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Child Exploitation

Former charity operator guilty of Haiti sex tourism

MIAMI — A Michigan resident was found guilty by a federal jury Thursday in Miami of child sex tourism charges following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Matthew Andrew Carter, aka "William Charles Harcourt" and "Bill Carter," 67, of Brighton, Mich., was found guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida of five counts of traveling in foreign commerce from the United States to Haiti for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children and one count of attempting to do so. Carter was charged in a second superseding indictment returned on Jan. 12, 2012.

According to court documents and information presented at trial, Carter resided at and operated the Morning Star Center near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, prior to his arrest on May 8, 2011. The Morning Star Center, which Carter operated from 1995 to 2011, was a residential facility that provided shelter, food, clothing and school tuition to Haitian children. The children who lived at the Morning Star Center were from impoverished families that could not support them or send them to school. Between 1995 and 2011, Carter frequently traveled back and forth between the United States and Haiti in order to raise funds from churches and donors for the continued operation of the center. Carter physically and sexually abused the children in his care and custody at the Center during this period of time. According to court documents and information presented at trial, Carter required the children to participate in sexual acts in order to remain at the center and to continue attending school.

At trial, 16 Haitian victims who resided at the Morning Star Center between 1995 and 2011 testified. Additionally, four witnesses testified that they were sexually abused by Carter in London during the 1970s.

"The unspeakable acts committed by Mr. Carter against his innocent victims brought agencies and countries together to make him face justice. I commend the jury, which had to sit through weeks of horrific testimony," said Alysa D. Erichs special agent in charge of HSI Miami. "Although nothing can be done to repair the damage done to these victims by Mr. Carter, perhaps this will provide some closure."

At sentencing, Carter faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison: 15 years in prison for travelling in foreign commerce to commit an illicit sex act, and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for each of the other five counts.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria K. Medetis of the Southern District of Florida and Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section Trial Attorney Bonnie L. Kane of the Criminal Division. The case against Carter was investigated by HSI Miami, the HSI Assistant Attaché's office in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and the HSI Santo Domingo Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit. Substantial assistance was provided by the Haitian National Police Brigade for the Protection of Minors, the FBI's Washington, Boston and Miami field offices, the U.S. Secret Service in Miami, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Regional Security Office, the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the London Metropolitan Police Service and the HSI Attaché's office in London.