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Jehovah’s Witnesses Sexual Abuse Lawyers

The American Religious Identification Survey conducted in 2008 found that about 1.9 million adults self-identified as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Along with other religions like the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses have established policies regarding the handling of child sexual abuse in their congregations. Like all religions, Jehovah’s Witnesses strongly denounce sexual abuse. The religion’s governing body, the Watch Tower Society, claimed in a 2009 study that there were no more documented cases within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization than among society in general. The Watch Tower Society said in a 2007 statement “ the incidence of this crime among Jehovah’s Witnesses is rare.”

Within the Jehovah’s Witnesses church, sexual abuse allegations are often covered up or decried, and due to a “two witness” rule, many accusations are dismissed. The church very rarely turns over members of their congregation to law enforcement. If you or your loved one was molested within the Jehovah’s Witnesses church, contact our Jehova’s Witnesses sexual abuse lawyers. The following is a summary of some sexual abuse cases involving Jehovah’s Witnesses:

New York: Daniel Castellanos Case

In December 2014, plaintiffs Velicia Alston, 40, and “John Roe,” 38, filed a lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleging they were abused in the late 1980’s by Daniel Castellanos, a “ministerial servant” in the North Hillsboro congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York. Alston and Roe were “unemancipated minors” when they attended Kingdom Hall services and participated in other activities at the parish. Plaintiffs claimed in their lawsuit that they were conditioned and groomed to trust and obey Castellanos. Alston claims Castellanos fondled and molested her, causing “severe and debilitating physical, mental, and emotional injury.” Roe alleged fondled his genitals above and beneath his clothing. The lawsuit claimed that Castellanos sexually abused other minor children during the same time period and the defendants failed to report him to the police or warn other parents. The lawsuit is currently pending.

San Diego: Gonzalo Campos Case 

Eight children have accused Gonzalo Campos of sexually abusing them between 1982 and 1995, according to a San Diego Union Tribune report. One of those children was Jose lopez, now 35-years-old. When Lopez was about 7 years old in 1986, Gonzalo Campos was introduced to Jose Lopez as a fatherly figure who could teach him about the Bible. According to Lopez’s lawsuit, Campos spent months grooming him, touching him on the leg, hugging him, and building trust, before taking him to his home in La Jolla and assaulting him. Lopez told his mother, who immediately confronted church leaders. They told her not to report it to law enforcement and said they would take care of the situation.

According to evidence at trial, the church investigated the allegations and monitored Campos for a period of nine months and found him to be repentant. They did not expel him from the church and he continued to rise throughout the church, becoming an elder in 1993. He was kicked out of the church when another victim surfaced in 1995, but was reinstated in 2000. In a deposition, he confessed to sexually abusing at least eight children between 1982 and 1995. Campos is believed to have fled to Mexico around 2010 when the case was reported to San Diego Police. Because the judge ruled that the Watchtower repeatedly ignored her court orders to produce documents in the case and also failed to produce a long serving member of the organization for a deposition. San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Lewis called the Watchtower’s inaction and cover-up “reprehensible and reckless,” and awarded a default judgment of $10.5 million in punitive damages and $3 million in compensatory damages.

Fremont: Jonathan Kendrick Case

Johnathan Kendrick, a member of the north Fremont congregation elders, repeatedly molested Candac Conti from 1995 to 1996, when she was 9 and 10 years old. Conti later filed a lawsuit, claiming that the Watchtower Society formed a policy in 1989 that instructed the religion’s elders to keep child sex abuse accusations a secret, and that her congregation followed that policy in 1994 when Kendrick was convicted of misdemeanor child molestation. Kendrick was convicted in 2004 of molesting another girl in Contra Costa County. In June 2012, a jury in Alameda County awarded $21 million in punitive damages and $7 million in compensatory damages to Candace Conti.

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