On October 30th, pedophile Jonathan Rose received a nine-month prison sentence at Manchester Crown Court on two charges of indecent assault. His victims were young girls he had met and befriended as a respected Jehovah’s Witness.
In delivering the sentence, Judge David Stockdale QC was finally serving justice on a monstrous man who had been a Witness elder until only a matter of weeks before the trial. Remarkably, at the time of writing, he has yet to even face judicial punishment from his congregation for his crimes. You are probably wondering, how could this be?
After first learning of this case, I began digging for more details. The report by Cris Osuh in the Manchester Evening News was very informative, but it left a number of questions unanswered. Finally, with the help of a source who is a friend of the victims concerned and was present at the trial, I have been able to piece together a better idea of what happened and who this man is.
This article represents a confluence of the information brought to light in the M.E.N. report and my source’s version of events, which I have found to be very candid and reliable.
Let off the hook?
To better understand this story we need to go back to 1995 when Rose, then in his late teens, was first accused of sexual assault by a girl in her early teens in the New Moston congregation (in Manchester, UK). We will call his accuser “Girl A.”
Girl A’s parents reported the matter to the police and the case went to trial. To their horror, Rose was acquitted, and his elders rallied to his defense. They branded Girl A a liar and painted her family as trouble-makers. The family was subsequently banished from the congregation for refusing to back down, and in particular, for trying to warn other parents.
This first accuser’s father commented on what happened in the M.E.N. article saying, “They held a meeting where they stood on a platform and said no-one should ever take a ‘brother’ to court. They dismissed our complaint as something that happened between teenagers. We were ostracised, and then told to get out of the congregation after the trial.”
It seems Rose’s courtroom victory not only absolved him of guilt in the eyes of his congregation – it also emboldened him to continue his abuse. Before long he moved on to another victim, who we will call “Girl B.”
Rose is said to have met Girl B and befriended her parents while still awaiting his 1995 trial. These parents were among those that the family of Girl A had tried to warn prior to being forced out.
The exact circumstances of Rose’s assault are unclear, but Girl B was “groped by him in her own home” according to the M.E.N. article. This is said to have happened roughly a year after the trial. Girl B was only five years old at the time, but the memory would stay with her, even though she shared it with no one – not even her parents.
Exposed on Facebook
Fast forward to around 2010, and by now Rose had worked his way up to becoming an elder in New Moston. Though he had clearly won over his congregation, his first alleged victim could not forget her experience with him so easily. And it all came flooding back to her one day when she logged on to Facebook.
A photograph was posted showing Rose with a group of his friends, including Girl A. It was taken in the early nineties before the abuse took place, and had been posted innocuously by someone who was oblivious to the details of what had happened in 1995.
On seeing the photo, Girl A wrote the word “PAEDO” in the comments section. This single action sparked a chain of events that would eventually lead to Rose’s conviction.
Girl B is said to have seen Girl A’s comment on her sister’s Facebook page, and enquired as to what she meant by it. Upon finding out that it related to Girl A’s allegations against Rose, she immediately confided for the first time that he had done the same thing to her when she was only five.
Facebook thus played a role in bringing two victims together who otherwise would have been oblivious to their shared experience.
Another victim steps forward
It would be 2012 before a phone conversation between Girl A and a friend of Girl B would move things further forward. During this conversation, Girl A happened to mention that a third victim of Jonathan Rose had come forward – Girl C.
Girl C had been molested over the course of several years, some time around 2003. She was only 10 years old when 27-year-old Rose “kissed her sexually” after exploiting the trust of her parents and seizing an opportunity to be alone with her.
Girl B’s friend passed on the information concerning the court case to Girl B, who realised that this was the time to act if she was ever going to see justice for what had happened to her, not to mention lend her support to another of Rose’s victims.
Girl B thus went straight to the police and made a statement, and the police added her accusation to Rose’s charges.
The charm offensive begins
Soon after being charged, Rose began a campaign to gain support in New Moston congregation and repudiate the accusations. The written statement made by Girl C was touted around the congregation by Rose in an effort to garner sympathy from any who would listen.
