A cult awareness and sexual abuse counseling group was recently organized in four different states, including Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia. The group, known as Americans for the Protection of Families (“AmeriProFam”), is under the leadership of John Grossman, a retired psychology professor from Louisville, Kentucky.
“The purpose in the group being started was to assist in making the American public aware of the facts involved with so many different dangerous religious groups and cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and others,” said Grossman. “We now have chapters in four states with over six hundred associate members with the potential to have thousands covering the entire United States. We are also speaking with individuals in Canada and Mexico about starting chapters in select areas there.”
Professor Grossman has conducted several seminars in the past concerning the dangers that certain religious groups pose to the community. According to Grossman “there are more and more cases of child abuse now coming out of the Jehovah’s Witness circle and among their elders. This is an extremely dangerous situation for the community and for schools in general. The media has covered countless horror stories of children who have been sexually abused by Jehovah’s Witness elders and even parents abusing their own children.”
A spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses told Kentucky Lake Times and National Bulletin that it is not the religious teaching of the organization to sexually abuse any children. In a prepared statement the Witnesses’ organization said, “When any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is accused of an act of child abuse, the local congregation elders are expected to investigate.” Professor Grossman and others with similar awareness and support groups say that although the policy is for the Witness elders to investigate these occurrences of sexual abuse “oftentimes they go unreported to the authorities and it’s left up to the parents or grandparents and sometimes even friends of the families who don’t even belong to the Jehovah’s Witness church to go to the proper authorities with the information.”
A local resident of Camden/Eva, Tennessee, who asked to remain anonymous, told Kentucky Lake Media that she had been abused as a child by her uncle who was also a Witness elder. She told us that she came to Benton County fourteen years ago after moving from Texas where she used to be a member of a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses there. “It’s sad but this kind of thing happens more often than people in the community think it does.”
“My sister and my cousin along with myself were abused by my uncle who was an elder in one of the Kingdom Halls….I haven’t spoken with my sister in years because the whole case turned the family inside out and split us all up. My parents eventually left each other and the siblings were separated.” When asked if the authorities were contacted concerning the alleged abuse this resident stated, “The case never went before the authorities in Texas. It was always kept a secret within the Kingdom Hall…Every time we would walk in the Kingdom Hall we were always looked at by the other Witnesses like it was our fault and we were never included anymore in get-togethers and other events for children…My whole family’s life was turned upside down and I still have nightmares about the whole thing.” This resident said she learned that her uncle is still an elder, “but he moved from Texas to Florida two years after the so called investigation took place.”
Rhonda Lynwood, spokesperson for the Georgia branch of Americans for the Protection of Families, told Kentucky Lake Media “I have heard stories like this so many times I started loosing count already…We take in children who have been abused even by their own parents. These children are vulnerable and fear tactics are used on the children just like any other case.” Lynwood went on to say, “As of to date we have never had any case other than children of Witness parents come into our office or contact us.”
The awareness group plans to start smaller support groups throughout the state of Tennessee that should eventually grow into branches of the organization. Each branch is responsible for distributing literature, emails and answering telephone calls concerning alleged cases of abuse and to give counseling when necessary. A small support group is planned to begin in the Benton/Henry County area after several contacts had been made concerning various alleged abuse cases according to Grossman.
Professor Grossman said that he will personally be officiating at the first meeting of the support group in order to assist it in getting established in the local community. Grossman said, “The reason for the support groups and the branches is not only to make awareness of the abuse cases known, but also to assist families in protecting their own interests from all sorts of dangerous religious groups and cults.” Grossman said that through investigations and studies carried out by his group over the last year they have found at least “fourteen different types of dangerous religious groups within Benton and Henry County….There are different types of groups in the area ranging from Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and even some fundamentalist groups found among some of the more charismatic circles.”
A few weeks ago a story that received national attention was published by Kentucky Lake Times concerning a funeral and memorial service for two Witness children where Jehovah’s Witnesses apparently refused to assist in offsetting the costs of the funeral. Another church, not associated with the Witnesses came to the aid of the family instead. The Kentucky Lake Times received hundreds of hate and derogatory letters and email where the individuals identified themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some claimed that the Times was being biased in their report of the story even though links were made available to obtain additional information and comments on the topic were open on the Time’s Web site. The Times also received several compliments for its unbiased reporting. The particular article had been submitted by an individual from Nashville, TN who told Kentucky Lake Times that he was not a Jehovah’s Witness nor had he ever been one, that he had received the story from another media source. The story made national headlines earlier in September. The Kentucky Lake Times is known for its non-bias reporting through all of its media outlets, including its printed publications.
We will have a follow up article on this story as the group becomes established in the Benton/Henry County area.