Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Whole Boering Truth--Boer Vs Watchtower

In Canada, Vicki Boer brought a civil lawsuit against the elders of her former congregation and the WTBTS asking for $700,000 dollars concerning her child abuse at the hands of her father who was one of Jehovah's Witnesses claiming they were negligent, breached their duty, advised her against contacting the authorities, and against seeking professional help. What did the court find?

Presiding Judge Anne Molloy ruled that the WTS and elders were not at fault and did not contribute to or promote in any way the child abuse that took place. The court said, "There is no foundation on the facts to support an award for punitive damages. Most of the allegations against the defendants have not been established on the facts. The defendants who interacted with the plaintiff did not bear ill will toward her. They accepted the veracity of her account, were sympathetic to her situation and meant her no harm. The claim for punitive damages is dismissed."

As respects her findings as to whether the elders advised Boer not to tell the authorities and not to seek professional help the judge stated very clearly her findings: "The defendants did not instruct the plaintiff not to get medical help. She chose not to seek professional help herself against the advice of the elders and Mr. Mott-Trille. The defendants did not instruct the plaintiff that her father’s abuse should not be reported. On the contrary, the defendants directed Mr. Palmer (the abuser) to report himself to the C.A.S. and then followed up directly to ensure he had done so."

Furthermore Judge Molloy clearly ruled that Vicki Boer's 'memory' of what occurred did not coincide with the facts when she later stated in her ruling: "I have already ruled that I do not accept Ms. Boer's evidence that the elders told her not to seek medical assistance and not to report the abuse to the authorities. These were important points about which she was certain in her own mind. Her memory on those was inaccurate."

Judge Molloy also examined similar cases from the United States and candidly stated in her ruling: "I conclude that had Ms. Boer’s action been brought in the United States, it would likely be subject to summary dismissal based on these cases."

However, even though Judge Molloy also stated in her ruling concerning the elders that "They were sympathetic to the plaintiff. She understood they believed her story..... It was reasonable, and indeed appropriate in the circumstances for them to ensure that the plaintiff's voice was heard and that they not rely solely on Mr. Palmer's version of the events..." she still awarded Boer $5,000 for the trauma caused her in confronting her father at an investigative meeting with the elders stating, "There was, however, psychological harm to the plaintiff as a result of the December 29, 1989 meeting. She was in a very vulnerable state at the time as she had just begun to deal with the effects of her father’s abuse. I accept the evidence of the various experts, including Dr. Awad, that this confrontation made things worse for the plaintiff."

But the flip side of the ruling is that the same court ordered Vicki Boer to pay the WTS $142,000 dollars in legal fees. Thus netting the WTS a sum total of $137,000 dollars as a result of the civil suit brought against them. It seems the Canadian courts do not take lightly cases based on "frivolous charges" and forcing someone to defend themselves "against false or unprovable charges."

How much do you suppose that the Boer's spiritual counselor, Bill Bowen and his Silent Lambs organization, was willing to contribute to help the Boer's pay their own legal fees of over $90,000 that were incurred as well as the $137,000 that they were ordered to pay to the WTS? Apparently whatever they contributed, if anything, was not nearly enough because Vicki's husband, Scott Boer commented, "We've pretty much exhausted our finances pursuing the case this far, and now we're to the point where we simply couldn't afford an appeal. We going to simply have to accept the judgment and if we have to declare bankruptcy for a victory, then we have to declare bankruptcy."

It seems that Silent Lambs by encouraging such lawsuits are contributing to further financial victimizing of the already abused victims. We have to wonder if it is concern for the abused victims that motivates Bowen's organization or their obvious agenda to discredit the WTS that motivates and consumes them.

The self proclaimed E-watchman, Robert King, in his attempt at painting the WTS as a greedy, money-loving corporation,commented: "They do not have to impose the court's ruling upon her. Apparently, though, the Watchtower has every intention of collecting, down to the last penny of the court ordered judgment."

However, it should be noted that in contrast to Robert King's premature judgment, showing no ill will or lust for revenge the WTS agreed to generously call it even and did not insist that Vicki Boer pay the $137,000 awarded to them by the court. It seems that in the end the WTS actually helped out the Boer's financially more than the Silent Lambs organization.

