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Jehovah's Witnesses to settle sex-abuse case

Victim filed lawsuit six (6) years ago

A lawsuit is now settled between a former victim of sexual abuse and Jehovah's Witnesses. According to the court's website, the case is under a "conditional settlement." The terms and conditions of the settlement are not public.

José Lopez filed the lawsuit back in 2012, nearly 20 years after church elder Gonzalo Campos molested him and several other young children who were members of the Linda Vista congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

As reported by the Reader, Campos, who fled to Mexico to escape criminal charges, admitted to committing the acts to Lopez’s and another victim's attorney, Devin Storey, while giving testimony in one of the cases.

“I touched him in his private parts,” Campos testified.

Attorney Storey: “Did you touch his penis?”

Campos: “Yes.”

Storey: “Did you penetrate him?”

Campos: “Yes. Yes.”

Storey: “How many times?”

Campos: “More than once. I don’t know.”

In 2009, five other alleged victims sued the Watchtower and Bible and Tract Society of New York, the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses, over the molestation by Campos and the Watchtower's refusal to act.

That case settled for an undisclosed amount in 2012, the same year that Lopez filed his lawsuit and a year before another victim, Osbaldo Padron, filed his.

Then, in 2015, a state court judge ruled that the Watchtower had failed to cooperate with discovery in the Lopez case. The judge awarded a $13.5 million judgment in favor of Lopez.

The Watchtower later appealed the decision and managed to get the decision rescinded and promised to produce the requested documents.

Meanwhile, a fight over documents was also occurring in Padron's case, the one filed shortly after Lopez’s lawsuit.

At issue was Watchtower’s refusal to turn over a letter from headquarters that asked for the names of alleged sexual abusers in the church.

But at the same time other documents had been released by the Linda Vista congregation, which showed the congregation and headquarters were aware that Campos had sexually assaulted young boys and a girl but still considered him eligible to return to the congregation.

“In our meeting with him he said he was very repentant for what he did,” wrote an elder at Linda Vista's congregation to Watchtower headquarters in New York in 1999.

“He stated that he wanted to return to Jehovah. He is willing to face the victims and ask their forgiveness. He now wants to obey Jehovah. Before, when he would speak to people on the platform he would not meditate on what he was doing. Although he needed to confess, he felt shameful and had fear of mankind. He would deceive himself thinking that he could continue serving as an elder. Now he realized that he could not change without help. Ever since his expulsion he has not abused anyone. He has read articles of the publications regarding his sin. He says he does not see or read pornographic information. He stated that ever since expulsion he has worked on having a relationship with Jehovah and the expulsion has served to strengthen him spiritually. He does not miss meetings, and he even takes notes of the program. He also said that he is willing to continue accepting Jehovah’s discipline.”

While the two sides continued to fight over discovery in the Lopez case, another judge issued sanctions against the Watchtower for refusing to turn over documents in the Padron case.

The Watchtower also appealed that decision as well.

As covered by the Reader, in November a state appellate court rejected the appeal, sending the case back to state court and keeping the $4000-per-day sanctions in place.

Meanwhile, as the Padron case was heading back to state court, attorneys for Lopez and Watchtower agreed to settle the Lopez case.

Lopez’s attorney, Irwin Zalkin, did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication of this article.

There is no word yet whether Padron's case has also been settled. A hearing is scheduled for next month.

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A lawsuit is now settled between a former victim of sexual abuse and Jehovah's Witnesses. According to the court's website, the case is under a "conditional settlement." The terms and conditions of the settlement are not public.

José Lopez filed the lawsuit back in 2012, nearly 20 years after church elder Gonzalo Campos molested him and several other young children who were members of the Linda Vista congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

As reported by the Reader, Campos, who fled to Mexico to escape criminal charges, admitted to committing the acts to Lopez’s and another victim's attorney, Devin Storey, while giving testimony in one of the cases.

“I touched him in his private parts,” Campos testified.

Attorney Storey: “Did you touch his penis?”

Campos: “Yes.”

Storey: “Did you penetrate him?”

Campos: “Yes. Yes.”

Storey: “How many times?”

Campos: “More than once. I don’t know.”

In 2009, five other alleged victims sued the Watchtower and Bible and Tract Society of New York, the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses, over the molestation by Campos and the Watchtower's refusal to act.

That case settled for an undisclosed amount in 2012, the same year that Lopez filed his lawsuit and a year before another victim, Osbaldo Padron, filed his.

Then, in 2015, a state court judge ruled that the Watchtower had failed to cooperate with discovery in the Lopez case. The judge awarded a $13.5 million judgment in favor of Lopez.

The Watchtower later appealed the decision and managed to get the decision rescinded and promised to produce the requested documents.

Meanwhile, a fight over documents was also occurring in Padron's case, the one filed shortly after Lopez’s lawsuit.

At issue was Watchtower’s refusal to turn over a letter from headquarters that asked for the names of alleged sexual abusers in the church.

But at the same time other documents had been released by the Linda Vista congregation, which showed the congregation and headquarters were aware that Campos had sexually assaulted young boys and a girl but still considered him eligible to return to the congregation.

“In our meeting with him he said he was very repentant for what he did,” wrote an elder at Linda Vista's congregation to Watchtower headquarters in New York in 1999.

