Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger announced on his Twitter feed in December that the Eastern District Court of Appeals has issued its mandate affirming the conviction of Dayton Eugene Durham, now age 37, and formerly of Mexico, Mo., and his sentence of 90 years in prison. That mandate was handed down by Audrain County Circuit Court Judge Wesley C. Dalton in September, 2016.
Durham was convicted by an Audrain County jury in July 2016 for committing statutory rape, statutory sodomy, enticement of a child, endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, and child molestation in the first degree.
The judge gave Durham the maximum sentence on each and all of the counts, then ran each of the rape, sodomy and enticement counts to 30 years each, consecutive to each other for a total of 90 years.
The endangering and molestation counts were run concurrent.
“This case tore a family apart and is particularly tragic and sad because the child’s own grandmother called her a liar and her family told her they didn’t believe her.” Shellabarger said.
“Dayton Durham’s actions violated a family’s trust, hurt a little girl and have caused pain to our community beyond just this girl’s personal, private pain. The brave young girl told about the horrible things Dayton Durham did, in spite of great challenges, and law enforcement did a thorough and complete investigation to ensure this precious child didn’t stand alone in holding her abuser accountable. These years of abuse, prosecuted years later, have still left their scars, but a jury did the right thing and saw the truth and power in her testimony and experience. The Appellate Court’s mandate affirming the conviction means that an Audrain County jury, found Dayton Durham guilty of these crimes, in a full, fair trial. The jury saw and heard of the trauma, psychological and physical, that child sexual abuse has on its victims. They were focused, attentive, and were exposed to things we all hope no one ever has to see or experience – child sexual abuse and abuse of children. The jurors stayed focused on the state’s evidence, including some sensitive testimony from this little girl, and are to be commended for their toughness and diligence in holding this abuser accountable through their guilty verdicts in each of these counts.”
Shellabarger continued to discuss his thoughts in the official press release on the sentencing.
“Today’s sentence is a firm, powerful message against the terrible things Dayton Durham committed against this beautiful, vibrant and amazingly brave little girl,” Shellabarger said.
“The courage she had to tell the truth, to confront their abuser, to tell him what he did to her was real, it hurt her, and he should be punished for what Dayton did was empowering to her and to our community. Together, our law enforcement partners and the multi-disciplinary team investigated a thorough, complete case and told the jury clearly of his depraved torture and sexual abuse. This case is a testament to the power of the multi-disciplinary team approach in working cases. Each involved agency: the Mexico Public Safety Department, the Audrain County Juvenile Office, Missouri Children’s Division, the Rainbow House Regional Child Advocacy Center, and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office was invaluable in seeing this case through from charging to the appellate process. This jury and the courts have validated this team-based, research-backed, best-practices following multidisciplinary approach as one that informs jurors about the insidious problem of child sexual abuse and the related cover-up, secrecy and shame that can come with disclosure. Our victim’s advocate, Leigh Thomas, and our community victims’ advocacy groups, including the Audrain County Crisis Intervention Services, and the Mid-Mo Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), have been patient beyond measure and supportive through the entire criminal justice process, and will continue to provide that wrap-around support that is crucial for young victims, that they are supported, safe and protected. Our community must make sure the victim-blaming mentality is put to rest, as these victims faced vicious treatment from others in the community–calling names, physical abuse–for telling the truth about Dayton Durham, their abuser. Some of that came from Durham’s family members, but others were from community members. I hope this case serves as a wake-up call that the private storm inside our victims may be more unspeakable than what’s known about the case, and survivors of abuse deserve to be taken seriously, understood, and not harassed about things they had no control over – crimes that a criminal did to them, that only he is responsible for.”
The case number is 15AU-CR00004-01, and the appellate decision is at ED104876.