A former Peace Corps volunteer has apologized for admittedly sexually abusing South African orphans. Jesse Osmun admitted to molesting several girls while working as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa. He was sentence to 15 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised probation.
The victims were all orphans under the age of six.
Osmun, 32, was a Peace Corps volunteer at the Umvoti AIDS Center in Greytown, South Africa. The Umvoti Center is a non-government organization that “provides support for those affected by the AIDS virus,” and also provides food, education, and services for children between the ages of 3 and 15. Osmun molested multiple children, who called him “uncle,” at the center, giving them candy in return for sexual favors. Osmun admitted in court that he “engaged in acts” with one of the victims twice per week for a duration of five months.
Richard Meehan, Jr., the attorney representing Osmun, reported to CNN, “The way that the government has framed the case is that a teacher walked into a room that (Osmun) was in with three little girls.” The teacher allegedly noticed that Osmun quickly zipped his pants and, “after questioning one of the girls, the teacher found that he had exposed himself and asked them to touch him.”
After supervisors confronted Osmun, he admitted to the abuse and resigned from the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps was notified of Osmun’s departure to the United States and immediately contacted authorities. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) then collaborated with the South African Police Service and Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation to further investigate the situation. The findings led to Osmun’s arrest on August 4, 2011, officials said.
The US attorney for the District of Connecticut, Osmun’s home state, congratulated all investigative parties, stating that “Their collaborative efforts, and this strict sentence, have stopped this child predator.”
Peter Vincent, director of HSI’s Office of International Affairs, comments that “this sentence clearly demonstrates, there will be no refuge for US citizens who believe that they may victimize children outside the United States.” He added, “No place is too distant or too remote to escape the attention of law enforcement.”
Meehan argued that Osmun spared his victims the ordeal of having to testify in court by pleading guilty to all charges, adding that his client wants to get treatment. “I sometimes wish I could take my brain out and wash it of all the memories I have,” Osmun said in US District Court in Hartford.
Judge Alvin Thompson, who oversaw the case, stated that Osmun’s apologetic stance and eagerness to gain insight into his acts and work toward rehabilitation are rare for such cases. Thompson read a letter in which Osmun described “viewing child pornography, which became his ‘gateway drug’ to abuse, and cited another letter from a friend that described his acceptance of responsibility, his shame and efforts to change.”
While the federal recommendation for such crimes is 17 to 21 years in prison, these acts of apology and remorse persuaded the judge to give Osmun a lighter sentence.
Jesse Osmun’s family initiated a fund for the victim’s of the abuse, to which the Peace Corps donated $20,000. Peace Corps director Aaron Williams said in regards to the financial contribution, “The Peace Corps is committed to ensuring that the children affected by these crimes receive proper care and treatment.”