A former missionary from Oklahoma was sentenced in a U.S. Federal Court late Monday to 40 years in prison for molesting children at a Kenyan orphanage.
The prosecutor said on Tuesday in Oklahoma City that Matthew Durham, 21, was accused of molesting eight children at the Upendo Children’s Home in Kenya, in 2014.
He said Durham, of Edmond, Oklahoma, however denied the allegation levied against him.
The prosecutor noted that during a preliminary hearing, Durham told the personnel that he thought he had been possessed by an “evil spirit” because he did not remember committing the crimes.
Prosecutors said during the same preliminary hearing that a live-in caretaker at the orphanage said that the children said Durham either touched them sexually or told them to touch themselves while he watched.
Prosecutors argued that Durham used his position as a missionary to prey upon young victims.
A criminal affidavit disclosed that when confronted by the founder of Upendo and several church members, Durham was alleged to have confessed to several instances of rape and sexual abuse of children.
Last June, a federal jury found Durham guilty on seven counts including engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.
However, in January U.S. District Judge David Russell acquitted him on three of the counts because the judge felt the prosecutors had failed to establish Durham engaged in a sexual act with the victim alleged in those counts.
Durham, who was also fined 15,863 U.S. dollars, had previously pleaded not guilty to 17 charges, but Durham’s attorney claimed the man’s handwritten and taped confessions were coerced.
Officials with the orphanage reported Durham to authorities after they sent him home, according to court records.
Durham said in court during the judgment: “I do not fear God’s judgment because judgment from God is central, not the judgment of man.”
According to the affidavit, Durham volunteered at the orphanage, which helps care for neglected and disabled children, according to previous records released by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
It said from April to June of 2014, prosecutors allege that Durham engaged in sexual acts with multiple children, male and female, aged between 4 and 10 years. (Reuters/NAN)