Jehovah’s Witness church covered up child sex abuse, survivors say

By Wilson Criscione
CrossCut.com
Jehovah's Witness church covered up child sex abuse, survivors say

They were in the Bible study room when Deryk Terril, a shy 11-year-old with shaggy hair in 1976, found the courage to finally say something: An elder at a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Spokane had been molesting him for years, Terril, now 57, recounts in a lawsuit filed in August.

He says he told a church leader he trusted to protect him.

Instead, the church leader got angry and told Terril they could do nothing about it without a second witness, Terril says. Police weren’t notified, he says, nor were his parents. The church allowed the alleged abuser, John Earl Jones, to continue spending time with Terril, and he molested the boy for years after, court documents say.

Around the same time, the mother of another boy in the congregation, Daniel Enholm, reported to the church that Jones had touched her son too. Again, the other church leaders failed to act, allowing Jones to be around the boys, the lawsuit says.

In the years after that, more boys came forward saying Jones sexually abused them, according to Terril and Enholm. Still, they say, church officials never alerted police.

Jones abused at least two more children in the following decades, court records show, before spending 16 years in a California prison for continual sexual abuse of a child under 14. “It could have been prevented if somebody had called the police [back in the ’70s],” Enholm tells InvestigateWest.

Jones, now 72, has since been released from prison. InvestigateWest’s attempts to reach him for this story were unsuccessful.

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