'Wolf in sheep's clothing' Virginia missionary sentenced to 23 years for abusing Haitian boys

The man posed as a Mennonite missionary

Credit: Facebook

Stuarts Draft, Va. – A Mennonite missionary from Virginia was sentenced Monday to 23 years in prison for child sexual abuse. 

James Arbaugh, 40, of Stuarts Draft, Virginia, lived in Haiti for more than a decade, where officials say he would "befriend and groom children in these communities."

Arbraugh was arrested last year after telling a counselor that he had sexual contact with Haitian kids. According to a federal affidavit filed by a special agent with Homeland Security, he groomed or had sexual contact with at least 21 Haitian boys. 

He pleaded guilty earlier this year in federal court to one count of traveling in foreign commerce from the United States to Haiti to engage in sexual conduct with children. 

“James Arbaugh was a wolf in sheep’s clothing," said Brian Benczkowski, assistant attorney general. "He posed as a selfless missionary when in reality he was exploiting his position to prey on and sexually abuse vulnerable children in one of the most impoverished areas of the world." 

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. 

Arbaugh worked as a missionary with a group called Walking Together for Christ Haiti and described himself on a personal blog as an evangelist and religious film producer. Attempts by the Associated Press to reach his lawyer were unsuccessful.

About the Author:

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a content producer in July 2018.