No justice for retired priest’s victim
Segodisho wants Jesuit tried for abuse of homeless boys
Retired priest William MacCurtain will continue to enjoy his retirement, fully funded by the Catholic church in Britain, despite issuing an apology this week after a South African man revealed how he had been raped and sexually abused by the clergyman in Johannesburg in the 1980s.
William Segodisho, who says he was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by MacCurtain between 1985 and 1989, is convinced he was not the only one abused by MacCurtain and wants the 84-year-old Jesuit priest to stand trial in South Africa and apologise to those who have not had the courage to speak out against him.
At the time of Segodisho’s abuse, MacCurtain was on secondment in SA. He worked as a director of the Streetwise Children’s Shelter at the Christ the King Cathedral in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
The rapes and molestation allegedly occurred here after hours, where MacCurtain allegedly made Segodisho and several other homeless boys live with him.
The abuse was reported to church officials in 1989 and MacCurtain was redeployed. However, he continued to work in parishes in the UK until 2001, when he was withdrawn from ministering after an investigation by the church found Segodisho’s claims to be “well-founded”.
The church reported the findings of their investigation to Dorset police only last year — 27 years after the complaint was laid.
Assistant to the UK Jesuit Provincial, Father Paul Nicholson, in an e-mail to the Sunday Times, said: “Such reporting did not take place as a matter of course at the time when we first received Segodisho’s report, perhaps because it was felt it was for the one
I want to know why suddenly now? Why did he wait nearly 30 years before he apologised? Was the church in cahoots with him to make this all go away William Segodisho William MacCurtain’s victim
making the allegations to decide whether he or she wanted to report the matter to the police.”
Segodisho, 46, said there was no way a person “who does this only abuses one child and then suddenly stops. I was not his only ‘favourite’. There were other boys who he fancied, who he spoiled.”
Segodisho said he needed time to digest the apology.
“I want to know why suddenly now? Why did he wait nearly 30 years before he apologised? Was the church in cahoots with him to make this all go away?”
This week another man who lived at the shelter as a boy told how MacCurtain had physically assaulted him.
Vusi Dlomo and
Segodisho were among a group of boys favoured by MacCurtain. He took them to restaurants, paid for private schooling and took them on holiday with him.
“MacCurtain spoilt me. He bought me a bicycle,” Dlomo, 46, told Sunday Times this week. “He never abused me sexually, but he would occasionally punch me hard in the stomach. The first time I was punched was when I gave some boys who were living on the street some soap bars.” Dlomo works as a caretaker at a Catholic church in Dube Village, Soweto.
The Streetwise shelter’s former life skills adviser, Stanley Dlamini, said he remembered MacCurtain’s favourite children well.
“There were three in particular who he always spoilt. They were given first-class treatment, which none of the other kids got. Everyone noticed, but no one knew why.”
MacCurtain lives under supervision at the Corpus Christi Jesuit Community retirement home in Boscombe in southern England. Father Anthony Egan, spokesperson of Jesuit Order in SA, said there would be no question of denying MacCurtain his retirement rights and medical benefits.
“No one should be cast out and left to die,” he said. He said basic human rights “which are rooted in our own theological tradition, recognise every person is formed in the unique image of God, and everyone, regardless of how wicked they may or may not be, has the right to welfare”.
Depending on the severity of a crime and his age, a priest may be dismissed from the order. “If young enough and they can find work they will be forced to leave. It all comes down to whether he can fend for himself.”
Egan said the claims by Dlomo were news to them. “We have never heard of these allegations, but if it is claimed, it is something that will have to be investigated.”
In his apology, MacCurtain says: “I recognise that my behaviour towards Segodisho in the 1980s violated the trust he had put in me as a Catholic priest.
“I deeply regret the pain that I have caused Segodisho, and would wish to apologise to him unreservedly. I realise, though, that such an apology cannot right the wrongs done to him at that time …”
Attempts to reach MacCurtain for comment failed. Peter Saunders, founder of the UK’s National Association for People Abused in Childhood, who was abused by Jesuits at a parish in 1980 when MacCurtain ministered there, said: “The church closes ranks around their brotherhood.
“The protection and the church allowing these predators to live out their lives in comfort is disgusting. Just like Nazi war criminals are hunted down, these sexual predators must be brought to justice.”
William Segodisho, right, tells of the horrifying agony that he had to endure at the hands of a Catholic priest, William MacCurtain, left, who was based in Johannesburg from 1985 to 1989.
Vusi Dlomo claims MacCurtain physically assaulted him