A government inquiry underway in Australia has revealed that more than 1,000 members of the Jehovah’s Witness Church there have been accused of child sexual abuse since 1950 — yet none of them have ever been reported to the police.
Church elders had a strict policy of keeping all complaints of sexual abuse under wraps and would instead investigate the claims themselves, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse heard in Sydney on Monday during the first day of hearings into the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, around 60 people have contacted the commission with knowledge of sexual abuses happening among Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the only way to finally end child abuse is to, as they put it, ’embrace God’s kingdom under Christ’ and to ‘love God with all your heart,” Angus Stewart, an attorney for the commission, said during the hearing.
One woman, identified only as BCG, told the commission about how her father, a senior official in the church, began molesting her at age 17 and her three sisters, who were four and six years old. Even though elders knew about the abuse, it took six years and three trials before he was convicted with the crime.