“He stated that he wanted to return to Jehovah. He is willing to face the victims and ask their forgiveness. He now wants to obey Jehovah. Before, when he would speak to people on the platform he would not meditate on what he was doing. Although he needed to confess, he felt shameful and had fear of mankind. He would deceive himself thinking that he could continue serving as an elder. Now he realized that he could not change without help. Ever since his expulsion he has not abused anyone. He has read articles of the publications regarding his sin. He says he does not see or read pornographic information. He stated that ever since expulsion he has worked on having a relationship with Jehovah and the expulsion has served to strengthen him spiritually. He does not miss meetings, and he even takes notes of the program. He also said that he is willing to continue accepting Jehovah’s discipline.”

While the two sides continued to fight over discovery in the Lopez case, another judge issued sanctions against the Watchtower for refusing to turn over documents in the Padron case.

The Watchtower also appealed that decision as well.

As covered by the Reader, in November a state appellate court rejected the appeal, sending the case back to state court and keeping the $4000-per-day sanctions in place.

Meanwhile, as the Padron case was heading back to state court, attorneys for Lopez and Watchtower agreed to settle the Lopez case.

Lopez’s attorney, Irwin Zalkin, did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication of this article.

There is no word yet whether Padron's case has also been settled. A hearing is scheduled for next month.

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Comments
7

It's so disgusting that this sort of crime happens so often at many religious organizations. Their hypocrisy is a disgrace. And their cover-up always make it worse.

Jan. 12, 2018

seems to be the orig. basis for most religions ( the old farts getting young persons)

Jan. 13, 2018

Bring them young.

Jan. 14, 2018

Being heard is enough for many survivors. I am glad that Mr Lopez has received some money for what he experienced due to the fact that the elders exposed him to an abuser. They were following the rules laid down by the Governing Body and so all are accountable. The tricks the Watchtower has played in this case are documented and will haunt them. Instead of acknowledging the flaws in their policies and processes, they continue to deny there is a problem, calling the survivors liars and apostates. This is about calling out an organisation that thinks it is above decency and honesty, so that future abuse is reined in. The Watchtower have consistently refused to hand over documents and were fined $4000 a day for that refusal. Bad press and the daily fine is probably why they agreed to settle, not because they recognised the suffering. This organisation has never apologised to any of the numerous survivors of abuse. They accuse the Catholic Church constantly of hypocrisy, but they are the epitomy of hypocrisy.

Jan. 13, 2018

More proof that there is no limit to human stupidity. Religion only serves to control what you think, say, do and separate you from your money. One can have faith and can believe without man created religion.

Jan. 14, 2018

Wow that's a pretty big blanket statement. So if a person doesn't believe in god he can't think in a rational way?Is that what your saying? So Brother Butler let me ask you a question. The 144,000 who will reign in heaven with jesus, are they all dead now? I have to think they are because when I was a pioneer some 36 years ago the ones who were partaking of the wine and bread were old as dirt.But my nephew said some younger people started partaking and,well it sounds like there is a lot of confusion. And really do you think this is a fairly new problem, I mean all the perverts in the organization? And do you really believe that if you got rid of every filthy pig and locked them all up that there would not be a whole bunch more to take their place? Especially the higher up positions? Have you ever heard anyone say "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely, Great men are almost always bad men."?The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: These things have been going on since the beginning, and they will keep happening. The bigger the group the more likelihood of foul and abusive behavior. One reason I left the JWs was because I was abused for years, lots of people knew, no one cared.Another reason was that because of my employment at age 29 I had interaction regularly with a few worldly people. Do you know what I realized? There were worldly people who were BETTER people than those in my congregation.I could not come to any understanding why they would have to die. Those and other reasons caused me to "lose my religion". When I left the JWs my children were taken from me ,my parents and everyone shunned me.

Feb. 6, 2018

When I was grabbed off the street in broad daylight by a stranger -at gun point-held for days, viciously beaten, raped repeatedly and forced to have sex for money while locked in a car-a worldly man who had payed my captors to have sex with me listened to my hysterical story of what they had done to me. He helped me escape, he almost lost his life that day helping me. We never had sex he said he could not, it was wrong. I called my mother that day from his phone, my devout JW mother. Do you know what she said to me? She said " you know I can't talk to you your disfellowshipped" and hung up. I struggled for years it took me being determined to undo the brainwashing, realize I am a person and I was NOT bad, accept myself, rise above the insanity and take my life back. I am happy now, I am in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful, kind man we are not married (stupid piece of paper) we are committed to each other 100%. We are good people! I would have never been able to experience this had I stayed with the JWs.How can you worship a god that allows the horrendous things in this world to continue. A god who you believe will destroy all non believers at harmageddon. A god who would allow molesters and pedophiles to run rampant for years, what kind of god is that? I want nothing to do with a god like that. Do you know how long I waited for Jehovah to fix my teeth? Till they all fell out or got pulled and I suffered horrific pain. My parents would not allow us to attend college or choose what kind of work we wanted to do. I am 54 and taking classes I should have taken when I was 19. Cult is a mild word for what the JWs are. Brother open your eyes and look around you, look at the big picture. And if you have children run from the JWS for there sake please ! I hope you find your happiness and your life is good we ALL deserve at least that much.

Feb. 6, 2018

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