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Oklahoma man pleads not guilty to child abuse at orphanage in Kenya

Matthew Lane Durham, 19, was indicted on three felony counts by a federal grand jury Tuesday that accused him of traveling from Oklahoma City to Africa to sexually abuse children at an orphanage near Nairobi, Kenya.
By TIM TALLEY, Associated Press Published: August 9, 2014
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An Oklahoma man pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that he sexually abused children at an orphanage in Kenya.

Matthew Lane Durham, 19, was indicted on three felony counts by a federal grand jury on Tuesday that accused him of traveling from Oklahoma City to Kenya to sexually abuse children at the Upendo Children’s Home. The orphanage outside Nairobi specializes in assisting neglected Kenyan children by providing them with food, housing, clothes and academic and religious instruction.

Durham also was indicted for illicit sexual conduct in foreign places and aggravated sexual abuse. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors allege that Durham, who has worked as a volunteer at the children’s home since June 2012, engaged in sex acts with as many as 10 children ages 4 to 10 between April 30 and June 17.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, Bob Troester, said the investigation is ongoing but that Durham is the only person who has been arrested in the case.

Durham, dressed in an orange jail-issued jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists and ankles, was escorted into the courtroom by deputy U.S. marshals and sat next to one of his attorneys, Laura Puente, as he occasionally glanced at members of his family.

Will remain in jail until trial

Durham spoke softly as he answered questions from U.S. Magistrate Gary Purcell, including whether he understood the nature of the charges. Purcell ordered that Durham remain in custody until his trial, which he set for Sept. 9.

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