ACK Bishop denies defaming priest accused of being gay

Anglican clergy hold peaceful demos along Baden Powell road in Nyeri, October 3, 2016, shortly after the mention of a case in which the Mount Kenya west diocese Bishop Joseph Kagunda has been sued by three priests who were kicked out of the church on allegations of being homosexuals. [Photo: MOSE SAMMY/STANDARD]
The Anglican Church of Kenya Mt Kenya West Diocese Bishop, Joseph Kagunda yesterday denied tarnishing the name of one of the three priests he allegedly suspended for being gay.

Yesterday, the bishop, through Lawyer Wachira Nderitu, refuted claims the suspension letter he issued to Reverend Paul Warui, had any content relating to homosexuality.

Instead, he noted the letter dated August August 22, 2015 had nothing written about him, as a person being homosexual, but only made reference to sexual immorality in the church.

“The letter never mentioned anything about you being gay, it only referred to immoral activities in the church,” Nderitu while cross-examining Warui told the Nyeri High Court.

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He said according to the constitution of the ACK, it was not illegal for someone to be charged with sexual immorality.

Nderitu further stated that the suspension letter did not have elements of defamation as claimed by the pastor who sued the bishop.

He explained the said letter only indicated that the plaintiff was adversely mentioned during proceedings at the church tribunal.

Warui, in his response told Judge Justice Abigail Mshila the bishop linked him to the vice and made the reports public through the media, adding that the move tarnished his reputation as a pastor.

Resolution mechanisms

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Through lawyer David Onsare, Warui said he sued the bishop after the church’s dispute resolution mechanisms failed to address his case or even listen to him.

“I had exhausted the mechanisms within the church. I made the appeals twice at the church tribunal, which were never acknowledged,” Warui submitted.

He told the court that the suspension letter was signed by the bishop and was copied to the church administrative secretary and chancellor.

Warui, together with Arch-deacon John Gachau and pastors James Maigua has sued the church, seeking compensation for defamation.

They have further sought reinstatement to their positions as priests following suspension by the church's standing committee over allegations levelled against them.

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The clergy accuses Bishop Kagunda for maliciously and spitefully executing and authoring defamatory statements in church, which were repeatedly published in national newspapers, knowing well the allegations were not true.

The case was adjourned to April 18.

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