The Watchtower’s Legal Department has been fighting for quite a few years to keep their records private. Although they exhort Jehovah’s Witnesses to obey the superior authorities – as the apostle Paul called them – as long as their laws and edicts do not contravene God’s laws, the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses apparently consider the Watchtower to be superior to the superior authorities. Now though they are going to have to start paying for the privilege.
A San Diego Superior Court judge has ordered the Church of Jehovah’s Witnesses, also known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, to pay $4000 a day for every day that it fails to produce documents requested in a civil lawsuit brought by former parishioner, Osbaldo Padron, who claims a church elder sexually abused him when he was seven years old.
In a June 23 ruling, expected to be made final today, judge Richard Strauss admonished the church for willfully ignoring a court order to produce all documents associated with a 1997 Body of Elders letter that church leaders sent to parishes around the world in a quest to learn about sexual abuse of children by church leaders.
Over the course of the past year, the Watchtower Society and its lawyers have fought hard to keep the letter confidential, claiming that turning over the documents would infringe on the privacy of those mentioned in the letter that were not associated with the case.
In March 2015, the church turned over a heavily redacted version of the letter. Opposing attorneys called the redactions excessive, rendering the document illegible. Judge Strauss then assigned a discovery referee to sit with the two sides. But having a referee involved didn’t solve matters. Repeatedly, the Watchtower Society has stated that it will not comply with the order.
“By the time of the hearing on the motion for sanctions, it will have been over a year since the initial order and almost three months since the