Who is "Milledgeville pastor" Eric Tuininga, off to federal prison

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The Department of Justice last week released a press release about a man who pleaded guilty to "engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places" after reportedly carrying on a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl while doing missionary work in Uganda.

The entire press release can be read by CLICKING HERE.

The press release identified the man as "Eric Tuininga, 44, of Milledgeville." Different news outlets around Middle Georgia and other parts of the state then basically re-worded parts of the press release and ran with the headline "Milledgeville pastor..."

What, exactly, was Tuininga's connection to Milledgeville, however? The missionary work in Africa was based out of a church in Oregon, and it was not a church in Milledgeville. Tuininga's Facebook profile has "Issaquah, Washington" as the place where he lives, although the profile hasn't been updated in several years. Tuininga has no jail history or criminal record here in Baldwin County.

"It was all news to us, too," Maj. Scott Deason told Baldwin2K.

Well, thanks to a Wordpress blog that the Tuiningas kept for several years, there's more clarity on the topic. Tuininga, his wife and their children moved to Milledgeville at some point in 2019, according to the chronology of the blog. They were members of Covenant Presbyterian Church on North Columbia Street, the pink church closer to town. Tuininga was never the "pastor" of the church, however. He was just a member for a relatively brief amount of time. 

According to the blog, the Tuiningas were the parents of nine children, six "homegrown" and two adopted from Liberia and one from Uganda,

“Tuininga was supposed to be someone that could be trusted, but instead he abused that trust and victimized a child,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “HSI and its law enforcement partners will continue to utilize every resource available to identify, arrest and prosecute those who prey upon children.”

Tuininga "faces a maximum 30 years in prison to be followed by a term of supervised release up to life and a maximum $250,000 fine," according to the DOJ press release. He also must register as a sex offender upon his release, however far down the road that is.


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