Historical sexual abuse and the Jehovah’s Witnesses: A v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

Another instalment in the developing law on vicarious liability for historic sexual abuse…  


Ms A, now 29, claimed damages for personal injury and loss arising from sexual assaults by Peter Stewart from 1989 to 1994, when she was between about 4 and 9. She claimed that the abuse had occurred at least once a week [22]. Stewart is now dead; and in A v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Trustees of) & Ors [2015] EWHC 1722 (QB) she sued the Jehovah’s Witnesses (“JWs”). The first defendants were the over-arching body of the JWs, while the second and third were the direct or indirect successors of the congregation originally known as the Loughborough Limehurst Jehovah’s Witness Congregation, which had subsequently split into two. A argued that that the defendants were vicariously liable for the sexual assaults committed by Stewart when he was or had been a Jehovah’s Witness ministerial servant (“the assault claim”).  Continue reading