Oregon Lawsuit News Coverage

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    silentlambs posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 03:53:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 730 of 732
    Joined 2/5/2001

    Suit Targets Jehovahs Witnesses

    Benton complaint about sex abuse and church policy is said to be the first of hundreds across the U.S.

    The setup is such that the elders are the voice of the Watchtower, and the Watchtower is the voice of Christ. Theyre taught that if you take it to the elders, you get the best forum already that you could ever be in. Kimberlee Norris, Forth Worth Attorney

    10-6-02

    BY JENNUFER ROUSE

    MID-VALLEY SUNDAY

    A man is suing the and North Corvallis Jehovah's Witness congregations and the reli­gion's 'national headquarters for $3 million. The lawsuit accuses church leaders of ignoring the sexual abuse he suffered as a Child.

    The suit is the first of hundreds of mass filings against Jehovah's Witnesses planned by the law firm that filed it. The complaint names the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York and numerous other defen­dants. It alleges that when Tyler C. Davidow, now in his early 20s, was 4 or 5, a fellow Jehovah's Witness member abused him. His mother, Cathy Davidow, contends that when she went to the elders of the church, they did nothing to stop the abuse.

    Tyler and Cathy Davidow both declined to be interviewed. In this report, Mid-Valley Sunday is not iden­tifying the defendant also named in the suit because he could not be located to respond to the allegations.

    Jim Rifle, an elder from the congregation said ho couldn't comment on the situation because he didn't know anything about it and hadn't been served with court papers yet. "We'll address the matter when we are Informed of it through the proper channels," Riffe said.

    Steve Cuda, an elder from the congregation, also had not heard of the complaint and could not comment. It usually takes some time before are served with notice of civil complaints. Officials at the national headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in , didn't know of the suit either.

    However, J.R. Brown, a national spokesman for the organization, said that while Jehovah's Witnesses deal strictly with child abuse within the congregation, it isn't the church's job to report abuse. "Nothing prevents them from call­ing the authorities," Brown said. "They don't have to call us first. These things operate separately. If the offender is part of the congregation, we will deal with it in a church setting.

    But if they are also reported to the authorities, we will not try to shield them.

    A copy of the complaint was sent to the newspaper by attorney James G. Nelson. According to the lawsuit, Cathy Davidow owned a store called Blackbeard's Market 145 N.W. ,Corvallis , in the 1980s. While she worked at the market, she often brought with her and let rim play in a storage area, Mother and child were members of the con­gregation in 1989, Cathy Davidow employed a woman who, was a member of the congregation. According to the lawsuit, this woman often brought her teenage son with her to work, and, according to he lawsuit, he often stayed with in the storage area while he women worked.

    In 1985, according to the com­plaint told his mother that the teenager had been sex­ually abusing him for a year, and she went to the elders of her church.

    Kimberlee Norris, the attorney handling the case, said that Jehovah's Witnesses encourage church members to take complaints to he church leaders.

    The control issue is so strong in Jehovah's Witness corn congregation," Norris said. The setup is such that the elders are the voice of the Watchtower (the name of the Jehovah's Witness headquarters), and the Watchtower is the voice of Christ. Theyre taught that if you take it to the elders, you get the best forum already that could ever be in.

    According to the suit, when Davidow went to the elders of the church, they told her they would research the problem and take care of it and that she shouldn't tell anyone else aboutit.

    Oregon law requires members of the clergy, like teachersand social workers, to report any allegation of child abuse to disfellowshipping the police. However, another law (ORS 40.260) provides an exception if it is part of a church's religious practice to keep confidential communication secret.

    ­

    Brown, the national spokesman, said that Jehovah's Witness elders do report sex abuse in states where there are mandatory reporting laws.

    ­

    If it is a state that requires clergy to report, we of course would view that as taking precedence over ecclesiastical privilege," he said.

    Time passed, and Davidow didn't see anything being done, either to help her son of to discipline the offender. She continued to ask the elders what they were doing about the issue, the lawsuit says. Eventually, she contacted the elders at the congregation, where the alleged abuser and his mother were members.

    The elders of (Corvallis congregation) instructed her to stop talking about it, we've got it handled," the lawsuit states.

    In 1993, Davidow says she reported the matter to the Corvallis police .

    "For her to come to that point, as a Jehovahs Witness, you have to come to the point where youre willing to be shunned," Norris said.

    Jehovahs Witnesses teach that church members who rebel against the teachings of the church should be disciplined, for their own good, so that, they might repent and return to fellowship.

