15-Year Sentence for Pennsylvania Man Who Abused Girls at Orphanage in Kenya

A Pennsylvania man was sentenced on Thursday to more than 15 years in prison for abusing four underage girls in Kenya, where he had operated an orphanage for about a decade before returning home, the authorities said.

The man, Gregory Dow, of Lancaster County, had “traveled halfway around the world to prey on incredibly vulnerable victims,” Jennifer Arbittier Williams, the acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “His crimes are nearly incomprehensible in their depravity.”

In addition to the prison term, Mr. Dow was also ordered to pay $16,000 in restitution.

Lawyers for Mr. Dow, 61, did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages on Thursday evening.

Mr. Dow pleaded guilty in 2020 to four counts of abusing the girls over a four-year period, starting when the youngest victims were 11 years old. At that time, prosecutors said they were prepared to present evidence detailing Mr. Dow’s years of abuse.

In early 2008, Mr. Dow and his family moved to Kenya to start an orphanage, which became known as the Dow Family Children’s Home, in Comet County, prosecutors said. The orphanage operated until September 2017, when Mr. Dow left the country after allegations of sexual abuse came to light there, according to prosecutors.

As part of a plea agreement, Mr. Dow admitted to abusing four girls in multiple attacks from October 2013 to September 2017. Two of the victims were 11 when the abuse began; another was 12, and a fourth was 13, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Dow had sexually abused three of the girls knowing that his wife, who helped run the orphanage, had taken those victims and other girls at the orphanage to have birth control devices implanted into their arms, prosecutors said. That meant Mr. Dow “was able to perpetrate these crimes without fear that the abuse would result in pregnancy,” prosecutors said.

Michael J. Driscoll, special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Philadelphia Division, said the authorities were dedicated to investigating the allegations against Mr. Dow.

“If he thought no one would care because these were underprivileged Black children he victimized, this investigation and today’s sentence have most emphatically proved him wrong,” Mr. Driscoll said in a statement on Thursday.

While living in Kenya Mr. Dow maintained connections to Pennsylvania, including keeping a bank account and twice renewing a commercial driver’s license in the state, prosecutors said. The orphanage also received money from people and organizations in the United States, including Mr. Dow’s church, LifeGate in Elizabethtown, Pa., The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., reported.

The investigation into Mr. Dow was conducted by various entities, including officials at the United States Embassy in Nairobi and the Kenyan Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, prosecutors said.

The four girls at the orphanage were not Mr. Dow’s first underage victims, prosecutors said, noting that he had pleaded guilty in 1996 to sexually abusing a minor in Iowa. Before he was sentenced, lawyers for Mr. Dow urged the court to honor the plea deal they had reached with prosecutors, who recommended that he be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In a memo to the court, Mr. Dow’s lawyers said his “childhood was difficult, strewn with loss, violence, and neglect, which ultimately led to his placement in foster care.”

“These traumatic experiences undoubtedly impacted him well into adulthood,” they wrote.

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