Emails reveal Jehovah’s Witnesses response to child sex abuse allegations

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization is facing scrutiny in Pennsylvania over its handling of alleged widespread child sexual abuse by members. An email sent to some members is offering a glimpse into how the organization is responding to that scrutiny—and the whistleblowers who helped bring concerns to light.

Martin and Jennifer Haugh first spoke with FOX43 in May 2023 to discuss their frustrations trying to get justice within Jehovah’s Witnesses for their daughter’s molestation in 2005.

Martin Haugh, a former Jehovah’s Witness elder, was so devoted to the faith that even after he walked in on another member sexually molesting his 4-year-old daughter, he didn’t go to the police for another 11 years.

Now that the Haughs have gone public with their story, Jehovah’s Witnesses have labeled them apostates and warned other members not to engage with them.

An email sent out in early July instructed members providing security for a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention in Reading to keep photos of the couple on their phones.

The convention was one of 6,000 being held across the world this year with the theme “Exercise Patience.” The convention began July 14 and was scheduled to run three consecutive weekends.

The email reminded attendants, the name for members who provide security for these conventions, that the Haughs were “not one of us.”

“I learned that I was on a list, a watch list, of all the attendants or the brothers who handle security at that convention, not to be allowed in any building,” Martin Haugh said.

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses expert and founder of Cult Education Institute Rick Alan Ross, the email showed that the organization was responding defensively to whistleblowers and critical media coverage of their handling of alleged child sexual abuse.

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