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Prominent Politician's Son Sues Catholic Bishop Of Ngong For Sexual Abuse

in KENYA, 11/02/2013

The son of a former politician is suing the Catholic Church for years of sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of missionary priests in seminaries here in Kenya and in the UK.

Emmanuel Shikuku, the son of Martin Shikuku, one of Kenya's fiery and well known politician who died in 2012, is alleging he was sexually abused by several clerics as he was studying for the priesthood.

He also alleges that one of his abusers - he says they were 6 in total - was a former Bishop of the Ngong Diocese but who was removed a few years back after cases of abuse started to appear.

In an exclusive interview with The Saturday Standard, Mr Shikuku claims he was a victim of a series of rapes and other forms of abuse between 1978 and 1994.

One of the men he names is former bishop of the Ngong Diocese, Bishop Cornelius Schilder, a Dutch national stripped of his duties as a priest in 2009 for allegedly abusing a Maasai herds boy.

Schilder was bishop of Ngong Diocese from 2003 to 2009 and is back in Netherlands after allegations of him abusing a Maasai boy came to light. Schilder currently does not celebrate masses in public and exercises no pastoral tasks.

According to the interview carried today, Mr Shikuku is back in the country to record a statement with police over the alleged crimes.

He has sued six Mill Hill priests — four Dutchmen and two Britons — over sex attacks that allegedly began when he was a nine-year-old altar boy in Mumias.

This is Kenya's first high profile case involving sex abuse by Catholic clergymen.

In the US and Europe, since 2009, cases of sexual abuse by priests and monks - some spanning decades - of young men mostly, came to light leading to massive backlash and lawsuits by victims.

Close to several billion dollars has been paid out to victims as compensation.

Mr Shikuku described what he termed “the haunting memories of a painful childhood” he suffered as a result of the abuse.

Asked why he has decided to file a complaint after such a long time, he said “shame, guilt and a fear of not being believed” had held him back until recently.

He said he abandoned priestly studies in 1994 while in London and has had an alcohol addiction since then to cope with the trauma.

In a demand letter his UK lawyers Emmott Snell & Co sent to the General Council of the Mill Hill Missionaries, Mr Shikuku said he was first abused at the age of nine by a priest at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Kakamega.

“After these assaults, the same Father threatened to run down our client with his motorcycle if he told anyone what had happened,” reads part of the statement.

Mr Shikuku alleges that he had to offer sexual services to several of his superiors in order that they can give him permission to study and be ordained as a priest.

The letter further reads that in 1979, while at Mumias Boys Primary School, Emmanuel was abused by both a student and a teacher at the school. When he turned to the local parish priest for help in form of a confession, “The Father took our client to his home where he sexually assaulted him”.

Around 1992, Shikuku joined Mill Hill Missionaries’ parish in Kakamega to commence training on his way to priesthood.

He says he disclosed his past abuse at the hands of other members of Mill Hill Missionaries to another Father.

This allegedly opened him to more abuse with the priest threatening not to recommend him for the next stage of his path to priesthood if he did not give in to his sexual demands.

Around 1993, after being selected for a one-year course at Mill Hill Formation House in Jinja Uganda, to study philosophy, Mr Shikuku said the institution’s rector abused him again in the pretext of “assessing” him for ministry.

He said he was later sent to Tarasa Village in the Malindi Diocese for pastoral experience where he met Fr Schilder who had the final decision about whether he would go to St Joseph’s College, a Mill Hill seminary in north London, for his final training.

“During further ‘assessment’ sessions, Fr. Schilder sexually assaulted our client,” the UK lawyers charge. “This occurred almost every night for around a month and was always associated with alcohol. Our client acquiesced to consuming alcohol in order to endure the assaults.”

Mr Shikuku said that as of 1993 when he secured a place at St Joseph’s College in September 1993, his alcohol abuse had reached unimaginable levels.

He also alleges he was abused by another priest, a staff member at the college. After this incident, the letter states, the Father informed Mr Shikuku of his dismissal from the Mill Hill Missionaries, thus ending his priesthood dreams.

Efforts to get a comment from the Mill Hill Missionaries both in Kenya and their main offices in London did not bear fruits, according to the interview.

Also, the head of the Catholic church, Cardinal John Njue has yet to make a comment on the matter.

The Mill Hill Missionaries, officially called the St. Joseph's Society for Foreign Missions was formed in 1866 and operates in Africa mostly with missions in most countries. They serve in parishes and also teach in schools apart from development work.

In 2011, a TV documentary aired by Irish broadcaster RTE highlighted the abuse by priests from the Mill Hill Missionaries; the documentary lifted the lid on 56-year-old Fr Gerry Geraghty who now lives at the order's house in Rathgar, Dublin. He is alleged to have abused young boys in Kenya as recently as five years ago.

It also described how Michael ole Uka was abused by Bishop Cornelius Schilder. Michael says the abuse happened in the Bishop’s bedroom.

The documentary also detailed other abuses in Nigeria and South Africa. Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he had watched the programme "with a sense of revulsion at the unspeakable catalogue of abuse against children it revealed".

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