FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OF ‘DEFILED’ CHILDREN SPEAK OUT: BERNHARD GLASER BERRY IS INNOCENT
By Ronald Nahabwe and Raymond Wamala. 7. January 2014
The residents of Kalangala district, friends and the relatives of the Kalangala “defiled” girls have come out to defend the German national accused of sexually abusing their children, and insist that he is a victim of a witch hunt.
One of the residents, Ziada Namiiro, informed us that Bernhard Glaser Berry is a victim of malicious and false allegations spread by a one Gloria Musiime. Gloria is a journalist who works with Vision group and is credited for having broken the “story”. Ziada informed the press that Gloria was actually once one of the beneficiaries at Berry’s place in Kalangala, but her stay there was cut short because of her “bad behavior”. In an interesting turn of events, Berry is now in “hot soup” and face severe criminal charges, after a story news paper alleged that he was sexually abusing the girls who stay at his place in Kalangala. Many of the people we interviewed wonder whether it is possible that Gloria, driven by the circumstance of her acrimonious leaving, is now bent on paying back her former benefactor in very expensive currency.
What stands out from our interviews, is the fact that Bery is credited for being a very good and kind hearted man. Ziada further revealed to us how Bery has always treated and looked after victims of sexual violence on the Island, and that being a person who had the means, medicine and knowledge of handling such circumstances, Bery quickly became well known on the Island and many victims of sexual violence and S.T.Is flocked his place for treatment. Even the police started referring child victims of sexual violence to his place for treatment and care. “He provided a safe place to stay for these children who desperately needed it”. “Bery has been helping us since 2008 and more than 50 defiled girls and women who had been raped have benefited in his support under the Ssese Humanitarian Organization.”
Ziada stated that she worked at Bery’s place for several years, helping him with the work, which included giving first aid and treatment to victims of sexual violence and those with S.T.Is.
She further told our reporter that when she heard and read the stories in the newspapers, she was shocked and could not imagine the heinous motive the author of the story had against Bery.
Interestingly our investigation reveals that Gloria was actually once a recipient of financial help from Bery and a one Roxane Turner. Gloria had been introduced to Bery by Roxane Turner a young American lady who set up a girl child education sponsorship program called “One World Today” that works hand in hand with Bery’s organization called Ssese Humanitarian Organization. The relationship between Turner and Gloria went sour when news of Gloria’s pregnancy reached her sponsor Turner. Things did not go down well with the benefactors who viewed Gloria’s pregnancy as something that would portray a bad image to the rest of the young girls who were part of the sponsorship program and so the money taps to Gloria were closed. This ofcourse did not go down well with the then young UMCAT student, Gloria. She is even rumored to have vowed to teach Bery a lesson that would send him back to Belgium.
When our reporter taxed Ziada to explain the lubricants and other “toys” paraded to the public by police, she explained that all those things were for treatment and some were teaching aids. “The lubricants were applied to the gloves as we applied S.T.I medicine to the victims, since it has to be applied directly to the victim’s private parts. And Bery would not do it himself. He would direct a female helper how to do it and it is the female helper who would do it. We treated many women on Island that way and they can attest to this. Remember this is an island with a lot of sexual promiscuity, prostitution and sexual violence. The dildos were used in sexual education sessions in schools on the island. They can tell you this at the schools” she explained.
She insists that Bery is innocent and that there are many people that will tell you the same story. He is being framed by people who have very bad motives and it is bad.
Police is still investigating the intricate corners of this matter, but what is clear is that these new revelations have put a very interesting spin to this ever developing story and as usual we shall bring you all the angles.
For those that missed the headlines, Bery was arrested on December 1, 2013 for allegedly sexually abusing at least 19 girls whom he looked after at his Kalangala-based NGO, Ssese Island Sexual Health and Psycho-Social Care Centre. Since then he was detained at S.I.U. Kireka and was thereafter transferred to Masaka to answer criminal charges.
Recently, his legal team led by Counsel Patrick Kasumba applied for bail and presented 3 sureties; Kalangala District Chairperson Willy Lugolobi, former Kalangala District chairperson, Daniel Kikoola, and Swalihi Nsubuga Kasanafu, all residents of Kalangala Town Council. Counsel Kasumba while in court informed court that Bery’s health was unstable and required specialist and urgent medical treatment which cannot be adequately provided by the prison health unit and Masaka referral hospital. Counsel added that Mr. Glaser suffers from diabetes, hypertension and asthma and he submitted medical documents from Masaka Prison Health Centre and Masaka hospital to support his argument.
However, the prosecution, led by Masaka’s Senior State Attorney David Bakibinga said two of the presented sureties Willy Lugolobi and Swalihi Nsubuga Kasanafu were not substantial because their identification documents were inconsistent and they cannot stand for a German national with Belgium residence. Mr. Bakibinga added that the applicant’s case was still under investigation and he could easily temper with the witnesses and that the investigating officer had already raised concerns of being intimidated by Glaser’s associates. The Learned state attorney further informed court that if the applicant was granted bail and he absconds, it will be hard for the State to get him.
Presiding Judge Margaret Oguli Oumode deferred her ruling on the bail application to 13th January 2014.