Kristin Zambo, a reporter for the Rockford, Illinois Register Star, reported in late January 2019 that a county jail inmate filed a federal lawsuit to have the right to receive Watchtower literature and religious materials available to him on tablet computers. He filed the complaint in U.S. District Court naming just about everyone associated with the Winnebago County Jail as defendants.
The article reports that Eric Massenburg, 46 – a resident of Rockford – filed his complaint because “jail officials are denying him the right to receive religious materials published by the Watchtower Society delivered by tablet computers. He complained that other inmates are allowed access to religious retreats and computers. His argument states that he “could listen to broadcasts [of religious conventions]” and “wouldn’t need to leave the jail or stay in a different pod to do so.”
Massenburg has been jailed since February 2016. According to court records, he is charged with “eight counts of predatory criminal assault of a child.” His complaint states that he has been denied access even though he has appealed to jail administrators, chaplains, and a former librarian. They’ve told him that “outside books or periodicals” are not allowed to be distributed to inmates. The rule is published in the jail’s inmate handbook.
The article states that Massenburg indicated his use of the jail’s computers would be to “simply listen in to conventions held locally three times a year – two days at a time.”
The article does not indicate what Massenburg’s status is within the Jehovah’s Witness religion or his relationship with members or elders of the local Kingdom Halls might be. The article does not indicate whether he is a baptized Witness or his level of involvement with the Witnesses.