Kampala, Uganda | URN | Eric Tuininga, a former missionary is facing jail term of up to 30 years having pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a Ugandan girl who was under the care of his church, Orthodox Presbyterian based in Mbale district.
A press release issued by the United States Department of Justice, indicates that Tuininga, 44, pleaded guilty in federal court in Macon to illicit sexual conduct on Wednesday 2, February 2022.
According to the statement, the sex offender in question landed into trouble back in 2019 when a fellow US citizen working in the same church contacted the U.S. Embassy in Kampala reporting that Tuininga was having sex with Ugandan girls as young as 14 years, who were under the care of their church.
Authorities noted that when a case was reported, the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DSS) federal agents in Kampala, opened an investigation into the allegations and subsequently identified the abused minor who was 14 in May 2019, when Tuininga had sex with her.
After noting that Tuininga, then a suspect, had already returned to his home in the Middle district of Georgia, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Child Exploitation Unit, Atlanta, continued the investigations. Following the investigation, the suspect admitted that he engaged in illicit sexual conduct with the girl.
“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 U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary adding, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with national and international law enforcement partners, will do everything in their power to catch child predators and hold them accountable for their crimes.”
Special Agent Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations operations in Georgia and Alabama also noted that Tuininga was supposed to be someone that could be trusted, but instead, he abused that trust and victimized a child.
After his plea hearing, Tuininga was taken to jail and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 3 for sexually assaulting a Ugandan girl. The former missionary faces up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, to be followed by a term of supervised release up to life and a maximum of USD 250,000 fine.
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In addition, according to the department of justices’ statement, Tuininga will also have to register as a sex offender upon being released from prison.
Available information shows that Tuininga began his missionary work in Uganda in 2012, and was part of a five-family ministry team serving in Mbale and Karamoja.
More details obtained from Glenda Faye Mathes website indicate that Tuininga was mandated with training men for ministry at Knox Theological College (KTC), operated by the Orthodox Presbyterian Uganda Mission.
Students come from a variety of ecclesiastical and tribal backgrounds in Uganda and Kenya.