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Jehovah’s Witnesses Told to Pay in Abuse Case

A Northern California jury has awarded $28 million in damages to a woman who said the Jehovah’s Witnesses allowed an adult member of a Fremont, Calif., church to molest her when she was a child.

Alameda County jurors awarded $7 million in compensatory damages on Wednesday and an additional $21 million in punitive damages on Thursday to the plaintiff, Candace Conti, said Rick Simons, her lawyer.

“This is the largest jury verdict for a single victim in a religious child abuse case in the country,” Mr. Simons said.

In her lawsuit, Ms. Conti, 26, said that in 1995 and 1996, when she was 9 and 10 years old and a member of the North Fremont Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she was repeatedly molested by a fellow congregant, Jonathan Kendrick.

Ms. Conti has identified herself publicly to encourage other victims of sexual abuse to come forward, Mr. Simons said.

“Nothing can bring back my childhood,” Ms. Conti told The Oakland Tribune. “But through this and through, hopefully, a change in their policy, we can make something good come out of it.”

Ms. Conti also said in her lawsuit that the Christian denomination’s national leaders formed a policy in 1989 that instructed the church’s elders to keep child sex abuse accusations secret. Congregation elders followed that policy when Mr. Kendrick was convicted in 1994 of misdemeanor child molestation in Alameda County, according to Mr. Simons.

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TAGGED: ABUSE, RELIGION


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