The Moore County News-Press, July 24, 2003
Lauri Zachry, Staff Writer
The national Jehovah’s Witnesses organization and Larry Kelley, a former elder in the Dumas and Amarillo congregation of the church, have filed court documents denying allegations of sexual abuse which were filed by a former member of the Amarillo Congregation.
Amy B., the plaintiff, filed a negligence suit in the 251st District Court at the beginning of June against Kelley, the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society of New York, the Dumas congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Amarillo-Southwest congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The first papers of the suit said the Jehovah’s Witnesses appointed Kelley to the position of elder of the Dumas congregation before 1988.
The suit said the Dumas congregation gave Kelley “the specific assignment of instructing and supervising children in the congregation.” He coordinated a children’s puppet show to “instruct and attract Jehovah’s Witness children.”
The suit said the Watchtower group encouraged the families of the Dumas congregation to send their children to the Kelley’s home for “instruction and supervision.”
The suit said Kelley used his position as an elder “with supervisory responsibility over children to sexually abuse them.” The suit said this happened while Kelley served in Dumas.
Watchtower then transferred Kelley to the Amarillo-Southwest congregation and he became a ministerial servant.
He was responsible for the children of the congregation.
Amy B. attended the Amarillo-Southwest congregation when she was eight years old and is now 23 years old.
The suit said this is when the alleged sexual abuse began for her. The suit said the plaintiff was allegedly abused from 1988-1992. In 1992, Kelley was convicted of indecency with a child and sexual contact. The suit alleges Kelley molested mainly young girls.
Kelley filed his answer to the plaintiff’s, Amy B., original petition.
The brief states when he committed his only indecency with a child offense in Dumas it was not with a young girl from the Dumas congregation, but it was with a girl who lived in Amarillo.
Kelley said in the brief “I felt such disgust for my behavior that I went to the elders of the Dumas congregation the next day and confessed what I had done.”
Kelley said in the Dumas congregation he served as an elder, but was never given the specific assignment of instructing and supervising children in the congregation.
The brief said “the only time children would come to our home was with their parents for an organized home Bible study or in a social setting.”
The brief said he was removed immediately from all positions of authority and was forbidden to make any comment at any meeting. He said he was then instructed to go to his wife and to the girl’s parents and tell them what he had done.
The original suit said the Watchtower defendants have prohibited the victim from warning the others or speaking about the matter to anyone under penalty of discipline. The suit also claims for five years the organizations knew about the alleged abuse within the congregation and failed to act.
In Kelley’s brief, he said he wasn’t transferred by the Watchtower defendants, but he moved to Amarillo for business reasons
In 1992, Kelley spent several months incarcerated and completed 10 years of therapy in an approved sex offenders and victims program. He also completed 10 years of “shock probation.”
“I don’t intend to minimize my offense, but plaintiff implies abuse took place from 1988 through 1992. There were only two instances of sexual misconduct,” Kelley’s brief said.
According to other court briefs, Marvin Jones, an attorney representing the out-of-state Jehovah’s Witnesses groups, denied all claims in the woman’s lawsuit and asked the judge to dismiss claims against three out-of-state defendants.