Look­ing for jus­tice af­ter years of be­ing mo­lested

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SHAIN GERMANER

AF­TER 20 years, Wil­liam Se­godisho has laid crim­i­nal charges against a priest he claims abused him as a child. Now he’s look­ing for oth­ers who also may have suf­fered a sim­i­lar or­deal be­hind the cloak of piety.

In 1986, when he had just turned 14, Se­godisho was part of a group of mil­i­tant youths fight­ing apartheid in Polok­wane, then Pi­eters­burg. They set nu­mer­ous gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cles alight and he was forced to flee to Joburg where he lived on the streets.

He ended up go­ing to the Street­wise shel­ter that was be­ing as­sisted by the Cathe­dral of Christ the King in Doorn­fontein.

There he met Fa­ther McCray*, a priest of the Catholic church who was fundrais­ing for the shel­ter.

Se­godisho said af­ter about a month, the priest in­vited him out and took him to Zoo Lake.

“He said he had a plan for me. He wanted to take me out of the shel­ter and find me a good school.” Se­godisho said he loved hear­ing what he was be­ing told. The priest then al­legedly be­gan fondling him.

This led to a kiss, his first kiss.

“I let him do what he wanted be­cause of what he said. I didn’t like the shel­ter. I had dreams to bet­ter my life.”

By the fol­low­ing week­end, the priest had found the teenager a spon­sor, and he was en­rolled at a board­ing school in Rood­e­poort. Be­fore the school year started, Se­godisho be­gan stay­ing with the priest in his room at the cathe­dral.

The sex­ual en­coun­ters al­legedly be­came more in­tense. By the time he was at school, the abuse had al­legedly be­come a week­end habit, of­ten pref­aced with al­co­hol.

The teenager was strug­gling to ad­just to be­ing in a pri­vate school and was ex­pelled af­ter writ­ing a sex­u­ally-charged let- ter to a fe­male class­mate.

In mid-1987, he was en­rolled, with McCray’s help, at the Tre­ver­ton Prepara­tory School and Col­lege in Mooi River.

By this time, the priest was stay­ing at the Holy Trin­ity Church in Braam­fontein. In De­cem­ber, the priest had planned a hol­i­day for the two of them in Amanz­im­toti, at a guest lodge.

Af­ter be­ing plied with drinks and pass­ing out, Se­godisho al­leges he woke in ex­treme pain. He claims he had been pen­e­trated in his sleep, and the priest told him that he likely fell off the bed in his drunken state.

“Later we were play­ing a game of ta­ble ten­nis; he was beat­ing me be­cause mov­ing was painful. I re­mem­ber I picked up a wet towel and I be­gan to (beat) him with that towel,” said Se­godisho.

“I told him: ‘I know what he did to me last night’.”

The teenager broke down in tears, and says as the priest held him, he cried an apol­ogy.

“He said he shouldn’t have gone that far. I re­mem­ber telling him I would pre­fer it if it stopped al­to­gether.”

He asked if he could re­turn to his mother for the rest of the hol­i­days. Se­godisho said he didn’t want the joy­ous re­union to be soured by his ex­pe­ri­ences of abuse, so he kept quiet.

Upon see­ing the poverty of his town­ship he re­alised he had been given an op­por­tu­nity to re­ceive a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, and de­cided to re­turn to school.

In the hol­i­days of 1988, he re­fused to stay with McCray.

But the priest was tena­cious, in­sist­ing Se­godisho visit him for the last night be­fore re­turn­ing to school.

“I let him have his way with me. It was painful but I shut it out. The rea­son be­ing that af­ter I told him about the sit­u­a­tion at home, he said he would make a plan for me to sup­port my fam­ily.”

A stipend was promised – and de­liv­ered.

“I didn’t want to up­set him. To make him change his mind.”

In mid-1989 he was ex­pelled again, al­legedly for as­sault­ing a bully.

How­ever, McCray used his con­nec­tions to clinch a spot at Wood­mead School, where he be­gan to flour­ish.

But af­ter re­turn­ing to Joburg, Se­godisho re­sented be­ing asked to visit the priest on at least two week­ends a month and dur­ing his hol­i­day.

Se­godisho fi­nally forced a con­fronta­tion in 1989, say­ing he would re­port the abuse to the up­per-ech­e­lons of the church.

Se­godisho ap­proached an­other priest at the Christ the King Cathe­dral.

“I think I know what you’re go­ing to tell me and I would rather not be in­volved. Go to the su­pe­rior and tell him,” the fa­ther told him, seem­ingly un­will­ing to help.

But within a few months, McCray had been re­lo­cated to the UK.

No longer in the care of the church, Se­godisho was sent back to the shel­ter, and told the fees at Wood­mead were too high.

Se­godisho

Seshego.

For a decade he re­mained silent, only lay­ing a com­plaint with the church in the early 2000s. His then lawyer told him he would fo­cus on a civil case.

The lawyer man­aged to ar­rive at a set­tle­ment ap­par­ently with­out Se­godisho’s full ap­proval, and al­legedly stole some money of­fered by the church.

At­tempts to con­tact this lawyer were un­suc­cess­ful, as he has since been dis­barred.

Last year, af­ter read­ing

re­turned

to about the Sid­ney Frankel mat­ter – the high court rul­ing that al­tered the law around the pre­scrip­tion of sex­ual as­sault charges – Se­godisho de­cided to ap­proach the lawyer who had rep­re­sented Frankel’s al­leged vic­tims.

Through Ian Le­vitt At­tor­neys, Se­godisho opened a crim­i­nal case against McCray in De­cem­ber. But Se­godisho says the rea­son he came for­ward was not only to bring his al­leged abuser to jus­tice but also to find oth­ers who were abused at the Joburg shel­ter dur­ing the same pe­riod.

He said he knew of at least two oth­ers who suf­fered sim­i­lar or­deals.

While his le­gal team tries to track them down, Se­godisho asked that any­one with in­for­ma­tion should con­tact him via email at [email protected] com or via [email protected] inl.co.za

*Not his real name

PIC­TURE: NOKUTHULA MBATHA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

The Cathe­dral of Christ the king in Doorn­fontein, Gaut­eng, where Wil­liam Se­godisho claims he was mo­lested and raped in the mid to late 1980s.

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