A court in Kampala, Uganda has charged an American couple with child trafficking, ABC News shared today (Dec. 21). Mackenzie Leing Mathias Spencer and Nicholas Spencer, both 32, are accused of torturing and confining a 10-year-old boy to a small and cold room without clothes.
Court documents obtained by the outlet state the couple “recruited, transported and maintained” the foster child “for the purpose of exploitation.” ABC News added that the Spencers were previously charged with aggravated torture after reportedly forcing the child to remain in a room with a surveillance camera to keep an eye on his “hyperactive behavior” and “stubbornness.” A police rep said, “We believe the victim could have endured more severe acts of torture away from the camera.”
Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesman Patrick Onyango said the Spencers used the boy and other foster children to solicit money from donors. Officials are working to determine why the American couple was in Uganda and noted that neither possessed a work permit. People reported that the Spencers are from South Carolina and were the child’s guardians since 2020, but have lived and worked in the African country since 2017. The child was allegedly given a wood platform to sleep on instead of a proper bed with a frame, mattress and sheets.
Local police became involved after a person close to the situation alerted authorities about the family’s actions. The eyewitness told officials the child was not allowed to go to school and his health appeared to be declining. Although the Spencers have pleaded not guilty, the pair has been deemed a flight risk and will remain in custody until a later court date. On a GoFundMe page created in 2019, Mackenzie mentioned she “moved to East Africa nearly [three] years ago with [her] husband, Nick, and [they] have been doing humanitarian work focused on women’s empowerment and education.” She added that they were “also foster parents to [three] incredible children.”
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