    That often takes the form of disfellowshipping all members of the congregation, even other family members, breaking all ties with the offender. An article on the Jehovahs Witnesses Web site mentions that even saying hello to a disfellowshipped person might be wrong.

    When Cathy Davidow finally reported her sons abuse to the police, she was disfellowshipped. was not disfellowshipped but chose to leave the faith on his own.

    The basis of the suit against the Jehovahs Witnesses is that the elders were negligent in failing to deal with the reports of sexual abuse. And according to Norris, it wasnt a simple oversight on the parts of elders in . She believes that child abuse in the Jehovahs Witness church is widespread because of the churchs policies.

    Its not that they intend for children to be molested by the dozens, Norris said. Its that their crummy policy allows this to happen. Theyre had notice upon notice that it is, in fact, occurring. At some point, does it rise to the level of gross negligence?

    Thats why the suit doesnt just name the two local congregations, but the churchs headquarters and subsidiaries in and . And Davidows suit is not the only one.

    Norris and a team of other attorneys are filing suits alleging negligence against the Jehovahs Witnesses organization in all 50 states. Davidows is the first because of the impending statute of limitations a civil suit for child sexual abuse cant be filed in Oregon after the victims reaches the age of 24.

    Norris said the mass filings are akin to a class action lawsuit.

    Norris first began working on the issue last May, when a woman approached her with a story similar to Davidows.

    Her initial allegations were so outrageous as to cause me concern as to if they were even truth, she said. After I began to investigate her situation and did research on other like situations, it became clear that what she experienced, and what others experienced, are systemic in the Jehovahs Witnesses organization.

    Since then, Norris said shes heard almost the same story from 200-300 different people.

    There are two specific Jehovahs Witnesses policies that Norris contends foster sexual abuse. One policy, she says, tells church members to report problems involving other believers to church leaders instead of police. The other is that the church requires two eye witnesses to an incident before the accused person can be punished.

    Brown, the Witness spokesman, said that while the church does require two eye witnesses or other compelling evidence before meting out any church discipline, thats beside church procedures. He said the church does not forbid members from reporting crimes to the police.

    Were not trying to deal with the penalty of the law, he said. Thats a separate thing from our point of view. Yes, an abuser should pay the penalty, even if he has to sit in jail for 10 -15 years.

    Norris said that despite what church leaders say about encouraging church members to go to they police if they wish to, that rarely, if ever, happens among Jehovahs Witnesses.

    Norris said that while Tyler Davidow does hope to reclaim damages for the emotional pain his unacknowledged child abuse caused him, he and the other people she represents have a larger goal in mind.

    "This is really difficult for him, but he wants to see policy change," she said.

    We want to change Watchtower Society policy that, in my opinion, fosters and encourages child abuse.

    Edited by - silentlambs on 7 October 2002 0:1:3

    Nanoprobe posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 04:58:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 250 of 251
    Joined 5/18/2002
    Brown, the Witness spokesman, said that while the church does require two witnesses or other compelling evidence before meting out any church discipline, that's beside the point because that requirement deals only with internal church procedures. He said the church does not forbid members from reporting crimes to the police.

    Since when does Watchtower allow OTHER COMPELLING EVIDENCE? I think they are starting to back peddle

    Here's the link to the story

    http://www.midvalleysunday.com/display/inn_local/news02.txt

    Edited by - nanoprobe on 7 October 2002 1:3:32

    F abbagail posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 08:21:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 807 of 2189
    Joined 5/29/2002

    Congrats to the victim/survivor for coming out and taking their power back!

    And I'm glad Kim was able to describe the "working" policies of the WT as compared to the "whitewashed" policy eminating from the PR Dept., Bro. JR Clown (how come I never thought of that one before?)

    And, to write a thank you note to the Mid-Valley Sunday for the article you can write to this Editor since I did not see an addy for the reporter:

    Sunday Editor
    Mike Henneke
    mike.henneke@lee.net
    812-6099

    Grits

    M Trauma_Hound posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 09:39:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 398 of 1613
    Joined 6/19/2002

    Here's the link to the actual article.

    http://www.midvalleysunday.com/display/inn_local/news02.txt

    TTBoy posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 11:32:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 218 of 252
    Joined 9/3/2002

    Hold up a sec.......is J.R. Brown just quoted as saying, "they don't have to call us first"? ROFL he just hung himself. What a f'n lie! Elders are specificly told to call the WT legal dept. first according to BOE letters.

    Is J.R. Brown that stupid?? How can he make a claim like that when he knows he'll get hung in court for it?

