Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger announced that Dayton Eugene Durham, age 36, of Mexico, Mo., was sentenced last week to 90 years in prison by Audrain County Circuit Court Judge Wesley C. Dalton.
According to a press release from Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Shellabarger last week, Durham was convicted by an Audrain County jury on July 25 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.
Prosecuting Attorney Shellabarger and former Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, now Assistant Attorney General, Ashley Turner, tried the case July 25 to an Audrain County jury of seven women and five men.
The jury found Durham guilty of each of the five charges after deliberating for about an hour during trial.
“This has torn a family apart, and in a case where her 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. The fact that his family continued to make excuses for Dayton Durham, indicate that they don’t believe he’s capable of doing such a thing, and blame drugs and addiction for what they called his “poor choices. An Audrain County jury, after a full and fair trial, found Dayton Durham guilty of these crimes and saw first-hand the trauma, psychological and otherwise, that child sexual abuse has on its victims. For this family to continue to engage in victim-blaming and other behaviors just shows how far our community has to go to confront and overcome these issues,” Shellabarger continued.
“Today’s sentence is a firm, powerful message against the terrible things Dayton Durham committed against this beautiful, vibrant, and amazingly brave little girl,” he added. “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 jury was amazing, 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. 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 have been invaluable in working this case thoroughly and intensely since the investigation began last July. This jury has sent a loud, clear message to child abusers and those who sexually abuse children: as a community, we will find you, we will prosecute you, and we will hold you accountable with all available resources.”
“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,” Shellabarger added. “Our community must make sure the victim-blaming mentality is put to rest, as these victims faced vicious treatment from others in the community– name calling and 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. I am particularly grateful for the assistance provided by Attorney General Chris Koster’s Public Safety division special prosecutors. It is their wealth of experience, knowledge, and resources allowed this case to be fully investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and allowing justice to prevail for these victims. Assistant Attorney General Ashley Turner is an example of a dedicated, highly skilled, and passionate advocate that we should be proud represents our State in its toughest cases. I thank Attorney General Koster for his dedication to the cause of justice and for helping me and my office hold Mr. Durham accountable for these horrific crimes.”