HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former Peace Corps volunteer apologized for sexually abusing young girls while serving in South Africa and acknowledged the widespread fallout from his crimes before he was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison.
Jesse Osmun and his attorney sought to contrast his acceptance of responsibility and his remorse with Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who denied committing "disgusting acts" against children and instead painted himself as the victim when he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison Tuesday.
Osmun, who is originally from Milford, Conn., apologized in court to the victims, his family and the Peace Corps. He said he struggles with feelings of guilt and shame and acknowledged that his victims will live with the scars of abuse forever.
"I sometimes wish I could take my brain out and wash it of all the memories I have," Osmun said in U.S. District Court in Hartford.
Osmun, 33, said he besmirched his oath to the Peace Corps to represent his country with pride.
Federal guidelines called for a sentence of more than 17 to 21 years.
Prosecutors sought a sentence within the guidelines range, saying Osmun preyed on children who were among the most vulnerable in the world, persuading them to engage in illicit sexual acts by playing games with them and giving them candy. The victims were under the age of six, prosecutors said.
"Instead of promoting peace and providing much needed assistance consistent with the mission of the Peace Corps, this volunteer took advantage of his position and sexually abused vulnerable young children at an AIDS center pre-school in South Africa," said U.S. Attorney David Fein.
Osmun's attorney, Richard Meehan, said his client spared the victims the ordeal of testifying by pleading guilty in June to traveling from the United States to engage in illicit sexual conduct with children. He also said Osmun wants to get treatment.