Oklahoma missionary sentenced to 40 years for sexual abuse of Kenyan orphans

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OKLAHOMA - Forty years, that's how long an Oklahoma missionary found guilty of molesting African orphans will serve in federal prison.

Matthew Durham was convicted last summer on seven counts, three of those were later thrown out by the judge.

Monday, he was sentenced on the remaining four counts.

Durham showed no emotion in the court room.

He addressed the court, asking for mercy.

He also said he believes it is the judgment of God, not man, that matters most.

He said he does not fear God’s judgment.

The federal court judge handed down a sentence of 40 years.

Durham was also ordered to pay $15,863 in restitution.

“We just hope, when he comes out, he will be a changed man,” said Eunice Menja, director of the Upendo Children’s Home where the alleged molestation and rape took place.

In court, Menja told the judge Durham had not only betrayed the children's trust but the mission of the home, which is to protect the children from abuse.

She told the court some of the victims have since left the home and returned to a homeless life on the street because they no longer feel safe at the home.

She also said the children have constant nightmares about their experience.

She asked the judge to send a powerful message with the sentence, not only to Durham but to others “like him.”

Durham listened to her emotional statement, showing no emotion himself.

“He has no emotions. He does not show any remorse. He is not sorry about what he did,” Menja said.

“Matthew cannot show remorse, because he's not guilty," said Stephen Jones, Durham’s attorney. "He's innocent.”

Durham also spoke to the court, asking for mercy and thanking those who have supported him through this trial.

Prosecutors also spoke.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Petermann called Durham a “sexual predator without a conscience.”

He asked the judge for the harshest penalty, 30 years for each count.

Petermann told the court Durham’s lack of remorse and targeting both male and female victims shows he could re-offend if he is ever released.

The judge called the acts “heinous” and said it was the “worst nightmare” of the victims.

He then sentenced Durham to 40 years in prison.

“Obviously, I'm disappointed the sentence is as great as it is but, on the other hand, the judge could have made it a more harsh sentence,” Jones said.

Durham and his attorney stand by his innocence.

“The pressure brought upon him in Kenya by Mrs. Menja of not letting him leave until he confessed verbally and in writing, wouldn't give him his passport back, is strictly against the law,” Jones said.

He said they will appeal this decision within the next couple of weeks.

“There was a mistake made here, a tragic mistake," Jones said. "Matthew Durham did not do what he was accused of doing. But, it will take a little bit longer to clear him.”

Menja said, while they had hoped Durham would get a life sentence, 40 years will bring some peace to the victims.

“We have mixed feelings. We are happy he’s going to be locked away,” she said. “It's a beginning of healing. It's a new beginning for them.”

The judge also said, after serving his prison term, Durham will be required to spend the rest of his life on supervised release, and he must register as a sex offender for life.

The judge is recommending Durham serve his sentence at the federal prison in El Reno.

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