December 29 2018
By Nuria Martinez-Keel
An allegation of inappropriate behavior toward a teenager in Sedalia led to the expulsion of a priest from the Catholic Community of Pettis County.
Deusdedit Mulokozi was one of 35 priests removed from the Diocese of Jefferson City, according to a November announcement from Bishop Shawn McKnight.
In 2015, the diocese deemed Mulokozi “unsuitable for ministry out of concern for the safety of our youth,” according to the announcement. Former Bishop John Gaydos expelled him from the diocese, forcing his removal from ministry in Pettis County.
Mulokozi, known familiarly as Father Deo, served at Sacred Heart Church and St. Patrick Church in Sedalia and St. John the Evangelist in Bahner from 2014 until the allegation emerged in May 2015. He came to Pettis County from Tanzania as a member of the religious order Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
A 15-year-old girl reported to the Sedalia Police Department that Mulokozi had insisted on hugging her after a one-on-one counseling session at the Sacred Heart Church rectory. Before she left the room, he gave her “not a normal hug but a dirty hug,” according to SPD documents.
Detectives investigated her report and later requested the priest be charged with third-degree assault in Pettis County Circuit Court.
Third-degree assault in 2015 involved offensive contact or touching. Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney Phillip Sawyer said his office chose not to file the charge against Mulokozi because evidence in the case didn’t prove criminal conduct.
The girl disclosed details of her encounter with Mulokozi during an interview at Child Safe of Central Missouri.
She said she had been seeing Mulokozi for counseling once every two weeks at the rectory. The girl described the priest as her guidance counselor and a person she trusted, according to police documents.
On May 10, 2015, they stood up to leave at the end of a session, and the girl put out her hand for a handshake. Mulokozi pulled her in for an embrace, saying, “No, I want a hug,” according to SPD documents.
The girl said in her interview that Mulokozi had hugged her before but “not like that.”
“At that point in the interview, (the girl) started crying,” according to police documents. “(She) then exclaimed, ‘Why did he hug me that way? It was dirty.’”
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