Peace Corps condemns abuse

2011-08-06 09:29

kalahari.com

New Haven, Connecticut - The US Peace Corps said on Friday that a former volunteer's alleged sexual abuse of young girls in South Africa is "reprehensible" and the agency supports the vigorous prosecution of the case.

Thirty-one-year-old Jesse Osmun was arrested on Thursday in Connecticut on federal charges of sexually abusing children at a centre in Greytown, which helps Aids victims. Authorities say Osmun molested five children under the age of 6, some multiple times, and gave them candy during a period between 2010 and this year.

"Mr Osmun is charged with a shocking breach of the power entrusted to him as a Peace Corps volunteer," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said upon Osmun's arrest.

Breuer's attorney, federal public defender Sarah Merriam, declined to comment.

The Peace Corps said it was made aware of the allegations after Osmun resigned in May. The humanitarian agency, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, said it immediately notified authorities and will continue to cooperate with them.

Every applicant undergoes a background check, the organisation stressed.

"The Peace Corps has no tolerance for abuse of any kind, and our deepest sympathies are with the victims," the agency said in a statement.

In 2007, former Peace Corps volunteer Timothy Ronald Obert of California was sentenced to more than four years in prison after admitting he had sex with a 14-year-old Costa Rican boy. Obert was fired from the Peace Corps.

Osmun was charged with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison. He did not enter a plea on Thursday in an initial court appearance and remains jailed.

On his web page, Osmun described himself as a "self-professed Africa lover" who is passionate about helping nonprofits that work in that continent. He said he also worked with orphans in Kenya before his Peace Corps assignment.

With the Peace Corps, Osmun worked at the Umvoti Aids Centre that provides support to residents affected by the Aids virus. The centre declined to comment.

Federal criminal complaint

According to a federal criminal complaint, a teacher saw Osmun follow three young girls into a preschool building. The teacher went into the building and saw Osmun, who was in a toy room with the girls, appear startled and zip up his pants, authorities said.

The girls referred to Osmun as "uncle" and said he gave them candy for performing oral sex, prosecutors said.

Osmun initially denied any misconduct but later admitted he had molested children and provided a written confession, according to the complaint. He admitted he engaged in sexual contact with three girls under age 6 for about a year, including one girl twice a week for about five months, authorities said.

Rekha Nathoo, director of the Children in Distress Network, of which the Umvoti Aids Centre is a member, said volunteers from abroad should arrive with police clearance from their own country.

"The selection and interviewing process needs to be more rigorous - not just from our side, but from the side where they are being sent," Nathoo said.

Nathoo said she was shocked by the allegations.

"Unfortunately, in South Africa, child abuse and child rape is among the worst in the world, and KwaZulu Natal is the worst hit," Nathoo said, referring to the province where the alleged abuse took place.

The Peace Corps traces its roots to 1960, when then-US Sen. John F Kennedy challenged Michigan university students to serve their country by living and working in developing nations. From that inspiration, its website says, grew a federal government agency "devoted to world peace and friendship."

Peace Corps volunteers travel to other countries to provide hands-on assistance in areas including health education, information technology and environmental preservation. The Peace Corps has sent more than 200 000 Americans to serve in 139 countries.

- AP

Read more on:    peace corps  |  pietermaritzburg  |  child abuse
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Belhar - 17:58 PM
    Road name: Belhar Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Alabama Drive
  • Tuesday Cape Town - 17:57 PM
    Road name: Nelson Mandela Boulevard Outbound
    DELAYS between Strand Street and Hospital Bend
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1455.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come up to alert you of your security needs. It may be that you need to create a better structure for your finances...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.