Missionary Matthew Lane Durham, 19, surrounded by African children.

A 19-year-old Oklahoma teen was arrested July 17 for allegedly engaging in sexual acts with as many as 10 children while volunteering his time at a children’s home in Nairobi, Kenya in April.

Mathew Lane Durham was arrested on four charges that include traveling to engage in elicit sexual conduct, engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, attempt and conspiracy, and aggravated sexual abuse with children.

According to the court documents, during a volunteer trip to the children’s home, the teen volunteered to stay in an “overflow bunk” at the Upendo’s Children’s Home in Nairobi, where he volunteered.

A live-in caretaker at the children’s home became suspicious of Durham’s behavior towards the children and asked the children about it; they informed him about the alleged sexual abuse. Durham reportedly engaged in sexual acts with boys and girls from ages four to 10 years old. At least one of the victims is HIV-positive.

The caretaker reported the allegations to Upendo officials. Durham initially denied the allegations, but later confessed that he was “struggling with homosexuality and child pornography,” according to an affidavit. Durham’s passport was seized after he submitted a written and videotaped confession.

Durham returned to the U.S. in June, and is currently being held at the Logan County jail, in Edmond, Okla.

Durham’s attorney, Stephen Jones told The Oklahoman that the allegations filed against his client were inaccurate.

Jones told the paper that, “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.”

“We’re on the ground in Kenya now,” Jones added. “We’re finding out a lot about these people. This place is right on the outskirts of Nairobi. It’s like some cult over there.”

According to documents, the children’s home was founded by an American citizen who recruits volunteers from the Oklahoma church community and provides food, housing and clothes to abandoned children in Nairobi.

Durham had previously volunteered three times at the orphanage in June 2012, June 2013, and in December. During his previous volunteer trips, he stayed with sponsor families.

Durham is scheduled to appear in court again Aug. 1. If convicted, he faces life in prison.


Maria Adebola

Special to the AFRO