By Victor Ochieng
It is a case of reversed roles; while it was the church that used to point out the rot in the society, today it’s the society pointing out the rot in the church.
James Daniel Arbaugh, 40, of Stuarts Draft, Virginia, has been traveling to Haiti since 2008, where he has been involved in evangelical activities which include showing Christian-themed movies. Unfortunately, it’s during these trips that he has been accused of having s*x with many underage boys, allegations that could land him 30 years in prison. The offenses could also attract a penalty of up to $250,000.
Arbaugh groomed the boys to satisfy his s*xual desire. He befriended them and ultimately involved himself in illicit s*xual conduct with quite a number of them, with the boys being aged between 5 and 17 years.
The suspect is currently being held at the Central Virginia Regional Jail. He pleaded guilty on February 6, 2018 in federal court to one count of engaging in illicit s*xual conduct with a person under the age of 18. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13, 2018.
It was in 2007 that Arbaugh confessed to a counselor about his s*xual contact with Haitian boys and this is what led to his arrest.
An official from the U.S. Department of Justice, attorney Rick A. Mountcastle, who is in charge of the case said, “While traveling in Haiti, Daniel regularly visited communities and villages throughout the country, including remote villages, where he evangelized and showed Christian-themed movies which were part of his missionary activities.”
Arbaugh was contacted by police last year and he allowed the officer to look at his laptop where they found the photo of a five-year-old boy. He claimed the boy was the son of a pastor at a church in Haiti. However, upon further questioning, he reportedly confessed that he s*xually molested the boy.
Arbaugh’s case was brought to court as part of Project Safe Childhood. This is a national program that was started in 2006 to thwart the growing cases of child s*xual abuse and molestation. This program coordinates local, state, and federal resources to better locate and prosecute those who travel abroad to prey on vulnerable girls and boys and molest and/or exploit children through the internet.
The project has seen the establishment of a number of court cases against such offenders.