Children in Harm’s Way: Watchtower & Sexual Abuse

Children are a priceless gift to be nurtured and protected by loving, caring adults. Unfortunately, one of our most vulnerable populations is suffering every day at the hands of abusers hiding behind policies that protect criminals more than children.

The Watch Tower Society’s “two witness rule” is at the heart of many abuse cover-ups within the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Inexperienced “elders” attempt to deal with these cases in secretive “judicial meetings” rather than letting them be handled by designated and properly qualified legal authorities. In recent months, nearly a dozen new lawsuits have been filed in the United States against the Watch Tower Society for covering up child molestation.[Link]

By sharing the very personal story of Stephanie Hammond, a team of AAWA advocates have produced a short video explaining how this Watchtower policy has been used to protect child abusers. Stephanie has shared her story publicly (read here) to let others know how devastating the Watchtower’s policy can be to innocent children.

Please watch (and then share) this video to educate yourself and others on this important issue, so that you can discuss this with the next Jehovah’s Witness who comes to your door.

A special thanks to Stephanie Hammond and the other talented AAWA advocates who share her story. That includes the video’s narrator, Jonathon Lockwood, and the producer – a passionate AAWA volunteer who prefers to remain anonymous.

Access to a complete collection of AAWA’s YouTube videos are archived on this website. English versions can be found HERE.

AAWA offers support services to victims of the Watchtower’s doctrines and policies. If you, or someone you know, may have been a victim of child sexual, physical, or psychological abuse, please feel free to visit and register at our Discussion Forum. Volunteers are available to offer help and guidance. There are clearly marked links to the Forum on every page of this website.

[Shortlink to this article.] [Shortlink to Video.]

Posted on by October 15, 2013

About Steph Le Gardener

I'm a former 4th generation JW who's been out since 1992, re-creating my world and family of the heart. I keep busy with my work for a not-for-profit organization which specializes in education for senior leadership in healthcare, as well as my many hobbies, including: gardening, crafting, nature photography, reading, and writing. For nearly eight years, I've been an active voice in the ex-JW community, supporting those who have found their way out of cult life, and now I add my voice with others as an active volunteer for Advocates of Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA). I can be reached at


Children in Harm’s Way: Watchtower & Sexual Abuse — 16 Comments

  1. A big thanks to everyone who played a role in producing this video! Any decent, normal person watching it would be shocked how Stephanie’s mother 1) did not respond/get help for/go to the police in behalf of her daughter, 2) that the mother would then have sympathy for a pedophile and wished to ‘forgive’ him. The truly despicable thing about this mother’s reaction – is that it is repeated over and over again within Jehovah’s Witnesses. That mother, and 1000s like her, respond in this abnormal fashion simply because 8 old men in NY tell them to. JWs condemn the world saying IT has a ‘lack of natural affection’ But who here really fits the bill? It’ irrational to think that God or Jesus would ever support such an immoral organization as JWs.

    Thanks for all your hard work AAWA, and a special thanks to Stephanie and others like her who have stepped forward to help expose this horrible and damaging cult.

  2. Stephanie Hammond. Thank you for sharing your story. It is hard to imagine how unsympathetic your mother was especially expecting you to forgive him. She wasn’t there for you then and she isn’t there for you now.

    Well done to all that worked on this project..

  3. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the two eyewitness rule (for child abuse) exposed in this powerful video: Children In Harm’s Way by Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (

    Their policy has not changed in at least 50 years. Fifty years ago my 13-yr. old aunt and I were sexually abused by the same man. The elders (one one at that time) advised that my aunt be sent to live with another family member (a 9 hour drive from her mother and brothers) and I was sent to live in foster care a 5 hour drive away. meanwhile the abuser was left in the congregation to eventually abuse my little sister. The police were not called. it was handled by the elder alone and he was not reported to the police.

    It is time to put a stop to the free ride that accused sexual abusers have had for so many years. It is time that the Watchtower Society make it a requirement to report accusations. The family of an abused child should be allowed to report abuse to the police without fear of discipline and the threat of expulsion.

    No child has a person standing there witnessing the abuse while they do nothing. My mother walked in and caught him on me and that still wasn’t enough to get the elder to report him. It was all about appearances and cover-up.

    Fifty years is way too long for the leadership to really change the policy. Lip service is not enough. Saying they encourage people to report but omitting the fact that they only recommend this when the accused is NOT one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is manipulative and unethical. EVERY ACCUSATION needs to be reported to the police.

    • You and Stephanie are courageous in sharing your personal stories. Thank you for speaking out about this damaging policy that protects abusers instead of innocent children. You give a voice to the many that have never been able to tell the world about their experiences.

  4. I think Child abuse is becoming Watchtower’s sing (not love we are told). Here is the clue:

    *** w86 1/1 p. 13 par. 12 Days Like “the Days of Noah” ***
    Shocking as it is, even some who have been prominent in Jehovah’s organization have succumbed to immoral practices, including homosexuality, wife swapping, and child molesting. It is to be noted, also, that during the past year, 36,638 individuals had to be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation, the greater number of them for practicing immorality. Jehovah’s organization must be kept clean!


  5. Stephanie Hammond. First off I want to give you a great BIG HUG and say “Thank you for sharing your story”. Your courage is much appreciated by many who now know they are not alone and will come forwards to. We have to stop this from happening things have to change.

  6. Its not an easy thing to do Your courage is helping many to heal and tell there stories too. Helping none Jehovah witnesses see what is really happening within the organization. Helping many to understand they can leave and be happy, healthy,normal human beings…

  7. Great video for such a tragic subject. More people need to know about this problem in the Watchtower of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as this organization sends these people door to door. Please let others know, share share share.

  8. Stephanie my heart goes out to you. The fact your mother takes sides of your abuser with no consideration to your welfare is sickening & unfortunately this isn’t unique.
    A big thanks to AAWA for yet another great video. I say great in the way that it is produced, although the contents are difficult to comprehend that these things happen in what is supposed to be a Christian religion..

  9. Totally appalled by Stephanie’s mother. I would never in a million years forgive any person who molested my child nor would I ever even entertain the thought of telling my child to forgive a person who took away so much from them. That is absolutely disgusting and to see that the JWs practice this and advocates it with their members strengthens my resolve to expose their hypocrisy! Thanks to Stephanie for sharing your experience and many thanks to AAWA for all the work you’re doing to expose them!

  10. Excellent video, it really nails the WT policies. My daughter also was molested fortunately I went to the police, however we were threatened that we would be brought before the elders for gossip/slander with resulting disfellowshipping if we spoke about it to anyone in the congregation. As we were in shock and the WT was our life, we didn’t speak about it to anyone except police. Like the brainwashed people we were we really believed Jehovah would sort it out. This had a huge effect on our emotional health and eventually we d’fd ourselves. Our daughter has had serious ongoing consequences because of the abuse. At the WT committee case with the elders they told her if it had happened she would be a whore because she let it happen…she was a child! Unfortunately even going to the police with resulting court case just traumatised my daughter even more, there was no corroborating evidence (!) her word against his, so it was dismissed. The odds are really stacked against the victim.

  11. I am currently studying with the Jehovah’s witnesses and what people must understand is that no one is perfect. I’m not saying what this mother did was right and that the governing body went with it is shocking. However, the only person at fault is the parent. I know that if anyone who would do such a thing to my child would not live one more day after i found out. Also from what I’ve learned about the different congregations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is that some are more fanatical than others. I will continue to study with the Witnesses but as a parent and individual, I WILL NOT let the congregation or organization lead my personal decisions. Especially if it involves my family.

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