By Kipchumba Some
The son of a deceased prominent politician has sued the Roman Catholic Church alleging years of sexual abuse at the hands of priests in Kenya and abroad.
Emmanuel Shikuku, 45, has filed a case in the UK against six men who were part of the Mill Hill Missionaries order. He 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 Fr Cornelius Schilder, a Dutch national stripped of his duties as a priest in 2009 for allegedly abusing a Maasai herds boy.
Emmanuel is a son of Martin Shikuku, a firebrand politician who passed away last August. He did not attend his father’s funeral as he was in Germany at the time pursuing his claim.
After spending much of the last two decades in Europe, 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.
Speaking exclusively to The Standard on Saturday, 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.
Mr Shikuku abandoned priesthood training at St Joseph’s College in London in 1994, due to an addiction to alcohol. He says he started drinking to cope with the assaults.
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.
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.
Mr Shikuku’s claim becomes the third prominent incident of sexual abuse leveled against foreign Catholic priests in Kenya. In 2005, Moses Ole Uka from Ngong accused Fr. Schilder and other Mill Hill priests of abusing him.
In 2009, Fr Renato Sessana, famously known locally as Fr Kizito from Comboni Fathers, was accused by a group of young men of abuse.