Durst, 29, of Sandusky, received a 33-year prison term from Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway. He will be eligible to apply for early release after 27 1/2 years.
“Thirty-three years is not enough. He needs to be put away for life; he shouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets,” said one victim, a 17-year-old Bellevue girl, after Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.
The teenager, who was 16 when she was raped, encouraged any other possible victims of Durst to seek justice.
“They need to come forward and have the strength to tell what happened to them,” said the victim, who thanked Erie County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Dennis Papineau for being “the first to take control of her case.”
Huron County jurors deliberated for about seven hours Aug. 29 before finding Durst guilty of 11 felonies: Four counts each of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and importuning, two charges of rape and one count of sexual battery. The convictions came after a seven-day trial. Several felonies came with the separate specifications that Durst was 10 years older than some of the victims and he had a previous conviction for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
“I plan on appealing this decision,” Durst said Tuesday. “You’re about to send an innocent man to prison. … I’m not guilty of what I’m charged with. … I’m an innocent man; I did nothing wrong.”
Huron County Public Defender David Longo said his client maintains his innocence, saying he “didn’t have sexual relations — forceful or otherwise” with his accusers. Also, Longo said the “sexual acts” only lasted a brief time, noting there were no threats and weapons involved and “there are much worse forms of rape.”
Hearing Durst deny that he raped her in the back seat of a vehicle, the Bellevue girl rushed out of the courtroom. After the hearing, she said at the time she wanted to jump the wood wall that separates the spectators from the defendant and “break his neck,” but she realized while she cooled down she didn’t need to “get in trouble with the court.”
The girl’s aunt said it would be hard to put into words what her niece went through after being raped. The woman added the family tried to pull together as the case proceeded and they couldn’t blame her niece for her anger. The aunt also stressed she would make sure Durst wouldn’t be released from prison early.
In court, the girl told the judge this was “the best day of her life” because Durst would get the punishment he deserves after preying on young girls such as herself. She said communities need to be aware of real-life monsters such as Durst.
After being raped, the girl said there was no amount of scrubbing or showering that could keep her from feeling disgusting or imagining Durst’s hands on her. The victim also said when she closed her eyes she saw Durst’s “cocky grin” and she lost sleep, surviving on power naps and caffeine until she lost both of her jobs.
A second victim also addressed the court and Durst on Tuesday. She told the defendant “you deserve everything you get” and he should be ashamed for what he did. The girl then burst into tears and left the podium.
“The defendant is the personification of a sexual predator,” said Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Bambi Couch, who requested a prison sentence of 34 years and two months. “He is always looking for his next victim.”
“Driven by his own sexual desires,” Durst thinks every female wants to be with him, she added. The prosecutor said Durst’s inability to control himself was apparent when he exposed himself to women who passed by his jail cell. Durst received credit for being in behind bars for 350 days.
Continuing to claim his innocence, Durst told the judge he refused to sign the sex-offender notification form. Conway classified the defendant as a Tier III sex offender, meaning Durst must register his address every 90 days for the rest of his life. His classification is subject to community notification and he is prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school, preschool or daycare center.
Conway ruled the victims suffered severe psychological harm and continue to do so. The judge said Durst committed the sex crimes when he was on parole, in “a consistent pattern” of seeking out victims and he showed no remorse for his actions. Durst was released from prison May 30, 2017 and the first of the offenses happened about two weeks later.
Before Tuesday’s sentencing, some of the victims requested Durst receive the maximum term of 37 years or at least a significant time behind bars, Couch said. Given the circumstances, the prosecutor said she was “completely satisfied” with Durst’s sentence and the state achieved the victims’ wishes with a 33-year sentence.