Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two LDS Missionaries Accused Of "Defiling" A 14-Year-Old Girl In Ghana; Both Plead Not Guilty

Update April 15th 2011: Accra High Court reverses conviction of these two missionaries, both freed. Updated post HERE.

On June 30th, 2010, PeaceFMOnline reports that two missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been formally accused of "defiling" a 14-year-old girl in Ghana. An earlier story was posted on June 23rd by MyJoyOnline.

Omale Ojonugwu Uwa, a Nigerian, and Thatayonaone Keeng, a Botswanan, have been arraigned before an Accra Circuit court for allegedly defiling a 14 year old girl. The complainant is a seamstress who lives with the victim as a housekeeper at Odorkor in the same house as the accused missionaries. According to the prosecutor, on February 1st, 2010, the 1st accused (Uwa) pushed the victim onto a mattress and forcibly had sex with her after asking her whether she had had sex before or had been kissed before. After he finished, the 2nd accused (Keeng) also had sexual intercourse with her and both warned her not to disclose the sexual act to anyone.

The prosecutor further stated that Uwa had sex with the victim on three occasions, most notably on March 10th, while Keeng had sex with the victim on two occasions. A witness who lives in the same house with both the accused and the victim, and who is also a personal friend of the complainant, told the court that she informed the complainant that she should be careful with the house help as she has been seeing the victim going to the missionaries' room and staying there for prolonged periods.

The case was reported to the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) where a medical form was issued the victim to go for a medical examination. The test proved her hymen had been broken, after which the two missionaries were arrested. They first appeared in court on June 23rd where they pleaded not guilty. The case has been adjourned by Judge Mrs. Georgina Mensah Datsa to July 7th while the accused missionaries remain in police custody.

Update July 6th: Mr. Daniel Blankson, the victim’s guardian, testified to the court on July 5th that he became furious when the victim told him that the two missionaries had defiled her on several occasions. He said he had the whole interrogation with the victim taped and recorded on his mobile phone as evidence. In addition, the birth weighing card of the victim was tendered as the third exhibit by the prosecuting witness. During cross examination, defense counsel objected to the weighing card and proposed that a birth certificate would be more appropriate, but the judge overruled the objection, stating that the weighing card contains all medical records and valuable information of a child after birth and is therefore a more credible document.

Update August 6th: Omale Ojonugwnuwa was convicted of conspiracy and defilement and sentenced to 10 years in prison while Thatayaone Keeng was convicted of defilement and sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Update April 15th 2011: Conviction of the two missionaries reversed by Accra High Court, missionaries freed.

Page 84 (as listed on the text) of the 1998 LDS Handbook of Instructions (not the most current edition, but still representative) spells out housing arrangement for missionaries:


Mission presidents and stake presidents confer to determine whether and to what extent Church members may rent parts of their homes to missionaries. Such housing must meet the requirements outlined in the following paragraphs. Each housing arrangement requires the approval of the mission president.

When missionaries rent part of a member's home, they must have living quarters separate from the members' living area, a private bedroom with two beds, and a private bathroom. They also should have access to separate cooking and food storage facilities. They should not have access to a television or radio.

Elders may live in homes where married couples or widowers live. They may not live in homes where teenage or single adult females live or where the husband is away frequently. Sister missionaries may live in homes where married couples or widows live, They may not live in homes where teenage or single adult males live.

Thus if the media story is correct, the missionaries' living arrangement was in violation of LDS Church guidance, because they shouldn't have been living in the same house as a 14-year-old girl. The rules have been promulgated by the Church to provide protection against situations like this. It is, of course, also possible that the girl was raped by someone else and that she's blaming it on the missionaries because of threats by the actual rapist. According to a comment appended to this post, the two missionaries were in the same apartment complex but not in the same apartment as the victim. In addition, the two missionaries were not formally assigned to be companions to one another.

What will happen now is that the mission president will suspend their missionary activities, but no formal Church discipline will be levied against them until they either confess or are found guilty. It is possible that even if they are found not guilty, Ghana could choose to expel the two to their home countries, at which point their missions are over.


Anonymous said...

"Thus if the media story is correct, the missionaries' living arrangement was in violation of LDS Church guidance..."

Actually, the missionaries were living in the same apartment complex as the girl, not the same home. The two accused missionaries were not companions. The trial is ongoing but the prosecution has rested.

Jack Mormon said...

Thanks for the clarification; I've now updated my post to include it. The two have been convicted of the crime.

Anonymous said...

and walked out.