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US couple detained in Uganda on child abuse charges

KAMPALA- A U.S. couple is being held in Uganda on several charges including one that carries the possibility of the death penalty.
32-year-old Nicholas Spencer and his wife, 32-year-old Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer originally from North Carolina, are facing charges of aggravated torture of the child and a recently added charge of “aggravated trafficking in children.”
The couple who adopted three children, appeared in court on Dec. 09 after an investigation into a caretaker’s claims of child abuse.
According to the report, the caretaker told investigators that the couple kept their 10-year-old son barefoot and naked inside their home throughout the day, and forced him to sleep on a wooden platform without a mattress or bedding at night.
The caretaker also told investigators that while the couple has three children, they targeted the 10-year-old because he was stubborn and hyperactive.
“I wanted to leave the job, but I knew if I left without doing something, the torture would continue,” the caretaker said.
The couple also reportedly took the child out of school for at least four months and kept him in a small room with surveillance cameras.
“We believe the victim could have endured more severe acts of torture, away from the camera,” the news release.
A police investigation determined that the abuse occurred between 2020 to 2022.
Prosecutors say the couple recruited, transported, and kept the child through “abuse of a position of vulnerability for purposes of exploitation.”
The couple pleads not guilty to the charge, however, they were hit with a new charge on Wednesday for “aggravated trafficking in children.”
A lawyer for the couple told reporters called the charges that there is no evidence that the couple abused the child and that the second charge “doesn’t make sense.”
Aggravated torture of a child, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, while child trafficking carries the death penalty.
The U.S. Embassy in Kampala has declined to comment but says they are aware of the situation.