Kimberlee Norris of the law firm, Love and Norris, stated at the site known as Topix, "We don't pursue cases wherein we cannot prevail; not good for client, and not good business. In general, I can't spend what it takes to pursue abuse cases without significant return."
From this statement you would think that her law firm only takes on cases that there is no doubt they will win hands down. You would think that such open and shut cases would involve a molester who was disfellowshipped, later reinstated, and still later appointed as an elder even though it was known he was a former molester, only to molest children in the congregation again. Or perhaps a molester who at the time of the molesting was an elder and he was merely transferred to another congregation to continue as an elder and again molested unsuspecting children in the new congregation. Is that the case? Lets examine a case in Oregon reportedly taken on by the Love and Norris law firm.
Jennifer Rouse of the Mid-Valley Sunday, October 6, 2002, writes:
"A man is suing the North Corvallis Jehovah's Witness congregations and the reli≠gion's 'national headquarters for $3 million. The lawsuit accuses church leaders of ignoring the sexual abuse he suffered as a Child.
... 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....
According to the lawsuit, Cathy Davidow owned a store called Blackbeard's Market 145 N.W. ,Corvallis, in the 1980s...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 the women worked.
In 1985, according to the complaint, he told his mother that the teenager had been sexually abusing him for a year, and she went to the elders of her church.
After Davidow's lawsuit was filed, John Muir, a former member of the Corvallis congregation, came forward, claiming that McKenzie also abused his son, Eli.
When Cathy Davidow reported her son's abuse to the elders, other parents were not informed of the allegations against McKenzie, Muir said. But Muir heard about the allegations from another church member. He also heard that Davidow was not the only boy who had been abused -- and that Muir's son was one of the victims.
Shocked, Muir went to the elders and asked them to tell him what they knew. "When I asked for information I was told I didn't need to know. It would serve no purpose," he said.
Kimberlee Norris, the attorney handling the case, said that Jehovah's Witnesses encourage church members to take complaints to the church leaders...
Time passed, and Davidow didn't see anything being done, either to help her son or 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...
When Cathy Davidow finally reported her sons abuse to the police, she was disfellowshipped. McKenzie was not disfellowshipped but chose to leave the faith on his own."End of quotes.
Now here is what you don't know. McKenzie, the accused molester, was never one of Jehovah's Witnesses. He was never baptized. He simply attended some meetings with his mother. In order for the jury to find the Watchtower Society and the elders negligent they would have to make giant leaps never before made by a court of law. Please consider.
First of all, the elders claim they were never told of the abuse. The jury would therefore have to take the word of Davidow over the word of the elders. Of course this could possibly happen but more is involved. Even if the elders were told of the abuse how did this make them negligent. Davidow was not abused after they were told.
But what about the testimony of John Muir who came forward after the lawsuit against the Watchtower Society was filed by Davidow. Take note that Muir does not claim that his son was molested after the abuser was reported to the elders although some opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses have written commentaries on the events that took place making the assumption that McKenzie abused more children after the elders were supposedly informed. But in fact, no one has made such claims. There are no allegations made that the elders failure to notify the police or tell her to notify the police led to more children in the congregation being molested. So the question is, how were the elders and the Watchtower Society negligent since no acts of abuse reportedly occured after they were supposedly informed? Are the elders and the Watchtower Society responsible for acts that happened before they knew of it and also responsible for acts that never even occured after they knew of it?
The assumption is also made by opposers that everything John Muir and Cathy Davidow tell us that the elders said and did really occured. We don't know that but it really doesn't matter since no children in the congregation were molested because of any failure on the part of elders to report it to the police or warn the congregation. And we also have to wonder why the mother of the victim has no responsibility to report abuse? Is not the parent the one who has the fiduciary or legal duty to protect their own children, not the elders or the Watchtower Society? Why try to lay blame on a party who condemns and disfellowships practicing abusers and who had nothing to do with the abuse?
Secondly, the jury would have to believe that elders of Jehovah's Witnesses go beyond what they are told to do by the Watchtower Society because never, not one time, has the Watchtower Society told elders to tell anyone not to report child abuse to the police. Even if elders misconstrued Paul's words not to take a brother to court and applied it to reporting crime, McKenzie, the accused molester, was not even a brother. The scripture even if misapplied would not apply to this situation. McKenzie could be taken to court by any member of the congregation without violating Paul's words.
And what of Cathy Davidow being disfellowshipped for reporting it to the police? Is that a policy of Jehovah's Witnesses? No it is not. Again even if the words by Paul at 1 Cor 6:7, "it means altogether a defeat for YOU that YOU are having lawsuits with one another" is missapplied, has the Watchtower ever stated that taking a brother to court would subject one to disfellowshipping? Notice the very worst discipline that would be administered according to the November 15, 1973 Watchtower:
"However, if any member of the Christian congregation, without regard for the effect of his action on the good name of the congregation, ignores the counsel from Godís Word on this matter, such one would not be "free from accusation" as a Christian. He would not be one who has "a fine testimony from people on the outside" of the congregation. (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim. 3:7) He surely would not be an example for others to imitate, so this would affect the PRIVILEGES that he might have in the congregation."
Yes a person might lose some privileges in the congregation such as pioneering or passing microphones etc. But there is nothing mentioned of disfellowshipping. And remember we are talking about IF these words were misapplied by the elders to reporting crime such as child abuse. The truth is the Watchtower Society has never applied Paul's words to reporting crime because reporting crime is NOT taking a brother to court. It is the state that files charges against the accused and takes them to court. So a jury would have to conclude that elders do NOT follow instructions from the Watchtower Society at all if they are to conclude that Davidow is telling the truth when she says she was disfellowshipped for reporting the abuse to the police.
And finally the jury would have to conclude that the Watchtower Society and the elders are responsible for the actions of those who simply attend meetings. Can you imagine the lawsuits this would open up if the churches are responsible for acts committed not only by individual members but even those who merely attend the services? What's next? 'This person who attended the memorial molested me therefore I am suing the Watchtower Society'. It becomes absolutely ridiculous.
Norris stated that 'We don't pursue cases wherein we cannot prevail'. This case, however, is a big time shot in the dark, a risky gamble indeed for any attorneys to take on. How could anyone possibly believe that this was an open and shut case in which they would prevail hands down? If this is one of the best cases they can come up with, I'm afraid their plan to expose the evil 'pedophile paradise' is fast approaching its end.
Chapter Twenty-four: Who Has a Better Policy?