Peace Corp volunteer gets 15 years

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pretoria - A United States man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing four minor girls while he was a US Peace Corp volunteer in South Africa.

This was announced by officials from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on Thursday.

Jesse Osmun, 33, was sentenced on Wednesday in a US court in the State of Connecticut to 15 years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release.

According to court documents, Osmun was sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer in early 2010 and began his service at a non-governmental organisation in South Africa that provides education, food and other services to children, many of whom are orphans. 

In May 2011, Osmun resigned from the Peace Corps after being confronted by the program director of the NGO with allegations of sexual abuse and he returned to the US in June 2011.

However, HSI special agents, working with members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI), began investigating the allegations of abuse.

The investigation revealed that, while volunteering at the NGO, Osmun enticed four young girls, all of whom were under the age of six, to engage in illicit sexual acts with him. 

"Osmun persuaded the children to engage in this conduct by playing games with them and providing them with candy. Osmun sexually abused one of the victims approximately two times a week over the course of approximately five months," said a statement.

In August 2011, he was arrested at his home in Milford, Connecticut. He later pleaded guilty to one count of traveling from the US to South Africa to engage in illicit sexual conduct with children.

Peter Vincent, director of HSI's Office of International Affairs said: "Thanks to the close collaboration of HSI's attach, at the US Embassy in Pretoria, the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, a US citizen has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes he committed here in South Africa."

He said there would be no refuge for US citizens who believe that they may victimize children outside the US. 

"No place is too distant or too remote to escape the attention of law enforcement. Thanks to an extensive investigation we worked jointly with our South African counterparts," Jesse Osmun will now spend a considerable amount of time in a US jail," he said.

Carrie Hessler-Radelet, acting director of the Peace Corps said that the Peace Corps had no tolerance for abuse of any kind. "Our deepest sympathies are with all the victims involved." - SAnews.gov.za

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