Friday, April 23, 2010

HIV+ priest arrested for defilement

KAMPALA - A senior Catholic priest based in Pakwach town in Nebbi district has been arrested by the Police on allegations of defiling a 14-year-old girl
who served in the church.

The district criminal investigations officer, Henry Mulindwa, said the Rev. Fr. Santos Constatino Wapokura was first arrested last week in Pakwach when the girl’s parents registered a complaint. Mulindwa said another 14-year-old girl had also reported to the Police, saying the priest also forced her into sex early last year.

Wapokura, 45, the parish priest for Pakwach, is also HIV-positive, Mulindwa said.

Therefore, the Police upgraded his case from simple to aggravated defilement. He was, however, shortly released on bond under unclear circumstances, which the district Police headquarters in Nebbi are investigating. “This is a capital offence. When I heard about it, I called for the file and ordered the priest’s re-arrest on Monday,” Mulindwa said. Mulindwa explained that the victim was a class Five pupil. The girl told the Police that Wapokura would often ask her to go to his house, where he would follow her and force her into sex. On another occasion, the girl narrated, she was at the priest’s home with other visitors. Father Wapokura reportedly sent away the other people and forced the girl into sex.

Wapokura, who is detained at Nebbi Central Police Station, denies the allegations, which he described as a ploy by his enemies to tarnish his name. He was at the helm of the celebrations to mark the Centenary of the Catholic faith in northern Uganda held in Pakwach on March 20. Police said his file had been forwarded to the resident state attorney for sanctioning, after which he will appear before court. Another Catholic priest was arrested and charged with defilement in Gulu recently.

The cases add to the long list of accusations of sexual misconduct by Catholic priests, which have rocked the Church lately. In America, the Church has paid millions of dollars to victims. Pope Benedict has also been accused of trying to cover up the crimes in an attempt to preserve the image of the church, which forbids its priests from marrying. Activists in Britain are considering arresting the Pope when he travels to London later this year.

1 comment:

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