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The Bishop of Nairobi has asked an appellate court to dismiss a sexual harassment complaint stating the charges have not been stated with specificity, making him unable to refute the allegations.

On 12 January 2022, the Rt. Rev. Joel Waweru, Bishop of Nairobi was arraigned before Senior Principal Magistrate Derrick Ruto of Kibera Law Courts. He was accused of repeatedly harassing a female priest by grabbing her breasts and attempting to kiss her. When the priest rebuffed his advances, the bishop retaliated by dismissing her as archdeacon, reducing her salary and transferring her to another parish, the complaint alleges.

The indictment stated: “On diverse dates and different times at Otiende in Lang’ata, Nairobi being a person in the position of authority persistently made a sexual advance at JNM knowing or having reason to believe that such advance was unwelcome by the said JNM thereby interfering with her work”.

Bishop Waweru, who was elected to the standing committee of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2016, has denied the allegations. 

In pleadings before Justice Lawrence Mugambi, counsel for Bishop Waweru argued the complaint was defective as it did not specify when or where the alleged harassment took place. 

“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,”’ the bishop’s attorney argued, noting it would be impossible to defend his client against the charges if they were not pleaded with specificity.

“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,” the lawyer said. The issue was before the high court for adjudication, he explained as the magistrate declined to strike the complaint over the alleged errors.

The attorney further argued the plaintiff was motivated by malice in bringing forward the accusations, noting that two days after she had been demoted, she went to the police with a claim of abuse.

The case continues.