WASHINGTON - A Peace Corps volunteer was arrested today and charged in a federal criminal complaint with traveling from the United States to South Africa to engage in illicit sexual conduct with multiple children who were all younger than six years of age.
The arrest and charge were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney David B. Fein for the District of Connecticut; Kathy A. Buller, Peace Corps Inspector General; and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in Boston.
The criminal complaint alleges that Jesse Osmun, 31, of Milford, Conn., traveled to South Africa on Jan. 29, 2010. On March 25, 2010, Osmun was sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer and began service as a volunteer at the Umvoti Aids Center (UAC) in Greytown, South Africa. The UAC is a non-governmental organization that provides support to the residents of the Greytown area affected by the AIDS virus. UAC also provides education, food and other child development services to children between the ages of three and 15. The UAC also has a center for the younger children often referred to as the preschool.
According to the complaint, Osmun, while volunteering at the UAC preschool, sexually molested at least five minor girls, all of whom were under the age of six, for approximately one year. The complaint also alleges that Osmun engaged in illicit sexual conduct with one of the girls, who is approximately five-years-old, twice a week over the course of five months.
“Mr. Osmun is charged with a shocking breach of the power entrusted to him as a Peace Corps volunteer,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Allegedly, he repeatedly sexually abused five minor girls under the age of six -- horrific crimes. Along with the international operation we announced yesterday -- Operation Delego -- this case is another example that the Justice Department will do everything in its power to bring to justice those who would exploit children, whether at home or abroad.”
“This defendant is alleged to have sexually abused very young girls, sometimes in exchange for candy, while he served as a Peace Corps volunteer at an AIDS center in South Africa,” said U.S. Attorney Fein. “We are committed to prosecuting those who sexually exploit children, the most vulnerable in society, in this country and abroad. I want to commend the diligent, swift and coordinated efforts of the Peace Corps’ Office of Inspector General and ICE Homeland Security Investigations in investigating this matter and arresting this individual.”
“We are committed to vigorous investigation and prosecution of those who exploit the mission of the Peace Corps to prey on innocent victims,” said Peace Corps Inspector General Buller.
“This arrest represents the very essence of the determination of federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to capture an individual whose primary objective, allegedly, was to sexually abuse vulnerable children,” said ICE HSI Special Agent in Charge Foucart. “I hope that this arrest sends a clear message that we will continue to aggressively pursue individuals who engage in this behavior to ensure that there is no place to hide here in the United States or anywhere in the world.”
After being confronted by the UAC program manager in May 2011, Osmun resigned from the Peace Corps. Osmun returned to the United States on June 2, 2011.
Following Osmun’s arrest today at his Milford residence, he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport, Conn., and has been ordered detained.
If convicted of the charge of traveling outside of the United States to engage in sexual conduct with a minor, Osmun faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
A complaint is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by the Peace Corps Office of Inspector General and ICE HSI. Investigative assistance has been provided by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS); ICE’s attaché office in Pretoria, South Africa; the ICE Cybercrimes Center in Fairfax, Va., and the U.S. Department of State’s regional security office in Durban, South Africa. The case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Fein, Assistant U.S. Attorney Krishna R. Patel and Trial Attorney Bonnie Kane of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
The USDOJ press statement says that Osmun returned to the United States on June 2, 2011. It looks like he was active on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/jesseosmun and LinkedIn - http://www.linkedin.com/in/jesseosmun; and also has a blog at http://jesseosmun.tk/; blogposts and tweets were current until August 4, the day of his arrest.
The day after his arrest, the US Embassy in South Africa released the following statement:
Statement on Arrest of Former Peace Corps Volunteer | August 05, 2011
The statement below should be attributed to Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau, Spokesperson of the United States Embassy.
The United States Embassy is aware that a former Peace Corps volunteer has been arrested in connection with allegations regarding sexual abuse during an assignment in South Africa.
The Peace Corps was made aware of these allegations after the individual resigned from the Peace Corps, and departed from South Africa.
We take these allegations with the utmost seriousness. We are committed to working with South African and American authorities to investigate, and if these allegations are true, to hold the individual accountable.
As this is an ongoing criminal matter, we cannot comment on the specifics of this case. However, we are engaging with both United States and South African authorities to determine the next steps.
For more information U.S. Embassy: Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau | firstname.lastname@example.org | 012-431-4217 | 079-111-8280
A graduate of Southern Connecticut State University with a BA in English (2004) and Colby Sawyer College where he studied Psychology from 1998-2000, this is how he describes himself in his blog:
I am a 31 year old former Peace Corps volunteer, blogger, nonprofit worker, grant writer and self-professed Africa Lover. I’m extremely passionate about helping nonprofits and new NGO’s connect with African communities and organizations 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 organization. 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.