MACON, Ga. (WRBL) — A Georgia man faces up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to illicit sexual conduct with a 14-year-old Ugandan girl, according to a press release.

Eric Tuininga, 44, was taken into custody after his plea, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office of Middle District Georgia. His sentencing is scheduled for May 3, 2022.

Tuininga faces the maximum sentence of 30 years, with supervised release up to life. Upon that release, he will have to register as a sex offender, and will face a maximum $250,000 fine.

In March 2019, Tuininga worked as a pastor with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Mbale, Uganda. This is where he met the victim, who often visited his church.

In June of 2019, a U.S. citizen affiliated with the OPC contacted U.S. Embassy Kampala American Citizen Services to report that Tuininga was having sex with Ugandan female minors. Agents in Kampala, Uganda with The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DSS) began investigating the incident.

When DSS found Tuininga had already returned to Georgia, they turned the case over to the Department of Homeland Security, the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Child Exploitation Unit of Atlanta.

The federal agents then identified the victim, who was 14-years-old when Tuininga had sex with in March of 2019.

Katrina W. Berger, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama, remarks on the case.

“Tuininga was supposed to be someone that could be trusted, but instead he abused that trust and
victimized a child,” said Berger. “HSI and its law enforcement partners will continue to utilize every resource available to identify, arrest and prosecute those who prey upon children.”

This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information on Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.