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American missionary jailed for 10 years for defiling minor in Uganda

A court in the US has sentenced a former pastor from Georgia to a 10-year sentence for sexually assaulting a Ugandan minor. Eric Tuininga, 45, was sentenced to the jail term followed by a lifetime of supervised release and $20,000 in restitution to the victim by Chief US District Judge Marc T. Treadwell.

In addition, Tuininga will have to register as a sex offender for life upon his release from federal prison. There is no parole in the federal system.

The convict had previously pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country. The court found the former pastor guilty of sexually assaulting a girl who was under his care while he was conducting missionary work in Uganda.

According to court documents, a US citizen affiliated with the US-based Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) operating in Mbale, Uganda, contacted the US Embassy in Kampala in June 2019 to report that Mr Tuininga, who was working as one of the group’s ministers, had sex with the Ugandan female minor who was approximately 14 years old.

The US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DSS) agents in Kampala, Uganda, then opened an investigation into the allegation. Mr Tuininga had fled to Georgia by then but the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Child Exploitation Unit, Atlanta continued with the investigation.

During the trial, Mr Tuininga admitted that he came to know the victim in his capacity as a religious leader and that the victim would visit the OPC church, including a compound, overseen by Mr Tuininga. He also admitted that he engaged in illicit sexual conduct with the child.

“I want to recognize the true bravery displayed by the Ugandan girl for speaking out when she was assaulted by a trusted person of power from another country, courageously seeking justice across continents,” US Attorney Peter D. Leary said.

“Law enforcement – both abroad and here at home – took on a challenging international case. Homeland Security Investigations’ Child Exploitation Unit worked tirelessly to ensure that the truth was uncovered and the defendant was held accountable for his crime,” the Attorney added.