Click here to read Part 1: Undefeated: Joy Mupalia Speaks Out After Alleged Attempted Rape; More Women Accuse Former Kenya Under-18 Women’s National Team Basketball Coach of Attempted Sexual Misconduct.
Because of the sensitive nature of this investigative story, only the main subjects, Philip Onyango Ombajo and Joy Mupalia, will be mentioned directly in all contexts because their names are already in the public domain.
Due to threats I received while investigating this story, concerns of retaliation, cyberbullying, and potential bodily harm, I have decided to grant anonymity to other sources so they can speak freely. To make reading and understanding the story easier, I have given them fictitious names.
Subjects in their official capacities and statements obtained from the public domain are quoted directly and attributed accordingly. I have made every effort to corroborate their information to make sure they’re credible. While I took extra care to ensure the story is accurate within the context and the accounts are true, I cannot guarantee the complete accuracy of all the details. I will be keen to keep updating the story to ensure we attain the most accuracy.
Note: This is an ongoing investigative story. We’re still vetting more allegations and following leads. We will report without fear or favor. Anybody with information can reach me through my Twitter handle @MauriceNdole or WhatsApp 559-970-8601 or email email@example.com.
PART 2: ONYANGO’S DEFENSE.
Emboldened by the letter dismissing attempted rape charges against him, Philip Onyango Ombajo appeared to justify his actions and attacked his accuser Joy Mupalia.
Onyango is defiant, denying he’s ever sexually assaulted any females and dismissed Mupalia’s allegations.
“Who told you she was forced?” Onyango asked rhetorically. “Modern hotel rooms are not locked from inside ndugu. You use the card only to open the door and can open it anytime. I have told you, and this is final. I did not sexually harass. The police and ODPP, the most qualified people to handle this, gave their verdict.”
Mupalia has not wavered. She is accusing Ombajo, popularly known as Onyango, of attempted rape at a Nairobi hotel on July 3.
The public prosecutor dismissed the charges citing insufficient evidence, but more females are coming forward saying, Onyango allegedly sexually assaulted them.
He denied taking off his clothes and questioned why Mupalia did not scream or flee in the face of such danger.
“How and why should I have taken off my clothes to do what? Did she even make noise and run for help?” Onyango questioned. “I have never slept with my player and will never do. Otherwise, I could not be successful all these years to date.”
Mupalia expressed disgust at Onyango’s denials.
“Shame on him,” Mupalia said. “Me and him know what happened, and of course, he won’t accept it. I hope his daughter does not experience this.”
Mupalia added that before their Whatsapp message communication, Onyango called her and asked her uncomfortable personal questions.
“He asked me if I have a boyfriend,” Mupalia said. “He was asking if am a virgin and so many personal questions that I couldn’t answer.”
In an interview with The Nairobian, Onyango denied the allegations against him surrounding the July 3 incident.
“The only mistake I made was to allow her to sleep in the same room with me,” Onyango told The Nairobian.
Sleeping in the same room with Mupalia is one fact Onyango cannot explain away. Multiple coaches and players have said such behavior is unethical and unacceptable and raises questions about his motives.
Kenya Port Authority Sports administrator Lennox Safari described Onyango’s actions as unethical and “an issue of his own making.”
Onyango’s attacks on Mupalia’s credibility and recollection of the incident could trigger a defamation lawsuit against him for implying she’s lying.
But even in his defense, Onyango made some startling admissions to The Nairobian. He did not appreciate learning Mupalia had spent about 45 minutes talking to her boyfriend. He became controlling, a character trait some have cited as his signature move dominating girls in his charge.
“This lady is only 22 years old. As a responsible coach, I thought that it would be nice if I talked to her about the impact of having a relationship at this point while pursuing her career,” Onyango told The Nairobian.
Adulthood age in Kenya is 18-years old. Adults have the right to pursue relationships with the opposite sex and even get married. At 22, Mupalia was no exception.
Mupalia disputes Onyango’s account, saying she told him she has a boyfriend as a ruse to dissuade him from pursuing her, but that did not stop him.
“Onyango is such a liar,” Mupalia said. “When we entered the room and [he] undressed, I was uncomfortable. He was telling me things that made me uneasy. He then starts talking to me about sex and how he would help me if I give in.”
Mupalia said she was seated in the chair during the conversation, and Onyango was on the bed half-naked.
“He then brings his hands and touches my hips,” Mupalia said. “I faced away from him and gave him my back. I was thinking of something [to tell him] so that I can get away from him. I told him I have a boyfriend, and he wouldn’t like to hear what I’m doing here with you.”
On hearing that, Onyango allegedly got angry and started lecturing her.
“Instead of listening to his nonsense, I took out my phone and texted a really good friend of mine who is a lawyer,” Mupalia said.
ONYANGO HAS HELPED SOME PLAYERS
Some of the players who stayed in Onyango’s house say he did not seek sex from them, but none have vouched for his innocence. Instead, they focused on telling their personal experience with Onyango without defending him from sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him.
“I played for him like four years. He never requested for anything from me, to be honest,” Janet (not her real name) said. “Honestly, Onyango was a good coach, and he helped many of his players to achieve in life. The only problem with him is where now people complain of his manners of sexual harassment.”
