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Fr Kizito seized on fresh claims of sexual abuse

Thursday May 26 2011

Catholic priest Renato Kizito, in the back of a police car at Kilimani Police station on May 26, 2011, where he recorded a statement on a sexual molestation complaint. He was freed on Friday.

Catholic priest Renato Kizito, in the back of a police car at Kilimani Police station on May 26, 2011, where he recorded a statement on a sexual molestation complaint. He was freed on Friday. TOM MARUKO 

By ZADOCK ANGIRA [email protected]

Father Renato Kizito, a Catholic priest two years ago accused of defiling boys, was taken into custody by police on Thursday, accused of sexually assaulting his secretary.

This is the second time Fr Kizito is getting in trouble with the law over claims of sexual crimes. In the latest case, Fr Kizito’s 26-year-old male secretary alleges that the priest sexually attacked him in Riruta on Tuesday.

Kilimani police boss Bernard Muli said after the complaint was recorded, the secretary was taken for medical examination which showed that he had indeed been sexually assaulted.

However, investigations are being carried out to establish who had attacked him.

“We have taken him (Fr Kizito) to a medical doctor for specimen comparison,” Mr Muli said.

At 1pm on Thursday, Fr Kizito was driven from the cells to see the police surgeon, Dr Zephania Kamau, who examined him at 3.30pm.

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The results of the examination were not made public.

Police said they planned to arraign Fr Kizito in court on Friday.

In June 2009, Fr Kizito, possibly Kenya’s best known Catholic priest, faced similar claims at an orphanage he ran at Dagoretti Corner, Nairobi.

But the Italian, who has served the Catholic Church in Kenya for more than two decades and won two awards for his peace work, denied the accusation.

He cast a television report which raised the allegations as instigated by people seeking to drive him out of Kenya in the hope of seizing land and assets of the Koinonia Community, which he established.

He was also accused of taking pictures of naked children, which he sent to Italy and that he had molested children who visited the Koinonia Community Centre.

The two boys who claimed to have been abused by the priest were interviewed, with their faces obscured.

The Catholic Church said it would investigate the allegations. The boys later retracted their statements, claiming they had been forced to accuse the priest.

Fr Kizito said the saga started in October 2005 when an email with a picture of a naked man and a young adult in a compromising position started doing the rounds.

“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 said in an interview in 2009.

He claimed the smear campaign had been masterminded by his former associates at the community centre.

“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 instil fear in lay and religious people working with young people, usually with the intention of extorting money” Fr Kizito had sworn.

Cardinal John Njue, the chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, had promised investigations would be conducted into the matter and action taken if the claims turned out to be true. It is not known what the result of the church investigation was.

Police forwarded their investigations to the Attorney General for advice, after they found no evidence to prosecute him.

“We wanted to release the findings of the report but were advised to forward the file to the Attorney General’s Chambers for instructions,” said Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe on Thursday.

As in the previous case, there were rumours yesterday of lurid tapes and private detectives bugging bedrooms.

Recently, Pope Benedict XVI called for a crackdown on sex pests in the church and told bishops to report them to police.