A former pastor from Georgia who was conducting missionary work in Uganda when he sexually assaulted a girl under the care of his church has pleaded guilty to his crime in federal court.
Eric Tuininga, 44, of Milledgeville, pleaded guilty to engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places before Chief U.S. District Judge Marc T. Treadwell. Upon entry of his guilty plea, Tuininga was taken into custody pending his sentencing. Tuininga faces a maximum 30 years in prison, to be followed by a term of supervised release up to life and a maximum $250,000 fine. In addition, Tuininga will have to register as a sex offender upon his release from federal prison.
There is no parole in the federal system. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 3, 2022.
“Eric Tuininga used his trusted position as a pastor to sexually assault a young Ugandan girl in his care,” U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said. “This was a challenging case, but law enforcement worked diligently to ensure that Tuininga did not escape justice for his crime overseas. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with our national and international law enforcement partners, will do everything in our power to catch child predators and hold them accountable for their crimes.”
“Tuininga was supposed to be someone that could be trusted, but instead he abused that trust and victimized a child,” Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama, said. “HSI and its law enforcement partners will continue to utilize every resource available to identify, arrest and prosecute those who prey upon children.”
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