U.S. teen charged with sexually abusing boys and girls at Kenyan children’s home


(First Presbyterian Church of Edmond / Vimeo.com)

Authorities believe an Oklahoma teenager who was volunteering at a home for neglected children in Nairobi engaged in sex acts with children at the facility, according to court documents.

Matthew Lane Durham, 19, was arrested late last week and on Friday appeared before a judge in Oklahoma City, according to an FBI news release. If convicted, Durham faces a life sentence.

During a volunteer trip to Kenya this spring, Durham asked to stay in an “overflow bunk” at the Upendo Children’s Home instead of sleeping off-site with a sponsor family in Nairobi, court papers claim. A caretaker who noticed strange behavior asked the children at the home about it, and that’s when she learned of the alleged abuse, a criminal complaint said.

There were as many as 10 victims, male and female, reportedly between the ages of 4 and 9, according to court papers; authorities believe at least one of the victims is HIV-positive.

A probable cause affidavit states that Durham, of Edmond, Okla., confessed and gave detailed statements about the allegations, which have been turned over to U.S. officials.

But Durham’s attorney, Stephen Jones told the Oklahoman that the affidavit filed against his client was “shot through with inaccuracies.”

“The events that occurred in Kenya the last maybe five six days that Matt was there frankly reveal some sort of pseudo-tribal psychological voodoo practiced on him, including confiscating his passport, false imprisonment, keeping food from him one day, delay in allowing him to depart from the country, misleading his parents,” Jones told the Oklahoman. “I don’t think Hollywood could make up what happened at this so-called orphanage.”

Jones told the Post that his client’s parents were trying to get their son out of Kenya, which prompted his confession.

“I don’t believe that any of the people at the so-called orphanage actually witnessed any of these things,” he said. “They told him that they were not going to let him leave the country until he confessed.”

Durham is scheduled to appear in court again in August.

You can read the court documents below:

Durham Complaint by sarah_larimer

A previous version of this story quoted an article that misspelled the name of Durham’s attorney. This post has been updated with the correct spelling, and with additional comments from Durham’s attorney.

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
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