NEW YORK—Alleged victims announced on Aug. 12 that they would file lawsuits against the leading organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses once the Child Victims Act is in effect.
Under the new law, which will come into effect on Aug. 14, people under the age of 55 will be able to file lawsuits if they were victims of sexual abuse as children. Before the act was passed, the age cap for filing cases was 23 years of age.
Michael Ewing and Heather Steele, both in their 40s, were joined by attorneys six floors above Manhattan.
“I’m here to make sure this doesn’t happen anymore,” Ewing said. “I’m here to make sure that if there’s any other voice out there that sees me at my age, recognizing that even if they’re older, there’s time for them to come forward.”
Ewing alleges he was sexually abused at the age of 14—for six consecutive months—after he was baptized. He said that Mike Rust, a ministerial servant appointed by the Jehovah’s Witness organization, was the perpetrator.
At 21, he reported the abuse to his parents. But Ewing said his father insisted on telling the religion’s elders rather than contacting law enforcement. Thereafter, the elders “disfellowshipped” (excommunicated) Ewing and Rust for practicing homosexuality, according to the lawsuit.