NBCUniversal’s multi-platform true crime brand for women, Oxygen, is set to launch a new two-night investigative special about former Jehovah’s Witnesses and their allegations of sexual abuse within the organization.
The Witnesses follows four former members of the religion who recount their own experiences, along with Trey Bundy, an investigative journalist from The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) who has worked to protect children within the institution for half a decade. The special questions whether the organization’s governing body and policies and practices serve to also conceal the identities of child predators.
Allegations surrounding abuse and subsequent mishandling of the claims by those within the church have dogged the organization for some time. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were ordered to pay US$35 million to a victim of sexual abuse in 2012 for failing to report that one of the church’s members had been abusing children for years, though the ruling was recently overturned.
The two-part doc offers exclusive interviews and first-hand accounts from former Witnesses Debbie McDaniel, Deloris Lyles, Sarah Brooks and Chessa Manion along with Bundy and attorney Irwin Zalkin, who provides legal services to victims of abuse.
The Witnesses is produced by Herzog & Company and is based on reporting by The Center for Investigative Reporting. Mark Herzog, Andie Beckerman, Christopher G. Cowen, Trey Bundy, Amanda Pike and Christa Scharfenberg serve as executive producers. Showrunner Matthew Testa also serves as executive producer.
The special premieres over two nights on Feb. 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen.