MACON, Ga. — A former pastor from Milledgeville was sentenced Wednesday for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
According to a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office Middle District of Georgia, 45-year-old Eric Tuininga was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release and $20,000 in restitution to the victim. He pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places back in February.
The news release says the investigation started in June 2019 when a U.S. citizen connected to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Uganda reported Tuininga, who was working as a minister with the group, was having sex with minors as young as 14.
Several agencies began investigating the claims and found that Tuininga had returned home already, so the Department of Homeland Security became involved, and agents eventually identified the Ugandan teen.
He then admitted he met the victim in his role as a religious leader and engaged in illegal sexual activity with her.
“I want to recognize the true bravery displayed by the Ugandan girl for speaking out when she was assaulted by a trusted person of power from another country, courageously seeking justice across continents,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Law enforcement – both abroad and here at home – took on a challenging international case. Homeland Security Investigations’ Child Exploitation Unit worked tirelessly to ensure that the truth was uncovered and the defendant was held accountable for his crime.”
Tuininga will have to register as a sex offender for life upon his release from federal prison.
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