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American pastor jailed for 10 years over molesting 14-year-old Ugandan girl

Eric Tuininga during his missionary works in Uganda

Eric Tuininga during his missionary works in Uganda

A former missionary pastor Eric Tuininga from Georgia, US who sexually assaulted a girl in Mbale, Uganda under his care has been jailed for 10 years by chief US district judge Marc T. Treadwell. 

Tuininga, 45, who previously pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places will serve 120 months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release and $20,000 in restitution to the victim.

In addition, Tuininga will have to register as a sex offender for life upon his release from federal prison according to the United States Department of Justice statement.

“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,” said US attorney Peter D. Leary.

“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.”

GENESIS

Another American national affiliated with the US-based Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) operating in Mbale, eastern Uganda, contacted the US Embassy in Kampala in June 2019, to report that Tuininga, who was working as one of the group’s ministers, had 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, opened an investigation into the allegation. By this time, Tuininga had already fled to his US home in the Middle District of Georgia but the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Child Exploitation unit, Atlanta, continued the investigation.

US investigators identified the Ugandan minor who was approximately 14-years-old in March 2019 when Tuininga had sex with her as he was working as a pastor with the OPC.

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 Tuininga. Tuininga also admitted that he engaged in illicit sexual conduct with the child.

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