Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (aka Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
900 Red Mills Rd, Wallkill, NY 12589, USA
Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses / 2412 Williams Hwy, Grants Pass, OR 97527
To Whom It May Concern:
Numb, I write to you. I am numb because for 20 years, I have kept a terrible series of events to myself. During my turbulent childhood, my maternal grandparents, Robert and Mary Cochran, both Jehovah’s Witnesses, acted as my main caregivers from the age of two onwards, gaining full legal custody of me when I was 10 years old. My early childhood is riddled with massive gaps in memory; years are literally completely missing. As I look back at the few memories I have, for the most part, they are not pleasant, and some of them are outside the remit of this letter. Therefore, I will draw a line around several memories that stick to me, and one that pierces time and space like a electrified filament. Firstly, throughout the early years (3 – 10) at 1165 Sleepy Hollow Loop, my grandmother placed two single beds in my room, and she slept in one of them. She did this to “protect me.” I experienced severe panic attacks, thoughts that aliens were going to invade my body, and – as mentioned above – huge lapses in memory. At one point, she even had us sleep on the rollout mattress of the living room couch, even further from the room where my grandfather slept. During those years at 1165 Sleepy Hollow Loop, they rarely, if ever, slept together. A family emergency regarding my mother required we all travel via car to Southern California. After some time, my grandfather and I returned to Oregon via plane from Southern California early, leaving us at the home alone, so that I could attend school. My grandmother would later state “Your relationship with your grandfather completely changed after you came back.” My grandfather, while no one was around, took me into the tiny shower at 1165 Sleepy Hollow Loop, when I was around the age of 10 (it occurred near the El Nino year, as I recall hearing about this on the news, my grandparents being avid watchers of the Weather Channel; and I also vaguely remember the subsequent heavy rains experienced in Oregon). Robert Cochran, my grandfather, held my naked body close to his naked body while we showered together. I remember his penis touching me. I remember his hands on my body. It sickens me to think about these events. Throughout my life I have tried to make sense of his actions. What is more, one day we were “wrestling” and he had his shirt off; there was a clear sexual nature to these “wrestling” sessions. I went outside, this time we lived off Round Prairie Road, and looked at a pair of gardening sheers. I envisioned cutting off my genitals, and this image returned to me over and over again, as an intrusive thought, for nearly a year: in my dreams, nightmares, throughout my day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – unwillingly seeing yourself re-enact castration and genital mutilation. The dictates of religion and the actions of my grandfather collided into a cognitive dissonance, one that led me to later go into a severe depression around the age of 12 – 13, where I would come home from school and sleep until the next day. I was in a state of complete and total dissociative shutdown. What other actions my grandfather may have done for my grandmother to take such precautions, I cannot remember, because I have very little memory of anything between 0 – 15. The memories I do have show that I am a victim of child sex abuse, and the man responsible is my grandfather.
Hypocrisy is the greatest sin, is it not? My uncle, Bob Cochran, of Klamath Falls, Oregon, would regularly visit my grandparent’s home. Bob would taunt me, physically abuse me – hit me, beat me – call me a “boy kissy boy;” he would push me, punch me, leave me bruised and crying to the point that my grandmother, Mary, would step in and tell him to stop. (Note: This is highly unusual given the patriarchal – woman shall obey their male leaders – dynamics of Jehovah’s Witnesses). My uncle constantly taunted me for supposedly being a homosexual, while my grandfather engaged in sexual acts with me, one of which is explicit, undeniable and has lived with me for years (the shower). When I came out as gay, near my second year in college (at 17, for I had finished High School around 15/16 and matriculated into college at 16), my grandfather, a man who abhorred vulgar language, said grotesquely “So you want to stick your dick up a man’s ass?” I was so shocked by this; I simply walked to my room and cried. Within days of turning 18, the door to my family’s home had shut behind me; I had been officially dis-fellowshiped for coming out as gay, refusing to go through “conversion therapy” and generally disdaining the entire congregation (especially after being attacked, punched and nearly beaten to a pulp, by a Ministerial Servant, Ray Reed, for not attending meetings).
One might ask, why didn’t I speak out? Well, I did, as best I could. I explicitly told Randy and Joann Legler about my uncle Bob’s physical attacks, and I also said to them that I did not feel safe at home. Randy Legler was a Ministerial Servant at the time. They said they would try to do something, and let me stay at their home several times. The Leglers were a younger, childless couple in the South Congregation who had sensitivity for struggling youth – they had helped at least one other person I know of, a young man who would later go on to Bethel. The fact that it required getting me out of my home environment, where I was frankly petrified, and into a more relaxed environment to mention “feeling unsafe at home,” should have raised alarms. Nothing happened.
I am asking that something happen. I have a rage against my abusers – especially my grandfather who sexually used me as a child, and I realize that this rage manifested itself in self-destructive ways throughout my 20s, and is still blunted by my own emotional defences. I can’t feel it fully; I am afraid of it; there is no expression for it; I can see how it has turned inwards over the years, slowly eating away at me, slowly turning myself against myself, stopping me from fulfilling my full potential. I am, of course, an adult now, and I am – per the philosopher John-Paul Sartre – “condemned to be free;” that does not mean that I can escape what he also called “facticity,” the reality of events, causality, etc. With that said, I am moving forward on several fronts; firstly, I demand that a District Overseer, or someone in a parametric position, open an immediate investigation into my complainants. Anything less is a continuation of gross negligence which has allowed one child sexual offender (Robert Cochran, Grants Pass, Oregon) and one child abuser (Bob Cochran, Klamath Falls, Oregon) to be raised to the esteem of the Elders, lauded by their congregations, and others within the Jehovah’s Witness faith. I have referred the matter to both the Oregon State Police and am seeking council regarding the legal consequences of this matter.
Tony Robert Cochran
25th September 2018
. . .