A Brighton man has been convicted by a federal court in Miami of sexually abusing Haitian children, according to an article by the Associated Press on LivingstonDaily.com. He now faces sentencing.
Matthew Andrew Carter, aka “William Charles Harcourt” and “Bill Carter,” of Brighton, was found guilty of five counts of traveling from Florida to Haiti to engage in sexual activity with minors and one count of attempting child sex tourism.
According to the Livingston Daily, Carter's attorney said there is no physical evidence to support the accusations.
A 2011 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice says that Carter, who is in his late 60s, operated and lived at Morning Star Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti before his arrest in the summer of 2011.
Morning Star Center, which Carter operated since the mid-1990s, was a residential facility that provided shelter, food and education to Haitian minors. The minors who lived at the center were orphans or from impoverished families who could not support them.
From the mid-1990s to 2011, Carter frequently traveled back and forth between the United States and the center in Haiti, often to raise funds for the continued operation of the center. According to court documents, Carter allegedly sexually abused several minors in his care and custody at Morning Star Center during this time period. As alleged in court documents, Carter required the child victims to engage in illicit sexual conduct in exchange for gifts or money or in order to remain at the center and continue receiving food, shelter and schooling.
“The acts that the defendant 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,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer in the 2011 statement. “As this indictment shows, we will not allow sexual predators to avoid facing justice by committing their crimes in foreign countries. Together with our law enforcement partners abroad, we are determined to combat the sexual abuse of children no matter where it occurs.”
Carter denied in federal court Tuesday that he committed the crimes, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“This defendant preyed on innocent Haitian children living in severely depressed conditions, making his conduct particularly deplorable,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer in the 2011 statement. “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. 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.”
The case against Carter was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Miami; the ICE HSI Assistant Attache’s Office in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and the ICE HSI Santo Domingo Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit. Substantial assistance was provided by the FBI’s Washington and Miami Field Offices, the U.S. Secret Service in Miami, and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.