Pennsylvania missionary arrested for allegedly abusing children at an orphanage in Kenya

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania man was arrested and charged with sexually abusing children at an orphanage he founded in Kenya, federal officials said.

Gregory Dow, 60, was taken into custody Friday, July 12 at his home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He started a home for orphaned children in the east African nation in 2008, and allegedly abused the minors under his care for years, according to the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

He was indicted on four counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place.

The alleged abuse occurred between October 2013 and September 2017 at the facility he founded in the rural area of Boito. He took part in or tried to engage in illicit sexual conduct with four minors under his care at the home, authorities said. Investigators said there may be more victims, but tracking them down in Kenya had been a challenge.

"The defendant purported to be a Christian missionary who would care for these orphans who called him dad," the statement said. "But instead of being a father figure to them, he allegedly preyed on their youth and their vulnerability."

The orphanage was home to dozens of children, and closed in September 2017. Dow fled back to the United States after Kenyan authorities issued an arrest warrant for him, local media reported.

"It is one of the most heinous crimes, going out and actually sexually abusing young children," FBI Special Agent Joe Bushner said.

There was no attorney listed for Dow. In December, he told the LNP newspaper in Lancaster he was innocent, and accused local residents of making up the allegations to get him kicked out of the area.

The case dominated headlines in Kenya, with local television station NTV airing a documentary titled "Preying Missionaries" about the allegations. The media outlet talked to some of the girls he allegedly abused, who said they were implanted with birth control devices at the home.

The diaspora group Kenya Women in the US -- which uses the acronym KWITU -- called for his arrest for months and started a petition demanding his prosecution.