Africa

Ex-US missionary jailed for abusing Kenyan orphans

This undated file photo provided by the Logan County Sheriff's Office shows Matthew Lane Durham Image copyright AP
Image caption Matthew Lane Durham said he was innocent of the charges

A former US missionary has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for sexually abusing children at an orphanage in Kenya.

Matthew Lane Durham, 21, had committed "heinous crimes on the most vulnerable victims", the US court said.

Durham targeted orphans while working as a volunteer at the Upendo Children's Home in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, between April and June 2014.

He is the latest charity worker in Kenya to be convicted of sex crimes.

The BBC's Abdinoor Aden in Nairobi says that Upendo Children's Home, where Durham was accused of abusing more than 10 children - some as young as four years, has welcomed the sentence by an Oklahoma court.

It has put up a video on YouTube with the headline: "Upendo Children Celebrate Justice!!", showing the orphanage's founder telling her colleagues in Nairobi about the sentencing, which she had attended.

"It is a new beginning for them," Eunice Menja said.

In court, Ms Menja fought back tears as she read a statement, saying that the sexual abuse carried out by Durham was "not only a betrayal of the Upendo mission but of the trust Upendo placed in him", the Associated Press news agency reports.

"Matthew Durham defiled the children. Matthew has no remorse. After he got caught, he still denied [the charges],'' she is quoted as saying.

'Worst nightmare'

Although Durham said he was innocent of the charges, he added that he was sorry that the accusations against him had damaged the orphanage.

"The Upendo kids do not deserve this,'' Durham said, AP reports.

Judge David Russell said Durham, who appeared in court in a prison-issued orange jumpsuit, was the abused children's "worst nightmare come true", it reported.

The court also ordered the former charity worker, who was arrested in 2014 at the home of his parents in the US after fleeing Kenya, to pay restitution of $15,863 (£11,000).

Last year, UK charity boss Simon Harris was jailed for more than 17 years by a UK court for abusing street children between 1996 and 2013 in the agricultural town of Gilgil in Kenya's Rift Valley.

Image copyright PA
Image caption BA pilot Simon Wood was found dead after being charged with sexually abusing children in East Africa

Last week, British Airways agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to children who were sexually abused by one of its pilots, Simon Wood, in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Wood took his own life in 2013.

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