UK Doctor Accused of Sexually Molesting Several Young Kenyan Boys
Philipp Bonhoeffer, a former heart specialist at Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK facing allegations of sexually abusing young boys in Kenya told one of his victims that his behaviour was "normal and acceptable in Europe", according to the charges levelled against him at a medical tribunal.
Bonhoeffer, who was head of cardiology at the children's hospital until 2009 and is internationally renowned as a pioneer of new treatments, is alleged to have earlier admitted to the parents of another victim that he had paedophile tendencies which he could do nothing about and he hoped the children in Kenya "would never speak of what had happened to them".
The allegations are contained in the list of charges published by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service which is to hold a hearing this weekend into Professor Bonhoeffer's fitness to practise. They include details of six children and young adults with whom he is said to have had sexual contact, shared a bed or touched inappropriately, when they were under-age or without their consent. If found guilty, he could be struck off the medical register. Professor Bonhoeffer, who strongly denies the allegations, is not attending the hearing in Manchester and is not represented. He withdrew from the case last May, after telling the General Medical Council through his lawyers that he intended "to take no further part" in the proceedings. He has been suspended from the medical register and banned from practising pending the outcome of the case.
The charges relate to the period from 1995 to 2008, during which Professor Bonhoeffer, now aged 50, made frequent trips to Kenya doing charitable work. From 2005 he travelled with the medical charity Chain of Hope, founded by heart transplant pioneer Sir Magdi Yacoub, which provides treatment to children with heart problems in the developing world.
Professor Bonhoeffer chaired its medical board and sponsored a number of boys and youths in Kenya and paid for their education.
At 3pm on 31 August 2008, Professor Bonhoeffer was found in a flat at the Mater Hospital in Nairobi by Witness Z, a representative of the Chain of Hope due to give evidence at the hearing, who was making an unannounced visit accompanied by a nurse.
According to the charges, Professor Bonhoeffer was "in a bedroom with Kenyan male children and young male adults" to whom he had provided sponsorship and gifts. He "came out of the bedroom and to the door of the flat in a state of sexual arousal", the charges state. Photographs taken on the same day are alleged to have been found on his camera showing him next to a boy "bare chested and lying on a bed" which were "inappropriate" and "sexually motivated".
More than a decade earlier, Professor Bonhoeffer, an accomplished musician, apparently gave violin lessons to the child of a couple whose home he regularly visited while he was working in Paris. The charges allege he sometimes shared a room with the boy and on one occasion when the boy was aged 10 he went into his room while he was apparently sleeping and "caressed his whole body including his penis".
When confronted by the boy's parents he allegedly "admitted that he had a paedophile tendency" but said there was "nothing he could do about it" and that his "career would be affected" if they went to the police.
He had a long relationship with Witness A, now in his late 20s, which began in 1995 when A was 13, according to the charges, which state that during an overnight stay at a camp in Marsabit District, Kenya, Professor Bonhoeffer "placed his hand inside [the boy's] lower clothing" and "touched his genital area". He told the boy he was a doctor and was "doing this to find his femoral vein". During the same trip he is supposed to have told A he would make sure he went to high school.
He is alleged to have invited A to stay with him at the flat in the Mater Hospital in Nairobi, provided for him on his visits, and shared a bed with him. On the first night, he put his arm around him and "touched A's buttock's with his erect penis", but without his consent, according to the charges.
It was on that occasion that he is alleged to have told A that his behaviour was considered normal in Europe, warned him not to tell anyone what had happened and promised to help him through medical school. During another stay at the Mater Hospital flat in 2001, when A was 19, Professor Bonhoeffer performed fellatio on him, without his consent, it is claimed.
When the allegations first emerged, the Metropolitan Police travelled to Kenya in 2008 to investigate and interviewed A among other witnesses but no prosecution was brought. UK residents can be prosecuted for crimes against children abroad but only for those committed after May 2004.
In March 2009, Professor Bonhoeffer contacted A and asked him to withdraw the information he had given to the police, according to the charges. The following month he stopped seeing patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital, but his employment continued until 24 May 2010.
The hearing continues.