The Zalkin Law Firm
The Zalkin Law Firm

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal by Jehovah’s Witnesses of 2015 California Trial Court Order

The Supreme Court rejected the Appeal of a 2015 Civil Lawsuit Filed by the Zalkin Law Firm on Behalf of their client who alleges they were sexually molested as a child by a JW church leader. The appeal concerned the lower court order for the Watchtower to produce child sexual molestation files in this sexual abuse Civil lawsuit.

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal by Jehovah’s Witnesses of 2015 California Trial Court Order
San Diego, CA, October 24, 2019 --( On October 7, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (“Watchtower”), requesting that the Supreme Court review a case filed by the Zalkin Law Firm in 2013. In the case of JW v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. et. al., the Riverside Superior Court of California awarded the Plaintiff, “J.W.,” a judgment of $4,016,152.39 plus interest at 10% per year after terminating Watchtower’s defense, because it refused to obey the Court’s order to produce files of known child molesters within the JW organization. In 2018, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in California upheld that decision. The U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of Watchtower’s Petition (essentially a request for an appeal) lets stand the original judgement and damages granted by the lower court.

In the Brief in Opposition to the Petition filed by the Zalkin Law Firm, attorneys Irwin Zalkin and Devin Storey allege a long history of Watchtower violating similar court issued discovery orders to produce the molestation files in other sexual abuse cases, in particular another Zalkin Law Firm case (Lopez, supra, 246 Cal.App.4th 566), where the court found that “[t]here is no question that Watchtower willfully failed to comply with the document production order.” And just two years later in another court ruling (Padron, supra, 16 Cal.App.5th at p. 1249), that court stated the following:

“Watchtower has abused the discovery process. It has zealously advocated its position and lost multiple times. Yet, it cavalierly refuses to acknowledge the consequences of these losses and the validity of the court’s orders . . .”

Irwin Zalkin, attorney for the Plaintiff, alleges: “Our client has endured years of distress from the sexual abuse she suffered as a child from this convicted pedophile who was protected by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. That suffering has continued for the last six years as the Watchtower has obstructed the legal process. Now the JW’s will finally be held accountable for protecting a known pedophile and our client will receive the justice she deserves.”

Background on the Case
The Plaintiff, “J.W.,” alleged in the civil case that she was sexually molested on July 15, 2006 by Gilbert Simental, a trusted religious leader of her congregation, while attending a pool party at the Simentals' home. Simental was convicted in a criminal jury trial of three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 and sentenced to 45 years in prison. That criminal case involved the sexual abuse of two young sisters aged 9-10. Like JW, those victims were friends of Simental’s own daughter and were molested while attending a sleep over at Simental’s house. A second criminal prosecution was commenced as a result of the allegations by JW, but Simental took a plea.

Although Simental confessed to some of the allegations to congregation elders investigating the charges made by parents, allegedly, the elders did not report to law enforcement despite being mandatory reporters under California law.

Jehovah’s Witnesses Promoted Known Pedophile to Position of Leadership - Letter from 1997 Confirms Awareness of Sexual Predators in Their Midst

During the civil case against Simental, it was alleged that allegations of child sexual abuse had followed him for 30 years, as his own niece went public with allegations that she had been abused by him at age 7. Allegedly, a March 14th, 1997 letter to all Elders within Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations from Watchtower headquarters confirmed they were aware of child molesters within the church and were in the process of compiling a comprehensive database of known pedophiles in positions of leadership. Also, allegedly, a July 20, 1998 follow-up letter to all Elders makes clear that the information about known abusers was being compiled because of concern for potential legal liability to Watchtower and the JW Organization, and was kept strictly confidential for internal use with no stated intent of alerting law enforcement about cases of child sex abuse.

Despite the evidence in the criminal case, during the civil case brought against it by the parents of "JW," Watchtower attempted to avoid liability by claiming that it had no prior knowledge of Simental’s pedophilia, that the abuse occurred after he had stepped down as a leader in the church and not at a church sponsored event. During the nearly 5 year-long lawsuit, there were numerous court orders for Watchtower to provide documents pertaining to known child molesters and the internal handling and investigation of allegations of child sexual abuse that were ignored and refused by the JW Organization and Watchtower.

About The Zalkin Law Firm
With offices in San Diego, CA and New York, NY, the firm's lawyers have represented hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault and achieved results in numerous high-profile sexual abuse and assault cases across the United States. The Zalkin Law Firm has aggressively represented survivors who suffered child sexual abuse and sexual assault while members of religious and other organizations, including the Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, foster care, Boy Scouts, recovery homes, foreign student exchange programs, colleges. Irwin Zalkin was appointed a lead negotiator by United States Magistrate Judge Leo S. Papas on behalf of over 144 victims of childhood sexual abuse against the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego. These negotiations resulted in a global settlement of almost $200,000,000. He also was one of the lead trial lawyers and part of the trial team against the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles where a global settlement was reached in the amount of $660,000,000. For more information visit:
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Zalkin Law U.S. Supreme Court Brief in Opposition to JW Appeal

Zalkin Law U.S. Supreme Court Brief in Opposition to JW Appeal

This brief was submitted by The Zalkin Law Firm in opposition to the Jehovahs Witnesses Appeal of the 2015 Childhood Sexual Abuse lawsuit and the lower court order for the Watchtower to produce sexual molestation files.