After a $13.5 million judgement on October 29, 2014, against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society the extent of the Governing Body’s and the organisation’s culpability is laid out in the Zalkin press conference. Irwin Zalkin said the WBTS had repeatedly violated or ignored court orders, or opposed several discovery motions.
Zalkin Press Conference – Three minute press conference video.
To the press and in a recorded video, Zalkin spells out the background and what led up to the law firm taking the case in 2010. He also explains the very unusual circumstances of the judgement. He said in the Lopez case and in other cases, the firm is handling around the country, the Watchtower has refused to follow court orders, compelling them to produce very incriminating records. “Documents that go back decades and show the depth and the breadth of their knowledge of child predators and child molestors in their organisation.” “They refused to produce the longest standing member of their Governing Body (Gerrit Losch), who knew all about this stuff.”
They refused the trial court’s order, (Judge Lewis’s order); they refused the Court of Appeal’s order in the State of California. They refused the State of California’s Supreme Court approval of the order. For that reason they were sanctioned by the court and their defence was terminated. They were not allowed to participate in the proceedings to prove the damages in the Lopez case.
The court was told that Campos spent months grooming Lopez — touching him on the leg, hugging him and building trust — before bringing him to a La Jolla home and assaulting him.
The boy told his mother, who immediately confronted the elders. But Lopez said the elders told his mother to be loyal to the faith, saying that they would take care of the situation and directed her not to report it to law enforcement. She decided to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Zalkin said “Jose Lopez was abused in 1986 and at the time the local body of elders in the Linda Vista Spanish Congregation in San Diego knew of the perpetrator’s actions because of a previous 1982 molestation of a child, that was reported to them. At the time he was abusing four other children.”
In 2013, the Zalkin Law Firm filed a lawsuit (civil action) in a San Diego court on behalf of Jose Lopez. The Plaintiff was one of eight victims molested by Campos, a Jehovah’s Witness and an appointed (ordained) ministerial servant.
The Defendants in the case were originally the Linda Vista Spanish Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses; Gonzalo Campos, the perpetrator, and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of NY, Inc.
Zalkin said he had called the media, to tell the world and wanted to send a strong message to the WBTS and the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses “that no one; no entity is above the law.” He explained how and why judgement was given by Judge Lewis in San Diego.
He said, “For almost 14 years, from 1982 to 1995 the Watchtower and its agents, the elders of the local congregation knew that they had a dangerous child sexual predator in their organisation” who was also ordained as a Ministerial Servant in the Linda Vista Spanish Congregation.
The confessed perpetrator Campos, was allowed to continue to give bible study lessons to young children. During that time, “he was abusing at least eight children that we know of.”
Gonzalo Campos is still a Jehovah’s Witness somewhere in the interior of Mexico. He fled the USA, the minute Zalkin reported the molestations to the police in 2010.
The San Diego court awarded $13.5 million. In her ruling on Wednesday, San Diego Superior Judge Joan Lewis called the Watchtower’s inaction and cover-up “reprehensible and reckless.”
The following is background information, taken from submitted court documents:
The Plaintiff asked that Governing Body member, Gerrit Losch, be produced for deposition and all documents regarding child sexual abuse going back until 1977 also be produced.
On February 6, 2014, Watchtower asked the Court for a stay of both components of the January 2, 2014 order.
The Watchtower and Losch separately filed Petitions for Writ of Mandate; both asked for an immediate stay. When Losch Petitioned the Supreme Court, he requested an emergency stay. None of these stays were granted, but Watchtower acted as though they were.
As of March 31, 2014 through April 3, 2014, the standing order was that the materials and testimony must be provided. The Watchtower refused. The Watchtower did not offer to provide the Plaintiff with a partial production while the rest are gathered.
Documents relating to childhood sexual abuse:
Complaints of molestation known to Watchtower prior to 1986 are relevant to establishing the parameters of the duty of care owed by Watchtower.
Complaints of sexual abuse known to Watchtower before and after 1986 are vital to establishing whether either Defendant is liable for punitive damages by acting with malice or ratifying the abuse (failure to discharge agent despite knowledge of unfitness may make principle liable in punitive damages through ratification.)
Complaints of childhood sexual abuse known to Watchtower after 1986 are relevant to Plaintiff’s ratification claim. Such complaints help explain the development and deficiencies of the corporate policies that were utilized to ratify the abuse of Plaintiff.
Post 1986 complaints give context to Watchtower’s actions after that date regarding Campos, and are also relevant in assessing the quality of Defendants’ knowing acceptance of Campos’ actions. Documents showing Watchtower’s tendency of protecting child molesters after 1986 tends to prove it did so with Campos.
Testimony of Gerrit Losch. Losch has been a member of the Governing Body since 1994. The Governing Body reviews and approves policy within the organization. Evidence from Losch regarding the formulation and approval of policy regarding molestation, why the policies were created or altered, and the Governing Body’s knowledge of the likelihood that such policies would result in the protection of molesters in the organization is relevant to Plaintiff s ratification theory.
Also, as a managing agent of Watchtower, Losch’s actions may form the basis of an award of punitive damages against Defendant. Cal. Civ. Code $ 3294(b). Evidence of Losch’s knowledge of the prevalence of molestation in the organization, his role in formulating policy, and his knowledge of the tendency of those policies to protect molesters at the expense of children, are necessary to determining Watchtower’s liability for, and the measure of, punitive damages.
CONCLUSION – For the foregoing reasons, the Plaintiff asked the Court to award terminating and monetary sanctions.
UTSandiego $13.5 for Jehovah’s Witness sex victim Link
Listen to Irwin Zalkin talk about the case on JW Podcast Link
Barbara Anderson Watchtower Documents – Lopez trial Court documents Link
ABC Team 10 – Video report on case – Lopez said, about Campos “I would just tell him how much he hurt me and I just want him to be behind bars where he belongs; he’s a coward.” Link
NBC San Diego -13.5 million awarded to Bible teacher Gonzalo Campos alleged abuse victim Jose Lopez – Link
ABC Team 10 Obtains video of admitted child molestor in Jehovah’s Witnesses Link
Dallas JW sex abuse allegations Link
Named shamed and culpable – Karen Morgan speaks out – UK – JW elder convicted of rape and child molestation – 19 elders covered up the case Link
Christian Post reports JW child molestation cases Link
Where is the apology? Kathleen Conti asks the Governing Body Link
JWsurvey – License to harm Gonzalo Campos was allowed by elders to prey on children Link
JWsurvey Watchtower ordered to pay $13.5 million in sex abuse case as Gerrit Losch failes to testify Link
Zalkin Law Firm Link
Zalkin Press Release – Press Statement Zalkin
About The Zalkin Law Firm
With offices in San Diego and New York, The Zalkin Law Firm (www.zalkin.com) is one of the premier sexual abuse and personal injury law firms in the country. The firm’s lawyers have represented hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse and achieved groundbreaking results in numerous high-profile clergy abuse cases across the United States.
The Zalkin Law Firm has aggressively represented hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse, including former Boy Scouts. The firm has negotiated over $200 million in settlements in Catholic clergy sex abuse cases. The firm currently has more than 20 active lawsuits against the Jehovah’s Witnesses in five states, representing victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Zalkin Photo credit Christian Freedom