Home Release For Oklahoman Accused Of Misconduct
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge Monday granted bond to a 19-year-old man charged with sexually abusing boys and girls while volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya but ordered that he remain confined inside his family’s home and avoid contact with children.
U.S. Magistrate Shon Erwin handed down the ruling after a detention hearing for Matthew Lane Durham of Edmond, who is accused of engaging in sex acts with as many as ten children between the ages of 4 to 10 while volunteering at Upendo Children’s Home in Nairobi from April to June 2014. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of engaging in illegal sexual conduct in foreign places, aggravated sexual abuse with children and other charges.
“You’re going to be on 24-hour lockdown,” Erwin told Durham on Monday. He set bond at $10,000 and appointed Durham’s father, Oklahoma City Fire Department Maj. Kyle Durham, as his son’s custodian. He also ordered that Matthew Durham surrender his passport, refrain from using cellphones and computers and avoid contact with children and any witnesses and alleged victims in the case.
“These are serious, horrific charges involving minor victims,” Erwin said.
Prosecutors said they will appeal the bond decision, and Erwin stayed the effectiveness of it until Tuesday afternoon, meaning Durham will spend at least one more night in custody.
An affidavit filed in U.S. District Court said Durham, who has volunteered with the children’ home since June 2012, wrote and signed a statement acknowledging the sexual misconduct. An Upendo official provided the statement to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, the affidavit says.
In the statement, Durham admitted to sexually abusing boys and girls in a bathroom at the children’s home, according to the affidavit. At least one of the victims is HIV positive, the affidavit says.
But Durham’s attorney, Stephen Jones, attacked the statement, saying it was given under duress during which Durham was confined in a building at the orphanage and his passport was seized.
“He was subject to an incredible coercive atmosphere,” Jones argued. “He is suffering from the effect of several days of isolation.”
Jones said Durham has never demonstrated signs of pedophilia in the past and has never been accused of a crime in the U.S.
Durham’s parents testified that they do not believe the allegations against Durham.
Erwin rejected requests from prosecutors that Durham be detained pending a grand jury investigation and refuted allegations that Durham is a danger to the community and could flee if released.
Prosecutors said Monday that Durham had made threats prior to his arrest in the case on July 17, including a text message threatening to burn down the house of Upendo’s founders.
The courtroom was crowded with friends and family members of Durham’s, as well as supporters of Upendo. The hearing was briefly delayed when a man identified as Corey Baird, youth minister at the New Hope Church of Christ in Edmond that the Durham family attends, suffered a seizure in the courtroom during a brief recess.
Baird eventually regained consciousness but was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
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