HUYE— The Court of High Instance on Friday sentenced a Catholic Priest to four years in prison for child molesting after a trial in which the defendant openly admitted the charges.
Father Deogratius Misago, 40, former Catholic Parish Priest of Karama in Butare Diocese, arrested early this year, was found guilty of molesting a sixteen-year old boy (names withheld). He had been charged on two counts of molesting and possessing forged driving permit.
Prosecution however, withdrew the count of molesting a second boy because he was reportedly found to be above 18 years of age.
"The second victim’s case would be treated as that of sodomy because the victim was above the age of consent. But there is no law criminalising homosexuality in Rwanda," said a source at the Prosecutors office.
Prosecution had prayed court to sentence Misago to 20 years for molestation and five years for possessing a fake Rwandan driving permit.
In sentencing however, the judge said, basing on article 82 and 83 of the Penal Code, court considered the defendant’s guilty plea and general cooperation with court and handed him a four year jail sentence. He was also asked to pay a fine of Frw200 000.
Court however, exonerated him on charges of possessing a fake driving permit. The presiding judge ruled that the defendant acquired the fake driving permit ignorantly. Observers said it was against the belief that ignorance of the law is no defence.
Arrested January 24 this year, Misago admitted having lured two boys from his parish into sexual acts since 2004.
He is said to have induced them with scholastic materials and paying their school fees. He would later in his parish office perform elaborate sexual acts on them.
The vice came to the limelight when one of the boys reported the matter to police, after testing HIV positive.
Misago, born in Kibilizi Sector, Gisagara district attended Nyakibanda major Seminary where he was ordained priest in 1997.
It is not clear if he will be allowed to continue his pastoral duties after serving his sentence.