MAKANKA, Sierra Leone — A rutted red dirt track leads to the "bar," a couple of homemade wood benches in the shade of an old tree dripping with wild mangoes. Within easy reach, there's a yellow plastic jerry can of the fiery palm wine the American priest loved.
A 40-year-old schoolteacher now charges that the Rev. James Tully gave the palm wine to teenage boys to make them more susceptible to his advances.
This faraway corner of West Africa — with no electricity or piped water — is where the Roman Catholic Church sent Tully, twice. The teacher told The Associated Press that Tully abused him and other boys repeatedly during his first stint in Sierra Leone, from 1979 to 1985. After a conviction in the U.S. for giving minors alcohol and groping them, the church sent Tully back to Sierra Leone for a second stint from 1994 to 1998.
Tully's story is an example of how the church transferred abusive priests from country to country, in a scandal now emerging worldwide. But it also shows the deep reluctance to come out against a Catholic priest in many parts of Africa.
Catholic Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg cautioned this month that the scandals in the church were not particular to the United States and Europe.
"It simply means that the misbehavior of priests in Africa has not been exposed to the same glare of the media as in other parts of the world," Tlhagale said.