The Jehovah’s Witnesses have finally dropped their efforts to block an investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse, but AO Advocates Senior Associate Thomas Beale explains to the Guardian why the Charity Commission’s decision to revoke an order compelling the production of documents by the religious organisation means we’re unlikely to see any real disclosure.
Senior Associate Thomas Beale is featured in a report by Guardian journalist Alice Ross as she investigates the increasing pressure faced by Jehovah’s Witnesses to address its handling of sex abuse allegations.
Telegraph social affairs editor John Bingham speaks to Thomas Beale and one of his AOA clients as he reports for the newspaper on how senior figures within the St John Ambulance organisation sought to distance themselves from allegations of abuse of young volunteers in the 90s.
Our Senior Associate, Kathleen Hallisey, who successfully sued the Jehovah's Witnesses, was interviewed for Reveal News about the UK Charity Commission's investigation into the child protection policies of the Jehovah's Witnesses, which have mishandled sexual abuse allegations against the organisation. With ten separate lawsuits pending against the Witnesses, Hallisey also represents victims of Mark Sewell, a leader in the Jehovah's Witnesses who was convicted of eight sex offences in 2014. In Trey Bundy's article, Hallisey expresses strong support for the Commission and its potential to bring systemic changes: 'I am hopeful that [the investigators'] dedication and diligence in pursuing this investigation will lead to real change in the Watchtower's child protection policies.'Read More
The Home Office has responded to our recent ‘two-witness rule’ campaign calling for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to introduce mandatory reporting of complaints of child sexual abuse, which included delivering a letter to 10 Downing Street on 2nd October 2015. The government’s reply states that it has “made a clear commitment to consult fully on possible new requirements relating to reporting and acting on child abuse. The commitment was made during the passage of the Serious Crime Bill in Parliament, and to report back to Parliament on the outcomes within 18 months of Royal Assent of the Serious Crime Act (i.e. by September 2016).”Read More
AO Advocates recently campaigned alongside AAWA and a number of survivors of abuse to raise awareness of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses organisation. They handed in a letter to 10 Downing Street highlighting the Jehovah's Witnesses' reliance on the so-called ‘two-witness rule’, which means the leaders of the group will only act on allegations of child sex abuse when there are at least two witnesses – which by definition excludes almost all acts of abuse. The letter calls for Ministers to introduce mandatory reporting to the police whenever an allegation of child sex abuse is made within the Jehovah's Witnesses.Read More