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Ex-Peace Corps volunteer gets 15 years for abusing young children in South Africa

A former Peace Corps volunteer, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing several children under the age of 6 while working at an AIDS center in South Africa, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Jesse Osmun, 32, of Glen Street in Milford, was a volunteer at the Umvoti AIDS Center in Greytown, South Africa, where he worked in the preschool after becoming a Peace Corps volunteer in 2010, authorities said.

While volunteering at the preschool, Osmun sexually molested the girls -- who referred to him as "uncle" -- and gave them candy in exchange, according to documents.

“Instead of promoting peace and providing much needed assistance consistent with the mission of the Peace Corps, this volunteer took advantage of his position and sexually abused vulnerable young children at an AIDS center pre-school in South Africa,” U.S. Attorney David Fein said in a statement.

Osmun admitted that he engaged in acts with one of his victims twice per week for about five months.

'No refuge' for sex predators
After serving his sentence, Osmum will be subject to 10 years of supervised release.

The Umvoti center is a non-governmental organization that provides support for those affected by the AIDS virus.

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It also provides education, food and services for children between the ages of 3 and 15.

“As this sentence demonstrates, there will be no refuge for child sexual predators who believe that they can victimize children outside the United States,” Peter Vincent, director of Homeland Security Investigation’s Office of International Affairs, said.

“No place is too distant or too remote to escape the attention of HSI special agents, who conduct these types of investigations worldwide,” he added.

Osmun was arrested at his house on Aug. 4, 2011 and has been detained since.

In June, Osmun waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty to one count of traveling from the United States to South Africa to engage in illicit sexual conduct with children and admitted that he sexually abused four minor girls while he was a volunteer with the United States Peace Corps.

Peace Corps set up victims' fund
Osmun resigned from the Peace Corps after being confronted by the Umvoti center's program director about the allegations and admitting to having a sexual attraction to children and engaging in sex acts with some minors.

The Peace Corps has said it was made aware of the allegations after Osmun resigned in May 2011. The agency has condemned Osmun's actions as "reprehensible" and agreed to contribute $20,000 to a fund for the victims.

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Peace Corps volunteers, who are provided with a living allowance and receive transition funds after they complete 27 months of service, provide hands-on assistance in areas including health education, information technology and environmental preservation.

The Peace Corps has sent more than 200,000 Americans to serve in 139 countries.

Osmun apologized in court to the victims, his family and the Peace Corps. He said he struggles with feelings of guilt and shame and acknowledged that his victims will live with the scars of abuse forever.

"I sometimes wish I could take my brain out and wash it of all the memories I have," Osmun said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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