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Star Helps To Expose Child Refuge Sex Abuse

BOMBAY and TANZANIA- A CHARITY backed by British fundraisers that provides shelters for street children in Tanzania is being run by a man wanted in India on charges of sexual abuse against boys, an investigation has revealed.
The actress Felicity Kendal, who starred in television's The Good Life, was a patron. She travelled to India and helped exposed the abuse.
Duncan Grant, 61, a former Royal Navy reservist from a distinguished British military family is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by Indian authorities two years ago.
They want to put him on trial over allegations that he beat and sexually abused street children at similar shelters he ran in Bombay.
As the Indian authorities searched unsuccessfully for him, he was living in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, and had set up three shelters identical to his operation in India. The shelters have attracted gap year students from some of Britain's leading schools.
British newspaper The Daily Telegraph traced Grant to Tanzania this week, as it emerged that the British Jesuits, who had sent volunteers from some of their schools, had suspended dealings with him.
That followed concern from pupils about the way some street children were being treated - concerns which they passed to the British police and the Charity Commission.
Kendal described the allegations as "appalling and horrifying". She said she had no choice but to withdraw her patronage when Grant failed to return to India to answer the charges.
"When it comes to children, there is no leeway" she said. "It is either black or while, not grey."
Denying the allegations, Grant said they had been invented by the Bombay police, a lawyer and a rival volunteer."They cooked up some story that we were part of a pedophile ring and using the shelter for all sorts of child abuse," he said. "It was all nonsense."
At first he wanted to go back and clear his name, he said, "but my solicitor advised me not to because she thought I would be arrested and locked away for years without a proper trial". The boys had since wirhdrawn the allegations, he said.
The Bombay shelters received money through British schools and churches and from the British charity Rescue-a-Child.
They were never formally registered with the state authorities but by 1999 they had a full complement of some 50 to 60 boys aged from eight to 18. An official Indian report found the homes to be "ramshackle and filthy and the children were being beaten indiscriminately".
In 2001 Bombay police began an investigation after some of the children alleged that Grant and another Briton, his friend Allan Waters, had beaten and sexually abused them. By then both men had left India and an international arrest warrant was issued in April 2002.
Waters, who is said to know Grant through the Royal Naval Reserve and was a regular visitor to the Bombay shelters, was arrested in New York last year when he triggered an Interpol alert at JFK airport on his way to Bermuda. Indian police are expected to travel to the United States next week to take custody of him after a New York judge confirmed his extradition this week.
The British Jesuits said they immediately withdrew their gap year students when they learned of allegations about mistreatment of children. They said they had later been told that an Indian high court judge had exonerated Grant.
When Grant established Anchorage Shelters in Tanzania, they allowed gap year volunteers to go only after carrying out an inspection.
One gap year student, who is not part of the Jesuit program, defended Grant, Tom Baker, from Shropshire, who returned home on Thursday after six months as a volunteer in Tanzania, said: "He is doing an amazing job, Without the shelters a lot of those boys would be dead.
"If anything like that had been going on, I would certainly have drawn attention to it. All I can say is I can vouch for his good character."
Vicky Robertson, the chairman of Safe Havens-Tanzania, was convinced that the allegations were false. She said she had not been involved with Grant in Bombay but started raising money when he opened the Dar es Salaam shelters.
"I have ewery confidence that there are absolutely no grounds for these abuse allegations," she said.
On Friday Robert Manumba, Tanzania's deputy police commissioner, said officers had been sent to question Grant.

The Sun Herald (22-8-2004)
Caroline Davies/ Peter Foster/ Jane Flanagan




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