On Tuesday, a judge denied Matthew Durham's request for a new trial, but also acquitted him of three convictions. A jury found the Edmond missionary guilty of illicit sexual conduct with children at a Kenyan orphanage.
As you can imagine, Tuesday was a day of mixed emotion. Overjoyed the children would not have to testify about painful memories, but the founder was sadness by the news of Durham's acquittal.
“I was really shocked because I thought from the beginning that he was guilty of all the charges,” said Eunice Menja, Upendo Children's Home co-founder
Durham's cell phone confession shows in his own word describe what he did to some the children.
"I brought them into the bathroom. I think I would hold them down while I touched myself. I would tell them not to tell anyone. That they couldn't tell anyone," Durham said in the cellphone video confession.
Last June, a federal jury found Durham guilty of engaging with illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.
In addition to denying Durham's request for a new trial the judge said the government failed to provide sufficient evidence for three of the charges.
Menja says her focus is now giving the children a new home; one not haunted with memories of abuse.
“They were abused everywhere in the home. I mean in the toilets, in the sitting room, so every area of the home is bringing trauma triggers,” said Menja. “The children are having a hard time healing even though concealing is being offered.”
Board members and Menja have already picked out a spot for the new Upendo home in a different village giving the children a fresh start.
“The children’s healing is paramount to us,” she said. “We continuously assured them that Matthew is never going back to Kenya.”
A sentencing date has not been set for Durham. Menja says she will be there and hopes some of his victims will testify about the lifelong pain he's caused.
You can help fund the new Upendo Children’s Home by purchases a “block of love” for $65. Upendo needs to raise $150,000 to create the new orphanage. In returned for “block of love” purchased a brick with the donor’s name will be written on the walls of the new Upendo.