CA- Jehovah’s Witness HQ hit with $10 million penalty
For immediate release: Friday, Oct. 31 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
The national headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses must pay $13.5 million to a victim in a clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuit. We hope this wake-up call will prod church officials to take kids’ safety more seriously.
For decades, Jehovah’s Witness officials have acted as or more secretively and callously in child sex cases as Catholic bishops. And like Catholic bishops, Jehovah’s Witness officials make promises, policies and procedures about abuse but little or no progress in preventing abuse. They continue to focus on protecting themselves and their reputations instead of protecting innocent kids and vulnerable adults.
And the denomination’s bureaucrats will change only as more victims summon the strength to step forward and take legal action – both criminal and civil – against both molesters and their “enablers.”
We applaud the judge who made this ruling. Even more, we applaud Jose Lopez, one of eight children who say Gonzalo Campos sexually abused them. Lopez is a hero. It takes real bravery for any child sex abuse victim to speak up. It takes more courage to seek justice, file suit, and disclose one’s name. By doing this, and by persevering, Lopez has exposed Jehovah’s Witnesses who commit and conceal heinous crimes against kids. He is to be commended for his courage and his compassion.
Should anyone consider $13.5 million to be excessive in a child sex case, we ask one simple question: “How much would someone have to pay you in order to sexually assault your child?” No amount of money can restore a stolen childhood and the shattered trust and psyche and faith that results when an alleged “man of God” sexually violates a child.
Because Campos has fled to Mexico, we beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes – or crimes by any Jehovah’s Witness – to break their silence, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.
Campos was part of the Linda Vista Spanish Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Playa Pacifica Spanish Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pacific Beach, California.
Lopez is represented by San Diego attorney Irwin Zalkin.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)