“Two men who accused a Jehovah’s Witness leader of sexually abusing them as children in San Diego have settled their long-running lawsuits against the church’s governing body.
The settlements come a few months after the church authority, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, was handed a sharp rebuke by the state appeals court for “obstinately” refusing to turn over internal documents about knowledge of church leaders who had been accused of sexually abusing children.
The November ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal upheld a $4,000-a-day penalty against Watchtower for failing to comply with the court order to hand over such documentation.
Last week, settlements for undisclosed amounts were finalized in both cases against Watchtower. Neither San Diego plaintiffs’ attorney Irwin Zalkin nor Watchtower officials were authorized to comment on the terms.
Jose Lopez said he was 7 years old when a church elder suggested Campos mentor him. Campos molested the boy at Campos’ La Jolla home one day in 1986, according to his lawsuit. Church leaders assured Lopez’s mother that they would handle the situation, the lawsuit says.
In another local congregation, Campos continued to act as a leader and molested Osbaldo Padron in 1994 or 1995 when he was 7 or 8 years old, his lawsuit says.
Campos was removed from the church but was later allowed back by church elders who claimed he was reformed.
Campos later confessed to abusing at least eight children between 1982 and 1995. He fled to Mexico around 2010.
Other lawsuits claiming similar abuse by Campos have been settled previously.
Watchtower’s failure to release internal documents prompted a Superior Court judge in the Lopez case to finally terminate the group’s right to be heard in the case. The judge ultimately imposed a $13.5 million judgment against Watchtower. The state appeals court overturned the judgment, ruling that the judge should have used lesser measures to gain compliance with the records and kicked the case back to the lower court.
In the Padron case, the appeals court called Watchtower’s withholding of records “egregious” and upheld a daily $4,000 penalty.
Many other plaintiffs in Watchtower have faced similar obstacles with discovery. Recently, a website similar to Wikileaks, called Faithleaks, uploaded several internal Jehovah’s Witness documents pertaining to a sex abuse complaint in 1999 in Massachusetts to illustrate the church’s handling of the allegations.”