Catholic Priest gets bail in rape charge

Times, South Africa/January 26, 2011

A Roman Catholic priest arrested for allegedly raping a 20-year-old man was granted bail, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.

"The Mthatha Magistrate's Court granted him R1000 bail on Tuesday and he will appear again in court on February 2," said National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesman, Luxolo Tyali.

The priest, 68, was arrested on Sunday and applied for bail on Monday. The rape allegedly took place in 2009, Tyali said.

Church spokesman Father Chris Townsend said the alleged sexual abuse was viewed in a very serious light by the Bishop of Mthatha, Sithembele Siphuka.

"All complaints against clergy and religious working in the Diocese of Mthatha are handled in accordance with the provisions of the protocol for the investigation of complaints against clerics... in regard to sexual abuse of minors, a policy of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference," he said.

The Bishop had opened a preliminary investigation into the complaint, he said.

"As this matter is the subject of a criminal case, all investigations by the church's professional conduct committee are held in abeyance until the criminal matter is concluded," he said.

The priest arrived in South Africa towards the end of 1998. He runs a youth home which offers street children a way to live together and further their education.

The 20-year-old complainant lived at the home until the alleged rape took place.

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