Jehovah’s Witnesses must pay $34M to abuse survivor
Helena, Mont. – A Montana jury has ruled that the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization must pay $34 million to a woman who says the church covered up her sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a congregation member.
Neil Smith, an attorney representing the 32-year-old woman, says the jury’s verdict Wednesday in the lawsuit sends a message to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New York headquarters to stop prioritizing church secrecy over children’s safety.
Jehovah’s Witness officials did not immediately respond to a call or email for comment. The monetary award must be reviewed by the trial judge.
The jury dismissed claims by a second woman who alleged abuse by the same man in Thompson Falls in the 1990s.
The jury concluded church elders did not receive notice of the second woman’s abuse and therefore did not have a duty to tell authorities.