An American couple in Uganda is facing the death penalty after being accused of abusing and trafficking a 10-year-old boy in their care.
Nicholas Spencer and Mackenzie Leing Mathias Spencer, 32, were apprehended earlier in December after authorities in the capital city of Kampala were alerted to their alleged mistreatment of a foster child in their care, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The Spencer’s allegedly kept the boy naked in a small room fitted with cameras to monitor his “stubbornness” and “hyperactive behavior,” according to authorities, The AP reported. Despite denying the allegations made against them, the couple were charged with aggravated torture of a child, which carries with it a maximum life sentence in Uganda, according to Reuters.
U.S. couple detained in Uganda gets fresh charge that carries death penalty https://t.co/yklseeSybW pic.twitter.com/UtofOS4OGO
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 21, 2022
The latest charge against the couple, that of aggravated child trafficking, was presented in court Tuesday after authorities alleged the couple kept and transported the child “for the purpose of exploitation,” Reuters reported.
The Spencer’s reportedly fostered two other children in Uganda. Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesman Patrick Onyango alleged the couple were keeping and using the children to solicit money from donors, according to The AP. (RELATED: Foreign Countries No Longer Fear Messing With American Citizens Abroad)
The Spencer’s cannot answer to that charge yet, as the case can only be heard at the High Court, Jacquelyne Okui, a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office, told Reuters.
If convicted, the Spencer’s will face the maximum penalty for child trafficking, which is death, the outlet reported.
A lawyer for the couple told Uganda’s outlet The Monitor that the latest charge against the couple was a “fishing expedition.”
“Last time we were in court, the state said that inquiries are complete and yet today they added a new charge and said that inquiries are ongoing. It doesn’t make sense,” she told the outlet.
The U.S. Embassy in Kampala told the New York Post it was aware of the arrest and charges against the Spencer’s and assured the outlet it was monitoring the situation.