Victims of the Watchtower Speak out
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From: "Jan Groenveld" <email@example.com>
To: "JanG" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sunday, February 04, 2001 7:17 AM
Posted by silentlambs [silentlambs] on February 04, 2001 at 00:46:49
News Item Sunday, February 4, 2001
Molestation victim, parents think church elders let them down
By PETER SMITH, The Courier-Journal
Jehovah's Witnesses' policy on child molesters attacked Policies on reporting abuse allegations vary among religious denominations
When Corinne Pandelo was 12, court records show, she told her parents that her grandfather had molested her during a visit to his home in Paramus, N.J., in August 1988.
That episode launched a chain of events that ultimately alienated Corinne and her parents from the church to which they had been devoted.
Carl and Barbara Pandelo, now of Belmar, N.J., went to the elders in their Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in Fair Lawn, N.J., with their daughter's accusation, according to court records.
New Jersey law required clergy to report suspected child abuse. Elders told Carl Pandelo's father, Clement Pandelo, to turn himself in to authorities, Carl Pandelo said. Clement Pandelo confessed the molestation to police on Aug. 24, 1988.
But Carl and Barbara Pandelo said local elders also urged them to agree to a plea bargain for Clement Pandelo, saying they wanted to spare Corinne the trauma of a trial. The Pandelos agreed.
Anthony Valenti of Maywood, N.J., who was an elder in the Fair Lawn congregation at the time, said in an interview that was not his recollection. "To my knowledge, we did not advise them that way," he said.
Clement Pandelo was placed on probation after pleading guilty in February 1989 in Superior Court in Bergen County, N.J., to molesting Corinne and two other girls. Now 75 and a member of the Hawthorne, N. J., congregation, Pandelo told The Courier-Journal he had no comment.
The Fair Lawn congregation expelled Clement Pandelo after a disciplinary hearing and reinstated him about 18 months later, court records show. Carl Pandelo said the reinstatement followed a letter of apology to him, not his daughter, from his father.
Carl and Barbara Pandelo said it was bad enough that the family saw Corinne's attacker at church meetings. They also became upset when members and an elder warned they would not "make it through Armageddon" unless they renewed ties with Clement Pandelo, Carl Pandelo said.
Corinne was by then preparing to be baptized and had recurring nightmares of encountering her grandfather in the baptismal pool, according to court documents.
"I can understand how the Pandelos might feel," Valenti said, adding that a person is only reinstated after a three-man committee deems him or her repentant. "It would be better if they could forgive (Clement Pandelo), but circumstances are what they are."
Eventually, Corinne's parents took her to a therapist. Corinne said she began to unlock memories of being molested by her grandfather over several years, court documents said. To help guide her therapist, Corinne's parents said they obtained the police report and were shocked to read Clement Pandelo had confessed to fondling girls for 40 years.
The parents said they went to church elders asking for any details Clement might have confessed to them and were told that the confession was confidential.
"As parents, we feel we have the legal right to know what he did actually confess to," Carl Pandelo said in a Jan. 21, 1993, letter to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, a legal corporation of the church.
Valenti said the Pandelos were involved in discussions among elders that pertained to their daughter. He declined to say what elders discussed with Clement Pandelo on other occasions.
Clement Pandelo did not face any other criminal charges, but his Hawthorne congregation expelled him in 1992, according to court documents. Four years later it reinstated him, according to a letter from the Pandelos to the Watch Tower Society.
When Carl and Barbara Pandelo prepared to sue Clement Pandelo in 1993 to recover costs for Corinne's therapy, Valenti said he told them the Bible held that Christians shouldn't sue each other.
Valenti said the church allows members to sue to collect insurance payments -- Clement Pandelo would be paying out of homeowner's liability insurance -- but that elders tried to mediate the conflict outside of court.
Carl and Barbara Pandelo appealed to the Jehovah's Witnesses' headquarters, which eventually gave them the green light to sue, according to a church letter.
Corinne Holloway, now 24, married and living in Spring Lake Park, N. J., won $1.8 million in compensatory damages against Clement Pandelo in Bergen County Superior Court in 1999 after other women testified he molested them when they were girls.
Clement Pandelo also was ordered to pay $500,000 in punitive damages. But the jury deducted 40 percent of Holloway's original $3 million compensatory-damage award, judging her parents 40 percent responsible for leaving her in her grandfather's care.
The jury heard testimony that a relative had told Carl Pandelo that his father had molested a girl years before. Carl Pandelo said in an interview that he was told by Valenti that at least one elder had investigated Clement Pandelo for suspected sexual abuse and found it to be untrue.
Valenti, in a pretrial deposition, confirmed that he had been told by an elder that an investigation had found no evidence Clement Pandelo committed sexual abuse.
Valenti, who did not testify in court because of clergy confidentiality, declined to comment.
Holloway is appealing the jury decision.
Subject: FWD: RE: a person against JW's beleifs
Date: Friday, May 11, 2001 1:10 PM
Was wondering if you can give this lady some direction? worldoutreachchurch.com
Original Message From "The A........" < >
I married my "X" in 1983, I was aware that he had been raised in the JW's since a child by his mother, his father did not practice the beleif. He had been disfellowshipped several times over the years and wasn't practicing the religion when we married. When we married I had a 4 yr old son, by a previous marriage when I was 17, I left his father after 2 weeks because he wouldn't support me and our baby. In 1987 my "X" and I had a beautiful baby girl.
