Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kenya:Priest Accused of Child Molestation

Alex Kiarie, AfricaNews reporter in Nairobi, Kenya

  1. A Catholic priest in Kenya, Father Renato Kizito Sesana has been accused of child molestation. His accusers are male minors who were formerly under his care. Many Kenyans are still reeling from the accusations leveled against the Italian Catholic priest.
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    The reports that were first reported by a Kenyan private TV station-KTN- showed two unidentified boys who claimed that Fr Kizito had at one time molested them. They said that the Catholic priest had used Italian words to hypnotise them before sodomising them.

    One of them has since turned to drugs, while the other has since left the Kivuli Children's Home that is run by Fr Kizito.

    Initially, when the TV reporters went to Fr Kizito for a rejoinder, the priest refused to answer questions. The station aired footage in which the priest was seen brushing off a reporter. However, he did emerge on Wednesday and denied the allegations. He even dared those who had any evidence to show it. He added that he was being targeted by some individuals who were eyeing the Kshs3 billion ($38.6m) property that he has amassed.

    But in a dramatic move, the KTN aired a photograph of Fr Kizito in bed with a boy-both naked. The photograph was however edited because of its x-rated content. The station claimed that it is in possession of more graphic photographs of Father Kizito's escapades with young boys below the age of 12.

    It is claimed that Fr Kizito used top take photographs as he molested the boys. He would later send the photos to his accomplices in Italy, who would in turn travel to Kenya disguised as donors and sodomise the boys.

    One of the boys told of how he together with his colleagues were taken for a 'trip' to the Coastal town of Mombasa, where they were sodomised by the prelate's visiting friends. Fr Kizito later promised to pay the boys' school fees and support them financially on premise that the boys would tell no one about their ordeals.

    Father Kizito, 67, is a renowned catholic priest, whose missionary work has earned him respect and recognition. He runs several homes for the orphans in Kenya, Zambia and even some parts of Sudan. He is also the brains behind Radio Waumini, the first Catholic radio station in Kenya. The station broadcasts live services from the Vatican every Sunday.

    He is also an accomplished journalist. In fact, between 1995 and 2002, he ran a column titled 'Father Kizito's Notebook' in one the mainstream newspapers, 'The Sunday Nation'. The paper is owned by Kenya's largest private media house, the Nation Media Group.

    He was born in Leco, Italy, and holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering among other qualifications. In several of his writings, the priest attracted the ire of readers when he claimed that homosexuals should be forgiven for they need more understanding from the society. The letters to the editor from readers castigated the priest for being sympathetic to homosexuals, which many Kenyans frown upon.

    The latest scandal involving catholic priests come hot on the heels of a brewing spiritual war pitting reformist priests who are advocating for marriage. Some of the purists, led by Zambian dissident Bishop Emanuel Milingo, have even disclosed that they have been married for over twenty years. It also adds to the long list of randy priests who have turned against their young flock.

    A few months ago, the Vatican announced a one billion dollar bill in compensation for the sexual offenses of catholic priests to American victims.

    Over 10,000 cases involving 4,300 priests were reported in the US between 1950 and 2002. In 1999 Pope John Paul sacked a Mexican priest for sexual related reasons. Ireland too has reported a high number of sexual offenses involving catholic priests. However, Africa has reported fewer cases.

    Kenya in particular has never had such a high profile case involving a senior catholic prelate like the Fr Kizito.

    Reached on phone, the Kenyan Catholic Arch-Bishop John Njue, confirmed that the church leadership has been receiving complains about father Kizito. But he added that they church has been unable to act on the reports because they have been coming in form of anonymous letters. He however added that they will look into the matter with the aim of taking the necessary steps.

    Kenyans who talked to AfricaNews expressed shock and disbelief at the reports. They called upon the Kenyan government to investigate the case and prosecute if possible.

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