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SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUITS

JEHOVAH’S WITNESS SEX ABUSE LAWSUITS

Representing Sex Abuse Survivors Nationwide

Numerous reports of child sex abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness community have surfaced in recent years. Many victims and their families have come forward with allegations of abuse, and some have taken legal action against the organization, too. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sex abuse or child sex abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness church, it’s important to know that you are not alone.

Levy Konigsberg is a nationwide law firm that is devoted to fighting for the rights of sex abuse survivors. We have intentionally focused on complex cases against powerful defendants like the Jehovah’s Witness church, as well as many other religious institutions. Few other law firms can claim to have the experience and dedication that we do regarding the protection of the rights of sex abuse survivors.

Trust Levy Konigsberg with your Jehovah’s Witness sex abuse lawsuit. Call for a confidential case consultation.

Sex Abuse Lawsuits Form Against Jehovah’s Witnesses

If you or your child were sexually abused by a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, then you are in no way alone. For many years, sexual abuse allegations and lawsuits have been filed against Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, a nonprofit corporation that funds Jehovah’s Witnesses. Evidence of the church’s negligence and intentional coverups has been extensive. This evidence may be used to support your case too..

A brief look at some of the child sex abuse lawsuits and investigations against Jehovah’s Witnesses includes:

  • Springfield, Massachusetts Jehovah’s Witness Sex Abuse Case: September 1st, 2023, Jay Aaron Smith, who was classified as a Level 3 Sex Offender, was found guilty on multiple counts of Indecent Assault and Battery on a Child. The victim in this harrowing case was a 13-year-old girl, and the abuse occurred over several months from late 2020 through early 2021. Smith, who served as an elder in the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Springfield, faced four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. He was recently found guilty by a Hampden Superior Court jury and on Wednesday a judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison followed by 5 years’ probation.
  • Washington State child sexual abuse coverups: Lawsuits filed against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Spokane, Washington, allege that the church and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society took active steps to hide information about child sex abuse for decades. The lawsuits claim to show evidence of a secret, multi-decade database managed by the defendants, which outlines known sexual abusers and allegations within the church. Yet little if not nothing has been done to protect churchgoers and their children from the sexual abusers. Certain plaintiffs allege that they were sexually abused decades ago in the 1970s when they were children. Washington has proposed a law that would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases which could allow more people to demand justice and compensation. Some of the earliest Jehovah’s Witness sex abuse lawsuits date back at least 20 years, with new lawsuits being filed each year.
  • Pennsylvania Jehovah’s Witness child sex abuse: on October 27th, 2022 In Pennsylvania, four men who are Jehovah’s Witnesses were formally and criminally charged with the sexual abuse of 19 people, including young children and their own children. One of the defendants took his own life when the police attempted to take him into custody, but the case against him and the Jehovah’s Witness church continues. Attorney General Josh Shapiro is pressing the matter and has encouraged any additional victims of these four men to come forward. The latest lawsuit for these alleged acts of child sexual abuse was filed in late 2022.
  • 5 More Individuals Charged in Pennsylvania: In a significant development in the investigation of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pennsylvania. On July 7th, 2023, authorities charged five more individuals allegedly involved in these heinous acts against children as young as 4. This latest wave of charges adds to the growing number of accused individuals within the religious organization, shedding further light on the extent of the abuse crisis. The authorities’ determination to bring these alleged perpetrators to justice reflects the ongoing efforts to address the long-standing issue of sexual abuse and protect vulnerable members of the community. As survivors continue to bravely come forward, this latest development underscores the urgency of holding accountable those responsible for these horrific acts and signals a continued commitment to dismantling the culture of secrecy that has allowed such abuses to persist.
  • Watchtower Bible and Tract Society sex abuse lawsuits: In 1997, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society sent a letter to nearly 11,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations to discuss known and potential child sex abusers within the church. It detailed 12 questions that its members were to use when answering anyone else who might learn about the abuses. However, it also included clear instructions to never share the letter with anyone else. When the letters and the related child sex abuse database was eventually uncovered, it included 20-years’ worth of information about child sex abusers, accusations against them, and more. None of the information was ever willingly given to Jehovah’s Witness churchgoers, the public, or interested law enforcement agencies. Following the disclosure of such shocking information, the New York Child Victims Act was used to file lawsuits against the church in 2018. Court documents show that one plaintiff was awarded more than $780,000. Other lawsuits involving the Watchtower Bible child sex abuse database scandal have been filed in California, Washington, Connecticut, Vermont, Oregon, Delaware, Montana, and New Mexico. In one landmark case in California, the individual perpetrator of the child sex abuse was found 60% liable, with the remaining liability split 27% and 13% against the Watchtower Bible and the specific Congregation.
  • Lower Burrell, Pittsburgh Jehovah’s Witness Sex Abuse Case: April 2023, Ronald W. Mangone was charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault as well as three misdemeanor counts of indecent assault and additional misdemeanor counts of both endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors. He was involved in the New Kensington Jehovah’s Witness congregation as well as the West End French congregation. The victims in this case were, at the time of the assault, pre-teen to teenage girls who allege that Mangone sexually assaulted them and they reported it to the Jehovah’s Witness elders who did nothing in regards to the case.
  • Garfield, Pittsburgh Sex Abuse Case: April 2023, Roger E. Zellars was charged with multiple counts of rape, statutory rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault. Zellars was involved with the Sheraden Jehovah’s Witness congregation. The victim in this case was 9-10 years old at the time of the assault and the assault was not only witnessed but reported to the elders and admitted to by Zellars (according to their own internal documents). However, elders chose to ‘disfellowship’ him and there was no report to the police.

Hiring Legal Representation You Know Can Trust

Sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness community has garnered increased attention in recent years as survivors have bravely come forward to share their stories and seek justice. These cases often involve allegations of abuse by members of the Jehovah’s Witness organization, including elders and other leaders within local congregations. Survivors have reported instances of abuse ranging from molestation to rape, often occurring during religious gatherings, home visits, or other Jehovah’s Witness-related activities.

One significant challenge survivors face is the organization’s policy of handling such allegations internally, often without involving law enforcement authorities. Jehovah’s Witness elders are instructed to handle accusations of sexual abuse within the congregation, following guidelines outlined in the organization’s internal judicial process. This process typically involves investigating the allegations, but it can also result in victims being discouraged from reporting the abuse to secular authorities. This internal handling of abuse allegations has been criticized for prioritizing the reputation of the organization over the well-being of survivors.

As a result, many survivors have chosen to pursue legal action against the Jehovah’s Witness organization to seek accountability and compensation for the harm they’ve suffered. Lawsuits have been filed in various jurisdictions across the United States, alleging negligence, failure to protect children, and other claims against the organization. These lawsuits seek to hold the Jehovah’s Witness organization accountable for its handling of abuse allegations and to secure justice for survivors.

Demand Justice — Call Levy Konigsberg Today

At Levy Konigsberg, we are committed to fighting for justice on behalf of child sex abuse survivors and their families. If you or a loved one has been the victim of child sex abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness church, we can help you understand your legal options and guide you through the process of seeking justice in a way that is sensitive and respectful. We believe that every survivor deserves to have their story heard and that perpetrators and organizations responsible for these unforgiveable acts should be held accountable through legal recourse.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and take the first step towards healing and closure.

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