Gitau wa Njenga, Standard (Nairobi), Mar. 26
A HIV-positive Kenyan man has been jailed for 66 years by a US court for raping two teenage girls two years ago.
William N. Karanja, 34, received 40 years for two counts of second-degree rape, 20 for two counts of second-degree sex offence and six for two counts of knowingly attempting to transmit HIV.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge, Louise G. Scrivener, also gave Karanja 15 years for three counts of recklessly endangering a minor, to be served concurrently.
“I believe from the evidence that Karanja is a sexual predator,” Scrivener said.
And as Karanja began his long stretch in a US Federal jail, it emerged yesterday that he had a history of sexual offences dating back to his youth.
A close relative who spoke to The Standard in London said: “Karanja has previously raped women in Kenya, but his victims were too scared to come forward.”
“My family is devastated, 66 years in a foreign jail, ailing with HIV-Aids, it’s most regrettable, our heart goes to his wife and the victims,” the cousin, who did not wish to be named, said.
According to The Gazette, a Montgomery County newspaper, the incident happened in June 2003 when Karanja invited the then-14-year-old girls to a ‘party’ in his apartment on 13200 block of Bristlecone Way, Germantown in Montgomery County.
When the girls arrived that night, they realised they were the only guests and called another male friend to join them, Assistant State Attorney, Mary Herdman, said.
Karanja supplied the girls and their friend with alcohol, and all three juveniles ultimately passed out in various locations in the apartment.
At about 1 am, a neighbour said he heard a girl screaming “No” from inside Karanja’s apartment. He looked in through a window and saw Karanja having sex with one of the girls while she attempted to push him away, Herdman said.
When police arrived, they found all three children partially or completely naked and unresponsive to the officers’ attempts to wake them up.
Both victims, now 16, made emotional appeals to the court.
“He stole from me in order to get pleasure for himself,” one said. “I was violated, taken advantage of and humiliated”.
The other said tearfully: “I think there should be no sympathy for him . . . ”
Assistant State Attorney Sherri D. Koch described Karanja as a ‘callous’ man who not only raped two minors but also knowingly exposed them to HIV.
“He has absolutely no regard for human life,” Koch said. “He could have potentially given them the death sentence.”
Both girls have been tested for the virus, and so far, the results have been negative, she said.
The state’s attorneys also argued that Karanja lied to his now-estranged wife about his HIV-status and knowingly infected her, as well.
But the defence lawyers, Vicky Tyler and Melanie Creedon, maintained Karanja did not know he had HIV until his wife was tested during her pregnancy.
They plan to appeal the sentence.
Karanja will be eligible for parole after 33 years. He had been held without bond at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Clarksburg since his arrest in June 22, 2003.
After serving his sentence, Karanja — who was in the United States on a visa — will be deported to Kenya, Judge Scrivener said.
Karanja is the first Kenyan to be sentenced to a hefty jail term exceeding three decades in a foreign prison.
Six years ago, another Kenyan, Rashid Musa, 28, was jailed for life by a UK court for raping a teenage boy in a train toilet and an office cleaner at knifepoint in London.
In November 2003, another Kenyan, Mohammed Dica, 40, was jailed for eight years at Inner London Crown Court for infecting two women with the HIV virus.
He was the first person in UK to be convicted with what became known as ‘Biological Grievous Bodily Harm (B-GBH).