Disgraced US Priest Teaches in 10 Hong Kong Schools without Checks

September 16, 2008,disgraced-us-priest-teaches-in-10-hong-kong-schools-without.html

Hong Kong - A US priest accused of molesting a 14-year-old boy said in an interview Tuesday that he had moved to Hong Kong and taught in 10 schools without any background checks being carried out. Dennis Sewar, 57, resigned from his position at a Hong Kong primary school where he taught English last Friday after parents found out about his criminal past by doing checks on the internet.

Sewar was charged with third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child in Rochester, New York, after allegedly molesting a 14-year-old boy around 50 times between 1999 and 2001.

He last year pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of endangering the welfare of a child, meaning he did not have to register as a sex offender, and came to Hong Kong after serving a year's probation.

In an interview with Tuesday's South China Morning Post, Sewar said he was never asked about his past when he took up a succession of part-time teaching posts from August 2007 onwards.

He insisted to the newspaper he was not a paedophile and had never sexually touched a child, and said he had at no stage tried to hide his identity or past.

"I never changed my face. I still have the same beard, dark hair," he said. "If I (was) trying to sneak in, why would I use my real name?"

Sewar said he came to Hong Kong to start a new life after his conviction in the US and said: "It's my gift that I work very well with kids.

"But obviously people aren't going to want you with all these allegations flowing around ... I would never get another job in school."

Sewar's case raises further questions about the checks done on criminal pasts of people working in Hong Kong schools.

In February, a Hong Kong man with three previous convictions for indecent assault was prosecuted for opening a tutorial school on his release from jail and molesting at least five more girls.


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