The federal trial of an Oklahoma man accused of sexually abusing several children at an orphanage that specializes in assisting neglected children in Kenya is underway. A federal prosecutor said that the accused, Matthew Lane Durham, has confessed to the charges brought against him in writing.
A volunteer at the Upendo Children’s Home in Nairobi, Kenya, 20-year-old Durham has been charged with 17 counts of sexual misconduct including aggravated sexual abuse and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, as reported by Fox News.
Opening statements of the trial began on Wednesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Gifford read aloud statements from Durham’s confession.
“I would take her to the bathroom at night and hold her down and rape her. This happened on several occasions,” Gifford read the part of the confession about the alleged assault of a 12-year-old girl.
In another section, Durham admitted engaging in misconduct with a boy at the children’s home. Gifford read, “At night I took him to the bathroom and had him perform oral sex on me,” according to Town Hall.
The handwritten and signed notes were presented in front of the 12 member jury. However, Durham’s lawyer Stephen Jones contests the authenticity of the notes, maintaining that the confession was coerced and not true.
Durham stands accused for engaging in sexual acts with eight Kenyan orphans from a period between April to June 2014. Six of these victims will be testifying against Durham through an interpreter, according to KFOR.
Durham, who was 19 when he was initially arrested in 2014, pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, he could face life imprisonment.
According to Edmond Sun, it is a crime for any United States citizen to travel to a foreign country and engage in illicit sexual conduct with a person under the age of 18.
Jones said in his opening statements that Durham, who had been detained by the officials at the orphanage and whose passport had also been taken, made the confession being under duress.
Jones said, “He’s in fear for his life.”
He said Durham is “an emotionally vulnerable teenager” who was dealing with “sexual identity and development” while also being a devout Christian.
The orphanage’s caretaker Josphine Wambugu received criticism by Jones, who asked why she didn’t report the incidents to the police, medical officials or the United States Embassy right away. He added that other people living in Upendo “never saw anything in the close confines” of the orphanage.
Wambugu had testified that she saw Durham sleeping in the girls’ dormitory with a young girl, and that Durham “left quickly.”
Upon questioning several girls, Wambugu said they told her that they had “bad manners” – which refers to a Kenyan phrase for sexual relations – with Durham.
Upendo Children’s Home, established by a Christian Edmond couple from Kenya, is supported by the churches and residents of Edmond. The children receive free education through donations and sponsorships.
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