Judge orders Oklahoma child abuse suspect held

August 5, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge Tuesday ordered an Oklahoma teen charged with sexually abusing children at a Kenyan orphanage to remain in custody while prosecutors appeal an order granting his release on bond.

U.S. District Judge David Russell issued the order in the case of Matthew Lane Durham, 19, who was set to be released to confinement in his family's Edmond home. A U.S. magistrate granted bond Monday.

Durham is accused of engaging in sex acts with as many as 10 children between the ages of 4 to 10 while volunteering at Upendo Children's Home near Nairobi from April to June 2014. Prosecutors allege Durham is a danger to the community and could flee if released on bond.

"The defendant in this matter by his own detailed admission both orally and in writing has brutally raped and molested young girls and boys in an orphanage in Kenya," the appeal filed in U.S. District Court alleges.

"He has confessed his crimes in writing, on video, and has admitted to a life-long struggle of desires to touch children and 'child predation,'" it says.

An affidavit filed in federal court said Durham, who has volunteered with the children' home since June 2012, wrote and signed a statement acknowledging the sexual misconduct. An Upendo official provided the statement to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, the affidavit says.

But Durham's defense attorney, Stephen Jones, has challenged Durham's statements about the allegations and claims they were coerced by orphanage officials in Kenya who kept him in isolation and confiscated his passport.

Jones urged Russell to reject the government's appeal and allow Durham to be released to his family while the case is litigated, which Jones indicated could take months.

"This litigation, with witnesses and alleged victims in Kenya, will likely endure many months," Jones said in a written objection to the government's appeal.

"Further incarceration would violate Mr. Durham's due process right, as he is presumed innocent and will be detained for a prolonged amount of time," Jones said.

Russell has not indicated when he might hand down a ruling on the bond issue.

Durham faces up to life in prison if convicted of engaging in illegal sexual conduct in foreign places and other charges.

The magistrate ordered Durham's release after a hearing during which his parents testified that they do not believe the allegations against their son. The order rejected requests from prosecutors that Durham be detained pending a grand jury investigation.

The release order sets bond at $10,000 and names Durham's father, Oklahoma City Fire Department Maj. Kyle Durham, as his son's custodian. Kyle Durham testified that he has taken administrative leave from his job to care for his son.

It also requires that Matthew Durham surrender his passport, refrain from using cellphones and computers and avoid contact with children and any witnesses and alleged victims in the case.