Abuser of kids

2011-08-06 00:00

AN American Peace Corps volunteer was arrested and charged this week for sexually abusing at least five little girls while working at the Umvoti Aids Centre in Greytown last year.

Jesse Osmun (32) allegedly molested the girls — all under six — in exchange for sweets at the centre’s pre-school in March last year.

It is further alleged that Osmun engaged in illicit sexual conduct with one of the girls, aged about five, approximately two times a week over the course of five months, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney-General’s Office.

U.S. assistant attorney-general Lanny Breuer said authorities arrested Osmun at his home in Milford, Connecticut, on Thursday night.

According to a spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy, Elizabeth Kennedy, Osmun resigned from UAC in June this year, and relocated to Johannesburg before returning to the U.S.

“After being confronted by the UAC programme director about suspicion surrounding him in May, Osmun resigned from the Peace Corps the next month,” said Kennedy.

The abuse surfaced after Greytown residents complained to management at the centre and a joint investigation was initiated with South African and American authorities.

“The two countries police worked closely together to bring the accused to book.

“He is currently in jail and has been denied bail,” said Kennedy.

The case is being investigated by the Peace Corps Office of the Inspector-General and ICE Homeland Security Investigations and assistance has been provided by South African police.

Osmun is charged with travelling outside of the United States to engage in sexual conduct with a minor. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $250 000 (about R1,7 million).

Kennedy said that the charge is meant to deal with American citizens who may feel they may get leniency in other countries for committing such crimes.

In his blog, Osmun describes himself as a former Peace Corps volunteer, blogger, non-profit worker, grant writer and self-professed Africa lover.

“I’m extremely passionate about helping non-profits and new NGOs connect with African communities and organisations in a way that is mutually beneficial.

“I recently spent over a year in South Africa working with a small NGO to build capacity around HIV/Aids programming and develop as an organisation.

“Prior to that I worked in Kenya for 10 months with orphans as well as older school children.

“I am currently looking for my next adventure in the world of development.”

Director at the Umvoti Aids Centre, Joan Dutton, was unable to comment by the time of going to press.

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