Greg Dow

Gregory Dow

A former East Hempfield Township man will likely spend nearly 16 years in federal prison for sexually abusing four girls at the orphanage he ran in Kenya.

Gregory Hayes Dow, 61, pleaded guilty to four counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places during a teleconference Monday with U.S. District Judge Edward Smith, federal prosecutors and federal defenders.

During the plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy M. Stengel laid out the government's case.

Dow assaulted the four girls between 2013 and 2017 while running Dow Family Children's Home in Boito, Kenya, which he established in 2008.

When the abuse started, two girls were 11, one was 12 and one was 13.

The orphanage received financial support from Lancaster County churches and nonprofits. Dow fled in 2017 after police were tipped to suspected abuse in the home.

Dow "engaged in grooming behavior by providing things of value to his victims," such as providing cell phones to some children, including one of the victims, Stengel said.

And because Dow's wife had taken the victims, and other girls at the orphanage, to a Kenyan clinic to have birth control devices implanted, Dow "was able to perpetrate these crimes without fear that the abuse would result in pregnancy."

Finally, Stengel said, the government would have presented evidence of Dow's past sexual abuse. Dow pleaded guilty in 1996 in Iowa to assault with itent to commit sexual abuse.

When asked by Smith if Dow was admitting he did what the prosecution outlined, Dow said he was. Dow said little otherwise during the hearing; he has no assets and is taking medication for anxiety.

A tip to the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office in 2018 led to federal investigators getting involved. Investigators traveled to Kenya and interviewed girls who said Dow sexually assaulted them and Dow was charged last July.

Federal law gives the U.S. "extraterritorial jurisdiction" over certain sex offenses against children.

Under terms of the plea agreement between the prosecution and defense, Dow would serve 15 years and eight months in prison and must register under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Smith would determine how long Dow will be under supervision after his release and fines. If Smith doesn't agree to prison term, Dow could withdraw his plea. Sentencing is scheduled for September 29.

Dow will remain at the Lehigh County Jail until sentencing.

"Gregory Dow hid behind his supposed faith on the other side of the world, hoping no one in the U.S. would know or care about the children he abused. He was wrong,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain. “Holding those accountable who sexually abuse children, no matter where their crimes occur, will continue to be a top priority of my office and the entire Department of Justice.”