In Sydney, Australia, beginning in the spring of 2013, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began to hold public hearings. Starting from July 27, 2015, for eight days the Commission (ARC) examined the church of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) response to allegations, reports or complaints of child sexual abuse, and their procedures in place to prevent child sexual abuse.
In an article published on March 25, 2018, The Guardian, a British and UK based news agency, published a scathing report by Sarah Marsh about the treatment of child abuse victims by Jehovah’s Witness communities and leaders throughout the UK.
The evidence is clear (thanks to the extensive work and research of the Australian Royal Commission) that Jehovah’s Witnesses have not only failed to protect the children in their midst – but have also shrugged their responsibilities and resisted any efforts to make needed changes in their policies.
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 Washington Post, along with other major newspapers, reported on November 28, 2016, that during the past sixty years in Australia not one of hundreds of alleged child abusers identified as Jehovah’s Witnesses were reported to police or civil authorities.
Brad Ryan at ABC News (Australia) reports that the Royal Commission on Child Abuse has created a huge backlog cases for the police to investigate. The lead to Ryan’s article published Sunday, September 12, 2016, stated, “Police ‘under pressure’ after 1,659 cases flagged for investigation…”
Ryan reports that “…the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse has referred more than 1,500 matters to authorities, straining the resources of police forces around the country…Justice Peter McClellan, who chairs the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, told a hearing in Sydney that 1,659 matters had been passed on to police to consider for further investigation.”
The article continues to describe the amount of work facing Australian law enforcement:
“…Prosecutions have been brought against 71 people.
“Because of the volume of references, the resources of the various police forces have been placed under significant pressure,” Justice McClellan said. “I understand a great many references are awaiting investigation, or the investigations are underway but not complete.”
Justice McClellan said the commission had received information about more than 4,000 institutions, but it was impossible to hold public hearings into all of them.
“We have carefully selected the institutions we have publicly investigated with a view to providing the Government, the institutions and the public with an understanding of the nature of the problems which we have identified,” he said.
“The case studies have been selected to ensure an appropriate geographical spread and also an appropriate reflection of the type of institution where survivors were abused.”
Commissioners have also met abuse survivors in 5,866 private sessions, with another 1,616 people yet to be seen.
The commission is today beginning a public hearing into how Catholic authorities dealt with allegations of abuse by former priest John Farrell.
It will examine the responses of the Catholic dioceses of Armidale and Parramatta, and a Sydney special issues group.
Justice McClellan said it was expected to be the royal commission’s final hearing specifically relating to Catholic institutions.