Jehovah's Witnesses Must Pay $21M in Molestation
Church kept member's history of abuse secret
By Dustin Lushing, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2012 6:08 PM CDT
In this file photo, a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses takes part in a religious service.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A California jury says the Jehovah's Witnesses must shoulder part of the blame for the alleged molestation of a girl by one of its members. The jury's verdict orders the religious group to pay a record $21 million in punitive damages to the victim, now 26, reports MSNBC. It also has to pay a portion of the $7 million in compensatory damages awarded earlier. “This is the first case I know of where a church has been hit with liability involving a rank-and-file member,” says an attorney for the congregation. He plans to appeal.

The jury found that senior members of a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in Fremont were aware that one member was convicted of the sexual abuse of a child but, following national church policy, kept the information secret. The member then allegedly molested the plaintiff over a two-year period beginning when she was 9. The accused member was never criminally charged with molesting the plaintiff, but police are now investigating. The Oakland Tribune calls it the "nation's largest verdict for a victim of sex abuse involving a religious institution."

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Jun 20, 2012 10:17 PM CDT
Jehovah’s Witnesses rejects the claims and appeal jury verdict in California case A clergyman from the Jehovah's Witness church urged a child molester to go to the police.
Jun 18, 2012 10:01 AM CDT
First and foremost, fuck organized religion.. Now to the point, straight bull shit that this group will get punished but not the catholic church merely because catholosis(sp) has more members worldwide, if you're gonna prosecute one, prosecute them all, no matter what sect the are from
Jun 18, 2012 8:46 AM CDT
No one deserves 21 million for anything.. It just encourages more lawyers to attack organization .. Too bad all the children that are molested daily by moneyless individuals can’t get representation.. Large Organization do need Really Big fines.. But the money need to be diverted to common good.. Not putting a bunch of lawyers and one person on easy street.. I Guess I am a Socialist on this issue…