MIAMI An American man who ran a home for impoverished boys in Haiti has been arrested on charges that he forced them to perform sex acts in exchange for food, shelter and schooling, U.S. prosecutors said on Friday.
Matthew Andrew Carter, the 66-year-old operator of the Morning Star Center in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, was arrested in Miami on May 8. He pleaded not guilty on Thursday to four counts of child sex tourism, or traveling in foreign commerce to engage in illicit sex with minors.
Carter, a resident of Brighton, Michigan, ran the Morning Star residential center at various sites in Port-au-Prince since the mid-1990s and lived there with the boys, according to charges unsealed on Friday.
At the time of his arrest, 14 boys lived at the center and three others spent weekends there. Some were orphans and others had living parents who were too poor to take care of them.
Court documents charged that Carter had illegal sex with at least eight boys, sometimes for years until they got older and left the home. A federal public defender assigned to the case was not immediately available for comment.
If convicted on all the charges, he could be sentenced to up to 105 years in prison.
In announcing the arrest, federal investigators called Carter a sexual predator whose alleged conduct was "particularly deplorable" and "despicable."
"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," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a news release.
Carter forced the boys to shower with him or woke them in the middle of the night and asked them to come to his room and perform sex acts on him, according to a federal investigator who interviewed several of the boys.
Those who complied were rewarded with schooling, clothing, shoes, books, games, CD players and cash, said the investigator, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Alvaro Flores. If they refused, Carter would hit them with a stick or "threaten to send the boys back where they came from," Flores wrote in an affidavit.
Carter traveled to the United States several times a year to raise money to run the center, the court documents said.
(Editing by Sandra Maler)