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Child-abuse missionaries jailed in separate American trials

Child-abuse missionaries jailed in separate American trials

Matthew Lane Durham, 21, above left, and Joseph Maurizio Jr, 71, have begun combined jail sentences of almost 60 years for abusing children outside the US.

According to this report, a US federal court passed a 40 year prison sentence on Durham, a former missionary from Oklahoma for molesting children at a Kenyan orphanage. Durham, was accused of molesting eight children at the Upendo Children’s Home in  Nairobi, Kenya in 2014.

Although Durham claimed he did not molest the children, prosecutors revealed he told staff members at the children’s home that he had been possessed by an “evil spirit.” He also claims he doesn’t remember the crimes.

During a preliminary hearing, prosecutors revealed that a live-in caretaker at the orphanage said the children reported that Durham either touched them sexually or encouraged them to touch themselves while he watched.

According to a criminal affidavit, Durham was confronted by the founder of Upendo along with several church members, where he allegedly confessed to his crimes.

Despite pleading not guilty to 17 charges last June, a federal judge found Durham  guilty on seven counts, including engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.

According to records released by the US Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, Durham volunteered at the orphanage, which helps care for neglected and disabled children. In the affidavit, Durham engaged in sexual acts with multiple children, male and female, aged between 4 and 10 years, from April to June of 2014.

In an Oklahoma court on Monday, Durham said:

Judgment from God is central, not the judgment of man, I do not fear God’s judgment.

Judge David Russell called Durham a serial rapist and “kids’ worst nightmare.” In addition to 40 years of jail time, Durham was also fined $15,863.

Meeanwhile it is reported here that Maurizio, a suspended Pennsylvania priest convicted of sexually assaulting poor street children during missionary trips to Honduras was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 17 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors in Johnstown had sought up to 30 years in prison for Maurizio but defence attorneys argued for leniency based on the priest’s age, charitable works, his US Navy service during the Vietnam War, and other legal factors.

US District Judge Kim Gibson also fined Maurizio $50,000 and ordered him to pay $10,000 in restitution each to his two victims.

US attorney David Hickton said in a statement:

It is important to recognise the courage of the victims, the tenacity of the investigators and the resolve of the prosecutors to bring this child predator priest to justice.

This sentence ensures that Joseph Maurizio will never again have the opportunity to travel beyond our nation’s borders to victimise children.

Federal prosecutors revealed that Maurizio had created a charity – Honduras Interfaith Ministries – funded by the community and Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, which Maurizio pastored in Central City, about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

The charity paid for 13 trips to Honduras from 2004 and 2009, during which he molested the boys.

Maurizio has been suspended by the diocese since his rectory was raided and he was charged by federal Homeland Security Investigations agents in September 2014.

The sentencing came a day after the Pennsylvania Attorney General issued a report saying that two former bishops in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese covered up, or were slow to respond to, child-sex abuse by more than 50 priests over more than 40 years, with local law enforcement officials often deferring to church officials.

Hat tip: Peter Sykes (Maurizio report)

9 responses to “Child-abuse missionaries jailed in separate American trials”

  1. Lucy1 says:

    ‘The devil made me do it’. Or ‘don’t remember’. Predictable defence.

  2. Club Secretary says:

    “defence attorneys argued for leniency based on the priest’s charitable works”

    Sounds a bit like killing your parents and asking for leniency because you’re an orphan.

  3. CoastalMaineBird says:

    In addition to 40 years of jail time, Durham was also fined $15,863.
    I wonder where that number comes from.

  4. CoastalMaineBird says:

    bishops in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese covered up, or were slow to respond to, child-sex abuse by more than 50 priests over more than 40 years,

    Not a cult.
    Not a cult.
    This is NOT A CULT.

    Yeah, right

    with local law enforcement officials often deferring to church officials.
    Can we PLEASE stop treating the church as if they deserve some special privilege?

  5. Laura Roberts says:

    Hopefully the authorities will keep close tabs on organizations like Honduras Interfaith Ministries. If the Catholic church has taught us anything, it’s that pedophiles thrive where they are given cover.

  6. L.Long says:

    Well we got a preacher and a missionary! Now to get a bunch of catlick priests thrown in jail would be nice!!!

  7. AgentCormac says:

    ‘Judgment from God is central, not the judgment of man, I do not fear God’s judgment.’

    An equally typical response – they don’t acknowledge any authority other than that of their imagnary friend. How convenient. Especially as their imaginary friend is capable of forgiving just about anything. As long as they grovel at his tyranical feet when the end is nigh, of course.

  8. John the Drunkard says:

    ‘…the priest’s age, charitable works, his US Navy service during the Vietnam War…’ are NOT ‘legal issues.’ Just generic clemency-babble. If there were actual legal issues, and there may well have been, the language of this report obscures the fact.

  9. Laura Roberts says:

    @JohntheDrunkard: whole-heartedly agree. When non-religious people do good deeds, or devote a career to mitigating disease or other forms of human suffering, they rarely get credit for “charitable works”. But throw a churchy label on it and you get “charity” credits.

    I have friends and relatives who served in Vietnam. They’d sooner forget it. I think they’d be really pissed off to find out this guy was using his time in that war to ask for clemency!