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Missionary Pastor from Georgia Pleads Guilty to Sexually Assaulting a Minor in Uganda

A former pastor from Georgia has pleaded guilty to engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place for assaulting a girl under his care while he was doing missionary work in Uganda.

Eric Tuininga, 44, of Milledgeville, Georgia, pleaded guilty Feb. 2 and was taken into custody to await sentencing, scheduled for May 3.

According to court documents, Tuininga admitted to having sex with Ugandan female minors as young as 14 when he was working for the U.S.-based Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Mbale, Uganda, as a minister.

He faces a maximum 30 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine and will be required to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.

A U.S. citizen affiliated with the church reported Tuininga to U.S. Embassy Kampala American Citizen Services in June 2019. Agents from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security in Kampala, Uganda, opened an investigation, which was continued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Child Exploitation Unit in Atlanta after Tuininga returned to Georgia.

“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. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with our national and international law enforcement partners, will do everything in our power to catch child predators and hold them accountable for their crimes.”

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.