$13.5 Million Award Vacated - What Does it Mean?
The article below describes the vacating of a $13.5 million judgement against the Jehovah’s Witnesses and would appear to be a huge victory for JWorg. In understanding the case it is more of a bad news and fantastic news scenario for victims of abuse.
As described in the article, JWorg was initially required to pay $13.5 million in donated, WWW money, to an abuse survivor, after JWorg was found in contempt of court.
There are two reasons they were found in contempt:
1. Gerrit Losch a senior Governing Body member, refused to appear for a deposition that was court ordered. (“Watchtower also had to pay more than $37,000 in sanctions, mostly to cover the travel costs for the deposition that never happened.”) WWW donated funds.
2. JWorg refused to produce all abuse records from 1979 to the present including the ‘pedophile database’.
For their refusal to comply with mandated court orders they were found in contempt and retired to pay $13.5 million for breaking the law.
The appeal court decided that Gerrit Loash was not directly tied legally to Watchtower New York in which the lawsuit was directed, so he was dismissed as part of the litigation. This would appear to be bad news, but it allows Loash to be deposed as a citizen and opens him up along with all Governing Body members, to court ordered depositions as (citizens) religious leaders of their religion. This will not bode well for them in future litigation and may even provide a basis for prison terms if they continue to refuse to comply with the “superior authorities”.
The second issue revolved around the order to provide documents. Instead of saying there was no valid basis to require JWorg to provide thousands of documents and materials from 1979 to present that has any incidence of abuse, the court REQUIRED JWorg not only to comply, but to do so in a timely fashion with a suggested sanction of thousands of dollars in donated, WWW money, for each day they go over the limit and refuse to comply. Then, if they continue to refuse to obey the “superior authorities”, they would face yet another termination sanction for violation of court orders and possibly see the $13.5 million reinstated or an even greater amount, in addition to the daily sanctions already applied.
Do you think there is any possible way that JWorg, who are meticulous record keepers, will provide the ‘pedophile database’ in addition to all records from 1979 to present of their child abusers to the legal system? For anyone that understands the Governing Body and the cover up of crimes against children they have administrated, it is something that will NEVER happen.
Zalkin Law has accomplished a precedent that will cost JWorg millions and millions of dollars in future litigation for any JW victim of abuse. JWorg is now over a legal barrel in which GB members can be deposed as regular citizens and if a survivor files a case, JWorg will be required to provide the ‘database’ and all records on child abuse from 1979 until present or be found in contempt, when they fail to comply. JWorg could then face termination judgements, made against them for failure to comply, and the victims will never even have to go to court and testify before a jury regarding their abuse.
While this will no doubt directly impact cases in California on behalf of JW victims, it will substantially impact all other states as a precedent to be cited, that will not bode well for JWorg.
This ruling is a huge victory for the sixteen year legal battle that has been fought for victims. Each person that came forward helped to push the stone of justice a little bit further up the hill. Now we are at the top and ready to topple that stone directly into the heart of JWorg. When Jehovah’s Witnesses tout the article below as a victory from Jehovah, we, who know the facts, likewise see it as a victory from Jehovah. For if there is a victory from Jehovah, He is moving the courts to assist victims to sue JWorg out of existence and expose the “Pedophile Database” along with the crimes against children sanctioned by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I have assisted in every case that has had success against JWorg. The corrupt lawyers that work as elders along with the millions of dollars of donated WWW funds spent for “hired” law firms to try and make sure an innocent child ravaged by abuse will never see a dime, helps to explain that true evil exists. Well, the lambs have roared and those that hurt kids are facing death by one thousand cuts as we slowly cut away the lies and misinformation to get to the truth.
What is the truth?
JWorg is a pedophile paradise that knowingly covers up the destruction of children lives while lying to their members and telling them the victims are evil and all is well. That truth has caused thousands to leave who are of good ethics and conscience, and in the future could possibly lead to major implications for the entire organization.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Jeff Anderson, Cindy Walt, David Clohessy, Erica Garza, Pat Garza, Rick Simmons, Irwin Zalkin, Devon Story, Holly Brewer, Sarah Poisson, Heather Poisson, Corey Pandelo, Victoria Boer, Laurie Fitzwater, Sherrie Galvez, Carl and Barb Pandelo, Jeannie Krause, Evelina Pyjko, Sheila Bodmer, and the many, many people that stood up went to media, reported their molesters, went to court when they were terrified, stood with victims, those who made their faces and voices known to make a difference and help makes lives better for children they will never meet.
$13.5M award vacated in Jehovah’s Witness abuse case
Ruling gives church chance to turn over disputed documents
By Kristina Davis | 4:52 p.m. April 14, 2016 | Updated, 4:53 p.m.
