The UK Charity Commission has criticised a Manchester Jehovah’s Witness congregation over its handling of allegations of child sexual abuse by a senior member; Johnathan Rose. The Charity Commission has stated that the, “New Moston congregation were badly let down by trustees.”

Johnathan Rose an elder of the congregation was jailed for 9 months for child sexual abuse in 2013. The Charity Commission launched an enquiry into the congregation in 2014. They discovered that women who have been abused by Rose were forced to confront him and other trustees when he attempted to re-join the congregation after being released from prison.

The victims of Rose were, “forced to confront him face to face and answer questions about their abuse, including from him, at a three hour meeting, the Charity Watchdog found. One alleged victim was criticised in correspondence as a troublemaker who was economical with the truth.” It is reported that Rose asked one victim, “What was I supposed to have done to you that night?” Another member of the committee asked, “Did you ever egg him on?”

The Charity Commission’s 2014 enquiry found that in 2012 a woman alleged that she was abused by Rose as a child in the 1990’s when Rose was an elder and a trustee. When he was charged, the Charity Commission contacted the trustees and were assured that Rose was no longer allowed to carry out any, “pastoral or promotional duties.” The Commission discovered that whilst he had resigned he has continued to carry out these duties and two of the trustees who decided how Rose should be dealt with were his friends.

Another allegation was made against Rose in 1993 and he was acquitted in 1994. When Rose was arrested in 2012, the elders of the neighbouring congregation flagged up his previous acquittal but the new Moston elders dismissed the allegation by saying, “she had a history of being economical with the truth and seeking to cause trouble and they “do not view her as a reliable witness. As Rose had been 19 and she had been 15 at the time, they viewed the allegation as a matter between two teenagers and not the same kind of wrongdoing.”

Once the Charity found out about Rose’s meetings with his victims and raised concerns he was disfellowshipped. The Commission found, “It has been proven they have misled both the organisation and the Charity Commission, and although they have offered an unreserved apology to me through an overseer, they refuse to apologise to any of the victims and their families, publicly or privately. They’re not repentant for their actions and the congregation is still being misled.”

The Charity Commission’s head of investigations and enforcement, Harvey Grenville said, “The victims of abuse had been badly let down by the charity. The trustees should have made the victims’ welfare their first priority. Instead, their actions and omissions, both in response to allegations of abuse, and in their attitude towards our investigation, fell short of what the public would expect of those running a charity in a modern society.”

The Charity has improved its safeguarding policy since 2014 and the victims can no longer be forced to recount their allegations in front of the alleged abuser.

The Charity Commission also launched an investigation into safeguarding by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Great Britain (WTBTS), the umbrella charity that oversees the UK’s 1,350 Jehovah’s Witness congregations .It is believed that this society decides how claims of abuse are handled by the congregation.

Jordans Solicitors are currently representing a large number of clients who have suffered sexual abuse by participating in religious organisations. Where a person abuses their position of trust and commits an act of assault a claim may be possible. We would encourage anyone affected to contact Jordans to pursue a civil claim

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