Leaked documents expose sex abuse scandal within Jehovah's Witnesses church

Transparency group FaithLeaks has unveiled secret documents which expose a sexual abuse scandal within the Jehovah's Witnesses church and the latter's alleged efforts to cover up the accusations.

(REUTERS / Alexandr Tyryshkin/Files)Stacks of booklets distributed by Alexander Kalistratov (L), the local leader of a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation, are seen during the court session in the Siberian town of Gorno-Altaysk, December 16, 2010.

Based on the 33 letters and internal documents leaked by FaithLeaks on Jan. 9, leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses and its legal entities called Watchtower discussed the sexual abuse accusations made by three separate individuals. The files, which were written from 1999 to 2012, included a conclusion that the allegations of two of the young women - who were sisters - against their father were true, Newsweek detailed.

The leaked documents also detailed that the father had started abusing one of his daughters when she was only three and continued until she was 12 years old. The letter to the Watchtower was sent by the Palmer Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Brimfield, Massachusetts.

"Our impression upon speaking with both girls was similar," the leaked letter said. "That they are both quite rational. It certainly appears that these were real events."

Despite the conclusion, it took some time before church leaders acted on the issue since one of the victims wanted to avoid facing her father and was hesitant in filing a formal complaint. The church later on held an internal trial which sentenced the father to a brief excommunication.

In addition, the leaked files showed that the church leaders had urged the woman and her husband to stay quiet and keep the incident from secular law enforcement officials. The father was never officially charged even though he was also accused of raping another woman who was not related to them.

Last month, the NL Times reported that a hotline created for victims of sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses community had gotten around 80 reports. The Reclaimed Voices Foundation hotline received 50, and the rest came in via Dutch newspaper Trouw.

The foundation established the hotline to expose child sexual abuse incidents within the Jehovah's Witnesses church. The hotline's co-founder, Frank Huiting, admitted that he had also experienced sexual abuse within the religious community when he was still a child.