Candace Conti appeal by WBTS – Report by Scott Terry

Scott Terry, author

Scott Terry, author of Cowboys, Armageddon and the Truth, was invited to the Candace Conti appeal hearing in San Francisco, California on January 14, 2015.  He posted this report on Facebook and has given permission for it to be posted here.


Today I attended the Jane Doe v. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc. (WBTS) at the trial court in San Francisco (the Candace Conti case). It was my first time being in a court of law.

For those unfamiliar with the specifics, this case involves an ex-Jehovah’s Witness, Candace Conti, who sued the Jehovah’s Witnesses over years of abuse and molestation in her Fremont, California Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. {In 2012] she won the case and a jury awarded her $28,000,000, split between the abuser, the WBTS, and the Fremont congregation. The WBTS appealed.

I am not clear whether or not the WTBS was appealing the actual verdict, or were just appealing their portion of the punitive damages. From my perspective, after listening to the arguments in court today, it appeared that they were appealing a jury’s decision that the WBTS carried any responsibility for the abuse.

Candace’s case was one of many to be heard by the court today. Her case was fourth in line and lasted approximately 30 minutes. Three justices presided over the hearing.

Supreme Court of California, San Francisco [original uploader: "Coolcaesar" - en.wikipedia ]

Supreme Court of California,
San Francisco [original uploader: “Coolcaesar” – en.wikipedia ]

John Williams, Counsel for the WBTS, spoke first. He really only had two points to make, which is that it could not be proven that any elders in the Fremont congregation had specifically assigned children to go out in public field service (door to door preaching, for those unfamiliar with the term) with a known child molester. His second point was that even though Conti had been put in danger by pairing her with someone who the congregation’s elders knew to be a predator, the WBTS should not be held liable for events that happened within a congregation.

Brother McCabe, of the Fremont Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, spoke next. He essentially reiterated the points that Williams had already made. Both tried to convince the court that in regards to field service assignments, the pairing of adults with children who are unaccompanied by parents might simply be random, or a luck of the draw occasion. McCabe commented that all Jehovah’s Witnesses are committed to proselytizing, and spreading their religious message is not always done with the oversight of elders. He even quoted a couple of Bible scriptures, although I don’t know what purpose that served. He suggested that groups of Witnesses often fulfill their field service requirements at random times, perhaps after social gatherings, without the knowledge or facilitation by congregation elders. Like Counsel Williams, McCabe concluded that it could not be proven that any congregation leaders had any part in facilitating the ability of the predator to obtain access to a child, and thus the congregation and WBTS should not be held liable.

In response, one judge read a piece of court testimony from a witness that the WBTS had previously called to their defense. That testimony, from a fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses, contradicted McCabe and William’s statements. Field service assignments are often determined by elders, the evidence showed.

One judge specifically asked McCabe if the WBTS had any obligation to protect children. That question was never answered.

Conti’s legal counsel, Rick Simons, spoke next. He was relatively brief, but effective, in his rebuttal to the WBTS.

Some Personal Observations:

Firstly, Candace was amazing. She is poised and articulate. She is calm, yet vulnerable. She is believable. She is one of few who would be able to handle this, I think. I would imagine that the weight of her years in litigation, not to mention her abuse as a child, is enormous. She carries it well.

Secondly, Brother McCabe from the Fremont congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses was not someone I found believable. In my opinion, the court did not find him believable. They questioned him very specifically on certain statements, and even voiced frustration at his inability or refusal to answer their very pointed questions. It really amazes me that the WBTS allows him to be a spokesperson in this case. I did not perceive him to be well-spoken, honorable, or believable. It almost makes me wonder if the WBTS might have specifically allowed him to be the primary point person in this event, simply to throw the Fremont congregation under the bus.

Thirdly, it was an absolute honor to be invited to the hearing. It was amazing to watch, and I am greatly thankful to have been there.

The expectation is that the court will respond to the case within two or three weeks.


JWReport.com wants to thank Scott Terry for this comprehensive report and allowing us to publish it and share it with our readers.

Some questions that every Jehovah’s Witness should be asking –

  • Where will the money come from to pay for this award?
  • How much of the money that was given for the world wide work will pay for child molestation awards, due to the poor policies of the WBTS and the Governing Body’s silence?

Here is a YouTube video of Rick Simons, Candace Conti’s Lawyer speaking about the initial decision in 2012. Candace Conti also speaks bravely at the end of the video.

More Information

The Register of Actions can be found here 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

Scott Terry, Author – Cowboys, Armageddon and the Truth Link

Rick Simons – Lawyer – profile in Plaintiff Magazine (PDF) Link

Kathleen Conti – Where is the apology? Link

JWSurvey.org – Child Abuse Link

Zalkin Law Firm Link

SNAP Network – Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Link

Susannah

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.

Comments

Candace Conti appeal by WBTS – Report by Scott Terry — 3 Comments

  1. I still have association with a few wittnesses although not attending for some 2yrs now and they find it hard to comprehend.
    Surely the time will come when the GB will have to adhere to Caesars law and abide by what each country requires in respect of child abuse policy.
    I cannot see how it conflicts with what Jehovah requires.
    Surely it is in everyone’s interest that such depraved individuals are removed and dealt with appropriately?
    Afterall, their destiny at Armageddon is hardly favourable so surely Jehovah would like to see these abusers weened out before then and so perhaps he will direct the GB through “revealed light” to change their viewpoint?
    Let’s face it, changing viewpoints is not uncommon for the WTBTS!!
    I seem to recall scriptures like “be in subjection to the superior authorities” and “pay back Caesars things to Caesar” …..
    In the court case mc cabe cited ” do not reveal the confidential matter of another” As a reason for keeping hush……well many years ago there was an expression “mistaken kindness” that was used to show how wrong it would be to keep quiet on serious matters…..
    Surely in this very nasty area of child abuse it certainly is a mistaken kindness by the leadership not to adhere to what the law requires by exposing offenders…
    Like many things in life eventually the financial consequences will force them to adopt the law of the land….no more wasted precious money donated by the majority who remain in the dark…better use of time out on the service rather than in the court room and money we’ll spent on those in lands where ones could benefit.
    Get a life get a grip and get it changed GB!

  2. There is no way for congregation leaders to know if someone who has previously lived a debauched life has returned to his former behavior if no one comes forward, just as a parent cannot know if his child is living a double life sneaking out of the house at night or do drugs at a friends house. If individuals are caught “practicing” behavior condemed in the Bible they are removed from the whole Association of Jehovahs Witnesses until such time as they petition to return and prove they have repented and turned around their lives in accordance with the scriptures just as David was returned to God’s favor after adultary and murder. Unfortunately only God can read minds and hearts, people can only go by what they see. This young child did not come forward and why her parents allowed to in the company of a older man is questionably parenting at the very least.

  3. Hi Linda, Thanks for popping by and defending child molestation. This is usually the JW response. No compassion and no understanding of this case and the numerous other cases where the elders under instructions of the WT allowed child molesters access to children. The recent Conti judgement said.

    “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.”

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