griff said merely that at one time JWs ran a lot of cleaning companies and that he didn’t know if they still did. This is hardly conforming who used them and why.”

              Umm, it adds credence to my story. And non to yours. A little like A2 shares.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              No, it doesn’t unless one is also told who used these companies and why.

              The fact that they may have existed proves nothing at all.

              Non compos mentis es, Cortex.

            • Griff

               /  July 23, 2018

              Don’t you worry Corky is not exactly high on my list of posters that occasionally make sense .
              I only know the link between JW’s and cleaning because I was married to a X JW back in the eighties.
              That’s a long time ago I would not know if they are still involved in any scale.
              JW’s are inclined to self employment like cleaning and lawn mowing as it gives them independence from normal society.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              Poor old Corks lives in a world of his own. He was barred from YNZ at one time because of his behaviour and personal abuse.

            • Corky

               /  July 23, 2018

              The SIS ????

              😀 😀 😀

              Correct. I don’t know why you are laughing.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              You wouldn’t !!! Oh dear, oh dear !!!

            • Corky

               /  July 23, 2018

              Checkmate. A Police check entails a SIS check. Oh,dear. Kitty shown up again. Don’t you feel embarrassed? You can’t even get trolling right.

              😁😁😁

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              No, they are quite different.

              Well, they seem to think so, anyway.

              You may know something that they don’t, of course, and know what they do better than they do themselves.

              I would be embarrassed if I was shown up as often as you.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              SIS clearances are for people who will have access to official information.

              Police checks are to see if someone has a criminal record, There would be little point in a school worker having an SIS clearance, but they could well have a police check.

              Before you sneer at someone, do check to make sure that they are not right, before you make an idiot of yourself.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2018

              SIS clearances are for people who will have access to secret government information,.

              Police checks are for criminal convictions.

              The two are quite different.

            • Gezza

               /  July 23, 2018

              That is correct, unless things have changed in the last 10 years.

              I have twice needed to have a police clearance (done directly by the relevant department with the police – all clear) & needed a full SIS check & clearance every 5 years for my work: cleared to Top Secret level only though. There’s at least one level above that. Those are very thorough. They actually come and see your listed contacts.

              I have also internally requested & obtained both police clearances & SIS clearances on people in my own work. There were separate procedures & processes. And I have been a listed contact/referee for other people’s SIS checks.

            • Gezza

               /  July 23, 2018

              There are special procedures for reading, handling & storage of classified material Corky. You don’t dare go home & leave it on your desk or have it visible to cleaners if you’re working late. No cleaner would ever get to see it.

            • Corky

               /  July 23, 2018

              An example:

              When you join the army you have a police check that also includes by default a SIS check. Depending on the job…and we are talking of certain jobs, a police check is also part of an SIS check.

              I see on the Army recruit site they only mention a police check. But when I helped an applicant fill out his forms, a SIS check was also mentioned.
              ( 6 years ago)

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 24, 2018

              Oh, what a surprise that you have personal experience of this. I wondered when this would come as proof.

              We were talking of police checks generally, and if you think that the SIS check every person who has a police check, go on thinking it,

            • If the person who needed help with a form was liable for an SIS clearance, they would be applying to be an intelligence officer, which, I think, needs a degree. Someone who needed help with a form would be highly unlikely to be taken on for this.

            • Gezza

               /  July 25, 2018

              Actually it IS very likely that application form details of every person making an application to join any arm of our military would be checked with both the police and the SIS by the relevant recruiting office before any decision would be made to accept them for training.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 25, 2018

              Even the ones doing a trade ? I was under the impression that only the Intelligence people would need vetting by the SIS and the ordinary privates wouldn’t .

              It’s unlikely that someone who couldn’t fill out the form would be accepted, anyway.

            • Gezza

               /  July 25, 2018

              Any serving member of the military has access to weapons, battle tactics, communications systems, knowledge of bases, knowledge of ships, aircraft. The numbers are small. Where I worked hundreds of people every year were quietly SIS checked in the background as a matter of routine.

