Co-founder of charity for African orphans pleads guilty to child sex abuse

Date: 2011-09-07

Co-founder of charity for African orphans pleads guilty to child sex abuse

This is an archived article that was published on in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A Wasatch County man accused of sexually abusing three of his adopted African children pleaded guilty Wednesday to reduced charges.

Lon Harvey Kennard Sr., 69, was initially charged in 4th District Court with 25 first-degree felony counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child, 21 second-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child, and one count of third-degree felony witness tampering.

Kennard — the co-founder of a charity to aid Ethiopian orphans — pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of first-degree felony aggravated sex abuse of a child. Each count is punishable by up five years to life in prison.

Wasatch County Attorney Scott Sweat said Wednesday that each of the three counts pertains to a separate victim.

Sentencing is set for November 2 before Judge Derek Pullan in Heber.

The victims were among six children adopted from Ethiopia by Kennard and his now-estranged wife, DeAnna Kennard.

The Kennards helped found the Village of Hope orphanage in the east African country and subsequently adopted six youngsters there.

The couple also have six biological children. All the children are now adults.

DeAnna Kennard filed for divorce March 26, 2010, three days after Lon Kennard was charged in the criminal cases.

The charges stem from a March 6, 2010, telephone call to Wasatch County authorities from one of Kennard's adoptive daughters, according to a probable cause statement. The caller said that she and a sister were the victims of sex abuse while they were growing up.

An adult adoptive son found nude pictures and videos on Kennard's computer, downloaded copies of those photos and informed his sisters of the material, according to court filings.

On March 7, authorities were provided with photographs and videos that investigators allege constitute child pornography. According to court documents, the abuse took place between 1995 and 2002.

The Village of Hope established an orphanage in Kersa Illala, 200 miles south of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The nonprofit organization also was instrumental in bringing clean water and health care to the impoverished village.


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