Special Discussion – Historic Decision in Spanish Courts Concerning Jehovah’s Witness Survivors

Here is a translation of Dr. Bardavío Antón’s remarks:

1:06 – Thank you very much, Steven, for allowing me to be on your magnificent channel and especially for getting to know you. I am, as you explained, Carlos Bardavío Antón, lawyer for the Spanish Association of Victims of Jehovah’s Witnesses (AEVTJ). I have handled the procedures against the association, the procedures of the religious confession against the association, also against its board of directors, and I am a Doctor in Criminal Law and I did a thesis on sects in criminal law and in that doctoral thesis I made a reform proposal, or rather an inclusion proposal of the crime of coercive persuasion in the criminal codes, not only in Spain but also in other countries, such as Mexico, or any other country.

10:49 – There is one very important thing in this ruling and it is that it not only declares freedom of expression to say that it is a destructive sect, etc., etc., which we will now go into details, but it also declares freedom of information, which is another fundamental right. In Europe, in order to exercise that right of freedom of information, the information has to be truthful, which is not the same as truth. La verdad is the truth. Veraz is something that is close to the truth, that is, it is based on something. The judge from Torrejón de Ardoz says that all these manifestations of the Spanish Association of Victims of Jehovah’s Witnesses – destructive sect, social ostracism or social death, psychological disorders caused by social ostracism, cover-up of sexual abuse, discrimination to women, discrimination against the LGTBI group or homosexuals – this, which is the main part, the judge says is truthful, and therefore we have not only won for freedom of expression, but, even better, for freedom of information, because the the information is true, and it is true because it is based on the statements of the victims, on the statements of the media, and, most importantly, on the texts of the Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves.

16:04 – I understand, look, just to make one clarification, and that is that, as a result of what Steven is saying, the sentence declares something very important, it says that there is truth in that the JWs use excessive control over their members, and this, this phrase, these two words, “excessive control” over their members are what makes her conclude, among other things, that there is truth, truthfulness, in that it is a destructive sect/cult.

18:16 – One more nuance, you can tell him, there is another sentence, which is that of Gabriel Pedrero, which came out last week. It is against a member that we have also won 100%, and in that sentence the judge adds something very interesting to the excessive control, and the judge considers truthful, which is not the truth – the word verdad is the truth, but veraz is close to the truth, right? -. Well, it is considered true that the JWs, when they are baptized, when they enter, are unaware of all the compliance standards that they are going to have to follow and all the evaluation that is going to be done on them, the judge implying that they enter without knowing where they are entering. 

24:29 – One more thing, we are going to present – REDUNE obtained, together with Patricia Aguilar’s father, which is a very famous case in Spain and Peru, that the guru was convicted of human trafficking -, we are going to present, because we already have them,

300,000 signatures before the Congress of Deputies, before the Spanish Parliament, to reform the Spanish penal code in order to include a crime like the one I proposed in the doctoral thesis, a crime of coercive persuasion, let’s say, clear and obvious, that is understandable for judges and courts, because many times this problem that is understood by such expert psychologists as Steven Hassan and others, has to be transferred to legal terminology, which is a bit of the work that I have here in Spain.

33:05 – Of course, then I am going to make an assessment: I believe that one of the problems why this problem has not been clearly regulated worldwide in criminal codes or criminal laws is that they have usually been called anti-sect laws. This already creates a communicative problem with religious freedom. The proposal that I make is very similar, to explain it quickly, to gender violence laws, or domestic violence laws, where the abuser exercises control over the victim in a way that is sometimes initially subtle, imperceptible by the victim, which sometimes the victim even justifies or accepts the abuse or even understands it. It is a dynamic, as Steven knows well, cognitive persuasion, or undue influence, or continuous influence, as he says, is a dynamic very similar to the control or subtle psychological abuse that the abuser carries out on his partner.

35:30 – Ok, and add one more thing, this is a way of explaining to legislators what psychologists say about coercive persuasion. That is to say, obviously one violence is not similar to another, they resemble studies such as by Rodríguez Carballeira, who is a professor from Spain who endorses it, and other studies, but the key, for me, is that obviously when it takes place in a group, coercive persuasion can be more intense and is stronger, and is often a group problem, but the criminal germ, let’s say the starting point of the crime, is the coercive persuasion of one person to another through that dynamic. Then, if there is a group that reinforces that coercive persuasion, obviously that intensifies the attack much more, but that is something progressive, it is a plus for the group, but the criminal germ is the subtle control of one person over another person under this dynamic.

40:19 – Can you add one thing, Michel? That indeed, this misinformation that some lobby groups are creating, for example now with the JWs, one of them that Steven Hassan knows well, is Massimo Introvigne, who on his website, in his magazine, is distorting, is manipulating the information of the sentences we have won, okay? Anyone who wants to read the sentences, in Spanish and English, has them on my website, from my office, bardavioabogados, and can go to see the sentences in Spanish and English and really find out about the sentences. Mr. Massimo Introvigne is distorting the information.

43:24 – If I have understood correctly, Michel, we are now finishing the interview and you are asking me if I want to say a few words, right?

43:50 – I just want to say one last thing: This ruling that we have won says one last thing that seemed brilliant to me, and that is that the judge says: “No matter how sacred the dogmas of a religion are, be careful! they are applied by beings. Humans”. That is to say, it is implying that no matter how sacred religious freedom may be, there are human beings who can do harm through those principles, that is, there is, as the judge says, excessive control and ostracism or social death that they lead the judge to require public powers to protect the family, since this social ostracism or social death breaks families.

Additional video:

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Spain: a talk with Dr. Steven Hassan, Michel Gilbert, and Loida Fernández


Asociación Española de víctimas de los testigos de Jehová

On Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

Dr. Bardavío Antón’s YouTube channel and website

Dr. Bardavío Antón’s thesis on sect crimes and criminal law

Dr. Bardavío Antón’s book about criminal sects in Mexico and criminal law

La libertad de expresión ampara calificar a los Testigos de Jehová de “secta destructiva”, según una sentencia

Víctimas de los Testigos de Jehová piden que paguen «el desastre mental que están generando»

Los Testigos de Jehová son una “secta destructiva” y los exintegrantes, “víctimas”, según una sentencia