Janet said she started living at Onyango’s residence when she was 16 and lived there most of her high school life until she graduated.
Esther, (not her real name), who also lived in Onyango’s house, described herself as Onyango’s student and daughter.
“I can honestly say I never had any sexual assault during my time, and I wouldn’t like to discuss more in this regard,” Esther said with finality.
Rachel (not her real name), who also lived at Onyango’s three-bedroom house in Mombasa, said nothing happened to her.
“He has never approach(ed) me,” Rachel said. “Since I started working with Coach Phillip have never come across anything with him concerning this situation (sexual harassment).”
Agatha (not her real name), Onyango’s former superior at KPA, who once traveled with the team, said she was unaware of any sexual harassment complaints against Onyango when she worked with him.
“He would not have been in my team if I knew that he was sexually harassing my girls,” Agatha, who spoke to us at Onyango’s request, said. “Nothing of the sort was brought to my attention.”
She said Onyango’s issue was working with Anthony Ojukwu, KPA’s head coach. And the bad blood led him to resign in 2002. She nevertheless vouched for Onyango.
“I loved my boys (Onyango and Ojukwu), each with their weakness and strengths. Though Phillip’s weakness was not women. This recent incident was a shock to me.” Agatha said.
Later in the conversation, Agatha, however, revealed she might not know Onyango as well as she thought.
“I’d not stay with them on international trips. We would be together though PO (Philip Onyango) got his accommodations outside the camp,” Agatha said. “FIBA gets accommodations for 14 players and officials in a 3 to 4-star hotel. Philip was paid as a player, and he preferred to source for cheaper accommodation and save some cash.”
Such an arrangement made it impossible for Agatha to know Onyango’s activities away from the camp.
Agatha soon saw another side of Onyango after reviewing a secretly recorded conversation between Onyango and Ansalim Onalo. In the recording, Onyango directed crude insults, gossiped and slandered some prominent members of the Kenyan basketball fraternity.
“I now understand why [and] how he has made a lot of enemies. He talks too much,” Agatha said. “I have listened to the saga. Unfortunately, PO comes out as a braggart, big gossiper who should be in the periphery of KBF, not in the kitchen.”
But still, Agatha stood by Onyango, giving him a glowing review. She said she always tries to see the best out of people.
“Phillip has a kind heart, and he genuinely loves the game. He will scout for players, keep them in his house and develop the player to a world-class standard,” Agatha said. “He is full of compassion. To get the girls to play the way he wants, I know that he can be a bully.”
Onyango’s critics are not as generous. Some disagree his good deeds matter.
“Whatever good he has done with these girls has been superseded with the evils he has done,” Kariba (not a real name), a veteran of Kenyan basketball, said.
Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) declined to comment on this story.
BRIEF BACKGROUND OF THIS STORY
On July 3rd, Onyango allegedly lured Mupailia to a hotel room in Nairobi under the pretext he would give her a position with Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Ladies Basketball team. Upon realizing Onyango had booked one room for both of them, Mupalia object and alleged Onyango tried to force her into having sex with him as payment for sending her fare to head over to Mombasa and join KPA.
Mupalia called a friend to tell her what happened. Unknown to her, the friend recorded the conversation and released it on social media where it went viral.
The viral audio triggered an online petition the was signed by almost 2000 people demanding KBF to fire Onyango and blaming KBF for enabling him.
“A known basketball coach who has worked for the club team Kenya Ports Authority, the Women’s national team and various high school basketball teams in the Mombasa area has been molesting and raping young girls and women-using sexual favors as bait in the name of offering basketball opportunities,” the petition stated. “This has been happening knowingly under the Kenya Basketball Federation leadership over the past 15 years.”
While the petition did not mention Onyango by name, he soon outed himself in a resignation letter addressed to KBF.
Reaction on the Kenyan Basketball Forum on Facebook was scathing.
“Enough is enough!” Silalei Shani, a former 3-time women’s national team said in a Facebook post. “Philip Onyango Ombajo, shame on you and anyone who preys on our ladies in the name of basketball.”
Following the allegations, Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) expelled Ombajo on July 8. In a letter signed by KBF Chairman Paul A. Otula and Secretary-General Ambrose Kisoi, the duo does not expressly accuse Onyango of wrongdoing but cites sections 12(4) and 14(2) as grounds to invoke his expulsion from all Federation-sponsored basketball activities.
A man believed to be former secretary-general Vitalis Gode said KBF set up a committee to investigate the allegations found them accurate. He said Onyango admitted to soliciting sex from the woman in a hotel room, but “nothing happened.”
Onyango was also sacked by The Nation Media Group, where he worked as a contributor. The Nation through its Managing Editor Elias Makori released the following statement.
“Onyango was a contracted contributor to the Nation Media Group. Once the allegations were brought to our attention, we terminated his services immediately. The Nation Media Group upholds moral sobriety and does not entertain such conduct as Onyango was alleged to have been involved in. NMG has a clear policy on sexual harassment,” Makori said in a Twitter message.
Kenyan Ports Authority(KPA) also parted ways with Onyango.
Mupalia accused Onyango of attempted rape, but the charges were dismissed because of insufficient evidence. But now, more women are coming forward alleging Onyango sexually harassed or assaulted them.
Part three of our investigation will focus on new allegations.