Perhaps most disturbing were the efforts Rose went to in trying to obtain positive references ahead of his trial. In an astonishing act of brazenness, Rose and his father are said to have visited the home of Girl B’s father to ask him for a character reference!
At the time, Girl B’s father (who was no longer a Witness by that point) was unaware of what Rose had done to his daughter, since she had not yet found the circumstances or strength to confide in him about what had happened. Girl B’s father thus found out about the abuse of his daughter from the lips of her attacker as part of a shameless ploy to escape punishment.
Almost as inexplicable was the disfellowshipping of Girl C by New Moston elders a matter of weeks before the trial. The exact reasons remain unclear, but it is thought to have been some form of intimidation or retribution on the part of the elders for her role in pursuing justice against her abuser. Drinking alcohol and ‘going off the rails’ was touted as the excuse.
Despite such acts of desperation from both Rose and the elders who supported him, it seems common sense prevailed at least to some extent. Rose found himself stripped of being an elder, albeit only a few weeks before his trial. So recent was Rose’s removal that, at the time of writing, the website charityinsight.com still lists him as a trustee on its page for Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses…
Despite losing his position (likely through necessity), Rose continued to enjoy the full support of his elders and the congregation as far as the charges were concerned. This would later manifest itself once the proceedings began in early September 2013.
Rose arrived for his trial at Manchester Crown Court with an entourage of Witness supporters, including several elders. But this inundation of fans did not impress the judge.
With the trial threatening to descend into a circus on only the first day, the judge ordered that the court’s public gallery and even the waiting area should be off-limits to all but family and those involved in the proceedings.
Despite this ruling, certain elders are said to have ignored orders by trying to sit beside Rose in a public show of support – even though this was to lead to their ejection from the courtroom. The pleas of one elder to present evidence in support of Rose were similarly denied after complaints from the victims’ side.
Having succeeded in manipulating almost an entire congregation to rally to his cause, Rose set about trying to convince the judge and jury that the similar claims of two women of different ages, who had little connection to each other, were false. Unfortunately for him, a court of law is not so easily swayed.
In one attempt at arguing his innocence, Rose testified regarding an incident involving Girl C in which she had been hauled before her elders for some indiscretion described in the M.E.N. article as “entirely normal teenage behaviour.” But the more the story unravelled, the more it actually counted against him.
Some time ago Girl C was deemed to have been involved in “inappropriately sexual” conduct with someone. Rose had orchestrated matters so that, as an elder, he could be involved in a judicial investigation to explore the intimate details along with other elders.
In recounting the incident, Rose argued that he must be innocent because Girl C did not bring up his abuse of her during his questioning. In making this assertion, Rose completely overlooked the fact that he had no place interrogating the girl on such matters, and that Girl C’s reluctance to confront him on that occasion did not equate to his innocence.
In any case, it seems the judge was not diverted by Rose’s argument. As my source expressed, “it most certainly did not do him any favors.”
In another failed attempt at winning over the judge, Rose presented a photograph of himself taken with Girl B and her family. The photograph, taken shortly after Rose had abused Girl B, showed Rose stood beside his victim. Rose’s argument? He must have been innocent, because otherwise why would Girl B be stood so close to him?
Watchtower representatives emerge
A surprising feature of the trial was the arrival of two Watchtower representatives from bethel towards the end of the first week. Both were relatively young, perhaps in their thirties. Their identities are as yet unknown.
The victims’ side looked on in disgust as, for the remaining days of the trial, these representatives sat firmly on the defendant’s side of the courtroom, consulting with Rose and making it clear as to on whose side their allegiance fell.
Only when confronted emotionally by one of the victims’ family members on the final day of the trial did they accept that their behavior in supporting Rose so openly was inappropriate. After this exchange, they elected to sit in a more neutral position from that point onwards.
An eventful verdict
After a week and a half of hearing evidence, the jury finally returned a guilty verdict on two of the charges involving Girl B and Girl C respectively. On hearing this, Rose’s wife is said to have lunged towards the side of the victims, screaming and shouting. Only after intervention from the police and members of her own family was she restrained and peace restored.
