The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has been vocal, this week, about a court decision involving Jehovah’s Witnesses “bureaucrats.”
SNAP says they are using “legal technicalities” to try to deny child sex abuse victims their day in court. They have “squandered any moral authority they may have had by ducking and dodging in court like desperate criminals determined to use any and every legal maneuver possible to save their own reputations and careers.”
This is in response to U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha’s decision to dismiss certain legal theories raised against the Bellows Falls, Vermont, congregation and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. It was alleged, that they ignored reports that children were sexually abused by a congregation member more than 20 years ago.
The alleged abuse survivors involved are Annessa Lewis, 27, who was four years old and Miranda Lewis, 23, who was five when the molestations began. The abuse of the two children allegedly spanned more than a year.
The original lawsuit claims, the alleged molester Norton True, a Ministerial Servant, abused at least three other children prior to the abuse of the Lewis sisters. The elders in the Bellows Falls congregation “chose not to warn … congregation members of the danger defendant True posed to children.”
SNAP says of the decision, “We hope that ultimately they (The Watchtower Society) will fail and that Miranda and Annessa Lewis will be able to expose the callousness and recklessness of Jehovah’s Witness officials in a trial.”
Lawyers representing the women have not made a statement, but Irwin Zalkin said at the time of the initial filing, “Jehovah’s Witnesses have a policy that is grounded in a code of silence when it comes to the protection of children. They are more concerned about scandal and the avoidance of scandal than they are the protection of the children that are entrusted to their care.”
It also looks like Norton True’s defence counsel is looking for legal loopholes, so his client will not have to face at least one of his accusers.
True is represented by attorney Tom Costello, of Costello, Valente and Gentry in Brattleboro.
Costello said he is now waiting for a plaintiff’s date of birth. He said people have six years following their 18th birthday to file charges against someone for something that happened to them when they were children. Costello indicated that when he receives the date of birth, he plans to file a motion to dismiss the case.
SNAP – Press Statement Link
Brattleboro Reformer- Judge partially grants and partially denies JW motion to dismiss Link
Burlington Free Press – Jehovah’s Witness official molested girls Link
JWR – Vermont Two women continue child molestation motions Link
Zalkin Law Firm – Link
Image credit – WPTZ.com