Man charged in Oklahoma with abusing children while volunteering at Kenya mission

The Associated Press
July 22, 2014 10:19 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY - A man has been charged with sexually abusing boys and girls while volunteering at an organization in Kenya that assists neglected children.

Matthew Lane Durham of Oklahoma is accused of engaging in sex acts with as many as 10 children aged from 4 to 10 years while volunteering at Upendo Children's Home in Nairobi from April to June 2014.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Western Oklahoma last week says the 19-year-old Durham has volunteered with Upendo since June 2012.

Durham wrote and signed a confession that an Upendo official provided to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, according to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Scott Lobb.

In it, he admitted to sexually abusing boys and girls in a bathroom at the children's home. At least one of the victims is HIV positive, according to the affidavit.

During previous visits, Durham lived with sponsor families in Nairobi, but for his most recent trip he requested to stay at the children's home in an "overflow bunk," Lobb wrote.

A live-in caretaker at the children's home became suspicious of Durham's behaviour and inquired with the children, who told her about the abuse, the affidavit states. The caretaker then reported the allegations to Upendo officials, who obtained a confession from Durham, confiscated his passport and notified local police, Lobb wrote.

Durham's attorney Stephen Jones said Tuesday the affidavit is riddled with inaccuracies and that his client is innocent.

"The FBI affidavit is based upon second-hand, or in some cases third-hand, hearsay," Jones said.

Jones said Durham's "alleged confession" was elicited by Upendo employees through "a bizarre combination of Kenyan tribal actions, pseudo-psychology, law enforcement techniques and religious zealotry."

Durham returned to the U.S. last month. He was arrested Thursday in Edmond and is currently being held at the Logan County jail, according to the U.S. Marshal's Office. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 1.

A statement from Upendo Kids International Director Eunice Menja said the Edmond-based company is co-operating with authorities, but declined further comment.

Durham faces four counts: travelling to engage in illicit sexual conduct; engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places; attempt and conspiracy; and aggravated sexual abuse with children. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.


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