MIAMI (BNO NEWS) — A Michigan man who operated a residential youth facility in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince for more than a decade has been arrested and charged with the sexual abuse of at least eight children at the facility, U.S. prosecutors announced on Friday.
66-year-old Matthew Andrew Carter, who is also known as William Charles Harcourt and Bill Carter, was charged on Thursday with four counts of traveling in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors. He was arrested in Miami on May 8 and remains in custody.
Since the mid-1990s, Carter operated and lived at the Morning Star Center which provides shelter, food, toys, money, and schooling to Haitian children who are orphans or from impoverished families who cannot not support them.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection travel records, between December 1994 and April 2011, Carter traveled between Haiti and the United States at least 36 times. During these trips to the United States, Carter raised funds for the continued operation of the center.
But as alleged in court documents released on Friday, Carter required at least eight children to engage in illicit sexual conduct in exchange for gifts or money or in order to remain at the center and continue receiving food, shelter and schooling. “Few crimes are as despicable as the ones committed against these children in Haiti. For years, he sexually abused poor and orphaned children who depended upon him for food and shelter – all under the guise of doing noble work,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton.
One victim who was identified in court documents as ‘John Doe #1’ told investigators that he moved into the center after Carter had asked his mother if John Doe #1 could stay at the Morning Star Center. The victim explained to investigators that his mother was very poor and could not take care of him, so she agreed to let her son live with Carter at the center.
John Doe #1, who was approximately 10 years of age at the time, told investigators that, after about a month, Carter called him to Carter’s room and instructed him to lie down on Carter’s bed. Carter then took off John Doe #1’s pants and performed oral sex on him, after which John Doe #1 was forced to masturbate Carter.
After the first instance of alleged sexual abuse on John Doe #1, Carter bought pizza and ice cream for the boy. The sexual abuse would then continue for approximately six years and take place about three to four times a week.
“According to John Doe #1, the only way for him to continue living at the Center was to do what Carter wanted,” the criminal complaint details. “John Doe #1 endured these sexual encounters with Carter because Carter provided toys, food, shelter, and schooling, and the alternative was to live in severe poverty.”
But in 2000, when John Doe #1 was approximately 16 years old, the victim told Carter that he did not want to do sexual acts anymore. In response, Carter stopped buying clothing, shoes, and books for John Doe #1.
The accounts of seven other victims are also detailed in the court records. And a ninth boy explained that Carter had on several occasions attempted to force him to do sexual acts, but that he continued to refuse. In response, Carter allegedly struck him with a black stick.
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said the shocking child abuse case shows that U.S. prosecutors will not allow sexual predators to commit their crimes in foreign countries. “The acts that the defendant is charged with committing, quite simply, defy belief. As charged in the indictment, he preyed upon and terrorized impoverished Haitian children who were in dire need of the services offered by the Morning Star Center – the very children he was purporting to help,” Breuer said.
According to one of the victims, 14 children are currently living at the Center, and that an additional three boys live at the Center on the weekends. The victim told investigators that Carter has also engaged in sexual conduct with the minors who are currently living at the Center, and said that the conduct occurred as recently as a few days before Carter left Port-au-Prince on April 7.
In addition to the sexual abuse, Carter owns a .22 caliber gun and has allegedly on multiple occasions beat the boys with his hands or with a stick when he was in a ‘bad mood.’
If convicted on all four counts, Carter faces a total of 115 years in prison. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for one count of child sex tourism and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for each of the other three child sex tourism counts.
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