Peace Corps Volunteer Charged with Sexually Abusing Children in South Africa
WASHINGTON - A Peace Corps volunteer was arrested today and charged in a federal criminal complaint with traveling from the United States to South Africa to engage in illicit sexual conduct with multiple children who were all younger than six years of age.
The arrest and charge were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney David B. Fein for the District of Connecticut; Kathy A. Buller, Peace Corps Inspector General; and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in Boston.
The criminal complaint alleges that Jesse Osmun, 31, of Milford, Conn., traveled to South Africa on Jan. 29, 2010. On March 25, 2010, Osmun was sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer and began service as a volunteer at the Umvoti Aids Center (UAC) in Greytown, South Africa. The UAC is a non-governmental organization that provides support to the residents of the Greytown area affected by the AIDS virus. UAC also provides education, food and other child development services to children between the ages of three and 15. The UAC also has a center for the younger children often referred to as the preschool.
According to the complaint, Osmun, while volunteering at the UAC preschool, sexually molested at least five minor girls, all of whom were under the age of six, for approximately one year. The complaint also alleges that Osmun engaged in illicit sexual conduct with one of the girls, who is approximately five-years-old, twice a week over the course of five months.
“Mr. Osmun is charged with a shocking breach of the power entrusted to him as a Peace Corps volunteer,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Allegedly, he repeatedly sexually abused five minor girls under the age of six -- horrific crimes. Along with the international operation we announced yesterday -- Operation Delego -- this case is another example that the Justice Department will do everything in its power to bring to justice those who would exploit children, whether at home or abroad.”
“This defendant is alleged to have sexually abused very young girls, sometimes in exchange for candy, while he served as a Peace Corps volunteer at an AIDS center in South Africa,” said U.S. Attorney Fein. “We are committed to prosecuting those who sexually exploit children, the most vulnerable in society, in this country and abroad. I want to commend the diligent, swift and coordinated efforts of the Peace Corps’ Office of Inspector General and ICE Homeland Security Investigations in investigating this matter and arresting this individual.”
“We are committed to vigorous investigation and prosecution of those who exploit the mission of the Peace Corps to prey on innocent victims,” said Peace Corps Inspector General Buller.
“This arrest represents the very essence of the determination of federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to capture an individual whose primary objective, allegedly, was to sexually abuse vulnerable children,” said ICE HSI Special Agent in Charge Foucart. “I hope that this arrest sends a clear message that we will continue to aggressively pursue individuals who engage in this behavior to ensure that there is no place to hide here in the United States or anywhere in the world.”
After being confronted by the UAC program manager in May 2011, Osmun resigned from the Peace Corps. Osmun returned to the United States on June 2, 2011.
Following Osmun’s arrest today at his Milford residence, he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport, Conn., and has been ordered detained.
If convicted of the charge of traveling outside of the United States to engage in sexual conduct with a minor, Osmun faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
A complaint is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by the Peace Corps Office of Inspector General and ICE HSI. Investigative assistance has been provided by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS); ICE’s attaché office in Pretoria, South Africa; the ICE Cybercrimes Center in Fairfax, Va., and the U.S. Department of State’s regional security office in Durban, South Africa. The case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Fein, Assistant U.S. Attorney Krishna R. Patel and Trial Attorney Bonnie Kane of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.