A missionary from Oklahoma who was accused of molesting and raping children at a Kenyan orphanage blamed a demon named Luke for his crimes. Prosecutors have stated that 19-year-old Matthew Durham, who was volunteering at Upendo Children’s Home in the suburbs of Nairobi from April to June this year, sexually abused as many as ten children aged 4 to 10 years, including one who is infected with HIV.
A series of text messages were submitted along with Durham’s court documents that suggest that he did in fact speak to a friend about the supposed alter ego.
“Literally he takes me at night and there is nothing I can do to stop him... I've prayed so much, but every night Luke gets what Luke wants,” read one of the texts.
If convicted for aggravated sexual abuse with children and engaging in illegal sexual conduct in a foreign place, among other charges, Durham can be sentenced to life in prison.
The charge sheet says Durham travelled to Kenya from Oklahoma City to engage in illicit sexual conduct with minors at Upendo, an orphanage that specializes in assisting abandoned Kenyan children by offering them housing, food, clothing and access to educational and religious institutions.
Durham's attorney, Stephen Jones, initially said his client’s confession was the result of some kind of pseudo-tribal psychological voodoo.
In another text message, Durham wrote to his friend, “It takes me at night and I am powerless to what Luke wants. Yes I named him, I know how crazy that is. He whispers in my ear all day and he's so hard to resist.”
Charges against Durham were still being litigated when his indictment was returned after a federal judge started deliberations over whether the accused should be sent back to his family home in Edmond. Durham was then detained while prosecutors appealed an order for his release on bond, a request that was eventually granted.
An affidavit said that Durham, who had been volunteering at the same orphanage since 2012, wrote and attested a statement admitting to his actions. The affidavit also said that an Upendo official submitted the statement to the United States Embassy in Nairobi.
“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. 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,” the appeal filed in U.S. District Court alleges.
However, Jones has challenged his client’s statements saying they were coerced by Upendo officials who confiscated Durham’s passport and kept him in isolation until he agreed to do what they asked him to.
Jones requested Durham’s release to his family on home incarceration as long as the case is being litigated, which according to him can take up to a few months.
“This litigation, with witnesses and alleged victims in Kenya, will likely endure many months… 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 in a written objection to the government's appeal.
Durham’s release was ordered by the magistrate for a bail bond of $10,000. The order states Durham’s father as his custodian, who testified to taking leave from his job at the Oklahoma City Fire Department so he can look after his son. The order also requires Durham to surrender his passport, avoid using his cellphone and any computer that can possibly put him in touch with children or any witnesses from the case.
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