Why Awarded 5000 Dollars?

In view of the judge's ruling given above just why exactly would the judge award Boer the initial $5000.00 dollars. Here were her reasons given:

"I will deal first with the first meeting on December 29, 1989. (This was the confrontational meeting). The plaintiffs position is that she only attended this meeting because she was advised by Sheldon Longworth that she was required to do so as part of the application of Matthew 18. Although Mr. Longworth is not named as a defendant, the plaintiff argues that the defendants Watch Tower and/or John Didur (Bethel elder) are responsible for the conduct of Mr. Longworth. I have found as a fact that Mr. Longworth told the plaintiff she was required to apply Matthew 18 in this situation. I have also found that Mr. Longworth’s advice in this regard would appear to be contrary to the official position of the church which is that Matthew 18 has no appplication to this type of sin.

John Didur (Bethel elder) is a personal defendant. He testified at trial that Matthew 18: 15-18 has no application to this type of situatuion and that he would never have told this to Sheldon Longworth. Mr. Longworth’s notes of one of his conversations with Mr. Didur indicate that Mr. Didur told him that Matthew 18 applied. It is also apparent from his notes that Mr. Longworth spoke to other advisers at head office and that at least one other elder told him Matthew 18 applied. Mr. Longworth’s specific memory of which elders provided which advice is not reliable, as he candidly acknowledged in his testimony. It is possible Mr. Didur gave such advice without fully appreciating the background circumstances. It is also possible Mr. Longworth was confused about the advice he received from Mr. Didur or that he inaccurately recorded the discussion as having been with Mr. Didur when it was in fact with someone else. I found Mr. Didur to be a convincing witness. I am not able to say on a balance of probabilities that he was the one who told Mr. Longworth to apply Matthew 18: 15-18. Therefore he is not personally liable in damages to the plaintiff in respect of the December 29, 1989 meeting.

( 1 ) The Defendant Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Canada

[181] Sheldon Longworth is not named as a personal defendant. However, Ms Boer contacted Mr . Longworth in his capacity as an elder of the church. Mr. Longworth consulted throughout with more senior advisers at the Jehovah’s Witness head office and passed on their advice to the plaintiff. He acted at all times as an agent of the defendant Watch Tower. The defendant Watch Tower did not seek to distance itself from the conduct of Longworth and the other elders who provided advice to Ms. Boer in Toronto or to disclaim any responsibility for their actions. Although the statement of claim could be clearer on this point, I believe that on a fair reading of the pleading and subsesquently delivered particulars, there is an allegation that Watch Tower is responsible for the harm suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the direction given to her to apply Matthew 18:15-18. Accordingly I find the defendant Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada liable to the plaintiff for the harm she sustained as a result of attending the Decemer 29, 1989 meeting."

In short, if Sheldon Longworth had followed the correct WT policy, Vicki Boer would not have even received that $5000 dollars. It was his failure to follow the WT policy that caused the judge to rule the way she did. And even though it was not proven that anyone at the WTS gave Brother Longworth that bad advice she still determined that the WTS should pay $5000 dollars in that regard because the WTS did not distance themselves from Sheldon Longworth and his advice to Vicki Boer. So the $5000 dollars was awarded because of the emotional suffering caused to Vicki Boer in confronting her father at the advise of brother Longworth.

Now ask yourself: Does this sound like some evil scheme or evil policy by the WTS or just a mistake by an imperfect human being trying his best to honestly and sincerely perform his duties as an elder in the best interest of others?

The Judge's View of Boer's Treatment

In awarding Vicki Boer the initial $5000.00 dollars did the judge in the case feel that the elders had been harsh and unloving to Boer that they did not have Vicki Boer's best interest at heart? Please take note of these comments from the judge in her ruling:

"However Mr. Longworth (an elder) was sympathetic to the plaintiff and did not act out of any self interest.

...there is no evidence that the people at head office (WT) advising Mr Longworth with anything but the best of intentions.

They (the elders) were sympathetic to her during the meeting.

