Tuesday, June 22, 2010

'Molested at church camp'

'Molested at church camp'
Jun 21, 2010 11:12 PM|
Times live
Parents whose sons were allegedly molested by a priest at a church camp near Hartebeestpoort dam in February 2008 yesterday described the getaway - at which the boys were preparing for their first communion - as ''the worst camp ever''.

A Catholic priest, 51-year-old German Georg Kerkhoff, appeared in the Brits Magistrate's Court yesterday.

He faces seven charges arising from incidents involving nine and 10-year-old boys who attended the camp - three of sexual assault, one of assault and three of compelling or causing a child to witness a sexual offence. The priest, who is out on a warning, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Fr Chris Townsend, information officer of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, said yesterday that Kerkhoff was suspended from the German Catholic Church in Randburg, northern Johannesburg, when the allegations surfaced.

During cross-examination, fathers did not make eye contact with Kerkhoff, who listened to a German translation of the proceedings.

Yesterday, two fathers told the court what their sons had said about the camp.

One father, who had collected his son and daughter from the camp, asked them what had happened.

"He said to me, 'Yes, papa, he was sleeping with me'," the father said.

The court heard from Kerkhoff's lawyer that he had tried to get boys to sleep but they would not. The lawyer said his client had told the boys: "Please go to sleep, otherwise I'll tickle you."

The case continues today.

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