A Californian man who claims he was molested by a Jehovah’s Witnesses bible school teacher when he was a child has been awarded 13.5 million dollars by a San Diego Superior Court judge.
According to the Associated Press, Jose Lopez, the child sexual abuse survivor, “sued the group, alleging that he was molested in 1986 at age 7 by a member of the Spanish congregation in the Linda Vista area of San Diego.”
Judge Joan Lewis ruled that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York (WTBTS), one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ legal governing bodies, “covered up years of sexual abuse” by a man who later would become one of the church’s elders.
Although the associate general counsel for WTBTS, Mario Moreno, stated that “Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse and strive to protect children from such acts,” the group’s inaction and eventual promotion of the alleged perpetrator suggest otherwise.
Much like another recent child sexual abuse lawsuit filed in Texas against the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the WTBTS, the case centers around a systemic problem within the religious organization that some claim allows sexual predators within the group to avoid prosecution, and shames victims into secrecy.
According to an ABC News article, “Lopez said the elders suggested Gonzalo Campos as his Bible teacher even though they knew he had molested at least one other boy, the suit contended. Lopez also said that after he told his mother about the molestation, church leaders told his mother not to report it to law enforcement.”
If you have any information about abuse happening in your local Kingdom Hall or by another member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, we would like to talk to you on a confidential basis. Please contact us toll-free at 888-407-0224, or email us.