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Tuesday
Jan182011

Peace Corps Director Apologizes to Family of Murder Victim

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images/Peace Corps[dot]gov(WASHINGTON) -- Director of the Peace Corps Aaron Williams, who for months had declined to be interviewed by ABC News about the murder of Peace Corps volunteer Kate Puzey, issued a formal apology Puzey's family after Friday's three-part 20/20 report on Puzey's death and the Peace Corps response.

In a statement posted on the Peace Corps website Friday, Williams said he grieved with the Puzey family and extended an apology to them.

"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," wrote Williams. "Personally, it is heartbreaking to learn that they ever felt abandoned by the Peace Corps. This has never been our intent."

"Kate represented the best America has to offer the world with her dedication to her community and commitment to public service," said Williams. "We continue to grieve with the Puzey family and Kate's friends."

Puzey died in Benin in 2009 shortly after she urged her country director to terminate the contract of a Peace Corps employee that she knew, according to her family and friends, had raped students and the school where she taught. Puzey was found with her throat slit and the Peace Corps employee, Constant Bio, is being held as the prime suspect in her murder.

Puzey's family told ABC News they felt the Peace Corps had helped cause her death because her suggestion that Bio be fired was not kept secret. The family also said the Peace Corps was not supportive or helpful in the months after her death as they tried to find out what happened to Kate .

In his statement, Williams said that the ABC News report was "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," said Williams. 

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