A 26-year-old man is suing several Jehovah's Witnesses organizations, alleging he was sexually abused by an adult elder in his congregation when he was 6 to 8 years old.
Kevin Ramirez maintains in his Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that his alleged abuser, identified only as Humberto in the complaint, used his position in the church to ingratiate himself with the plaintiff's family, thereby enabling him to molest Ramirez in 1999-01.
"Indeed, Humberto used his position to molest multiple boys in (the) congregation,'' the suit alleges. "Humberto molested plaintiff on numerous occasions, including during and after church events such as field service, bible study and during a Jehovah's Witness Assembly.''
The suit filed Thursday, which alleges sexual battery, sexual harassment and negligence and seeks unspecified damages, names as defendants the San Dimas Spanish Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc., the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses Inc. and the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.
The Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses released a statement Tuesday regarding the suit.
"Out of respect for the judicial process and the privacy of those involved, Watchtower does not comment on the details of pending litigation,'' the statement reads. "Watchtower's stand on the subject of child abuse is very clear: we despise child abuse in any form. Our hearts go out to anyone who suffered as a result of child sexual abuse. Over the years, Watchtower's publications have addressed this topic with a view to equipping parents to protect their children. In addition, Watchtower's practice is to always follow the law, and we support the efforts of elders in congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses to do the same.''
According to the suit, Humberto told the plaintiff that he "would not be accepted into paradise if he did not allow the molestations to occur.''
After Ramirez confided in his parents, they reported the alleged abuses to church elders in 2001, the suit states. However, the elders failed to report what they were told to the police and discouraged both the plaintiff and his parents from doing so themselves, the suit alleges.
Before Humberto allegedly molested Ramirez, the plaintiff's father spoke with a church official known as a ministerial servant who "obliquely warned plaintiff's father to watch out for Humberto,'' according to the suit.