Homosexuals within the Watchtower

Leo Greenlees

Governing Body member Leo K. Greenlees was forced to resign and leave Bethel in late 1984. He entered the Toronto, Canada Bethel in 1936, eventually becoming treasurer of the Canadian branch and of the IBSA of Canada. In 1964 he went to Brooklyn Bethel, and in 1965 was elected as a director of the Society’s New York corporation.

As a director Greenlees automatically became a “governing body” member when that body was formally instituted in 1971. He often spoke at Gilead graduations, and was the concluding speaker for the day at the Watchtower Centennial business meeting at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 6, 1984. A 1982 Watchtower mentions him as being on the Teaching Committee of the Governing Body.

Greenlees’ last mention in Watchtower publications is in the December 1, 1984 Watchtower where he is said to have passed out diplomas at the September Gilead graduation.

In late 1984, Greenlees was allegedly convicted by the rest of the Governing Body of molesting a ten year old boy. The boy’s parents had complained to the Society and it took action. Greenlees was a friend of the family and often visited them.

After leaving Bethel Greenlees served as a Special Pioneer and eventually an elder in the “Downtown” congregation in New Orleans, Louisiana. He died in the late 1980s. Interestingly, the boy who Greenlees molested applied for Bethel service a few years later, around 1991, and was rejected. Watchtower leaders apparently feared that other Bethelites would tell him the ‘rumors’ about Greenlees, not knowing that he was Greenlees’ victim, and cause the young man to know that justice had not been done. He might then have confirmed the rumors.

Percy Chapman

Percy Chapman was another member of Bethel accused of being homosexual. It was alleged that Chapman was a one-time lover of GB member Leo Greenlees.

In 1959, under hint of homosexual scandal, Knorr went to Canada to replace Chapman, who was the Canadian Branch overseer. Knorr demoted Chapman to janitor, but let him remain at Toronto Bethel–on condition he marry.

According to Larry D., a Toronto former JW, “Percy…was totally anti-marriage and he made sure that none of the “Bethel boys” even contemplated the subject…” Larry described the Bethel boys of the 1950s. “They were all young and handsome, hand-picked by Percy Chapman; there was even an elite group known as ‘Percy’s boys’ who would accompany him to expensive restaurants and bars…at the time, Bethel was on Irwin Avenue in the center of the gay district of Toronto. There was even a Kingdom Hall above ‘The Parkside,’ one of Toronto’s few gay bars in the fifties and sixties.”

After Chapman’s disgrace, Larry, who personally knew Greenlees, wrote, “Poor Leo Greenlees, Percy’s close companion for three decades…had to find himself a new roommate. …He was very open about his homosexuality to those few good-looking young brothers…He would bring along another Bethel boy, Lorne Bridle, who was very good-looking and charming.”

Regardless of his dubious relationship with Chapman, Greenlees became Treasurer of WTB&TS and one of the Governing Body. According to Larry, “He managed to escape the witch hunt at Brooklyn Bethel in the early seventies when dozens of Bethel boys were disfellowshipped after learning of their midnight trysts in the sauna in Brooklyn Bethel.”

Editors note: Although this may not be concrete proof, it is with firm conviction that we print this article. Thanks to the testimony of many people who worked at Bethel during this time, we can be sure that this was common knowledge. Before you cast aside this article, please remember what the Watchtower of January 1st, 1986 said:

“Shocking as it is, even some who have been prominent in Jehovah’s organization have succumbed to immoral practices, including homosexuality, wife swapping, and child molesting”

An interesting point to consider: In March 1969 sixty homosexuals left the world headquarters called Bethel in Brooklyn – but then Watchtower President Nathan Knorr demanded that this also be covered up.

Ewart Chitty

Governing Body member Ewart Chitty (born ca. 1898) resigned his position in 1979. He entered the London Bethel in 1921, began to work in “the office.” and by 1938 held some sort of official position, as two 1938 Watchtowers have him reporting to J. F. Rutherford on the attendance of Bethel family members at the “family” study.

By 1942 Chitty was the secretary of the International Bible Students Association (IBSA; the Society’s British equivalent of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.) Somewhere along the line he was appointed as secretary-treasurer of the IBSA, which position he held until his appointment to the Governing Body in November 1974.

After his 1979 resignation from the GB, Chitty remained in Brooklyn working in Writing Correspondence, so he was certainly in good standing. A 1981 Awake! article has Chitty making comments about people having lost their love of neighbour and God.

Apparently by this time Chitty was drinking heavily, according to close acquaintances. Likely this contributed to his being dismissed from Brooklyn and reassigned to the London Bethel a few years later. There he worked at an assignment of little responsibility, but was appointed an elder in a local congregation. Chitty died about 1993.

As to Chitty’s alleged homosexuality, he certainly made some remarks in his 1963 life story in The Watchtower that leaned in this direction. By then he had roomed with the same man for 30 years. When in Brooklyn, Chitty seems to have preferred younger men as roommates.

The actual charge brought to the GB against Chitty was made by a former roommate and involved some sort of inappropriate conduct. The GB concluded that Chitty had homosexual tendencies, whatever that means, and asked him to resign. Chitty could hardly do anything but comply with the rest of the GB’s wishes, since his only alternative would have been to leave Bethel at age 81 and after being there for 58 years.

It may well be that the GB didn’t view Chitty as guilty of homosexual activity, since he remained a Bethel member in Brooklyn or London, but it may also be that they made a deal: Chitty would remain quiet about where “the dead bodies” were buried as long as the Society cared for him in his old age.

2 Replies to “Homosexuals within the Watchtower”

  1. I was there in 1978 and 1979 serving in Bethel. Creepy people there. I was in construction at the time. I had to shower before lunch with other workers and I was propositioned by a fellow worker who was much older than me. He was too creepy and I just kinda laughed it off and stayed away from him. I am no longer a Jehovah witness.

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