Despite confessing to molesting his daughter, a Jehovah’s Witness senior official was first stood down by the church for adultery, a royal commission has heard.
Church elder Dino Ali admitted that a judicial hearing in 1989 dealt with the man’s adultery matter before allegations of sexual abuse, because they were dealing with “one issue at a time”.
He also said they could not be sure the man’s confession was true, based on his history of lying.
The victim, known as BCG, has previously said her father, a respected member of the church congregation in Mareeba, near Cairns, abused her and her three sisters.
Asked to read from his own notes from 1989, Mr Ali said: “(the father) has admitted to all things and also said that whatever (his daughter) said on molesting was true”.
While he and two other elders did not deem it sufficient proof, Mr Ali did not consider reporting the matters to police.
BCG as well as her older sister, BCK, and their mother, each went to the church to report the child sexual abuse, according to Mr Ali’s notes, read before the commission.
The sexual abuse was later recognised as one of her father’s scriptural offences when he tried to appeal being stood down.
His appeal was upheld and he was reinstated a few years later.
As part of the church’s “healing process”, BCG was interviewed by three elders – all friends of her father – as part of a judicial hearing in 1989.
Her father was at one of these interviews.
“It was part of the healing process so she could get it out and tell the person that had carried out this vile act against them,” elder Kevin Bowditch told the commission.
When questioned whether an apology is also a big part of the healing process, he agreed.
“And it never occurred at any time did it?” BCG’s legal representative asked.
“No,” Mr Bowditch responded.
A former solicitor with the Queensland DPP, Jason Davies, said the way these matters are handled internally by the church, “must have had a terrible impact on the complainant”.
Mr Bowditch is one of several elders being asked what actions they took to support abuse victims or report serious crimes to secular authorities.
Mr Bowditch admitted child protection cases are not generally reported to authorities unless there is a legal requirement because the church believes it can deal with matters internally.
The hearing before Justice McClellan continues on Friday.