US missionary guilty of sexually assaulting Ugandan girl

Posted at 6:04 PM, February 2, 2022 and last updated 6:17 PM, February 2, 2022

MACON, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia minister on Wednesday pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a girl under the care of his church while doing missionary work in Uganda.

Court records show 44-year-old Eric Tuininga of Milledgeville pleaded guilty in federal court in Macon to illicit sexual conduct.

Prosecutors say an American citizen had contacted the U.S. embassy in Kampala, Uganda in June 2019 to tell officials that Tuininga was having sex with Ugandan girls as young as 14 who were under the care of the U.S.-based Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Mbale, Uganda.

Tuininga was one of the church’s ministers. Authorities said they found Tuininga had already returned to the United States, but federal agents identified the minor and kept investigating. Tuininga admitted to the conduct, with prosecutors saying he told them that the victim would often visit the church property in Mbale.

A phone call to the denomination’s committee on foreign missions, based near Philadelphia, was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Tuininga was in custody following his plea hearing and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 3. He could face up to 30 years in prison and could be required to be supervised by probation officials for life, although federal defendants often get substantially less than the maximum possible sentence.

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