Society

Oklahoma Missionary Allegedly Sexually Abused Orphans While Volunteering in Kenya

| by Lisa Fogarty

It seemed like a 19-year-old boy from Oklahoma had all the right intentions when he traveled to Kenya on a mission to spread his faith and help others in need. But many are now saying that Matthew Lane Durham’s actions against the children in one village were so obscene that he deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The teen reportedly admitted to sexually abusing both boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 10 – including a child who was HIV positive – when he volunteered at Upendo Children’s Home in Nairobi this spring, reports the Daily News. The children have allegedly said that Durham touched them inappropriately. Upendo’s founder and another caretaker reportedly confronted Durham because they became suspicious of his behavior, reports the Edmond Sun.

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The teen denied abusing the children at first and then reportedly confessed that he has struggled with his sexual identity, homosexuality and child pornography. He also reportedly said that he had sexual intercourse with some of the children.

But his attorney says his confession came only after his passport was taken by locals in the village and he was kept trapped there until he admitted to abusing the children. Durham says his own mother told him to “say whatever you need to do to get out of there,” which he said led him to provide an audio confession and 10-page written confession on June 17.

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Attorney Stephen Jones described the local’s investigation as a “bizarre combination of tribalism, religious zealotry, amateur psychology and armchair detective work.” 

When Durham returned to the states, he wasn’t arrested until 30 days later.

The teen reportedly volunteered at the home in June of 2012, June of 2013 and last December, and the sexual abuse allegedly took place during his last visit. He is being held with no bond in Oklahoma City, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 1.

Sources: Daily News, Edmond Sun