A former Jehovah’s Witness has won an international award for highlighting potential sex abuse risks within the church.
Steve Rose, from Rift House, Hartlepool, has received a Courage Award from the organisation Silent Lambs for campaigning against practices that he says make it difficult for allegations of child and other sex abuse to be uncovered or acted upon.
Mr Rose, 51, spoke out in an article in the Mail in November about a “two-witness rule”, which says Jehovah’s Witness church elders are not allowed to take action against allegations of wrongdoing unless it has been witnessed by at least two people.
Mr Rose, who used to be a member of Hartlepool’s Kingdom Hall, in Ashgrove Avenue, also raised concerns that convicted sex offenders are allowed to remain part of the church.
He was also interviewed by a national newspaper and featured in an article on an American website about allegations of cover-ups within the church.
Organisation Silent Lambs, which gave Mr Rose his award, helps abuse survivors’ works to highlight institutional abuse.
It said to Mr Rose: “We appreciate your courage in standing for what is right and your brave actions serve a higher cause of protecting children.
“You will always be held in a place on honour on the Silent Lambs website and serve as a shining example for all abuse survivors and advocates.
“Thank you for taking a moment in your life to reach out to help others.”
Steve, 51, has also spoken to the Charity Commission which is carrying out a statutory investigation into the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain – the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the UK – around safeguarding issues.
He said: “I’m proud of what I have achieved. My main priority is to get the word out.”
A Jehovah’s Witness national spokesman previously said a sin does not have to be witnessed by two or more people at the same time to be reported and disputed Mr Rose’s assertion it can prevent alleged sex abuse being reported or taken seriously.
The spokesman added offenders who remain part of the church are very carefully monitored and not allowed to be alone with children.