An American missionary alleged to have sexually preyed on at least four underage girls who called him “dad” at an orphanage he used to run with his wife in Konoin, Bomet County, has been arrested.
Mr Gregory Dow from Lancaster County in Philadelphia,was arrested and charged in court, according to a Friday statement from the US Justice department, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
It comes 42 days after the exhumation of the body of one-and-a-half-year-old James Kipkirui, who allegedly died after choking while suckling milk from a container and was secretly buried by the missionary couple at the orphanage without informing the police as required by law.
Mr William McSwain, a US Attorney, said the 60-year-old Mr Dow has been charged in court with four counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign county (Kenya).
“From or about October 14, 2013, until on or about September 13, 2014, the defendant engaged in, and attempted to engage in, illicit sexual conduct with four different minor victims in Kenya,” the Attorney stated while commenting on the charges against Mr Dow, during a press briefing at the Lancaster County courthouse.
The orphanage located in Kapsiratet village was closed in September 2017 after the missionary was allegedly caught defiling one of the girls in what lifted the lid on abuse of the children, kicking off a storm which led to Mr Dow fleeing Kenya to avoid arrest and prosecution.
Mr Dow had arrived in Kenya in 2008 and set up Dow’s Children’s Home in Boito ward, Konoin Sub-County, with the help of locals and funding from his church and other organisations back in the US.
The man allegedly preyed on the vulnerable girls, most of who were partial and full orphans and others from very poor backgrounds.
The US State department stated that the Dow case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with assistants from the Lancaster City Bureau of Police and the East Hempfield Township Police Department.
“The Dow case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a US nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006,” reads the statement from the US Justice department.
Mr Dow’s wife, Mary Hayes Rose, was in 2017 fined Sh50,000 by a Sotik court after pleading guilty to charges of implanting birth control devices on the girls allegedly to prevent them from getting pregnant in the course of sexual intercourse with her husband.
Ms Janie Jenkins, Mr Dow’s former wife, has publicly come out to state that her former husband abused their daughter for several years in the course of their marriage when they lived in Ohio.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Kenya have been working closely on the investigations with the FBI for the past few months in efforts to have the suspect arrested and for the victims to get justice.
On May 29, 2019, the body of Kipkirui was exhumed and an autopsy conducted by the Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor at a room in the children’s home.
This followed orders by Bomet High Court Judge Martin Muya issued on March 25, 2019 to facilitate the postmortem on the boy’s remains in a case in which the American couple are accused of “secretly burying the body without informing the police”.
Justice Muya’s orders followed an application on October, 11, 2018 by the DPP through Mr Derrick Wawire, a prosecuting counsel.
The child’s mother, Ms Daisy Chelangat and grandmother Ms Lucio Langat Rotich, were present during the exhumation and witnessed the postmortem being conducted.
The family was not accorded the chance to give the child a decent burial after the baffling death, as the American couple took it upon themselves to bury the body at the children’s home.
James’s twin brother – Jessie, was transferred to another children’s home in the county when the Dow’s home was closed.
As a form of punishment, children who broke the institution’s rules were denied food and made to stand facing the wall for several hours, according to former workers at the home.
The home is now deserted, with residents having vandalised the structures following the closure two years ago.