Teen missionary from Oklahoma could face life in prison after the alleged sexual assault of several girls at a Kenyan orphanage. Matthew Durham confessed to molesting and raping several young underprivileged children he was supposed to be helping. According to court records the 19-year-old also admitted to forcing some of the young boys to perform oral sex on him, at times other children were forced to watch.
An affidavit states the suspected victims are girls and boys ranging from four to nine-years-old with at least one of the teen’s prey being HIV positive. U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats said a live-in caretaker at the children’s home said they noticed something was not right with his behavior toward the children. The missionary would stay with the orphans late at night in their beds and far too often was seen giving them “lingering” embraces.
The caretaker decided to ask the children about Matthew’s actions and then confronted the young man directly; at that time he admitted to some of the acts. In relation to the crime Coats said,
It is a true tragedy all the way around. A young man in our community made choices to exploit children in an orphanage.
Matthew volunteered, as he had done previously over the last two years, for a group called Upendo. During his last visit to the country, rather than stay at an offsite facility, he asked to stay in an “overflow bunk” at the orphanage. The teen explained he would be in a better position to help the children by staying on location with them. His victims shared a different story, they said Matthew often touched them in a sexual manner and even made the children touch themselves while he watched.
Upendo, a children’s home in Nairobi, Kenya, was founded by a Kenyan-American Christian couple now living in the teen’s hometown Edmond, Oklahoma. The home specializes in helping neglected Kenyan children by providing them with shelter, clothes, food, education and religion. It is funded through donations and sponsorships. The founders often sought American volunteers from an “unnamed” church in Oklahoma.
In a Facebook post, just before Matthew left for Kenya, Eunice Menja had nothing but praise for the teen and his Christian character. Eunice, who founded Upendo with her husband, wrote:
Team Upendo Kids is stronger each day because of men such as Matthew Durham. I had the opportunity to pray over this man of God who is headed to Kenya today. Our kiddos at Upendo Children’s home will be thrilled to see you. Sshhhh – what a surprise to them!”
“I am humbled beyond words. Matthew, your love for these kids is really amazing, and every time you go an extra mile for Upendo kiddos, it brings joy into my heart. As I ask my Facebook friends to pray for your safety, I also want the world to know how blessed our kids are to know you as their big brother and an encourager.”
“You are the reason why we will not stop to make a difference in their lives. Go with the peace of God and remember the angels are sleeplessly watching over you. The armies of heaven are rising up to hinder every power of darkness from reaching to you because you are a faithful servant. #journeymercies till we see you soon.
The founders of the orphanage confronted Matthew after they learned of the allegations. The young missionary denied the actions but admitted that he struggled with child pornography and homosexuality. Matthew finally broke down and confessed his “sins” when he was confronted by several members of the church. Eunice videotaped Matthew’s confession of performing sexual acts on several of the children; after it became too hard to listen she asked him to write the remainder of the story down.
During the confession the young missionary stated,
I would take her to the bathroom at night and would hold her down and rape her. This happened on several occasions. I also made her watch me do things to another child. I told her I loved her and made her swear to never tell anyone. Any time I try to pray or read the Bible the images keeps coming to my head.
Steven Jones, the teen’s attorney, said the affidavit is filled with inaccuracies and his client was a victim of psychological voodoo. It is like a cult over there. He continued…
The events that occurred in Kenya the last maybe five, six days that Matthew was there frankly reveal some sort of pseudo-tribal psychological voodoo practiced on him. They confiscated his passport, falsely imprisoned and kept food from him one day. Their actions were misleading to his parents and caused a delay in allowing him to depart from the country. I don’t think Hollywood could make up what happened at this so-called orphanage.
Although the missionary committed the crimes overseas, he can still be held accountable in the United States. Matthew Lane Durham was arrested last Thursday and appeared before a United States Magistrate Judge on Friday. He is being held without bond and could face life in prison. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 1.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)