Judgment of Lord Justice Ward
- Editor's note: After receiving a copy of the original 295-page Judgment, xFamily.org editors have determined that the Judgment text archived on xFamily.org and other sites was edited to remove the full legal names of certain individuals (including Jeremy Spencer, Paul Peloquin, Michael Gilligan and Dawn Gilligan) whom Lord Justice Ward identified by full name in the Judgment itself. It also appears that other minor changes were made resulting in some text and formatting that does not match the original. The xFamily.org editors did not make these changes and only became aware of them in early October 2007. As time permits and to the extent possible, xFamily.org editors intend to correct this and restore the text so that it matches the orginal.
In 1992, the mother of a member of The Family International filed a case with the High Court in England requesting the custody of her unmarried daughter's child. The grounds presented for the removal of the custody of her grandchild were her daughter's membership in The Family and the risk of harm to the child in light of the organization's beliefs and practices.
Despite the fact that this was strictly a custody case involving a Family member and her mother, The Rt Hon. Lord Justice Sir Alan Hylton Ward devoted several years to hearing both current and former member witnesses, as well as scholars of religion, investigative experts and social workers. He also studied thousands of pages of never before revealed internal documents, and ordered social services to evaluate the condition of local Family communities in England. The court hearing lasted 75 days in which 10,000 pages of evidence were presented.
After three years of rigorous investigative work, on May 26, 1995, Mr. Ward issued his ruling in the case. On October 19, 1995, the 295-page judgment was made public. It is a ground-breaking legal document which details not only the trial for custody of a child born into The Family, but also how the writings, doctrines, practices, leadership and the group's treatment of children were placed under scrutiny. On the same date as the May 1995 judgment was published, Mr. Ward also handed down a second judgment resolving certain matters not resolved in the first judgment. Based on information provided by Kim Speller, who represented the respondent (the mother of the child referred to in the judgment as S. or ST) throughout the case, it appears the second judgment was not published and made widely available in the same way that the first one was and was instead later transcribed and published by a British legal publisher.
- Scan of First Judgment of Lord Justice Ward (296 pages, 25MB) Also available in: medium quality (59.1MB), high quality (217MB) — 1995-10-19
- Judgments of Lord Justice Ward from May 26, 1995 and October 19, 1995 (97 pages, 481k) – 1995-10-19 — Text of the first judgment handed down in May 1995 and published in October 1995 and the second judgment (the section titled the "THE END RESULT") handed down at the same time that the first judgment was published.
- View the complete Judgment of Lord Justice Ward online (approx. 650 KB)
Mr. Ward ruled that The Family, including its top leadership, had engaged in abusive sexual practices involving minors, as well as severe corporal punishment and sequestration of children. However, in a last minute turnaround, he said The Family had abandoned these practices and that they were an acceptably safe environment for children. Conditional custody was granted to the mother, a full-time member of the group, with the requirements that the group cease all corporal punishment of children in England, improve the education of children, denounce their founder David Berg's writings, and "acknowledge that through his writings Berg was personally responsible for children in The Family having been subjected to sexually inappropriate behaviour".
As a result, The Family accommodated the custody-granting condition of admitting wrong-doing on Berg's part for endorsing adult-child sex. In his apology to the judge, Steven Kelly (Peter Amsterdam) stated:
However, despite the group publicly renouncing former policies and doctrines that condoned or encouraged sex between adults and minors, as well as accepting that Berg had helped bring about much of the abuse, in their internal publications there has been no such renunciation. Evidence of this is represented by the following quotes from Family leader Karen Zerby:
- Evening Standard: Evil Berg still leads cult from beyond the grave — 1995-11-24
- London Times: Judge condemns cult's founder as perverted and malign influence — 1995-11-25
- Daily Mail: 'Reformed' Sex Cult Can Keep Children — 1995-11-25
- Sunday Telegraph Magazine: Family Values — 1997-01-05
- Mr. Speller provided the following information regarding this document:
I was there when he gave it having acted throughout for the
respondent mother. I can certainly verify a second judgment. It formed part of the transcript that Jordans published for some years, but now no longer keep it. The two column judgment looks very much like the Jordans transcript, that's how they laid it out, however I have not done a
--Speller, Kim. "Re: The judgment of Mr Justice Ward," Email to xFamily.org editors, 2010-06-22.
See also: Legal Case U.K., 1992