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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned...

A "Kenyan" Catholic priest has denied allegations of sexual misconduct and declared he is ready to face his accusers. Father Renato Kizito Sesana’s denial came as John Cardinal Njue said the Catholic Church will investigate the allegations of child abuse against him to establish the truth.

Accusations against Fr Kizito coincided with revelations that the police have launched major investigations into cases of child sexual abuse with a view to arrest the perpetrators of the crime who face a life sentence if found guilty. The priest, who has served the Catholic Church in Kenya for the last 20 years and won two awards for his work, declared he was innocent and blamed media reports on some people who he once worked with and were scheming to take over the Konoina Community he has established in the country.

In a statement he released, Fr Kizito said: “Let me state very clearly. I have not sodomised any child. I am ready to face anybody who can prove the opposite. I am aware that some criminals do use such allegations of sexual offences to instill fear in lay and religious people working with young people, usually with the intention of extorting money. I am not ready to fall into this trap.”

Let me state very clearly. I have not sodomised any child. I am ready to face anybody who can prove the opposite."
-Father Kizito

The Konoina Community, which he has established for the past three years with the help of Italians, is valued at Sh3 billion. Fr Kizito won the Raul Follereau award in 1997 and the Vita Nova award in 2002. The Catholic priest said that he jetted in to the country on Tuesday evening as the news was being aired by a media house. He said he recorded a statement at the Kilimani police station after learning of the allegations, which he says he has not heard a chance to defend himself.

He further noted that his accusers had not taken the charges to the police together with the evidence.

The priest stated that some people have come forward and they are ready to testify that they were bribed to testify against him. “They say they have been bribed, threatened or tortured in order to testify falsely against me. At the moment they are scared, but in due course they will file their personal affidavits,” he said.

The priest in an interview said that the feud began last October after an E-mail was leaked with a naked image alleged to be of him and a 'young adult’. “It is impossible to say if it was a man or a woman. Those pictures were clearly doctored using photo editing software, and so I did not accord them much importance” Fr Kizito explained. Over time, he said, he realised that the issue was much bigger than he anticipated.

He suspected the people behind the allegations to be those who were once in his confidence and are now trying to take over the community. These people, Fr Kizito said, were expelled and are no longer among the trustees of the Konoina Community Trust as they tried to transfer the properties in to their names.

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