US man jailed for 40 years for abusing Kenyan orphans

OKLAHOMA CITY (TIP): A former missionary from Oklahoma convicted of sexually abusing children at an orphanage in Kenya was sentenced on March 7 to 40 years in a federal prison. US district judge David L Russell handed down the sentence to Matthew Lane Durham, 21, who had faced up to 30 years on each of four counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. He also ordered Durham, of Edmond, to pay restitution of $15,863.

“These were heinous crimes committed on the most vulnerable victims. He was their worst nightmare come true,” Russell said. Durham, wearing an orange prison-issued jumpsuit, read a statement before sentencing in which he asked the court for mercy but did not express remorse for the offenses he was convicted of. Durham showed no emotion when the sentence was issued. Prosecutors alleged Durham targeted orphans while volunteering at the Upendo Children’s Home in Nairobi between April and June 2014. Durham had served as a volunteer since 2012 at the orphanage, which specializes in caring for neglected children.

“All I wanted was to follow God’s plan for me,” Durham told the judge. He said he will try to commit himself to serving others while he serves his prison sentence. Although Durham claims he is innocent of the charges, he said he was sorry that the accusations against him had damaged the orphanage and those it cares for. “The Upendo kids do not deserve this,” Durham said.

In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said Durham’s actions have had a chilling effect on the lives of dozens of foreign volunteers in Kenya and elsewhere “who must now live 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.”


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