They believed they were doing the right thing and they did not simply ignore the plaintiffs (Boer's) intersts. For example, in the second meeting, although they did review the allegations of abuse with the plaintifff, they did not require her to go through that exercise with her father present. Likewise the head office personnal advising the local elders did nothing that could be characterized as disloyalty or bad faith.

There is no evidence that they shunned the plaintiff nor that they instructed others to do so. Therefore even if the perception of others within the congregation was as Ms. Boer describes (which also is not proven), there is no basis for placing any blame for that at the feet of these defendants.

I do find as a fact that none of the personal defendants was motivated by any ill will towards the plaintiff nor bias in favour of her father. They acted sincerely and honestly in carrying our their tasks as elders of the congregation. There was no element of bad faith."

The judge did not believe at all that the elders or the WTS had been unloving or harsh to Vicki Boer.

An Honest Mistake

One opposers of JWs child abuse policy who calls himself the E-Watchman had this to say on the case:

"However, when Vicki went to the elders, which is what every good JW is supposed to do to report gross sin, the elders told Vicki that she had to take along two elders to confront her father, again. Obviously, the elders had had it drummed into their head by the WT that that was the proceedure...Matthew 18

But, alas, the elders were evidently on the wrong page of the elders' manual, as it should be apparent to anyone with common sense that the only reason Jesus advised a brother to take along one or two others was if the offender refused to listen to the offended. That wasn't the case with Vicki's father. He admitted his guilt and apologized. There was absolutely no justification for the elders to insist that Vicki confront him, especially because she told the elders how terrifying the prospect of confronting him again would be. The elders sould have simply confronted him with the knowledge that he had already confessed.

But the truth is that it is not the policy of the WTS that a victim should confront the perpetrater face to face. This is not a page from the elders manual. Contradicting what is alledged by King, the November 1, 1995 WT even when discussing accusing one who has not admitted child abuse, clearly states: "If the accuser is not emotionally able to do this face-to-face, it can be done by telephone or perhaps by writing a letter. "

So while King slyly attempts to deceive his readers, in one regard he is correct and it is true that there was absolutely no reason for the elders to insist that Vicki confront her father and the WT publications agree with this assessment. However King deceitfully mischaracterizes and slyly twists the WT policy to suit his agenda of discrediting JWs. And it was not the elders that insisted that Vicki Boer should confront her father nor was it the policy of the WTS, it was one elder that advised her she should confront her father. In fact, notice this from the judge:

"The defendants Steve Brown and Brian Cairns (elders at the investigative meeting in question) were completely unaware of the subject matter of the December 29, 1989 meeting prior to actually hearing it from Mr. Palmer and the plaintiff. They heard from the family members present, made some inquiries to satisfy themselves that the younger children were not in danger, and told the Palmers they would get back to them about what needed to be done. Neither Mr. Brown nor Mr. Cairns was responsible for the structure of the meeting. They had no knowledge that Matthew 18 was being applied. The plaintiff did not tell them that she did not want to be there and she did not ask, nor attempt, to leave. Under these circumstances neither Mr. Brown nor Mr. Cairns is responsible for any harm suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the meeting. I have already determined that there is no liability arising from any of their conduct subsquent to the December 29 meeting."

So you see according to the judge it was the one elder, Sheldon Longworth, who told Vicki Boer that she should confront her father face to face in the presence of the two elders. The elder made an honest mistake. There was no ill intentions involved, nothing evil or sinister about it. Although that is not what apostates like Robert King will lead you to believe.

What About that Out of Court Settlement Offer?

Didn't the WTS offer Vicki Boer $50,000 to settle out of court prior to going to trial? And doesn't that in itself prove the WTS knew that the elders were wrong and that they were guilty of covering up the child molesting? And then they spent over $100,000 dollars in legal expenses on the case. Wouldn't the WTS have much better spent their money by compensating a victim of child abuse rather than trying to bribe Mrs Boer into silence with a gag order, attempting to pay to shove aside the legal claim of a lowly victim?

