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Shelter operator charged with abusing children in Haiti

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mathew Andrew Carter ran a shelter for poor children in Port-au-Prince
  • Federal prosecutors indicted him on charges that he abused several children
  • Carter is charged with crimes that "defy belief," an assistant U.S. attorney says

Miami (CNN) -- Federal prosecutors have indicted a Michigan man on charges that he sexually abused the children he was allegedly helping in Haiti.

Matthew Andrew Carter, 66, was arrested May 8 in Miami and remains in custody. He is charged with four counts of traveling in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors, the U.S. attorney's office said Friday.

Carter operated Morning Star Center, a residential facility in Port-au-Prince that provided food and shelter to children. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said the acts Carter 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.

The indictment said Carter preyed upon children with impunity.

Rather than using Morning Star as he promised -- to administer aid and provide sanctuary to needy children -- he used the center to manipulate, abuse and sexually exploit them.

"This defendant preyed on innocent Haitian children living in severely depressed conditions, making his conduct particularly deplorable," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer.

"Rather than using Morning Star as he promised -- to administer aid and provide sanctuary to needy children -- he used the center to manipulate, abuse and sexually exploit them," Ferrer said. " Sexual predators like this defendant cannot act with impunity. We will pursue and prosecute them, no matter where they choose to commit their heinous crimes."

Carter, of Brighton, Michigan, operated and lived at the Morning Star Center in Port-au-Prince, which he had operated since the mid-1990s, according to court documents. The children who lived at the center came from poor families who could not afford to support them.

Carter frequently traveled back to the United States to raise money for Morning Star.

Carter allegedly molested several of the children at his center and required his victims to engage in illicit sexual acts in exchange for gifts or money or a continued place at the shelter, court documents said.

If convicted, Carter 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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