            • Gezza

               /  July 25, 2018

              There are different levels of check, Kitty. They range from a simple check whether a person is known to the Security Services here or among our Security partners (eg are they a known suspected terrorist or sympathiser or an intelligence operative for some other country) thru to a full SIS vetting to be permitted access in their job to the different levels of classified government information needed for their job.

              From memory the levels are something like: CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, TOP SECRET, EYES ONLY.

              I was cleared to TOP SECRET level, although I never actually saw any Top Secret information as it was never necessary for anything I worked on.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 26, 2018

              I would think that anyone whose literacy was so poor that they couldn’t fill out the form would be a non-starter anyway.

            • Gezza

               /  July 26, 2018

              Well you know what they say:

              “If you’ve half a mind to join the army – that’s all you need.” 💂🏻

  2. Seabird

     /  July 23, 2018

    And people think it is bad in the Gloryvale community. At least one of them was charged and spent time in prison

    • I don’t know if it’s worse among the JWs than among the population in general.

      In theory treating it as a sin is good thing, as it is one. But the way of going about it seems to vary in competency.

  3. Gezza

     /  July 23, 2018

    This is horrific but perfectly understandable. God forgives those sinners who seek his forgiveness. He is a higher authority than man. Any believer of the Bible or Christianity cannot justifiably fault other believers for finding & following the rules Jaweh has given them Jesus has never said not to. If you don’t like it, you should read the whole damn Bible and abandon it. Your own personal morality as a Western educated empathetic human being constrained by parental guidance, your fellow citizens, & secular law far exceeds that of Jaweh & Jesus.

  4. The laws of the land are more or less based on some of the 10 Commandments, as are the rules of society.

    It’s illegal to steal, murder, bear false witness….

    Coveting had a much stronger meaning in the past.

    The idea of a day of rest still applies.

    Most people would surely agree that respect for parents is a good thing.

    • Gezza

       /  July 23, 2018

      Yes. So is loving your parents. Society drives that message home so hard that kids being abused & beaten the hell out of by their parents think they still have to.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  July 23, 2018

        That’s a very complex issue, of course, as is why people stay with violent partners.

        There are also Bible verses about how parents shouldn’t make their children hate them, but I can’t remember where.

        The man who killed his father recently and was cleared of murder charges was verydistressed and kept saying to ‘dad’ how sorry he was that he had done that to him.

  5. The Spinoff follows this story up:

    My plea to Jehovah’s Witnesses: it is time for zero tolerance on child abuse

    Spinoff revelations about sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses underline the need for a community-wide response to child sexual abuse, writes the children’s commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/25-07-2018/my-plea-to-jehovahs-witnesses-it-is-time-for-zero-tolerance-on-child-abuse/

  6. PartisanZ

     /  July 25, 2018

    “But he [Safe Network’s Shane Harris] said it was unethical for churches and other organisations not to involve the civil authorities when allegations or evidence of abuse first surfaced and that a bigger impact would be made if that wasn’t the case.”

    Unethical? This guy Father Michael Shirres confessed … It should be illegal not to involve civil authorities!

    Surely the Church itself should be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice?

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12094501

    • Blazer

       /  July 25, 2018

      their excuse…the victims did not want the Police..involved.

      • PDB

         /  July 25, 2018

        Same excuse as the Labour party top brass regarding sexual harassment claims then Blazer?

        • Blazer

           /  July 25, 2018

          what was Sabins ..excuse?

        • PartisanZ

           /  July 25, 2018

          Harris clearly says “churches and other organisations” and I agree … Political parties are a kind of Church anyhow … I joined one for a while … more the fool me!

          Harris would have enormous experience in this area of treatment. I figure he can be believed when he says “It’s a tricky area” and “the stream purpose of gathering information on a person is to tailor appropriate clinical intervention, not to pursue a course of justice. General disclosure of abuse puts you on high alert, it lets you assess the client’s situation, but that’s it.”