Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams Response to ABC
ABC's program is deeply troubling and does not accurately reflect Peace
Corps' unwavering commitment to our volunteers. The health and safety of our
volunteers is the single most important priority for our agency. We are
consistently reviewing and improving our global operations to ensure that we are
doing our best to keep our volunteers healthy, safe and productive.
cannot comment on the ongoing investigation into the 2009 murder of volunteer
Kate Puzey in Benin or do anything else that could risk compromising that
investigation or the possibility of a successful prosecution. Peace Corps does
not have a role in the ongoing investigation, but we have been assured that the
Benin government is supporting the legal process necessary to conclude the
investigation and begin a trial. The Department of State and the FBI have been
working with the Benin authorities.
"Kate represented the best America
has to offer the world with her dedication to her community and commitment to
public service. Kate's death was a tragic loss for the Peace Corps. We continue
to grieve with the Puzey family and Kate's friends. It is my sincere hope that
justice is served both for Kate and her family. I would like to offer my
apologies to the Puzey family if either the former leadership or the agency
under my direction could have been more compassionate. Personally, it is
heartbreaking to learn that they ever felt abandoned by the Peace Corps. This
has never been our intent.
"Under my leadership, the Peace Corps has been
implementing reforms to enhance the quality of Peace Corps service. These
reforms include strengthening all health and safety measures. We do everything
we can to keep our volunteers safe, and for those who sadly fall victim to
crime, we do everything we can to support them in their recovery. The women
interviewed by 20/20 are courageous and strong. Their stories are heartbreaking.
Since their service, Peace Corps has improved sexual assault prevention
procedures and practices, and we will continue to be responsive to the victims
of assault and provide comprehensive care.
"We will never be able to
eliminate volunteers' exposure to crimes overseas, but we will work continuously
to maximize the safety and health systems supporting our volunteers. This is my
pledge to Americans serving today and to the volunteers of