Courts & Crime

Operator of Haiti youth home charged with sexual abuse

The Justice Department has charged the operator of a youth home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with four counts of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor in a foreign country.

Matthew Andrew Carter, 66, of Brighton, Mich., was arrested May 8 following an investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations, a branch of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The charges were filed Thursday at the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida.

Carter founded Morning Star Center in the mid-1990s, court documents said. The purpose of the center was to provide shelter, food and education to Haitian minors in need.

"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," said Lanny Breuer, assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.Carter nor his attorney could be reached for comment Friday.

According to court documents, Carter is being accused by nine anonymous boys who stayed at the center. The youngest victim, a 15-year-old that began staying at the center during weekends in 2006 and referred to only as "John Doe No. 8," was solicited by Carter to perform oral sex.

Each of the other accusers claimed a story similar to John Doe No. 8 of being allowed into the Morning Star Center before being solicited by Carter. They were all minors at the time. In some of the allegations, Carter provided money or incentives for the sexual services.

"We will not allow sexual predators to avoid facing justice by committing their crimes in a foreign country," Breuer said. "Together with our law enforcement partners abroad, we are determined to combat the sexual abuse of children no matter where it occurs."

If Carter is convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 45 years for four counts of child sex tourism.

He is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.

"Few crimes are as despicable as the ones committed against these children in Haiti," said John Morton, director of the ICE. "For years, he sexually abused poor and orphaned children who depended on him for food and shelter."