Durst's rape trial starts

Cary Ashby • Aug 22, 2018 at 5:18 PM

Testimony in the Huron County trial for a rape defendant accused of sexually assaulting four teenage victims started Wednesday morning.

McClain L. Durst, 29, of Sandusky, is charged with four counts each of rape, importuning and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor plus one charge of sexual battery. The felonies are in connection with suspected incidents on June 12, July 5 and 20, 2017.

Durst reportedly looked for the same type of girl — “small, petite and young” — and one who for various reasons, would be unable to protect herself, Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Bambi Couch said in her opening statement. The prosecutor further alleged that Durst used every opportunity to isolate himself with the victims inside of vehicles and used fake or incomplete names while texting with or using the Snapchat app to talk to the girls before the suspected offenses.

“He is significantly older than all of them,” Couch said.

The Huron and Erie county sheriff’s offices and the Sandusky and Bellevue police departments investigated the allegations. Couch said Huron County has the jurisdiction in connection with the June 12, 2017 incident because Durst picked up the victim and her friend on the Huron County side of Bellevue, drove them to the Rest Haven Wildlife Area in Erie County and brought them back to Bellevue after the suspected rape.

“This is going to be a long, complicated trial because essentially it is (covering) four separate indictments,” Huron County Public Defender David Longo told the jury.

Longo said the jurors won’t hear about any DNA evidence or the use of a rape kit — “no physical corroboration of any kind,” so the case will come down to the credibility of Durst’s accusers. He said one girl heard about “a guy from Sandusky” on Facebook and reportedly planned to “see if he was going to put the moves on” her, but her plan to jump out of the vehicle backfired on her.

“No woman in her right mind gets in a car with a rapist,” Longo added.

While Couch said it’s true that some of the girls used poor judgment, she alleged that Durst knew how old the girls were when he started texting them. 

Longo said what’s problematic is only one girl made a “timely report” by notifying the Huron County Sheriff’s Office the night of July 20, 2017. Also, the public defender said there are problems with describing Durst, since one girl called him “buff” when he’s “average size” and she didn’t mention he has tattoos.

While the suspected June 12, 2017 sexual assault happened first, it was the last of the four offenses to be reported to authorities. Longo said one of the possible victims was convinced by two others to notify the sheriff’s office and the suspected rape of another girl, who was paralyzed and using a wheelchair at the time, went unreported for one to two months. 

Longo said the paralyzed girl’s account is the most bizarre and has the least credibility since Durst is alleged to have picked her up from a local nursing home for a ride to her sister’s house and “along the way, (he) pulled over and raped her.” Once at her sister’s house, the victim confided to her sister about the offense. Longo said since she had that information, it doesn’t make any sense for her to let her sister back in Durst’s car.

“That’s a serious, serious credibility issue,” he told the jurors. “It simply makes no sense.”

“Don’t look at the them collectively” and say if one of the suspected rapes “happened, they all happened,” Longo told the jury. Durst’s attorney also said none of the girls’ stories “would be able to stand by itself.”

The victim from the alleged July 20, 2017 incident testified Wednesday. She was 15 years old at the time. Couch said Durst is accused of requesting oral sex in exchange for giving the girl a ride from Wakeman to Walmart and he reportedly sexually assaulted her in a vehicle in the driveway of her home.

Many of the charges come with the specification that Durst has an earlier conviction for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

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