Teacher faces jail in Ethiopia after helping to expose paedophiles at a children’s charity – Times online

March 3rd, 2008 Print Print Email Email

A British teacher faces jail in Ethiopia after being convicted of defamation for her role in exposing paedophiles working in a children’s charity.

Jill Campbell and her husband Gary compiled a dossier of evidence that helped to convict a British sex offender who admitted having a sexual relationship with a child in his care. A second suspect committed suicide. (more…)

A British teacher faces jail in Ethiopia after being convicted of defamation for her role in exposing paedophiles working in a children’s charity.

Jill Campbell and her husband Gary compiled a dossier of evidence that helped to convict a British sex offender who admitted having a sexual relationship with a child in his care. A second suspect committed suicide.

The Swiss charity Terre Des Hommes-Lausanne (TdH) admitted that abuse had taken place at its care facilities in the village of Jari, but denied the Campbells’ accusations that senior staff had covered up the scandal and had failed to inform the Ethiopian authorities. The charity successfully brought a defamation case against the couple.

Mrs Campbell, 45, will find out on Friday whether she will go to prison after a failed appeal. Her lawyers have told her that she will be found in contempt of court if she refuses to apologise and could be jailed for six months.

Yesterday friends said that she was distraught at having to tell her two adopted 10-year-old children that she might have to go to prison. Her husband has apologised to TdH so that one parent will be able to remain at home. In a statement published by the Ethiopian media last week, he apologised to the charity for alleging that it “knowingly removed their country director, David Christie (also known as David Allan) from Ethiopia in order to cover up a crime”.

The couple have lived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for 14 years and are well known for their charity work. Friends have rallied to defend the Campbells and insist that without them paedeophile activity would not have been exposed. “Instead of TdH apologising to the victims, they are forcing Gary and Jill to apologise for blowing the whistle and stopping the chain of homosexual abusers victimising orphans in the care of this Swiss-based NGO,” said one.

Clare Rees, a teacher who works with Mrs Campbell at Sandford English Community School, said: “She’s seen as a saint. If you walk along the streets here you meet so many people she has helped. That’s why this whole thing is so unfair.”

Mrs Campbell became aware of the allegations of sexual abuse through a colleague at the school whose boyfriend worked at Jari. In December 1996 staff members saw a boy escaping from Christie’s bedroom window.

He was dismissed by the charity and left Ethiopia. He was subsequently arrested in 2001 as he travelled to Zambia. The Campbells had drawn up a dossier of evidence against him, which they circulated widely.

Christie, originally from Bournemouth, was eventually found guilty of abusing boys under 15 and of procuring children for his friends. In 2003 he was sentenced at a court in Addis Ababa to nine years in prison with hard labour.

One of his associates and a frequent visitor to Jari, Mark Lachance, committed suicide after posting a confession on the internet in 1999.

Colin Tucker, a spokesman for TdH, declined to discuss the charity’s motive in suing the whistle-blowers. “Read the judgment. That’s the best we can say,” he said. “They defamed us and we have successfully prosecuted them.”

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