    WOW their stupidity is almost greater than their lack of love.

    TT

    Pathofthorns posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 11:50:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 2162 of 2234
    Joined 6/4/2000

    I wish Vicki Boer's lawyer spent more time exploring what "free choice" means in JW land. Simply being "free to call the authorities" presents a misleading picture of the reality.

    I wonder how the WT explains why JW males don't wear beards, why most JW's "choose" not to vote, why they don't celebrate birthdays or why so few went on to get higher education etc when none of these things are supposedly "forbidden"?

    The whole culture of being a JW has to be transferred into the minds of judges and juries so they can get a clear picture of reality and how jw's have been conditioned and influenced to act a certain way.

    I thought Quote's illustration of the baby elephant that is chained to a post in the ground was good. When that elephant grows up and could easily rip out the post from the ground he simply doesn't because of the psychological conditioning he's had from a baby.

    "Free choice" often has consequences and reprocussions in the congregation if one chooses what goes against the conditioned conciences of the majority.

    JT's comments regarding "what way is the society LEANING" on a certain matter give insight into what drives elders and CO's to react a certain way to situations that arrise - even when things are not plainly spelled out in print.

    Perhaps having good arguments and lines of reasoning made available to lawyers will help them better anticipate and counter the reasoning of WT lawyers. Just as all JW's will compare a blood transfusion to being raped for emotional impact, perhaps we need to have a few well thought out lines of our own to help non-JW's truly understand JW culture.

    Path

    Nathan Natas posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 12:00:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 1894 of 9584
    Joined 4/25/2001

    http://news.statesmanjournal.com/article.cfm?i=49486
    Associated Press has picked up the story!GO KIMBERLEE! Lawsuit filed against Jehovahs Witnesses

    It claims the church ignored sexual abuse against a child.

    The Associated Press
    October 7, 2002

    CORVALLIS A Corvallis man has filed a $3 million suit against two local Jehovahs Witness congregations and its national headquarters, claiming leaders ignored the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.

    The complaint, filed in Benton County, alleges that when Tyler Davidow, now in his early 20s, was 4 or 5, a fellow Jehovahs Witness member abused him. His mother, Cathy Davidow, contends that when she went to the elders of the church, they did nothing to stop the abuse.

    Jim Riffe, an elder from the north Corvallis congregation, said he couldnt comment on the situation because he didnt know anything about it and hadnt been served with court papers yet.

    Well address the matter when we are informed of it through the proper channels, Riffe said.

    Steve Cuda, an elder from the north Albany congregation, also said he hadnt heard of the complaint.

    People at the national headquarters of Jehovahs Witnesses in Brooklyn, N.Y., didnt know of the suit either.

    However, spokesman J.R. Brown said that Jehovahs Witnesses deal strictly with child abuse within the congregation but that it isnt the churchs job to report abuse.

    Nothing prevents them from calling the authorities, Brown said. They dont have to call us first. These things operate separately. If the offender is part of the congregation, we will deal with it in a church setting. But if they are also reported to the authorities, we will not try to shield them.

    According to the lawsuit, Cathy Davidow owned a store in Corvallis in the 1980s. While she worked, she often let Tyler play in a storage area.

    Both were members of the north Albany congregation. In 1984, Cathy Davidow employed a woman who was a member of the north Corvallis congregation.

    According to the lawsuit, the woman often brought her teenage son with her to work, and he often stayed with Tyler in the storage area while the women worked.

    In 1985, according to the complaint, Tyler told his mother that the teenager had been sexually abusing him for a year, and she went to the elders of her church.

    Kimberlee Norris, the Fort Worth attorney handling the case, said Jehovahs Witnesses encourage church members to take complaints to the church leaders.

    The control issue is so strong in Jehovahs Witness congregations, Norris said. The setup is such that the elders are the voice of the Watchtower (the name of the Jehovahs Witness headquarters), and the Watchtower is the voice of Christ.

    Marion and Polk counties are home to about a dozen congregations of Jehovahs Witnesses. There are churches in Dallas, Stayton, Salem, Woodburn, Keizer and Independence.

    According to the suit, when Davidow went to the elders of the church, they told her they would research the problem and take care of it, and that she shouldnt tell anyone else about it.

    The suit claims no action was taken.

    Oregon law requires members of the clergy, like teachers and social workers, to report any allegation of child abuse to the police.

    However, another law provides an exception if it is part of a churchs religious practice to keep confidential communications secret.

    Brown, the national spokesman, said Jehovahs Witness elders do report sex abuse in states where there are mandatory reporting laws.

