COMMENTARY: This story could be repeated many times. Child is abused by elder or ministerial servant. The Watchtower denies any responsibility for it and treats the victim as an offender.

This case though, after appealing a judgment to pay a relatively small compensation of 275,000 pounds, the appeal judge socked them triple to cover the victim’s considerable legal expenses that resulted as a consequence of the Watchtower dragging the affair out to punish the victim – which is one of their favorite tactics. Apparently, the Lord Justice Floyd has a better sense of what is “fair and reasonable” than does the Governing Body of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There is a scriptural passage that comes to mind: “Be quick to settle matters with your legal opponent, while you are with him on the way there, so that somehow the opponent may not turn you over to the judge, and the judge to the court attendant, and you get thrown into prison. I say to you for a fact, you will certainly not come out of there until you have paid over your last small coin.” – Pity that the Legal Department considers themselves above counsel of the Christ. 

The Jehovah’s Witnesses face a million-pound legal bill after a young girl was sexually abused by one of its members.

The victim, now aged in her 20s, was molested by an elder, or “ministerial servant”, Peter Stewart, over a five-year period in Loughborough in the 1980s and ’90s, London’s High Court heard.

Last year, a judge ordered the organisation to pay £275,000 compensation to the victim or failing to protect her or to warn other parents about Stewart.

The church appealed the decision.

But this week an Appeal Court judge rejected the appeal and said the church should pay Stewart’s victim £275,000 compensation and the massive legal costs of the case, which have been estimated at around £1 million.

Stewart, who carried out bible study sessions and door-to-door evangelical rounds, molested the girl, who can not be named for legal reasons, on a weekly basis.

The trauma she suffered derailed her education and career, and led to harrowing nightmares and recurring thoughts of suicide.

Matters came to a head when she “passed out on her bed next to a pile of paracetamol” while on holiday with her husband, “having left him a suicide note”.

The woman told her mother what he had done to her in 2000 when she learned he was about to be released from prison.

She reported the abuse to police but Stewart died in 2001, aged 72, before he could be brought to justice.

However, Stewart had been convicted in 1995 of sexually abusing a schoolgirl and a young boy who was also part of the Jehovah’s Witness congregation.

The church denied that it could be held responsible for the behaviour of “ministerial servant”, Peter Stewart.

It said he was not an employee, acted as “little more than a tidier-upper” after church gatherings and had no responsibility at all for child welfare, its lawyers argued.

Rejecting the appeal, however, Lord Justice Floyd said it was not just a case of opportunistic sex abuse.

Stewart’s relationship with the church was “akin to employment” and his role as a ministerial servant put him in a position of trust.

His official status gave him “ostensible authority to have unaccompanied access to children”.

And, had it not been for that, the girl’s mother would never have accepted him into her home.

Church elders had also failed to take reasonable steps to protect children in the congregation in 1990, after suspicions were raised that Stewart had abused another girl.

Lord Justice Floyd said it was “fair just and reasonable” to order the church’s governing body to pay compensation.

Source Leicester Mercury

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