"Watchtower Bible and Tract Society World Headquarters" by Sergio Herrera / CC BY-SA 2.0

Calling Out Sexual Abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses Is a Horrific Struggle

Nov 8, 2019

By Summer Lin

In 2013, after Debbie McDaniel left her Jehovah’s Witness congregation in McAlester, Oklahoma, she went to police and told them members had been sitting outside her apartment, monitoring her every move. The Witnesses, she said, were trying to make the case that she was unfit to parent her son, on account of being in a relationship with a woman. But it was something else she told a detective that most alarmed the cops, she said: “You would think an organization that would allow me to be molested for years could now just let me go in peace.”

Within weeks, cops had arrested Ronald Lawrence, whom McDaniel, 50, accused of molesting her when she was underage, as Reveal News reported. At least two other people came forward with similar allegations. According to the Tulsa-World, Lawrence told prosecutors he had been “disfellowshipped” (basically excommunicated) from the church over sexual abuse allegations, that he had admitted misconduct in the past in order to be reinstated, and that law enforcement had never previously been informed. He has also denied abusing any Jehovah’s Witness children, including McDaniel. When brought before a judge in 2014, 19 charges of sexual abuse against him were deemed to have passed the statute of limitations, and he walked free.

Eventually, Witnesses stopped waiting outside McDaniel’s home.

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