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October 21, 2014

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Hearing set for African refugee accused of sexual assault

Kalunga Kanyela

Kalunga Kanyela

A preliminary hearing has been set for a 37-year-old African refugee accused of sexually assaulting three young female relatives.

Kalunga Kanyela appeared in Las Vegas Justice Court on Tuesday morning for an arraignment. He is charged with three counts of sexual assault, four counts of lewdness with a victim under 14 and one count of open and gross lewdness.

His preliminary hearing was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 23.

Metro Police arrested Kanyela on June 12 after his wife asked a friend to report that her husband had been sexually assaulting one of the girls, officials said.

His wife told officers she walked into the living room of their house near Maryland Parkway and Twain Avenue on June 11 and saw her husband push the girl off him, officials said.

According to the arrest report, the girl told her mother that Kanyela had touched her genitals prior to her walking into the room. She also alleged Kanyela had forced her to have sex with him on another occasion, police said.

Investigators said Kanyela at first denied touching the three girls then said he touched the 10-year-old on her stomach and chest. He told officers he didn’t know it was wrong in the United States because it is allowed in Africa, police said.

The girl was taken to Sunrise Hospital, where police officers and Swahili interpreters made contact with the family, who are refugees from the Congo region of Africa, officials said. They have lived in the U.S. since November 2009.

Police also interviewed the other two alleged victims. A 15-year-old girl told police Kanyela had sexually assaulted her numerous times in Africa and that he had touched her breasts earlier in the day, then she pushed his hands away, police said.

Hospital officials also reported that a 6-year-old had been a victim of sexual abuse.

Kanyela is being held in the Clark County Detention Center. His bail is set at $75,000.

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