The American father jailed in Uganda on charges of torturing his HIV positive African foster child is a former congressman’s staffer who moved to the US in 2017 to ‘focus on women’s humanitarian work’.
Nicholas Spencer, 32, and his wife Mackenzie Leigh Mathis Spencer, also 32, are in currently being held in the Luzira maximum security prison on charges of torturing and exploiting one of their three foster children.
The pair from South Carolina have not spoken out since they were arrested on December 9 on charges of exploiting one of the kids.
Now, they are facing the death penalty on suspicion of child trafficking and aggravated child torture.
Nicholas Spencer, his wife, Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer and their foster children. The pair are accused of trafficking and torturing one of the children
They were arrested after someone working in their home in Uganda called police, claiming they forced one of their three foster child to be barefoot and naked.
The caretaker also said the couple only fed the boy cold food.
Before moving to Uganda in 2017, Spencer worked as an assistant to former Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy.
Gowdy left office in 2019 after representing South Carolina’s 4th congressional district for eight years.
Spencer worked as a press and legislative assistant for him for six years.
His wife, Mackenzie, claimed in a 2019 GoFundMe that they moved to Africa to focus on ‘women’s empowerment and education.’
‘We are also foster parents to 3 incredible children,’ she wrote in her appeal.
Before moving to Africa, Nicholas worked as a staffer for former Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy
Spencer worked for the congressman for six years in a variety of positions before moving to Uganda with his wife
It’s unclear what kind of humanitarian roles Mackenzie has held. Online, she claimed to be focused on ‘women’s empowerment and education’
In 2019, she asked friends for $30,000 to pay for an emergency medical trip back to the US. After raising only $5,000, she updated the page to claim the hospital had agreed to cover the expenses
She was asking for $28,000 to pay for surgery to her spine, claiming that because she and her husband no longer lived in the US, they weren’t entitled to medical insurance.
Mackenzie received just shy of $5,000 in donations, but claimed online that the hospital agreed to cover her entire ‘$46,000 bill’.
She flew back to Spartanburg, South Carolina, for the surgery, leaving her husband and three foster kids in the US.
Now, she and her husband are being held in Uganda’s only maximum security prison.
The pair are now being held in the Luzira Maximum Security Prison, where as many as 20,000 inmates have been reported to be housed at one time
Among those who have been held at Luzira are political figures like Hon Kagulanyi Robert aka Bobi Wine
The view from the Spencers’ apartment in Kampala, where they fostered the three kids. Someone who worked in the home reported them
Luzira is Uganda’s only maximum security prison and is its most notorious – it houses more than 8,000 male and female inmates.
The prison is constantly overcrowded, with as many as 20,000 inmates – more than double its capacity – being held there in 2016.
It is well known for its competitive football league, where some of the 500 death row inmates play alongside those convicted or accused of lesser crimes.
It’s unclear where Mackenzie and Nicholas’ children are being cared for now.
On social media, she proudly shared photos of the view from their home in Kampala.
Online, Nicholas describes himself as a ‘lead’ for the manufacturing company Motiv.
‘We are a world-class manufacturing hub enabling industry and start-ups to co-exist and co-create together,’ the African company’s bio reads.
The couple are shown in court on December 14 after their initial arrest
Nicholas Spencer and Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer, both 32, stand in the dock at Buganda Road Court, where they were charged with torturing a 10-year old