A missionary couple, previously living in Manitoba, have been convicted of sexual crimes against children in the Dominican Republic.
Adam and Tracee Pepper, a couple who once lived in the Steinbach area, have been found guilty of sexually assaulting and threatening children in the Dominican Republic.
According to Adam’s Facebook page, the two had been in the Dominican Republic periodically since 2018 doing missionary work.
“We hope to use our gifts and skills for love, support, and build relationships with children and their families,” Adam said in a May 2019 video promoting the trip.
A police investigation in the Dominican Republic in early 2021 began when one of the children’s mothers made a report about images found on a cell phone given to her by Adam Pepper. On it, the mother saw images of her son being sexually assaulted.
Prosecutors say Adam told the boy at the time of the assault that if they told anyone, he would stop giving them gifts.
“The child’s mother stated that the defendant told her to leave the child with him, to spend more time alone with him and to sign a paper stating that if anything happened to her, he and his wife would keep the child,” a statement from the attorney general of the Dominican Republic said.
Jennifer Martin is the CEO of Little Warriors, a non-profit that helps Canadian children who are sexual assault survivors. Martin said adults requesting alone time with children is a big red flag.
“You don’t want to be suspicious, but it is a good thing to be aware and maybe as questions and maybe be aware of those things. Why do you want to be alone with my child?” Martin said.
Tracee has also been found guilty of child sex crimes against the same boy.
A statement Attorney General of the Dominican Republic said, “Tracee Lynne Pepper is also accused of touching the child and recording sexual images of the child with another 13-year-old girl, for which she was also accused by her aunt, who stated that (Tracee Lynne Pepper) Plett told her that if she dared to say what he did to her, he would kill her and her family.”
In April 2021, the couple’s home was raided and police seized cameras with images of minors involved in sexual acts on them.
The pair was sentenced in the Dominican Republic on Dec. 4.
Adam was given seven years in prison and Tracee was sentenced to five years. Tracee is also banned from teaching, suspended from work for five years, and banned from leaving the country.
Adam and Tracee also have both been ordered to pay money and criminal proceedings costs.
Gospel Chapel in La Broquerie told CTV News the couple volunteered with their youth staff for several years sometime between 2008 and 2012.
Its lead pastor says they are reaching out to staff about the couple.
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