NAIROBI, Kenya — The 2019 murder of a Kenyan priest, Father Michael Maingi Kyengo, has taken a new twist with a suspect saying he killed the cleric over sexual assaults.

Michael Muthini Mutunga, 26, was among four people charged in November 2019. He denied killing the priest, but when the case came up for hearing in mid-October, he pleaded guilty. A fact-finding hearing for the case was held Oct. 21.

Kyengo, 43, a priest of the Diocese of Machakos, disappeared from his home in Matungulu, near Nairobi, in October 2019. A week later, he was found dead in a shallow grave in seasonal riverbed in southeastern Kenya.

Mutunga’s lawyer said his client had acted in anger and grief after he was sodomized twice and infected with a sexually transmitted disease by the priest, according to The Standard, a Kenyan newspaper.

The paper said the priest had started grooming Mutunga by paying his school fees in 2017. At the time, he also started calling him dear and sweetheart. Messages pointing to a relationship between the two were also found in the priest’s phone, according to reports. The paper reported that Kyengo had threatened to kill the accused after he said he would speak out about the priest’s abuse.