Yet Bowen says when he approached his fellow elders about the situation, they turned a blind eye toward the evidence and did little to help the victim. "I discovered how corrupt this organization was in terms of hurting children," Bowen says. In protest to the elders' response, Bowen, 43, resigned his position as an elder. He is part of a growing group of former and current Jehovah's Witnesses speaking out against a policy they claim is protecting child molesters in Jehovah's Witness circles nationwide.
A reluctance to report
Bowen says that to avoid embarrassment or shame, Witness leaders discourage followers from reporting any incident of sexual misconduct to authorities, even if the law requires it, citing the November 1995 issue of the organization's magazine, The Watchtower. The publication says that Witnesses must follow the biblical standard of finding two or three eye-witnesses to verify a claim before making an accusation of abuse (referencing 2 Cor. 13:1 and 1 Tim. 5:19).
Otherwise, it says, the matter should be dropped, and the accused should be treated as innocent. For those who recall repressed memories of sexual abuse, The Watchtower statement said, "The nature of these recalls is just too uncertain to base judicial decisions on them without other supporting evidence."
J. R. Brown, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.