France

Jehovah’s Witnesses: investigation after an incest complaint in Lorient – Lorient




According to a source close to the investigation, the parents of the complainant, Hélène S., 33, were taken into police custody on May 3 for 24 hours, then released.

The 30-something, now married with three children, says she was raped and sexually assaulted by her father between 1995 and 2008, when she was aged 8 to 21, according to her. complaint. She indicates that her father would have forced her to have anal penetrations “as soon as he could”.

Her mother allegedly asked her “many times” to sleep with him, calling her “stuck” when she complained of her father’s sexual abuse, according to the complaint.

The complainant also refers to the mistreatment suffered by the children looked after by her mother as a childminder.

In August 2013, after the revelation of the facts in the entourage of the complainant, the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Lorient had organized a “judicial committee”, according to Hélène S. “One of the Elders said that we could make a deposit complaint, but the others said it was going to smear Jehovah’s name, ”she told AFP.

“If my parents fall …”

An investigation was opened in June 2019 in Lorient, and her mother had her maternal assistant approval withdrawn, according to the young woman. But “my parents are fully supported by the community,” she says. “If my parents fall, the community of Lorient falls because there are too many people who know about it. “

“In matters of incest, there is already a law of silence but, there, it is even stronger”, insists his lawyer Karine Shebabo, who wishes to launch a “call for witnesses” to find people that his client would have forgotten .

“This situation hurts us greatly, because the victim, if the facts are proven, risks suffering for a long time from the attacks suffered. Our first thought is therefore a thought of compassion, ”reacted Béthel, the French subsidiary of Jehovah’s Witnesses, in an email to AFP.

According to this source, the line of conduct “in terms of reporting child sexual abuse” consists, for “ministers of religion”, in inviting “the adult victim to reveal the facts to the authorities” or to ask the parents to do so. do if it is minor. “This recommendation has been followed for many, many years,” says Bethel.

As for the “judicial committee” referred to by the complainant, it “is constituted solely to decide whether the accused person can remain a member of the assembly or not” and its action “does not interfere in any way with the legal proceedings before the authorities”, he assures.

In 2005, a former Jehovah’s Witness was sentenced to twelve years in prison at the Gironde assizes for the rape of his daughter. Fourteen years earlier, Jehovah’s Witnesses had brought the man before the “council of elders” and decided to exclude him from the community without, however, denouncing the facts to justice.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have more than 130,000 followers in France, according to their website.

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