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Lancaster man charged with sex abuse while running orphanage in Kenya


U.S. Attorney William McSwain talks with reporters at the Lancaster County Judicial Center July 12, 2019. (Brett Sholtis/WITF News)


(Lancaster) — A Lancaster County man is in custody after federal authorities charged him with sexually abusing four girls in Kenya at an orphanage he founded. 

U.S. Attorney William McSwain said 60-year-old Gregory Dow, of East Hempfield Township, is accused of four counts of engaging in illicit sexual contact with a minor in a foreign country. The federal crime carries with it a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

Dow allegedly traveled from Lancaster County to Kenya in 2008, and started the Dow Family Children’s Home, McSwain said. He did so with the financial support of his church and other organizations.

“By the time the orphanage closed in September of 2017, the defendant is alleged to have sexually abused at least four young teenage girls who live there,” McSwain said. 

Dow allegedly fled Kenya after he was accused of sexual abuse in that country. For that reason, Dow is considered to be a flight risk and is being detained awaiting trial Friday afternoon, McSwain said.

Law enforcement declined to say whether there were any more potential victims, noting it’s an ongoing investigation. 

The collaboration between federal authorities, the FBI and the county district attorney is part of a collaboration called Project Safe Childhood. The initiative “combats the growing epidemic of child exploitation and abuse” by bringing together law enforcement agencies.

“Whether it’s this kind of case where it involves going into a foreign country, whether it’s human trafficking here in the district, whether it’s child pornography, all these things come under the umbrella of prosecuting aggressively these types of cases and protecting what we consider to be some of the most vulnerable victims,” McSwain.


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