AO Advocates and AAWA deliver 'two-witness rule' campaign letter to 10 Downing Street

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.

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AO Advocates brings the UK's first successful civil claim against the Jehovah's Witnesses

AO Advocates has secured an award of £275,000 for our client in compensation for the 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.

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Kathleen Hallisey interviewed by the Sunday Times about child sexual abuse within schools

The Sunday Times has interviewed our Senior Associate, Kathleen Hallisey, about two of our clients who are seeking an apology and compensation for sexual abuse they suffered as children. The two clients are launching a civil action against Winterfold House, a Catholic school near Kidderminster, for the abuse they suffered as boys while pupils at the school in the 1980s. Their abuser was jailed for 13 years in 2014 for sexually assaulting nine boys all aged between 10-16 years.

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AO Advocates case featured in The Sunday Times

An AO Advocates client was featured in the Sunday Times yesterday talking about the abuse she suffered at the hands of an official of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and her journey to gain compensation and justice. Abigail (not her real name) was abused by Peter Stewart, a ministerial servant, between the ages of four and nine.

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On attending a survivor's meeting at the Houses of Parliament

On Wednesday, I was present at the Houses of Parliament to witness over 300 survivors of child sexual abuse gather at a public meeting organised by John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, and the WhiteFlowers Campaign Group.

The group came together to raise concerns about the handling of the independent inquiry announced seven months ago by Home Secretary Theresa May. Since the inquiry was announced, two chairs have been forced to resign after complaints from survivors that their connections to the establishment might prevent them from carrying out their investigations fully and fairly.

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AO Advocates case featured in The Observer

A client of AO Advocates was recently featured in The Observer, in an article about the historical child sex abuse claims against the Verona Fathers that took place at Mirfield Junior Seminary in Yorkshire. In recent months, 11 former pupils have settled out of court with the Verona Fathers, also known as the Comboni Missionaries. The article highlighted the fact that our client, Mark Murray, received a settlement of £30,000. 

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Jehovah's Witnesses accused of child sexual abuse cover-up

The Sunday Times has reported on allegations of child sex abuse in the Jehovah's Witnesses community of Barry, South Wales. Kathleen Hallisey, our Senior Associate, is interviewed discussing the organisation’s lack of judgement and the secrecy imposed when allegations of child sexual abuse were raised.  AO Advocates is representing two victims of Mark Sewell, an Elder who was jailed for 14 years in July 2015 for raping a fellow worshipper and abusing two schoolgirls more than 20 years ago.  He also molested an employee.   

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On Child abuse in boarding schools

Yesterday my colleague and friend Georgina Calvert-Lee was quoted in the Sunday Times discussing some of the horrendous sexual abuse that occurs in British boarding schools.   

After the Jimmy Saville revelations, it’s become clear to many people that horrific child abuse can exist even in plain sight.  The closed and authoritarian nature of some boarding schools and churches – the kinds of institutions we bring legal actions against on behalf of abuse survivors – can create safe havens for abusers, who seek out such places precisely because they give access to vulnerable children. 

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