Home / Crimes Against Children / Matthew Lane Durham, Christian Missionary, Convicted And Sentenced to 40 Years In A Federal Prison For Sexually Abusing Children At A Kenyan Orphanage
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Matthew Lane Durham, Christian Missionary, Convicted And Sentenced to 40 Years In A Federal Prison For Sexually Abusing Children At A Kenyan Orphanage

Matthew Lane Durham, a 21 year old former missionary from Oklahoma was sentenced in US federal court Monday to 40 years in prison for serially molesting and raping children at a Kenyan orphanage, at least one of whom was just 5 years old.

US District Judge David L Russell handed down the sentence to Durham, who was facing up to 30 years on each of four counts in engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.

Durham showed no emotion when the sentence was issued.

“These were heinous crimes committed on the most vulnerable victims. He was their worst nightmare come true,” Russell said.

Working at the Upendo Children’s Home in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, Durham was alleged to have molested and abused eight children in 2014.

Durham, of Edmond, Oklahoma, initially denied the allegations, but during a preliminary hearing prosecutors said Durham told Updendo personnel he was possessed by an “evil spirit” and did not remember committing the crimes.

According to a live-in caretaker at the orphanage, several children told her that Durham touched them sexually, or instructed them to touch themselves while he watched, during the same preliminary hearing.

When confronted by the founder of Upendo and several fellow church members, Durham confessed immediately to several instances of rape and sexual abuse.

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Matthew Lane Durham
Photo Credit: CNN

“All I wanted was to follow God’s plan for me,” he reportedly told the judge in a last effort for mercy.

Matthew Lane Durham arrived at the Upendo Children’s Centre in 2014 to volunteer with neglected children, according to the criminal complain. He had previously volunteered at the school three times before.

The organization, funded by an American evangelical, recruits volunteers from Oklahoma church communities and provides food, housing, and clothes to neglected children in Nairobi. Upon arriving in 2014, Durham requested to stay at an “overflow bunk” in the school rather than in off-site facilities with sponsor families to be in a “better position to assist the children,” according to the complaint.

As one of the orphanage’s caretakers began to notice odd behavior, such as “lingering embraces” and ““lying beside some of the children on their beds” Durham was confronted by the leaders of the orphanage, who stripped him of his passport before demanding a confession.

In a sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors had asked Russell to sentence Durham to 120 years in prison – the maximum punishment he faced – along urging Durham be placed under supervision for the rest of his life should he ever be released.

Prosecutors also noted that Durham’s actions have had a chilling effect on the lives of foreign volunteers in Kenya and the communities they are working to better, now living “under the cloud of suspicion, distrust, and apprehension when they volunteer their time, talent and resources for the betterment of children in East Africa and beyond.”

“There is a real perception among Upendo’s local Kenyan community that more pedophiles lurk among the volunteers, especially the young male volunteers,” prosecutors said.

 

About Adam Ciminello

Entrepreneurship, Social Justice, and the idea of Bono never performing again are all things that excite me. And yes, my grandma is cooler than yours. Say hi sometime on twitter @Aciminello

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