Conti – Appeal decision – Watchtower negligent – affirmed

Candace Conti

The decision by the California appeal court has been made today, 13, April 2015, in the Candace Conti case. Very few details are currently available.

What is known is this:

In the case of Jane Doe v. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc. et al.
Division 3
Case Number A136641

Description: Affirmed/part, rev/part, remanded w/direction
Date: 04/13/2015


The judgment against defendants on the negligence count is affirmed. The judgment against Watchtower on the cause of action for punitive damages is reversed with directions to enter judgment for Watchtower on punitive damages. The parties are to bear their own costs on appeal.

Clarification is being sought as to the meaning of this decision, but initial thoughts are that the compensatory damages of $2.8 million has been upheld and the punitive amount has been reversed. It may be possible to apply for punitive damages to another court.

The compensatory damages with interest may now amount to $4 million.

Barbara Anderson has commented:

Watchtower lost on NEGLIGENCE and that’s what Candace wanted. This is a precedent-setting win. No matter how the Watchtower spins it, their name will forever be linked with not protecting children. 

Candace Conti came out of this as a winner. No need to moan over the loss of money. What if she had won on Punitive? What would we all be talking about? Probably not about the money anyway as it’s not our business what a plaintiff does with whatever monetary amount is awarded or that Watchtower lost to her more donation money. I’m sure we’d be talking about the Negligence Count being affirmed even if the punitive judgment was upheld. 

What we all wanted was justice for Candace which is a win for all the other victims of Watchtower’s indifference to their safety. She got what she went after. Please celebrate with us. We sure are!

Of course, both sides can appeal the court’s decision. No matter, this day is Candace’s.”

The next scheduled action is 6/15/2015.

The court document states:

“Conti sought to hold defendants liable for failing to warn the Congregation or her parents that Kendrick was a child molester, and for failing to limit and supervise his participation in church activities. A jury found defendants liable for compensatory damages to Conti, and held Watchtower liable for punitive damages.

We hold that defendants had no duty to warn the Congregation or Conti’s parents that Kendrick had molested a child, but that defendants can be held liable for failing to limit and supervise Kendrick’s “field service,” a church-sponsored activity where members go door-to-door preaching in the community. Kendrick had unsupervised access to Conti during field service that he used as opportunities to molest her. Because breach of the alleged duty to warn was the sole basis for imposition of punitive damages on Watchtower, we reverse that portion of the judgment, with directions to enter judgment for Watchtower on the punitive damage claim. The compensatory damage award is affirmed.”

Watchtower, not the Congregation, dictated the conditions under which field service by child molesters was permissible. The jury could have found that Watchtower falsely claimed to have a policy that prevented child molesters from performing field service alone or with children, or, even if it had that policy, it did not impose the policy on the Congregation or Kendrick.”

Richard Simons, Candace Conti’s lawyer, told the San Francisco Gate “the court should have upheld the church’s duty to warn parents about known molesters. Prevention is more important than responsibility after the event.”

Full decision (PDF) Link

The court record can be seen here Link

SFGate – Jehovah’s Witness molestation-case damages cut to $2.8 million Link

RevealNews – California court guts child abuse ruling against Jehovah’s Witnesses Link

JWsurvey – Conti appeal: Watchtower’s punitive damages reversed but negligence for lack of field service supervision is affirmed Link


JWR – Report by Scott Terry on the Appeal hearing Link

Huffington Post – Candace Conti awarded $28 million in Jehovah’s Witness sex abuse case Link

Candace Speaks out at the 2013 RNA Conference Link

Barbara Anderson’s – Watchtower documents Link


About Susannah

"Susannah," JWReport's News and Opinion Editor, is very familiar with the Watchtower Society and its leaders past and present. An experienced editor and writer, she was born and raised in the UK where she was an active Jehovah's Witness until she was 28. She now lives and works in southern Europe.


Conti – Appeal decision – Watchtower negligent – affirmed — 4 Comments

  1. Another frivolous lawsuit for money from people who know a single person caused a crime, but choose to blame an organization, even though the crime is strictly forbidden to that same organization, and that person would have been publicly removed if they would have known it was being committed. When people testify that they have changed their lives around and will never again commit such serious sins, how are they to be treated if the bible says that God himself forgives their sins and never again comes to his mind. Elders are not mind readers and neither can they see what happens behind closed doors.

    • Hi Torreth,
      Thanks for confirming the total lack of understanding of child molestation and displaying no compassion for children who have been raped and sexually assaulted within congregations. Even the Catholic Church has apologised for child abuse, but not JW’s Governing Body or the defenders of the organization. If you had any understanding of the level of abuse within JW’s you would not be defending, you would be asking how has this happened and why does it continue? You would be praising every child that has survived not only the abuse but the shunning that ensued for speaking out.

      These children and abuse survivors have sat in court rooms where the elders and bethel men sit with the rapist. Most abuse survivors have never had their day in court because they were silenced by “loyal” parents.

      They have had to recount what they experienced in front of a group of men who have no training in child abuse recovery and are generally poorly educated. The child is cross examined by these men in Judicial Committees. If you know anything about pedophiles then you will know that a public reproof will not stop them. Your comment is both an insult to child abuse survivors and nod of approval for the continued abuse. No surprise at all.

      This is just one of numerous cases. Perhaps you would like to think about a child who was raped at 9 and whose elder grandfather is serving time. The congregation does not speak to her mother or the child. Or perhaps the boy that was told “jehovah has forgiven the elder that raped you from when you were 4 till you were 9, so should you.”

      Think about these facts and ask yourself why there are so many JW abusers………Could it be because of the kind of ignorance you have expressed? Such ignorance is why JW’s is called a pedophiles paradise.

      • More than 1/2 of all convicted sex offenders are sent back to prison within a year. Within 2 years, 77.9% are back.
      -California Department of Corrections.
      • Recidivism rates range from 18-45%. The more violent the crime the more likelihood of repeating.
      -Studies by the state of Washington.
      • 3 in 10 child victimizers reported that they had committed their crimes against multiple victims: they were more likely than those who victimized adults to have had multiple victims.
      -BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.
      • Like rape, child molestation is one of the most underreported crimes: only 1-10% are ever disclosed.
      -FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.

  2. The organization should have screamed and gave up the molester. In the bible it says, ” if a woman was being raped and she did not scream, she was to be put to death along with the one raping her”,that way she wouldn’t be part of his crime.The organization made themselves accomplices because they did not give him up to the athouritys whom god put in their relative positions. Jehovah’s witnesses teach their members if they see someone in the congregation committing a wrong act they are to report it to the elders immediately ( no double standards). They teach that if you see a murder or some other crime being committed and you did not say something to someone of athourity,you took part in that crime. They took part of that crime. And now they still refuse to turn over documents of other molesters. “To bad, to bad”,which is said concerning the great Harlot,of those making a profit off of her.

  3. In Forest Grove, Oregon a member of this religion was convicted in the early 1980’s of molesting his daughter. A schoolteacher had gone to the authorities after the abuse was reported to her. The girl had gone to the elders first but they could not act because she did not have two witnesses. I personally know of other cases similar to this one in which the elders hands were tied because of the two witness rule. I know of cases where the secular authorities have intervened and thus saved the child and in some cases removed the child from the home of the offender, I was raised as a Jehovah’s witness. I was even an elder and a pioneer for four years. They need to change their policy on child abuse and shunning. They will if they continue to be exposed.

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