1000 Jehovah's Witnesses child sex abusers, hears inquiry

THE Jehovah's Witness church identified more than 1000 of its members in Australia as child sexual abuse perpetrators but never told the police, a royal commission has heard.

The Sydney investigation into the religious movement's alleged cover-ups of abuse began on Monday, with counsel-assisting Angus Stewart saying one survivor was encouraged "to respect her abuser".

"Evidence will be put before the Royal Commission that of the 1006 alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse identified by the Jehovah's Witness Church since 1950, not one was reported by the church to secular authorities," he said.

"This suggests that it is the practice of the Jehovah's Witness Church to retain information regarding child sexual abuse offences but not to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police or other relevant authorities."

Mr Stewart said church members may be criminally liable for concealing serious offences.