Edmond Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Kenyan Sex Crime Case

An Edmond man convicted of sex crimes against children at a Kenyan orphanage has been sentenced in federal court. 

Matthew Lane Durham, now 21, was charged with 17 criminal counts alleging that he molested several children while volunteering as a missionary in Kenya. He was convicted last summer of 7 counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, but earlier this year, a judge threw out three of those convictions, saying there was insufficient evidence in those cases to merit conviction.

Now, a federal judge has sentenced Durham on the remaining four convictions. Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence on each count--30 years--for a total sentence of 120 years in prison. Durham's defense attorney, who still argues that his client is innocent, asked for a sentence of 8 years in prison plus probation.

U.S. District Judge David Russell selected a sentence of his own--40 years in prison plus $15,863 in restitution to the victims.

Durham plans an appeal.  He and his attorney maintain that he is innocent and that his confession was coerced under duress:  

"He's innocent. The pressure brought upon him in Kenya by Mrs. Menja of not letting him leave until he had confessed verbally and in writing, wouldn't give him his passport back, is strictly against the law. And we are considering what civil action, if any, may lie and whether we should pursue it."

Fighting back against allegations that his client has shown no remorse, his attorney says, "Matthew cannot show remorse because he's not guilty."

Durham's defense lawyer also alleges that prosecutorial misconduct deprived his client of a fair trial. The Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office notified the federal judge about possible misconduct after discovering that the lead prosecutor failed to disclose medical evidence that contradicted what their expert witness said about victim's injuries. The judge ruled that withholding evidence did not impact the fairness of the trial, since the jury heard from a separate defense witness who contradicted the prosecution's witness.