A Missionary from Virginia has pleaded guilty to child sex abuse charges after engaging in illicit acts with at least 15 boys in Haiti, Independent reports.
James Arbaugh, a 40-year-old Mennonite missionary who did work in Haiti on trips in the years between 2008 and 2017, told police that he had engaged in Sexual acts with a five-year-old boy while in Haiti, according to court documents. He has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for the abuse.
His trips to Haiti stopped in 2017 after someone saw him “engaging in inappropriate sexual contact” with a child. After being confronted, Arbaugh returned to the United States.
Arbaugh reportedly told his counsellor in the US that he had engaged in the sexual abuse, which prompted that professional to report him to Child Protective Services the next day.
He was arrested in November and later told police that he had engaged in sexual acts with a five-year-old boy alongside as many as 14 other minors during his missionary trips to Haiti.
Court documents say that Arbaugh admitted to these actions, and described to police his process of befriending, grooming, and then engaging in sexual abuse with the children.
“Arbaugh stated that he received sexual gratification from the sexual acts he committed against minors in Haiti,” the court documents say.
“James Arbaugh was a wolf in sheep’s clothing: he posed as a selfless missionary when in reality he was exploiting his position to prey on and sexually abuse vulnerable children in one of the most impoverished areas of the world,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowsk, according to local media.
“Today’s sentencing is a testament to the unwavering commitment of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners to hold sexual predators like Arbaugh accountable for their deplorable crimes.”
The former missionary was charged in the US District Court in Western Virginia.
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