SAN DIEGO — An appeals court throw out a $13.5 million judgment against the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witness church Thursday in a lawsuit that accuses the organization of covering up years of sexual abuse by a local church leader.
The ruling by the state Fourth District Court of Appeal hits the reset button on the case, potentially leading to another trial but with one major caveat — that documents concerning past sexual abuse cases in the church should be turned over.
The church’s hierarchical body, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, has remained defiant in refusing a court order to produce such documentation, and the ruling gives the organization another chance to comply. If the organization doesn’t acquiesce, the case could potentially end the same way it did the first time, with a multi-million dollar judgment against it.
The lawsuit was filed in 2012 in San Diego Superior Court by Jose Lopez, who claimed he was molested at the age of 7 by a leader in the church’s Linda Vista congregation in 1986.
His lawsuit says church elders recommended the leader, Gonzalo Campos, to Lopez’s mom as someone who would be a good mentor to teach the boy Bible lessons.
But the elders knew Campos had molested a boy as early as 1982, according to evidence revealed in the case, and did nothing about it, continuing to put children at risk, the lawsuit claims.
Lopez said Campos spent months grooming him and then assaulted him at Campos’ La Jolla home one day. The boy told his mother, who reported it immediately to the church leadership. The elders told her they’d handle the situation and discouraged her from calling law enforcement, the lawsuit says.
She and her son left the church.
Evidence presented in the trial showed the church monitored Campos for nine months, and in the following years he rose through the ranks in the church, continuing to teach children.
He moved to a Spanish-language Kingdom Hall in La Jolla at one point but was kicked out in 1995 after another victim reported being abused. He was reinstated in the church in 2000.
In a previous statement to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Watchtower denied that Campos was in a leadership position in the church when he was teaching Lopez and that “Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse and strive to protect children from such acts.”
Campos later confessed to abusing at least eight children between 1982 and 1995. He fled to Mexico around 2010 after San Diego police were notified and is believed to still be there, said Lopez’s lawyer, Irwin Zalkin.
Six other men and one woman who sued Watchtower claiming they were victims of Campos’ settled their cases out of court.
The road to trial in Lopez’s case was long.
In putting together his case, Zalkin asked for any reports of Campos’ abuse, as well as abuse by other church leaders dating back to 1979 and records of how the church dealt with those incidents. Watchtower fought back, claiming the documents would be “impossible” to retrieve, would violate rights, and that the request was over-burdensome, with the church’s 1.2 million members in more than 13,000 congregations nationwide.
After much consideration, Superior Court Judge Joan Lewis ordered the documents produced. They weren’t.
Lopez’s lawyers also traveled to New York to depose Gerrit Losch, a longstanding member of the governing body, on the court’s orders, but he didn’t show up.
The judge, citing the refusal to comply with releasing the documents and Losch’s no-show, decided to issue the ultimate sanction against Watchtower: terminate its right to be heard in the case going forward.
Lopez’s lawyers put on a six-day trial in front of the judge, without Watchtower’s lawyers there to offer a defense. In the end, Judge Lewis handed down a default judgment of $10.5 million in punitive damages and $3 million in compensatory damages against Watchtower.
Watchtower also had to pay more than $37,000 in sanctions, mostly to cover the travel costs for the deposition that never happened.
The appeals court gave a mixed-bag opinion Thursday.
The three-judge panel rejected Watchtower’s claims that the prior abuse documents shouldn’t have to be turned over.
However, the appeals court disagreed with the judge’s order for Losch’s deposition, saying Lopez’s lawyers did not prove that he was key to the case as a leader in the governing body.
The court also took issue with how quickly Lewis terminated Watchtower from the court proceedings, saying she should have first tried less-punitive sanctions to see if the church would comply with her orders.
The case will now go back to Lewis to give Watchtower another chance to turn over the requested abuse documents. If, after further warnings and lower-grade sanctions, the church still doesn’t comply, the case could end again the same way.
Attorneys for Watchtower did not return requests for an interview Thursday.
Lopez’s lawyer, Zalkin, said Thursday that the court’s opinion could have a big impact on his case and other similar lawsuits against Watchtower being fought in California and around the country.
“From our perspective, this has always been about getting the documents,” he said. He added that Watchtower has produced some prior abuse documents in other lawsuits, but they have been heavily redacted and of little use.
“They don’t want the world to know what they’ve known about child sex abuse within their organization for decades and they’ve been trying desperately to keep that covered up,” Zalkin said.
Last April, an appeals court overturned an $8.6 million punitive award against Watchtower in a similar 2012 lawsuit filed in Alameda County by a woman who was molested by a church member. The court ruled that the church had no obligation to warn the congregation that the member had admitted to previously molesting his stepdaughter. The court did uphold $2.8 million in compensatory damages in the case.