Mr. Eric Tuininga, a former pastor from Georgia, United States who early this year pleaded guilty of defiling a 14-year-old Ugandan girl has been sentenced to 10 years in a US Federal Prison.
Appearing before the federal court in Macon, in February this year, Mr. Tuininga, 45, confessed having sexually abused the girl who was under his care at the Orthodox Presbyterian church based in Mbale District
The court presided over by Chief US District Judge Marc T. Treadwell consequently ordered Tuininga to pay USD20,000 (about Ugx75m) in restitution and spend a lifetime on supervised release as a registered sex offender after getting out of prison.
Despite several US media outlets reporting that the recommended sentence for Mr Tuininga was seven to nine years, the judge gave him a 10-year sentence after hearing testimony from the victim’s caretaker and some of Tuininga’s family members. Tuininga’s lawyer had requested a sentence of five years.
“I want to recognise 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 is quoted in a statement.
“Law enforcement, both abroad and here at home, took on a challenging international case,” he added.
In 2019, Mr Tuininga was reported by a fellow US citizen working at the same church who contacted the US Embassy in Kampala that the now convict was having sex with Ugandan girls as young as 14 years who were under the care of their church.
The US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security federal agents in Kampala opened an investigation into the allegations and subsequently identified the abused minor, who was then aged 14, in May 2019 when Tuininga had sex with her.
“Eric Tuininga used his trusted position as a pastor to sexually assault a young Ugandan girl in his care, this was a challenging case, but law enforcement worked diligently to ensure that Tuininga did not escape justice for his crime overseas,” said US Attorney Peter D. Leary.