Judge sentences 2 JW elders to court supervision and community service for failing to report a child who was being sexually assaulted

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses | Photo via Wikimedia Commons / Hassocks5489

These elders only got court supervision, a $250 fine, and 10 hours of community service. I sincerely hope the community service is something worthwhile, and not “letter writing” or “cart witnessing”. They should be serving jail time!

Hernandez-Pedraza threatened to kill the victim, her mother and her brother if she told anyone about the assaults, prosecutors said.

The girl told her mother about the assaults when she was 6 years old.

The church that she went to with her mother, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Crystal Lake, was informed of the allegations as well but they also did not report it to police, prosecutors said.

The girl reported the abuse again in 2018 to the church and Penkava finally reported it to Crystal Lake police, who opened an investigation.

Hernandez-Pedraza was sentenced to 50 years in prison and required to register for life as a sex offender upon his release.

Penkava and Scott were both Jehovah’s Witnesses elders and mandated reporters.

The two were found guilty on March 18 of one count of violating reporting provisions, a Class A misdemeanor.

McHenry County Judge Mark Gerhardt sentenced Penkava and Scott each to one year of supervision, 10 hours of public service and ordered them to pay over $1,000 in court fines and fees.

Penkava said during the sentencing hearing that he did not believe he had to report the abuse to authorities after receiving advice in 2006 from Jehovah’s Witnesses world headquarters in New York.

“I had earnest trust and faith in God and the judicial committee,” Penkava said, the Herald reported. “I never acted in bad faith. I truly believed I was following the law of Illinois. I am so sorry for any suffering in this utterly sad situation. I never became a conspirator to cover up abuse of a child.”

Judge sentences 2 Jehovah’s Witnesses elders to court supervision, community service for failing to report sexual assault, Lake and McHenry County Scanner

The sentence was predictable. Both men were elderly and not worth the potential PR problem of poor health in prison. The real target is the attorney at Patterson who provided the bad legal advice. I suspect that the state will want his head on a platter. It will be a miracle if he doesn’t get dis-barred.

That would send a serious message to Watchtower that the game is up. As for elders who are still gullible enough to think that the Branch offers sound legal advice, they should be planning on how to defy bad direction without getting deleted. A criminal record is a tough thing for someone young who may still need to keep a job, apply for jobs, get mortgages etc. That’s right elders who still serve – you could be next…

Speaking in general terms, based on my 20+ years in law enforcement, I am not surprised that these elders got probation. Just about every criminal defendant in the U.S. gets probation for a misdemeanor crime, which I believe is what these elders were charged with. It is very rare to get a jail term. Jails are run by the county and funded by the county. The courts are constantly working with elected Sheriff’s to keep jail populations down. Prisons are run by and funded by the state. First-time convicted felons whose crime is a non-violent felony and whom have no prior criminal history are almost guaranteed to get probation as well in lieu of prison time.The big win or silver lining on this case is that the elders involved were arrested, charged, tried, and convicted in the one country in the world that boasts having the most religious freedom. This case should put all elders in the U.S. on notice – report child molesters to the police immediately or arrest prosecution yourself! If it happened once it will happen again. This is not a unicorn case.

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