In the largest jury verdict for a single victim of religious child sexual abuse, Candace Conti finally got her day in court against the North Fremont Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Northern California jury awarded Conti $28 million dollars – $21 million of which was in punitive damages.
The verdict sent a clear message to those who abuse children and the religious organizations that try to cover up and conceal sexual abuse. Conti is now 26 years of age, but from the age of 9 and 10 she was repeatedly sexually abused by another member of the congregation at the North Fremont church.
Elders in the Jehovah's Witness church were given orders to keep any and all sexual abuse accusations a secret. Other religious organizations, like the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and the Presbyterian Church, are made up of a hierarchy of elders that set policy within their respective religious organization.
This hierarchy who set policies of secrecy and suppression makes it very difficult to root out clergy and congregants who abuse children. The $21 million in punitive damages is a welcome declaration to the organizations and religious institutions that conceal such atrocities against our children.
You only get one childhood in this life. Candace Conti was robbed of that childhood. It is a welcome verdict and about time that jury's catch sight of this reality.