An Australian Adventist, Ian Castleman, was charged with having sex with two boys at his orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya, last September, and is now fighting the charge in Kenya’s High Court, according to news reports in Kenya and Australia.
The alleged offences took place between 2008 and 2012. (The age of the boys in question is unclear.) He is charged with using his position as director of the Ian Castleman Orphanage to seduce boys, and reportedly offered them some financial gain.
Castleman disputes the charges, and reportedly says that as an Adventist he does not approve of homosexuality. But his defense is based on a challenge to Kenya’s Sexual Offenses Act, which declares homosexuality a criminal act. Castleman’s defense team claims the charges against him are unconstitutional because homosexuality is not recognized as a crime under international law, which is part of Kenya’s laws. They say the charges are discriminatory to gay people.
Castleman’s lawyers are also challenging the minimum sentencing of the Sexual Offences Act, because the minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment does not allow for the discretion of the judge.
A local magistrate referred the case to Kenya’s High Court for constitutional interpretation.
Media reports are calling Castleman an “unlikely champion of gay rights.”
Despite his defense, Castleman maintains his innocence of the charges against him. He told an Australian radio news program “I’ve pleaded innocent, and I declare my innocence. . . For a man who has put his heart into helping children in Kenya and seeing everything gone, I can't comment any more. It's devastating.”
Ian Castleman has been in Kenya for over a decade, and started the orphanage that bears his name to care for children who were abandoned, orphaned, disabled or HIV positive. The orphanage housed children with epilepsy, paralysis and a child who had apparently lived in the wild with baboons before being rescued. Up to 150 children were cared for by a sizable staff of nannies, teachers and cooks, according to an American who visited the orphanage two years ago. There were gardens for growing food, classrooms and pets on the eight-acre property.
The orphanage was privately run and funded, and not officially affiliated with the Adventist church. Fundraising was done in Adventist churches in Australia, and elsewhere, according to one contributor.
There are those who maintain that Castleman is not guilty of the charges. Castleman has been set up by an Australian woman who is angry with him, and is completely innocent, according to several people who know Castleman. They say that she had inappropriate relationships with several of the older boys at the orphanage while volunteering there, was asked to leave by Castleman, and later paid some of the boys to accuse Castleman of molesting them.
District Child Medical Officer Clement Gisore told the Australian radio news program that he had never heard any complaints from staff or children at the orphanage.
Castleman is currently out on bail, and has had his passport cancelled, media reports say.
It is unclear when the Kenyan High Court will decide on his constitutional challenge, but if successful it could result in homosexuality being legalized in Kenya, an Australian newspaper asserts.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5362