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Leadership in the church and in families is based on a formal hierarchy headed by men.The church’s deep suspicion of outsiders, who are referred to, derogatorily, as “worldly,” is the reason sex abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses is rarely reported to authorities, according to Angus Stewart, a South African lawyer who leads the investigation into the church.
“There is no meaningful distinction between family and church.” In 1988, a 17-year-old girl in the state of Queensland was abused by her father, a prominent member of the local Jehovah’s Witness congregation, while her mother and six brothers and sisters were on vacation, according to testimony given to the commission.
But a spokesman said it has referred more than 700 matters to authorities and will make recommendations to the government in a final report in 2017.
Of the religious and nonreligious groups being investigated, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are exceptional, experts say.
In a converted office in downtown Sydney, the organization’s doctrines and practices are being parsed by lawyers, victims and journalists, providing rare insight into one of the Christian world’s most conservative churches.
The church, which was founded in Pennsylvania during the 1870s to promote a 1st-century interpretation of the Bible, has emerged as the least able or willing to deal with sexual abuse within its ranks, said Anne Cossins, an associate law professor at the University of New South Wales and an expert in sex crimes who is a consultant for the inquiry.
We are applying Scripture as we read it, in the best way we can, to sensitively integrate with modern society.” Those found guilty are often banned from the church for a number of years, or they are demoted in the church hierarchy. When she was forced to repeat the allegations in front of her father, he said, according to her: “You seduced me.” She later filed a police report, left the church and tried to commit suicide.
When the 17-year-old complained to church elders of being raped, two of her father’s friends carried out the investigation. Her father was expelled from the church, convicted of rape and sentenced to three years in jail.The accuser also has to justify his or her allegations to church elders, often in the presence of the alleged perpetrator.Church officials acknowledge the process can be difficult for victims but say they have no choice but to follow the Bible.“I find their approach to the issue and victims extraordinarily bizarre — almost medieval,” she said in an interview.Unlike the pedophile priests of the Catholic Church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have no paid clergy.Check out our top 10 list below and follow our links to read our full in-depth review of each online dating site, alongside which you'll find costs and features lists, user reviews and videos to help you make the right choice.