Jehovah’s Witnesses Ordered to Pay $13.5M to Bible Teacher’s Alleged Victim
A $13.5 million judgment was awarded Wednesday to a San Diego man who says he was the childhood victim of “very aggressive abuse” at the hands of his Bible study teacher.
Jose Lopez, now 35 years old, came forward as one of eight children who accuse Gonzalo Campos of sexually abusing them between 1982 and 1995, according to his lawsuit.
Campos served in the leadership of the Linda Vista Spanish Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Playa Pacifica Spanish Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pacific Beach, Lopez’s attorney Irwin Zalkin told NBC 7.
In about 1986, when Lopez was 7 years old, Campos was first introduced and portrayed to him as a fatherly figure who could teach him about the Bible.
Instead, the accused perpetrator used his position and time alone with Lopez to groom him, according to Zalkin.
“After a period of grooming him, which Campos was very adept at, one day he took him and he seriously molested him in a private residence,” he said.
The attorney believes Campos would take his victims to a home his mother cleaned in La Jolla.
Although the alleged molestation happened on one occasion, the high amount awarded by a judge reflects the severe consequences Lopez has faced as a result, including post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction and trust issues, Zalkin explained.
But the lawsuit does not seek damages from Campos himself, or even the Linda Vista congregation.
Instead, it names the defendant as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, the entity that oversees Jehovah’s Witness churches.
Zalkin said $10.5 million of the amount was for punitive damages as a result of the Watchtower’s response to the Campos scandal.
“Damages that reflect the reprehensible conduct of the Watchtower in how they covered this up for years and allowed multiple children to be injured,” said Zalkin. “They protected and harbored a criminal.”
The Watchtower told NBC 7 it plans to appeal the judgment, saying the award given after a hearing at which it was barred from participating.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse and strive to protect children from such acts,” the organization said in a statement. “The trial judge’s decision is a drastic action for any judge to take given the circumstances of the case. We will seek a full review of this case on appeal.”
As for Campos, Zalkin said he is in Mexico, where he moved as soon as they started investigating this case.
Fonte: NBC 7
NOTA: Leggi anche articolo ” $13.5M for Jehovah’s Witness sex victim ” a firma di Kristina Davis, pubblicato qui: