An American missionary was sentenced to nearly 16 years in federal prison for abusing underage girls at a Kenyan orphanage, which he ran with his wife.
Gregory Hayes Dow, of Lancaster, Pa., abused four girls for years while running the Dow Family Children’s Home in Boito, Kenya, between October 2013 and September 2017.
On Thursday he was sentenced to 188 months behind bars, according to NTV Kenya. After his release, he’ll be prohibited from interacting with children younger than 18, and will remain under lifetime supervision.
Dow, who had been convicted in 1996 for assault with intent to commit sexual abuse on a child in Iowa, traveled to the Republic of Kenya in 2008 to start the orphanage with his wife, Mary Rose Dow.
For a number of years, he sexually abused at least four teenage girls who stayed at the home.
Investigators said that his wife “transported the victims to a medical clinic to have birth control devices implanted into their arms so that Dow could perpetrate his crimes without fear of impregnating his victims.”
At Dow’s sentencing, US District Judge Edward Smith said his crimes were “as evil, as depraved, as any case that’s come before me.
“You went to Africa as a missionary. It seems you were a missionary from hell,” the judge said before ordering the 61-year-old man to also pay $16,000 in restitution to cover the victims’ mental health treatment.
Instead of being a beacon of hope for the children, Dow was “evil disguised as hope,” Smith said. “And the idea that it was done in the name of religion is unfathomable.”
In June, Dow acknowledged having assaulted the girls multiple times and pleaded guilty to four counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place.
Two of the girls were as young as 11 years old when the abuse began, according to the Department of Justice.
His sentencing comes three years after Dow fled Kenya and returned to Pennsylvania, when his acts became public.
“The defendant purported to be a Christian missionary who cared for these children and asked them to call him ‘Dad.’ But instead of being a father figure, he preyed on their youth and vulnerability,” a statement by the Department of Justice read.
“Gregory Dow hid behind his supposed faith on the other side of the world, hoping no one in the US would know or care about the children he abused,” said US Attorney William McSwain.
“He was wrong,” he added.