All along through our marriage there had been drug use by both of us, and of course our marriage started going down hill. During our marriage, his mother wouldn't have anything to do with us because he had been disfellowshipped. (by the way I was raised in the Christian/Baptist religion, and did not think that his religion would ever be a part of our lives.
When our marriage started to go downhill, he, as he had always done in the past when he had trouble he couldn't get out of, he decided we would straighten our lives out and try to save our marriage by falling back into his religion. I put up a fight at first because I did not beleive in their beleifs. I did give it a chance though. I attended several meetings at the JW's, and an assembly, but came away very heavy hearted because I just could not accept their ways.
He gave me an ultimatum, either I become a JW or we could divorce. I left and took both kids with me. He got our home. I just wanted away from him he was mean to me! He proceded to enter back into the JW's. We divorced in Dec. 1991, I could not afford a lawyer so he hired one. I agreed to joint custody of our daughter, and also to let her go to the JW meetings with him, ( I got custodial rights).
Things went very badly for me as the years went on, and after a couple of years he married someone who was a JW. When this took place he started telling me he could provide a better home and give the kids more than I could because he was much better off financially than I was. I was confused. I loved my kids and didn't want to give them up but I also wanted them to have better than I could provide, so I gave my custodial rights over to him with the verbal promise by him that I would still have full access to them.
Also he told me he did not want any child support from me because he was so much better off financially than I was. (In our divorce I left with the kids a car, with car payment and he agreed to pay me 40.00 a week child support for my daughter.
He never adopted my son.) In 1997, I remarried, and got my life into order again, thats when he started being really possessive with my daughter. (My son only stayed with him 1 year till he couldn't take his "Hitler-like" ways, and he came back to live with me but my X would not let my daughter come back too. This was all in '97).
Starting in the fall of 1997, he started telling me my daughter did not want to celebrate her birthday, Christmas etc. anymore. (That was also part of our agreement that the kids would always be a part of my beleifs and celebrate the holidays.) As the years have passed he grew worse and worse about keeping her from celebrating holidays. (I had talked to my daughter about this and she said that he was lying, that she still wanted to celebrate the holidays.)
In Jan. of 2000, I called to talk to him about why he had let her miss school to visit his mother in Ohio, and he went off!! He would let her miss school all the time for nothing! He cut all cummunication between me and her off, so I hired a lawyer and we charged him with contempt of court because of the cut off communication between me and my daughter. When we went to court, little did I know, my lawyer was an idiot.
I had talked to my daughter about what was about to happen in court. She was very afraid, my "X" had told her that I was going to put him in jail! She was so scared and was also scared that she would have to go to court too. So I told my lawyer that I did not want to put her through that so we decided not to drag her into court unless it was absolutely necessary.
On our first court date, my "X" showed up with both my kids and would not even let my daughter sit by me in the waiting room before court. I got so upset. It broke my heart that my 21 yr old son had been bought off by him to appear against me that I was out of my head with greif. My lawyer stood in the hallway of the waiting room with me crying my eyes out, I was in no shape to make any descisions, but his lawyer and mine kept going back and forth to each of us to work out an agreement. I was so out of my head with greif seeing both my kids there that when we left the court that day I didn't even know what I had agreed to.
It turned out that I had agreed to 1 phone call a day, and I had to pay him child support. I work very hard but I only make 7.00 an hour, he got 34.15 in child support a week. I got less than I had started out with. He continued to break our agreement so I again called my lawyer and we got another court date. I attempted to talk reasonably with my "X" and he told me I was poor white trash and that he got me once in court and he would win again. When we went back to court the 2nd time, all I asked for was more communication and to be able to claim my daughter on my taxes every other year. Again I lost.
Since all of that he has totally took control of my daughters life. She has been brainwashed big time! This past Christmas she did not celebrate it with me and my family. It has broken my heart. She is 13 now. He has convinced her that I am the devil and that I am no longer her mother and to cut off any relationship with me. I have to beg her to come and take her visitation with me. I have called several more reputable lawyers in my town and noone will even touch my case. They tell me I may as well give up! I can't! She is my baby. How do you give up on your own flesh and blood.
I had my son at the age of 17, he wasn't planned, but she was! I love both my kids. I just can't give up on my baby girl. I planned her , she wasn't an accident, I love her with all my heart but I am losing her to this cult and I don't have anywhere to turn for help! What do I do?
Do I have to give up? I need some direction. He is ruining her life! On May 3rd, I went into the hospital for a full hysterectomy, he took her out of town and wouldn't even let her come to see me in the hospital. I was so broken hearted. I just wanted my kids with me. She is such a beautiful girl and he has turned her heart to stone! What do I do?
She is supposed to graduate from the 8th grade on May 24th, but he is taking her out of town so she will miss her graduation. I have talked to her about this and she is very upset. She wants to be part of the graduation ceremony and he won't let her. What do we do? When he takes her away at the end of this month, he is leaving her at his mothers house in Ohio, (her husband is a convicted child molester, he has molested two of my "X"'s neices!) I am supposed to get her a month out of each summer and give him 30 days notice, I gave him my notice back in March of this year and he won't work with me to arrange her stay. I no longer have a lawyer, what do I do?
I work hard, have a decent home, pay my child support, and my new husband likes my daughter, there is no problem with him at all. What am I to do? What would you do?
I live in R-------, KY. My address is ======, KY
. My phone number is----------------. I am so desperate for help that I am giving you my personal information in hopes you can direct me to someone who can fight for me. I would gladly give up all of my worldly possessions to get her back. I am so scared I don't know what to do!!!!!!!!!! Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for just listening. I don't want to go on living if I lose my daughter!