Videos of 2017 Australian RoyalCommission Hearings
All sessions were held on March 10, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. These hearings were to act as follow up to the August 2015 hearings that reviewed several typical child abuse cases involving Jehovah’s Witness congregations. More information on those hearings will be available soon. Please check back.
Here are the transcripts of the three sessions held on March 10:
The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom has issued a “final ruling” telling the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society of Great Britain that it cannot stop the Charity Commission from investigating the charity. This ruling could end the Watchtower’s last gasp efforts to derail the Charity Commission’s inquiries.
Survivors of child sex abuse are campaigning for the UK government to introduce mandatory reporting laws to help tackle abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses communities. This follows on the heels of the Australian Royal Commission Investigation regarding the handling of child abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses and their policies. The Royal Commission considered similar demands for improved reporting by all religious organizations – including the Watchtower.
Several of the Jehovah’s Witness elders appearing and offering testimony during those hearings indicated that if the government required “mandatory reporting” of child abuse and other criminal acts, that would not only allow – but force them to fully report crimes and let the civil authorities get involved. Even Watchtower Governing Body member, Geoffrey Jackson suggested that “mandatory reporting” would make elders’ jobs simpler and that the organizations would welcome more government involvement.
In an article dated September 23, 2015, Trey Bundy reports what happened when one of the Watchtower Society’s Governing Body members testified during two weeks of hearings before a Royal Commission in Australia.
Geoffrey Jackson, one of seven current Governing Body members, and several other high-ranking members of the organization in Australia testified for hours after swearing to tell the truth. In his article, Bundy asks, “Were any of them really telling the truth?”
Those of us who have been Jehovah’s Witnesses who are intimately familiar with the Watchtower organization know that everything elders, branch representatives – even members of the Governing Body – speak or write, even under oath, is questionable. We’ve learned that they are willing to hide, distort, ignore, and deny the “truth.” Even those who know that they are not being truthful to news reporters, investigators, and even the police will do or say whatever is necessary “to protect Jehovah’s earthly organization.” They learn how to do this as part of Watchtower strategy known as “Theocratic Warfare.” The recent Commission hearings in Australia provided us with a grand and endless display of their official use of that “theocratic strategy.”
We will be presenting more information on this story and the Australian Commission Hearings over the next few weeks. We are in the process of editing an entire section dedicated to the Commission hearings that included videos of all the sessions, links to transcripts of all the public sessions, more news articles, and all official exhibits released to the public.
An Australian Royal Commission held formal public hearings to examine evidence about child sexual abuse within religious and charitable organizations in that country. There were over thirty of these ongoing investigations involving a large number of religions and charities. Each public hearing examined a number of individual case studies involving different public and private organizations. Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the religious organizations being investigated.
The Commission wanted to know specifically how Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society responded to allegations of child abuse involving members of their congregations.
The Royal Commission’s public hearings involving Jehovah’s Witnesses were scheduled and heard in Sydney starting Monday, July 27 and continued through August 14, 2015. The intent of the hearings was to investigate the actual practices and policiesof Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd. in situations of reported and suspected child abuse or endangerment.
Follow-up hearings were scheduled for Spring 2017 to review the Watchtower of Australia’s policy changes and plans for corrective action.
On March 10, 2017, the Commission held follow-up hearings to hear the Watchtower representatives’ descriptions of any corrective actions taken by the Australian Branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses over the past 18 months. More than 5 hours of sessions, the Commission was not satisfied and clearly disappointed with the testimony and voiced their displeasure with the efforts and official responses offered by Watchtower Branch representatives.
NOTE: Archives of transcripts and videos of ARC live sessions are available for 2015 and 2017 hearings.
CLICK HERE for 2015 ARC HEARINGS /// CLICK HERE for 2017 HEARINGS.
The scope and purpose of the hearings were to inquire into:
The experience of survivors of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Australia.
The response of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to allegations, reports or complaints of child sexual abuse within the Church.
The systems, policies and procedures in place within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd for raising and responding to allegations of or concerns about child sexual abuse within the Church.
The systems, policies and procedures in place within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to prevent child sexual abuse within the Church.
During and after the hearings the Commission provided witness lists, transcripts, exhibits, images and associated submissions for each case study and makes them publicly available on the Commission’s website.
After the hearing, the Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission will provide witnesses, and other people who were granted Leave to Appear at the hearing, a written submission detailing what was discovered during the case study.
The submission will outline key findings based on the hearing’s evidence and the recommendations likely to come from them. The recipients of the submission may then provide their own written submissions in reply. The Commissioners then consider this information when they form their final recommendations during the course of the Royal Commission.
In the articles below you will find videos of the live streams of the public hearings, transcripts of those hearings, and complete sets of the exhibits used by the Commission that were provided by those involved in the case. Many of these exhibits have never been publicly available before.
“Your Honour and Commissioner, this is the 29th public hearing of the Royal Commission. This case study concerns the response of the church of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and its corporation, the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Australia, to reports of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness Church in Australia.
“This case study will explore the experiences of two survivors of child sexual abuse and the Jehovah’s Witness Church’s response to their complaints of sexual abuse whilst they were members of the Jehovah’s Witness Church. The case study will also involve an examination of the systems, policies and procedures in place within the Jehovah’s Witness Church and Watchtower Australia for responding to allegations of child sexual abuse, and the mechanisms in place to prevent child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness Church.”
Official Transcripts of the Hearing, Day 1, July 27, 2015