Over the past few years, multiple cases of child abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses have been exposed in the media. We have represented several clients who were abused by Elders and Ministerial Servants in their congregations.
Acting in the UK’s first successful civil case against the Jehovah’s Witnesses
We secured an award on behalf of a client who suffered sexual abuse as a child at the hands of Peter Stewart, a Ministerial Servant of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This was the first ever civil claim brought against the Jehovah’s Witnesses for child abuse.
The case received substantial press coverage from the BBC and many other outlets.
If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse at the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses and would like to speak to us about your experiences, please call us now on +44 (0)20 3048 5959 or fill in our contact form.
Establishing the legal responsibility of Ministerial Servants
A key challenge when pursuing abuse cases against insular religious communities is overcoming the deep conviction within those communities that complaints should be dealt with internally. Survivors frequently get silenced and shunned to protect the reputation of the abuser and the community.
One survivor of child sexual abuse from an intensely religious Jehovah’s Witnesses community came to us for representation. Legally, her case turned on whether the organisation had legal responsibility for the acts of her abuser, who was an unpaid “ministerial servant” (a kind of lay leader). The Jehovah’s Witnesses argued that, as they were not his employer, they had no legal responsibility for his misconduct. In A v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Trustees of) & Others  EWHC 1722 (QB), the High Court held that his misconduct was properly the responsibility of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an important victory for our client as well as a precedent for abuse suits against other religious organisations.
Working alongside AAWA to deliver the ‘two-witness rule’ campaign letter to 10 Downing Street
McAllister Olivarius campaigned alongside Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA) and a number of survivors of abuse to raise awareness of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A letter was handed to 10 Downing Street highlighting the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ reliance on the so-called two-witness rule – according to which any sin must be witnessed by two people to be proven within the congregation – and calling for Ministers to introduce mandatory reporting whenever an allegation of child sex abuse is made within the Jehovah’s Witnesses.