An inquiry has uncovered that over 1000 children were sexually abused by the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Australia over a 60-year period.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse announced on Monday, “Of the 1,006 alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse identified by the Jehovah’s Witness Church since 1950, not one was reported by the church to secular authorities”.
“This suggests that it is the practice of the Jehovah’s Witness church to retain information regarding child sexual abuse offences but not to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police or other relevant authorities,” he said in his opening statement at a hearing for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The church, best known for its door-to-door campaigns and “public witnessing”, has about 68,000 members in Australia, Stewart said.
Victims accuse the Jehovah’s Witnesses authorities of protecting abusive priests by ignoring their complaints.
Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was launched in 2013 to deal with allegations of serial child abuse inside the Catholic Church.
In the past years, the Roman Catholic Church, with the pope at the helm, has been rocked by numerous cases of child sexual abuse at the hands of priests.
The issue of abuses being concealed by the church has made many child rights defenders, including Christians, dissatisfied with the church’s handling of the issue and has put church authorities on the defensive.
The United Nations has slammed the church over its handling of sexual abuse of minors by pedophile priests, saying clerics must comply with the UN anti-torture treaty.
The UN Committee against Torture confirmed more than a year ago that Vatican officials had not reported abuse charges properly and simply transferred abusive priests rather than punish them.