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Mental exam sought for Kenya child abuse suspect

Matthew Durham in an undated photo. CBS affiliate KOTV

OKLAHOMA CITY - Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to order a mental examination for a 19-year-old Oklahoma man accused of sexually abusing children while volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya.

U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats filed a request this week seeking a mental evaluation for Matthew Durham, who has been indicted on three felony counts that accuse him of traveling from Oklahoma City to Kenya to sexually abuse as many as ten children between the ages of 4 and 10 while volunteering at Upendo Children's Home in Nairobi from April to June 2014.

Prosecutors allege that Durham admitted abusing the children, but defense attorneys have challenged the credibility of their client's statement, saying he was coerced.

Court documents obtained by CBS affiliate KOTV reportedly indicate Durham confessed to the crimes in writing and on video and admitted to "a life-long struggle of desires to touch children."

Officials claim Durham blamed the alleged behavior on an "inner demon" he named "Luke," reports the station.

Durham's attorney has said Kenyan authorities withheld his client's passport and held him against his will for five days until he falsely confessed to the allegations.

The request for the mental exam says prosecutors need to know whether Durham was insane at the time of the alleged offenses and if he can stand trial, which is set for next month but may be delayed.

Durham, who has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail in Oklahoma, faces up to life in prison if convicted.

  • Crimesider Staff

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