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  • Jeff Thomas

Why I don't think big lawsuit awards will destroy the Watchtower.

I'm an accountant, not a lawyer, but I've dealt with plenty of lawsuits and payouts over the years. What I’m about to say applies only to the US legal system. I’m also writing about generalities, specifics will vary from case to case. I’ve noted over recent years that many in the XJW community believe that large losses in suits over Child Sexual Abuse will eventually destroy the Watchtower Society. I do not believe this is the case, and here is why:

1) Large awards are almost always reduced on appeal. If you see that somebody is awarded $20,000,000 the chances are slim to none that they will have to pay out the full amount. And it is almost guaranteed that we will not hear the final settlement number. The final settlement agreement will contain a clause sealing the settlement agreement.

2) In almost all cases no one writes a check for whatever the final settlement was. The lawyers will work out a court supervised payout over time.

So in a hypothetical example, you read in the papers that JeffT was awarded $20,000,000 in damages because the ACME demolition company demolished the wrong house. (Believe it or not this happens. Google "wrong house demolished by mistake.) What you won't read is that, on appeal, my award was reduced to two million, half of which will be paid over ten years. If I want my cash now, I can always call J G Wentworth. But the last (and probably only) number we hear of is the $20,000,000.

I find myself trying to explain this frequently when the large initial awards are discussed. I am sure that some of the plaintiff's lawyers in these cases are great people, and want to see justice done. But I don't see them "bringing down the Watchtower" for a simple reason: they want to get paid, which won’t happen if the WTBS no longer exists.

Even if the court awards against the Watchtower are reduced from what we read initially, they do represent a reduction in funds that could be used for other things. Although it may not disappear entirely the Watchtower organization may be forced into making changes. Since its founding in 1884 the Watchtower has successfully cheated death on many occasions: prophetic failures in 1914, 1919, 1925, the 1940’s and most spectacularly in 1975. It’s leadership was jailed during the first world war, its leadership and organization have changed several times, yet “The Society” continues to carry on.

I believe that the Watchtower society will eventually be forced, kicking and screaming, to make a major change in the way it handles abuse cases. The method for properly treating criminal behavior is simple: call the police. I know, this flies in the face of everything they’ve ever done. But even the hide bound old guard on the Governing Body may see the need for reform.

I have uncovered another flaw in the Watchtower’s treatment of judicial committee matters. I expect to post that here within about a week.

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