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‘Town Crier’ – Briefs From the Region (1) – 9/17/19

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Jehovah’s Witnesses seek reversal of $35M abuse verdict

In the mid-2000s, an unnamed 21-year-old victim was subject to sexual abuse from a member the Thompson Falls Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation, and was awarded $35 million in damages by a jury last September after it was determined the congregation’s elders handled the matter internally, shielding the accused from Montana law enforcement.

According to state law, clergy are exempt from reporting if church doctrine or practice requires confidentiality, The Missoulian reported on Sept. 13.

On Sept. 13, the Jehovah’s Witnesses appealed for a reversal of the jury’s decision, despite the victim’s attorney, Jim Molloy, noting such exemptions don’t apply considering congregation officials testified that elders can choose to report child abusers under set church practice.

Congregation elders expelled the abuser in 2004, allowing his return in 2005, which cleared runway for continued abuse of the victim.

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