Six claim they were molested as kids by Jehovah's Witness elders

Fox News 4 KDFW, Texas/October 27, 2014
By Dionne Anglin

Six people have filed a civil lawsuit, saying that when they were children, they were sexually abused by church elders within some North Texas Jehovah's Witness kingdom halls.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, who are now adults, say the lawsuit involves a major cover up that spans decades.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday. It speaks of years' worth of abuse to five girls and one boy, and their Dallas attorney thinks there are more cases.

The lawsuit alleges that the children were fondled, groped, molested and exposed to sexual acts during the 1990s while spending time with the elders.

A kingdom hall in Dallas is named as a defendant in the suit, along with one in Plano and another in Greenville.  

"What we see repeatedly is that when one person has the courage to speak out and word of that spreads in the community, then others have the courage, too,” said attorney Linda Turley.

The suit claims that a church elder at the time, Reginald Tyrone Jackson, committed many of the crimes.

A public records search reveals that Jackson has served time in prison within the last 10 years for indecency with a child -- sexual contact, and is a registered sex offender.

The six unidentified plaintiffs each say that the abuse spanned years during their childhoods, when they were 13 or younger.

FOX 4 visited the address in the lawsuit listed as the place where Jackson lived and could be served.

The man who answered confirmed that he's Jackson, but seemed to know nothing about the claims against him, including the complaint that says, “Jackson 'groomed' member children and then while acting in a position of authority and trust, sexually abused them."

"That is this address, right?” FOX 4's Dionne Anglin asked Jackson on Monday.

“Yes,” said Jackson.

“And you're Reginald Tyrone Jackson?” said Anglin.

“Uh huh,” said Jackson.

“But you don't think this is…this is not you?” said Anglin.

“No, that must be a mistake...that must be for something else,” said Jackson.

 The lawsuit also says, “The Governing Body did not report this conduct to the authorities and did not otherwise warn members of the general public...”

The Turley Law Firm in Dallas filed the civil suit. It seeks at least $1 million for each plaintiff.

"Hopefully, these plaintiffs, these people that we represent, these young adults, coming forward and speaking out, will encourage others to do so and seek the help they need,” said Turley.

The governing body of the Jehovah's Witness faith is the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

FOX 4 has reached out to that entity for reaction, but so far, it has not responded.

According to the lawsuit and the filing attorney, there was an outcry made, but because the Jehovah's Witness faith requires there must be at least two people to attest to an alleged incident of abuse before it's looked into, there never was an internal investigation.

Nothing was ever reported to police.

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