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Gregory Dow: US missionary jailed for sex crimes in Kenya orphanage

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image captionGregory Dow was already a sex offender when he set up the orphanage

A US man has been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for abusing underage girls in an orphanage in Kenya.

Christian missionary Gregory Dow set up the orphanage with his wife in 2008.

“Gregory Dow was the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said the FBI’s Michael Driscoll.

Last year, Dow pleaded guilty in the US to four counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor in a foreign place.

The orphanage was partly funded by churches in Lancaster county in the US state of Pennsylvania and was in operation for almost a decade before Dow fled in 2017.

Scandal raises many questions for Kenyans

By Emmanuel Igunza, BBC News, Nairobi

Kenyans were outraged when it emerged that Dow had left Kenya soon after the abuse allegations came to light.

How he had managed to flee?

This is one of many questions this abuse scandal has brought up.

People asked why someone who had been previously convicted of similar crimes was allowed to open an orphanage.

Given that he was jailed in the US, some are now questioning Kenya’s ability – or willingness – to bring foreign sex offenders to justice.

The FBI acted on a tip-off and Mr Dow was charged in July 2019.

That tip-off was from a Kenyan woman living in the US who had returned to the area near the orphanage to care for her mother, reports the Washington Post.

The newspaper says Margaret Ruto found her family’s village “in uproar” after two girls, aged 12 and 14, had escaped the orphanage and shared stories of sexual abuse.

She “turned detective” and took down the testimonies of the abused girls herself.

Defendant’s wife ‘complicit’

Acting on the information provided by Ms Ruto, the FBI confirmed that Dow had sexually abused at least four teenage girls between 2013 and 2017.

“Two of the girls were as young as 11 years old when the abuse began.

“The defendant’s wife even transported the victims to a medical clinic to have birth control devices implanted into their arms, which allowed Dow to perpetrate his crimes without fear of impregnating his victims,” the US attorney’s office said in a statement after Dow was sentenced.

Dow was already a known sex offender before he started the orphanage.

In 1996 he pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, for which he received two years’ probation and was ordered to register as a sex offender for a decade.

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