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Edmond Man Accused of Raping Kenyan Children on Mission Trip

21-Jul-2014

A 19-year-old Edmond man is being held without bond after being arrested on federal charges for allegedly molesting young children while on a Kenyan mission trip.

Reports say Matthew Land Durham has traveled to Kenya several times to work with underprivileged children and orphans with the Edmond-based nonprofit Upendo Kids International. In June 2012, June 2013, and December 2013, Durham stayed with a sponsor family near Nairobi, but when he returned for another mission trip from April 30 to June 17 this year, he allegedly asked to stay in an overflow bunk at the orphanage, where he would be better able to help the kids.

Instead, reports say, this gave him closer proximity and more opportunity to abuse the children at the orphanage. Witnesses allegedly noticed Durham acting "strangely" around the children, and the children reportedly told adults that Durham had inappropriate sexual contact with them. When the founder of the Upendo Kids International program confronted the young man, he allegedly admitted to molesting and having sex with the children, who range in age from 4 to 10 years old.

Durham was arrested on July 17 and is being held without bond while awaiting a preliminary hearing in federal court August 1. He is accused of multiple criminal counts: 

  • traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct (one count) 
  • engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places (two counts)
  • attempt and conspiracy (three counts) 
  • aggravated sexual abuse with children (four counts)

Traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, and attempt and conspiracy are all defined and penalized under 18 USC § 2423, which covers transporting minors for illegal sex and child sex tourism:

(b) Travel With Intent To Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct.— A person who travels in interstate commerce or travels into the United States, or a United States citizen or an alien admitted for permanent residence in the United States who travels in foreign commerce, for the purpose of engaging in any illicit sexual conduct with another person shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both. 

(c) Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct in Foreign Places.— Any United States citizen or alien admitted for permanent residence who travels in foreign commerce or resides, either temporarily or permanently, in a foreign country, and engages in any illicit sexual conduct with another person shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both. 

(e) Attempt and Conspiracy.— Whoever attempts or conspires to violate subsection (a), (b), (c), or (d) shall be punishable in the same manner as a completed violation of that subsection.

For each count of the above described criminal offenses, the defendant faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Durham is also charged with four counts of aggravated sexual abuse with children. This law is found in 18 USC § 2241, and it involves crossing state lines to engage in a sexual act with a minor under 12. It is punishable by 30 years to life in prison.



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