Sex abuse stumped elder

Jehovah’s Witness was unsure how to handle case
Toronto Sun, Sep. 17, 2002
http://canoe.ca/
By IAN MCDOUGALL, TORONTO SUN

An elder of the Shelburne <A HREF="http://www.apologeticsindex.org/j02.html" "javascript:void(0);" onmouseover="return overlib('Click for research resources on this cult of Christianity’, CAPTION, ‘Link Info…’, HAUTO, VAUTO, SNAPX, ‘5’);” onmouseout=”return nd();”>Jehovah’s Witness congregation admitted in court yesterday he would handle the case of a woman sexually abused by her father differently now by reporting the matter immediately to provincial authorities.

Steven Brown, one of the defendants in a <A HREF="javascript:zoek('vicky boer')" "javascript:void(0);" onmouseover="return overlib('Click for archived news items on this subject’, CAPTION, ‘Link Info…’, HAUTO, VAUTO, SNAPX, ‘5’);” onmouseout=”return nd();”>$700,000 lawsuit, testified that after a 1990 meeting with Children’s Aid workers over the woman’s case, congregation officials had a better understanding of how to handle child abuse, including their reporting requirements.

Brown, fellow elder Brian Cairns and the church are being sued by the woman for failing to report her case to provincial authorities, for forcing her to confront her father and for discouraging her from getting medical treatment.

Brown said he first became aware of the sexual abuse in the woman’s home during a December 1989 meeting with Cairns. Court heard it wasn’t until Feb. 5, 1990, that Children’s Aid was told about the case.

During the meeting, the father confessed he violated his daughter.

Cairns and Brown had not dealt with child abuse before and were unsure how to handle it — especially the requirement to report it to secular authorities, Brown said.

“We didn’t know who to refer the plaintiff to, we didn’t know who to report the abuse to,” he said.

“We have a young woman, not living at home, 19 or 20 years old. We had determined there was no immediate threat. We wondered how to proceed.”

Brown said they wrote to the Watchtower society, the Witnesses’ governing body, asking for advice.

As they waited for a response, other church elders became alarmed they had not reported the case to the authorities, Brown said.

He added the division within the congregation became a problem at the end of January 1990 while a committee was being formed to punish the woman’s father.

The committee revoked his church privileges and told him to report to a doctor and to Children’s Aid.

The Toronto Sun is not naming the woman or her family because she is a victim of sexual abuse.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday September 18, 2002.
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