Jehovah's Witnesses Specialists
Over the past few years multiple cases of child abuse by Jehovah's Witnesses have been exposed in the media. We currently represent several clients who were abused by Elders and Ministerial Servants in their congregations.
AO Advocates acts in the UK's first successful civil case against the Jehovah's Witnesses
We have recently secured an award for our client for sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of Peter Stewart, a Ministerial Servant of the Jehovah's Witnesses. This success marks the first time that a civil claim has been brought against the organisation for child abuse. We hope that it will serve to encourage more survivors of child sexual abuse to come forward.
AO Advocates and AAWA deliver 'two-witness rule' campaign letter to 10 Downing Street
AO Advocates recently campaigned alongside AAWA (Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses) and a number of survivors of abuse to raise awareness of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses . A letter was handed in to 10 Downing Street highlighting the Jehovah's Witnesses' reliance on the two-witness rule (explained below). The letter calls for Ministers to introduce mandatory reporting whenever an allegation of child sex abuse is made within the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Kathleen Hallisey, Senior Associate, said the Royal Commission investigation into institutional child sexual abuse in Australia revealed thousands of victims - and said she expected there to be hundreds of ‘silent’ victims in the UK due to the two-witness rule. Kathleen acknowledges that it’s very difficult for the government to intervene in private religious matters, but that mandatory reporting could be introduced, meaning as soon as an accusation of abuse is made within the Jehovah’s Witnesses it would also be immediately reported to the police.
Press coverage of the campaign can be viewed here.
Kathleen Hallisey, Senior Associate, discusses the Jehovah's Witnesses' use of the 'two-witness rule'
The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Bible is a literal translation of God's word. In Matthew 18: 15, 16 Jesus said:
“Moreover, if your brother commits a sin, go lay bare his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, in order that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established.”
The two-witness rule means that for any sin to be proven within the Jehovah's Witnesses' congregation, it must be witnessed by two people. However, their strict adherence to this rule means that in our client Amelia’s case her allegations of sexual abuse could not be corroborated by two witnesses, which in turn meant that her allegations of abuse were not taken any further when she reported them to the Elders of the congregation. The Jehovah's Witness two-witness rule protects the abuser and not the child, allowing allegations of sexual abuse to remain hidden. Our client Amelia filed a civil case against the Jehovah’s Witnesses and won; she has been awarded £275,000 in damages. For our client this award represents the acknowledgement and apology she has been seeking for the sexual abuse she suffered between the ages of 4 and 9.
 Not her real name.
ITV Wales: historic child abuse among Jehovah's Witnesses in Wales
Kathleen Hallisey, our Senior Associate, appeared on ITV Wales' programme 'Wales This Week' discussing historic child abuse among the Jehovah's Witnesses in Wales. Ms Hallisey and an AO Advocates client spoke about the abuse and the process of bringing a claim against an institution. You can view the full report here.
Jehovah's Witnesses sex abuse scandal: Church accused of cover-up to protect rapists and paedophiles
The Sunday Times reports on allegations of child sex abuse in the Jehovah's Witnesses community of Barry, South Wales. Kathleen Hallisey, our Senior Associate, comments on the organisation's lack of judgement and the secrecy it imposes on allegations of child sex abuse .