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A South Carolina couple are free after paying a paltry fine in the East African nation of Uganda after being accused of torturing their foster child after he was found to be sleeping on a wooden slab, left to wander around naked and eating only frozen food, authorities said.
Nicholas and Mackenzie Spencer were living close to the Ugandan capital of Kampala when they were first arrested back in December 2022. A nanny who worked for the couple told authorities about how their Ugandan-native foster child was being treated.
The initial charges facing the couple included aggravated child torture and aggravated child trafficking, the latter of which can carry the death penalty in Uganda.
The Spencers were able to come a plea agreement with prosecutors which saw them pay fines amounting to around $28,000 after pleading guilty to child cruelty and degrading treatment charges.
Activist Proscovia Najjumba called the agreement a mockery of justice.
Nicholas Spencer and his wife, Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer, sit in the courtroom as the verdict was read out in a Kampala court on Tuesday
Nicholas Spencer, Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer and their foster children. The pair are accused of trafficking and torturing one of the children
'How can a couple who admitted to having beaten and mistreated a child, deprived him of food and water and made him stay in a cold room without clothes be given a light sentence, to pay a fine and... to leave?,' Najjumba told AFP.
The pair also pleaded to breaking Uganda's visa laws by working and by staying in the country without documentation. They had been living in Africa since 2017.
'The child was in need of help and support, having lost his father and having been abandoned by his own mother. Unfortunately, the accused persons failed to manage his peculiar behaviors,' High Court Judge Alice Kyomuhangi said.