Bishop Waweru battles sexual harassment charges

Anglican Church Bishop Joel Waweru speaking at Green Cottage Academy in Murang'a during a prize giving day in 2015 [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]

An Anglican cleric has urged the High Court to quash sexual harassment charges pressed against him citing bias and lack of clarity on the two counts before a magistrate court.

Bishop Joel Waweru in his arguments before Justice Lawrence Mugambi argued that the first charge was drafted in such a way it had no location or time.

His lawyer Kioko Kilukumi told the court that the charge also does not explain what act constituted sexual harassment adding that it was covering the period between 2018 and 2021.

The judge heard that although the Kibera Law Court magistrate had directed the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to re-look at the charge sheet, its representative at that court reported a month later that his bosses had directed that he continues with the charge sheet as it was.

“The applicant is a Bishop. This sexual harassment is said to have happened between 2018 to 2021. That is a period of four years. In days, that is 1,400 days. They do not say where it took place and what act constitutes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment takes four broad categories. It can be verbal, can be written, can be visual, you are just winking at her at all times. It can be physical, by touching her inappropriately,”’ argued Kilukumi.

He said the allegations are vague and open-ended such that it is impossible to even call a person to testify on his behalf or trace his whereabouts at the time the State claims the offence happened.

He asserted that the charges are a witch-hunt for the man of God and were driven by ulterior motives.

Kilukumi continued: “The grouping of this offence to four years, takes away his right to raise an alibi, cannot look at the diary and state where he was. We raised the issue before the trial magistrate and the magistrate ordered that the prosecuting counsel take instructions on the charge sheet and he came after a month and said that his bosses stated he can continue as it is.”

Bishop Waweru wants the court to suspend the criminal trial until the case is heard and determined.

His lawyer said the State has lined up three witnesses in the case; the complainant, her husband and the investigating officer.

The pastor fears that the lower court can conclude the case within a day. At the same time, the senior lawyer said although the second charge contained the date and details where the offence had allegedly happened, the complainant never mentioned such an issue in her statement at the police station.

Kilukumi stated that the prosecution indicated in the charge sheet that the Bishop had unintentionally touched the complainant’s breasts on June 13, 2021, at Otiende, Langata in Nairobi County.

He read malice in the charges, arguing that the complainant moved to the police immediately after he suspended her to pave the way for investigations.

According to Waweru, it was telling the complainant to remain silent for four years, only for her to go to the police on August 8, 2021, the date she was to commence her suspension.

“We have annexed two statements recorded. Because you love details the complainants never stated that she met the Bishop anywhere. We are saying, forget touching somebody’s breasts, there is no evidence that it ever happened. We have laid out that this woman never raised any issue of sexual harassment for four years. When she was sent on compulsory leave by the applicant, two days later, she went to the police,” argued Kilukumi.