EDMOND, Okla. – An Edmond man accused of sexually abusing Kenyan orphans during a mission trip took the stand in his own defense Wednesday.
Matthew Durham testified for more than four hours.
He told the court that when he was in Kenya, he started to believe he had a demon inside him. He even named it Luke.
He said he, Matthew, would never harm the orphans. But in texts to a friend, Durham wrote, “Luke is doing horrible things here,” and, “Every night, Luke gets what Luke wants.”
Matthew Durham told the jury he’d been going on mission trips since junior high and went to Kenya to make a difference.
In response to why he chose to take an extended trip to the orphanage in 2014, he said, “I wanted to help better the lives of the children.”
Durham, 20, is accused of molesting 8 children on a mission trip to the Upendo Children’s Home in Kenya.
Durham denied raping any of the children Wednesday, even though he’s confessed to the crimes on video.
He also admitted he has struggled with homosexuality.
His attorney asked him about the meeting at the orphanage where leaders confronted him about the allegations that surfaced while he was there.
“I was scared. They made me doubt my own memories,” Durham told the jury Wednesday.
Durham said the orphanage leaders moved him to another home and covered all the windows. He claimed there was no food in the house, and said he didn’t feel it was safe to leave.
“I’d been accused of molesting children in that community. I didn’t feel safe anymore,” Durham testified.
He said unless he confessed, orphanage leaders would not let him leave.
But prosecutors pointed out, Durham had a plane ticket home when he confessed to molesting the children on video.
While Durham was testifying in front of the packed courtroom, he showed little to no emotion. But many people in the courtroom who were listening to his statements were crying.
Closing arguments will happen Thursday morning, and then the case will go to the jury.