Ugandan court charges US couple in case of foster child

Posted at 2:46 PM, December 22, 2022 and last updated 1:59 PM, July 7, 2023

By RISDEL KASASIRA Associated Press

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A Ugandan court has charged an American couple with child trafficking in a case that might see them serve life in prison if convicted.

According to the charge sheet presented by the state prosecution before Buganda Road Court on Monday, the couple allegedly tortured and held a 10-year-old boy in a small, cold room without clothes.

The court document alleged that Mackenzie Leing Mathias Spencer and Nicholas Spencer in the district of Kampala “recruited, transported and maintained” the foster child “for the purpose of exploitation.”

The couple earlier had been charged with aggravated torture and was alleged to have kept the boy in the room fitted with cameras to monitor his “stubbornness” and “hyperactive behavior.” Police were alerted to the case by a worker at the couple’s home.

The couple has pleaded not guilty to the earlier charge and they will have the chance to plead to the new charge when the case moves to a higher court. They remain in custody.

The prosecution told the court the couple had been staying with three foster children, including the boy. The other two children are now in the care of the police.

The case has an element of child trafficking because the couple was allegedly keeping and using the children to solicit money from donors, said Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesman Patrick Onyango.

It’s not clear what the couple was doing in Uganda because they didn’t have work permits, he said.

The law allows foreigners in Uganda to have foster children, Onyango said.