*** Our Kingdom Ministry October 1972 Issue, Page 8 ***
What is meant by "some years ago" on page 170, paragraph two, in the "Organization" book?
This indicates more than a year or two. It may be noted that it did not say "many years ago." So it is not an exact number of years, but more like two or three years. It was not intended to have a brother go back into the distant past to bring up wrongs of which he repented years ago and that have evidently been forgiven by Jehovah and are not being practiced now. In many cases the wrongs occurred prior to the time when the "Watchtower" drew attention to what the Scriptures say on such misconduct. (So if the Watchtower does not tell you that a practice is wrong, you cannot be held accountable for it.)
If a brother has been serving faithfully for some years and has seen evidence of Jehovahs blessings upon him, why should he now step down from office? If he has the right viewpoint now on conduct and will give good counsel he should be able to continue to serve. If the local body of elders see that he has the respect of the congregation and has shown the proper qualifications over the last two or three years, he may remain in his position of service.
Must wrongdoing be brought to public attention after many years? The book (page 168) under "Public Reproof" quotes 1 Timothy 5:20 and mentions reproof of those who confess to committing more than one offense. But it really has to do with recent events. The "Interlinear" refers to those "sinning," something going on at the time. So if repentance occurred some years ago, three years ago or more, and sinning ceased, and he is respected by the congregation, it is not necessary now to publicly reprove one who committed more than one offense "some years ago."
This material was covered at elder schools back in 1997/8. Elders were instructed that this provision of essentially overlooking sins "two or three years" in the past did not apply to the sin of fornication. In explicit language elders were told that there was no "statute of limitations" on fornication. Elders were instructed to write a note to this effect on a certain page of their ks91 textbook.
However, pedophilia is not fornication. There is a "statute of limitation" on those who abuse children.
So, there you have it. If a brother has consensual sex with his next door neighbor 20 years ago the Watchtower judicial hounds would proceed against him.
However, if this same brother sexually abused a little girl 3 years ago? Forget it, the statute of limitation has run out! He is free to serve in any capacity to which he is appointed.