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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Oklahoma

Friday, June 19, 2015

Jury Finds Edmond Man Guilty of Seven Counts of Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct with Children in Kenya

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma –  Today, a federal jury found MATTHEW LANE DURHAM, 20, from Edmond, Oklahoma, guilty on seven counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with Kenyan children, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Comments from U.S. Attorney Sanford C. Coats on the verdict:

"I first want to recognize and commend the prosecution team, led by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Don Gifford and David Petermann and Special Assistant United States Attorney Steven Creager. They and their team worked extraordinarily hard in this challenging case.  The lawyers, paralegals, legal assistants, and victim witness professionals from my office, along with the exemplary Special Agents from the FBI, combined to present an excellent case to the jury. These public servants should be an example for all who investigate and prosecute criminal cases.  I also want to recognize and thank the Kenyan government for their assistance and cooperation with us in seeking justice for these children."

"As for the result, this is not a verdict to celebrate. The only winner here is justice.  Yes, justice was sought and obtained for the victims of this abominable crime.  However, even a guilty verdict cannot bring back the innocence of the children that was taken by Mr. Durham.  Their lives will never be the same, and we can all merely hope and pray that this verdict will someday give them some comfort and peace. The jury has determined that while in Kenya, Mr. Durham committed sexual acts with children.  This is simply a sad situation for all involved.  The bottom line is that Mr. Durham is a threat to children and it will be our position that he should be extricated from society for a significant period of time.  We protect children, no matter where they are from."

According to evidence at trial, Durham was a volunteer at the Upendo Children’s Home, located in Juja, Kenya.  Upendo specializes in assisting neglected Kenyan children by providing them with food, housing, clothes, school and religion.  Evidence showed that between April 30, 2014, and June 17, 2014, Durham traveled from Oklahoma City to Nairobi, Kenya, and while in Kenya he engaged in illicit sexual conduct with seven children under 18 years of age.

The trial lasted for six and a half days and the jury deliberated for approximately nine hours before finding Durham guilty.  Durham was found not guilty on 10 other counts.  After the verdict was read, Durham was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.

At sentencing, Durham faces up to 30 years in prison for each of the guilty counts.  A sentencing date will be set by the court.  Reference is made to the court record for further information.

This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was assisted by the United States Embassy in Kenya, the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, and the Kenyan National Police Directorate of Criminal Investigations.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Don Gifford II, Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Petermann, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven W. Creager.

Updated June 19, 2015