    If it is a state that requires clergy to report, we of course would view that as taking precedence over ecclesiastical privilege, he said.

    LoneWolf posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 15:52:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 344 of 511
    Joined 4/5/2001

    This suit was one of the stories on radio news this morning at 7:30 in Eugene, Oregon. It had been used as a teaser to advertise the news show for hours beforehand.

    Path --- I wholeheartedly agree with you. Concise definitions of Watchtower phrasology and matching arguments are desperately needed.

    LoneWolf

    F VeniceIT posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 17:34:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 1909 of 2065
    Joined 1/18/2001

    I'm so excited that this is coming out in Corvallis area. My family is in Corvallis and the surrounding areas, and I know both brothers quoted there, this is going to really hit the fan, and the gossip ohhhh baby....

    ven

    M RunningMan posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 17:44:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 864 of 3313
    Joined 2/28/2001

    "Nothing prevents them from calling the authorities"

    "They dont have to call us first."

    "These things operate separately."

    It looks to me like the Society is positioning themselves to hang the local elders out to dry.

    jwsons posted Mon, 07 Oct 2002 18:17:00 GMT(10/7/2002)

    Post 155 of 601
    Joined 6/8/2001

    I think this court case only to encourage others to involve. For I imagine the court will happen as follow:

    The defendant-lawyer asks "the 4,5 years old boy" (then) "Can you tell me one occasion which he abused you." The "boy" bla bla bla...Then the lawyer asks him ""Do you remember the color of your pant that time?" Answer, off course "No" (If it is "es," then "who is the witness confirms about that color?"). The defendant asks again f you can not remember the color of your pant that time, how can you remember exactly what happen, then ?"

    IMHO

    jwsons

    UnDisfellowshipped posted Wed, 09 Oct 2002 10:23:00 GMT(10/9/2002)

    Post 499 of 2769
    Joined 8/11/2002

    Wow!

    It is absolutely amazing when you look at everything J.R. Brown has said (maybe he is actually on our side -- nah, he's just an idiot!).

    Here is a Thread that shows ALL of J.R. Brown's Quotes about their Pedophile Policy (starting at the beginning of 2001, all the way up to the Oregon Article on this Thread): http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/forum/thread.aspx?id=36289&site=3

    M asilentone posted Mon, 13 Jul 2009 09:01:00 GMT(7/13/2009)

    Post 2447 of 5726
    Joined 3/25/2008

    worth a read! bttt

    M avishai posted Mon, 13 Jul 2009 09:02:00 GMT(7/13/2009)

    Post 7509 of 7557
    Joined 7/25/2002

    JR clown is an idiot.

    iknowall558 posted Mon, 26 Oct 2009 09:36:00 GMT(10/26/2009)

    Post 468 of 875
    Joined 3/26/2009

    bttt

    carla posted Mon, 26 Oct 2009 12:20:00 GMT(10/26/2009)

    Post 5304 of 7086
    Joined 4/23/2005

    bttt

    AdaMakawee posted Mon, 26 Oct 2009 13:03:00 GMT(10/26/2009)

    Post 150 of 370
    Joined 8/29/2009

    Sam I'm relieved that this is finally happening, I know nothing will ever take away the pain from what happened to your brother, but this will help along the way. I pray that this suit is successful as well as the others involved. I hope your family and your brother finds peace.

    Ada (Sherry)

    TheOldHippie posted Mon, 26 Oct 2009 13:04:00 GMT(10/26/2009)

    Post 1704 of 2300
    Joined 1/31/2001

    I don't quite understand a few of the sentences, is this as the newspaper wrote it?

    "Oregon law requires members of the clergy, like teachersand social workers, to report any allegation of child abuse to disfellowshipping the police. "

    Is the police disfellowshipped? Are whole congregations being disfellowshipped? And this is happening right now, in Oregon?

    M avishai posted Sun, 22 Jul 2012 23:10:00 GMT(7/22/2012)

    Post 8170 of 7557
    Joined 7/25/2002

    Steve Cuda has died. He continued harassing my family during and after this suit, was also one of the integral elders in covering up the Leanne Morley case. Can't say I'm too sad about this.

    Scott77 posted Sun, 22 Jul 2012 23:26:00 GMT(7/22/2012)

    Post 1945 of 3429
    Joined 4/3/2009

    What happened to this lawsuit? What was the outcome? Did the society settle out of court? I do not know if the death of Elder Steve Cuda will change the picture since he might or not might have been the principal witness during the time that abuse happened. Anyway, I have no idea.

    Scott77

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