Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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Man Gets 40 Years for Orphanage Assaults

OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) - An Oklahoma man was sentenced Monday to 40 years in federal prison for sexually assaulting several orphans while he was volunteering in Kenya.

U.S. District Judge David Russell sentenced Matthew Lane Durham, 21, of Edmund, after concluding he lied while under oath. Durham was also ordered to pay $15,863 in restitution.

This past June, a jury found Durham guilty of seven courts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct after deliberating for nine hours. He had faced up to 30 years in federal prison for each count.

Acting U.S. Attorney Mark Yancey for the Western District of Oklahoma said the "significant sentence" removes the threat that more children will be exploited.

"However, the innocence of the child victims cannot be restored and their lives will never be the same," Yancey said in a statement. "It is our hope and prayer that his conviction and lengthy sentence will someday bring them some comfort and peace."

The jury found Durham not guilty of eight counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.

Prosecutors said Durham was a volunteer at the Upendo Children's Home in Juja, Kenya, that provided food, housing, clothes, school and religion to neglected Kenyan children. They said the crimes were committed between April 30, 2014, and June 17, 2014.

Durham had testified that he had an "inner demon" who comes out at night and whispers to him to do things to children. But he flatly denied committing the assaults and maintained his innocence.

"What if the demon wanted me to do mission work to be around children?" Durham asked during his trial.

Durham testified he was threatened to confess because there were eyewitnesses and recorded proof, but said neither was ever presented to him. He said he was not allowed to return home unless he confessed.

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