Lets consider this reasoning in light of the truth. The WTS knew that the elders had seen to it that the proper authorities had been informed because no doubt there was a record of it at the Children's Aid Society since it had been reported there. The WTS knew that the elders had not told her not to seek professional help because the father of her close friend, Jonathan Mott Trill, was an elder and told her to seek professional help even setting up an appointment for her. No doubt that appointment was on record. Notice that the judge agreed with this assessment. She stated in her ruling:

"[10] Ms. Boer also testified that she discussed her distress with the situation with a long-time childhood friend, Jonathan Mott-Trille. His family were members of the Shelburne Jehovah’s Witness congregation. She said she was crying and hysterical as she told her friend Jonathon about having to confront and accuse her father. Jonathan told her he thought the confronation was wrong and promised he would discuss the matter with his father Frank Mott-Trille, who was a lawyer and also an elder in the Shelbourne congregation.

[11] The next day, Ms. Boer met with Jonathan and Frank Mott-Trille at their home in Toronto. Frank Mott-Trille told her there was no requirement that she confront her father. He also advised her that she should report the abuse to the Children’s Aid Society (“ C. A. S.” ) and recommended that she see a psychiatrist. Frank Mott-Trille actually arranged an appointment for Ms. Boer with Dr. Kaplan, a psychiatrist recommended to him by his daughter ( who is herself a doctor).

[12] In the meantime, Ms. Boer received a telephone call from her father stating that a meeting had been arranged for December 29, 1989 at the Palmer family home in Shelburne and that two Shelburne elders , Steve Brown and Brian Cairns would be attending. Ms. Boer testified at trial that she went to the meeting because Mr. Longworth had directed that she must attend and she had no choice but to obey the elders....

[14] Ms. Boer did not contact the C.A.S. and did not keep the appointment with the psychiatrist which Frank Mott-Trille had arranged for her. She testified at trial that she knew she needed help but did not seek it out because she had been told not to by the elders."

The point is this assuming that it is true that the WTS offered a settlement of $50,000: Contrary to what opposers may assume, the WT's settlement offer of $50,000 dollars was not made because they knew they were in the wrong. The money was no doubt offered because they knew that it would cost more than that to go to trial. And why shouldn't they insist on a gag order since they knew that Vicki Boer was making false accusations? Should they have simply forked over money thus allowing Vicki Boer to make claims that the WTS knew they were wrong and that is why they paid her money? Of course not. They were simply trying to offer a settlement as a way of curtailing expenses for a long drawn out court case. Not only that but Vicki Boer as a child abuse victim could have benefitted from that $50,000 dollars. But alas the greedy apostates were out to simply discredit JWs at the expense of Vicki Boer, encouraging her to continue her lawsuit. They apparently could care less about her situation.

Rather than being lambasted for their offer, the WTS should be praised for their generosity in helping a child abuse victim, even though she was making false accusations against them. As Jesus said, 'if your enemy slaps you on the cheek, turn the other cheek'. That is what the WTS attempted to do. But the spiritual advisors of Vicki Boer would stop at nothing short in their attempt at discrediting JWs. Who cares about Vicki Boer's plight, lets bring down the WT!

But doesn't this show that some of the money donated by the brothers and sisters in their congregations for the world wide work is being used for paying legal expenses? If so, is this not a misuse of funds and perhaps even a breach of trust?

Well, lets take the example of Vicki Boer Vs. WT. It was shown in court and the judge agreed that Vicki Boer made false allegations against the WTS or as the judge put it her 'memory' was 'inaccurate'. In view of her false allegations, what was the WT supposed to do? Were they wrong to defend themselves? Should they have just given her the $700,000 that she wanted? To those who object to the WT using donated funds to defend themselves, what is the alternative? Open up the bank accounts to one and all who have a dispute or who claim abuse? Is that being responsible with donations?

JWs Child Abuse Policy Vindicated

Bill Bowen and his silentlambs organization, Robert King, and other opposers have tried to use the Vicki Boer case as an example to discredit JWs. But a closer examination of the case and what actually transpired shows that it is just the opposite. It has exploded in their face. It has backfired against them. And rather than the case discrediting JWs and the WTS, it has proven that JWs child abuse policy is excellent and that it does indeed work. The facts show that it clearly worked in the Vicki Boer case. We have to wonder, how many other cases against the WTS are mere fabrications just like the Vicki Boer case.