Due to the lateness of the verdict, the judge elected to set a new date of October 30th for Rose to receive his sentence.
Rose had six weeks to put his affairs in order and prepare for what would likely be a custodial sentence. But he was to use this period to resume attending meetings almost immediately (in spite of bail conditions prohibiting any contact with under 18s) in an apparent last-ditch attempt to drum up support.
Defiant to the end
Rose returned to Manchester Crown Court on October 30th, once more with a small army of supporters at his side. So numerous were those with him that the court clerk was forced to move other cases and allocate a larger courtroom to accommodate everyone who wished to hear the sentencing. On learning of this, Rose is said to have remarked, “They can all come in the f***ing dock with me. There is plenty of room in there as I’ve done f***-all wrong!”
The defiant and obnoxious attitude was apparently not limited to Rose that day. His mother, also a Witness, is said to have walked past one of his victims and called her a “slut,” despite not having seen her since she was a child. My source remarked, “I can only say I’ve never seen or heard anything like this behavior from any Jehovah’s Witnesses in my lifetime. It was an eye-opener.”
Before the sentence was passed, Rose’s lawyer gave a closing speech and presented the judge with a pile of letters that had been gathered by Rose over previous weeks, each expressing “disagreement or disbelief” from local Witnesses regarding his guilty verdict. Once again, this did not work in Rose’s favor.
“The judge was genuinely angered by being presented with a heap of letters from Witnesses expressing their disbelief at the guilty verdict,” my source explained. “He took offense at their disrespect for the jury’s decision.”
In passing sentence, Judge Stockdale told Rose, “You are now utterly disgraced – even though many members of that community still place a great deal of faith in you. The Jehovah’s Witnesses… upholds very high standards of moral behaviour – you deviated altogether from those standards.”
As reported in the M.E.N. article, Rose “showed no emotion” when receiving his sentence. In the words of my source, “There was no remorse, no shame, zero. He was just stood in the dock chatting away with his bag like he was going on holiday for a few weeks.”
Rose is now serving a mere nine months in prison, and has been made to sign the sex offenders register. Perhaps more significantly, as the following letter shows, Rose has been made subject to a “sexual offences prevention order.” On his release, he will be banned from “visiting or remaining in any domestic premises in which he knows a child / children under the age of 18 to be present.” How this will work out practically for Rose in terms of his participation in the preaching work remains to be seen.
Arguably the most perplexing aspect of this whole story was the ease with which Rose played the victim, and succeeded in convincing so many individuals within his congregation of his innocence. One is left wondering, how many more Witness pedophiles in positions of authority have similarly managed to persuade their fellow worshippers, including elders, to turn a blind eye?
In light of this, Watchtower’s comment to the press seems all the more hollow. A spokesman told the M.E.N., “Everyone has become more aware of how to deal with these issues in recent years. In no way would the Jehovah Witnesses purposefully try to protect anyone who is accused of serious crimes.”
This sounds more like wishful thinking on the part of the spokesman than an actual reflection of how things are.
Just to re-cap, at the time of writing this article Jonathan Rose is still a member of New Moston congregation. He is not disfellowshipped. Conversely, one of his victims HAS been disfellowshipped on seemingly trumped-up charges by elders who have made no secret of their support for Rose. This alone would indicate that there continues to be denial on the part of the congregation as to his culpability, with Watchtower’s consent or indifference.
And then we have the strange presence of the two young bethel representatives during the trial, who only ceased sitting with and showing support for Rose when confronted and shamed into apologizing. How can Watchtower in all sincerity claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not “purposefully try to protect anyone who is accused of serious crimes” when they have so openly showed their support in court for just such a person?
PLEASE NOTE: Shortly after this article was published it was disputed that Rose has yet to be disfellowshipped. As a precautionary measure, the article was taken down for 24 hours until it could be verified to the extent possible that this is indeed the case. As of the time of publishing this article, no announcement has been made in New Moston congregation to the effect that Jonathan Rose is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness. Here at JWsurvey we take the truthfulness of our information very seriously. If anyone familiar with the case can establish that anything written in this article is unfactual, please contact the author at the address provided on our contact page and we will ensure any errors are rectified.