Huron County jurors deliberated for about seven hours before finding the 29-year-old Sandusky man guilty of four counts each of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and importuning, two charges of rape and one count of sexual battery. Several of the 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.
“He already was classified as a sex offender,” Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Bambi Couch said after the hearing.
In addition, the jury found Durst “not guilty” of two counts of rape. Couch said she was surprised at one of those verdicts since the suspected offense, involving a woman who was paralyzed at the time, “clearly” was a rape, not just sexual battery.
Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway, citing “the level and nature of the charges,” revoked Durst’s $250,000 bond and ordered him to be held in jail until his sentencing hearing at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Durst faces as much as 37 years in prison and is expected to be re-classified as a Tier III sex offender, which will require him to register his address every 90 days for the rest of his life.
Durst was convicted of sexually assaulting four victims in vehicles in June and July 2017. Two of the offenses happened hours apart on the same day. Durst’s importuning convictions are for using text messages to solicit and “groom” the victims for sex before the rapes.
His accusers are twin sisters who were 15 years old at the time, a teenager who was older than 16 and a 20-year-old woman. The victims and their family members declined to be interviewed Wednesday.
Durst “chose to ignore” that the sisters told him they were 15 years old and he “pulled, shoved or laid on top of or restrained” each victim so she couldn’t leave the vehicle, Couch said in her closing argument. The defendant waived his right to testify Tuesday afternoon.
Huron County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Bill Duncan was the last witness for the state. He said Wednesday he wanted to thank Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth, Detective Sgt. Dennis Papineau and Sandusky Police Detective Sgt. Ken Dixon for their assistance. Duncan also said the report from Cellebrite Inc., a digital forensics company, was “critical evidence in the case” that confirmed about 75 percent of everything that happened.
Public defender David Longo, who presented no witnesses on his client’s behalf, couldn’t be reach for comment after the verdict was announced.