A CATHOLIC priest accused of raping a schoolboy could be extradited from his Bournemouth home to face charges in South Africa.

Father William MacCurtain, who lives in a home for retired Jesuit priests in Boscombe, is alleged to have sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy in Johannesburg in 1989.

The 84-year-old, a resident of the Corpus Christi Jesuit Community(CCJC) in Christchurch Road, has apologised to the alleged victim and said he “deeply regretted the pain” he had caused.

Said to be in poor health, he issued a statement through the British Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) after alleged victim William Segodisho spoke out at a news conference in South Africa.

The Society also apologised and said Mr Segodisho had received an ex-gratia payment.

In a statement, Father MacCurtain said: “I recognise that my behaviour towards Mr Segodisho in the 1980s violated the trust he had put in me as a Catholic priest. I deeply regret the pain that I have caused and would wish to apologise to him unreservedly.

“I realise that such an apology cannot right the wrongs done to him at that time or the suffering that he has endured since.”

Mr Segodisho said he was raped at a Catholic homeless shelter. He said Father MacCurtain promised him schooling, bought him clothes and took him for meals but wanted sexual favours in return.

After he complained, Father MacCurtain returned to the UK in 1990 but the church failed to investigate until 2002 when it withdrew his ministry.

The campaign group Women and Men Against Child Abuse is backing Mr Segodisho’s case and spokeswoman Miranda Friedman said he had been subjected to “absolute exploitation.”

Calling for Father MacCurtain’s extradition, she added: “We absolutely demand that they give us an answer. With Father Mac Curtain at 84, they are not going to use old age and health to avoid what they have done.”

A spokesman for the CCJC said Father MacCurtain moved to Bournemouth in 1989 because he needed nursing care. He has never had ministry in the town and has no links with the nearby Corpus Christi school.