A 16-Year-Old Sexual Abuse Victim…and Now a Murderer

19 10 2010

The clean-cut, all-American looking 16-year-old talking to Oprah on yesterday’s show killed a man on January 22, 2010. Daniel Kovarbasich said he “snapped” after being molested for over 3 years by 56-year-old Duane Hurley and he stabbed him 55 times. He’s serving 5 years probation and sitting in prison until he can get proper counseling; a judge let him out to be on the Oprah show to send a message to other children and families.

In this case…as in most…Daniel was sexually abused by someone he knew…a family friend. He was first approached by Duane when he was just 12 and Duane offered to pay him to help him take care of his dog. Daniel’s parents took precautions: they looked up Duane’s name online to see if he was listed as a sex offender (he wasn’t) and they went with Daniel to Duane’s house each time for an entire year.

Daniel Kovarbasich

Duane not only groomed Daniel, but he groomed the whole family and let them do odd jobs in exchange for much needed money or he’d buy them needed household items. They all thought that Duane was a great guy, began to trust him, and even considered him a friend who was welcome in their home; finally the parents started letting Daniel go over to Duane’s house alone.

The grooming progressed when Daniel wanted to drive Duane’s sedan and Duane told Daniel he’d have to show him his penis. When Daniel wanted to drive Duane’s corvette, Duane said “bigger toys, bigger things” and insisted that Daniel let him touch his penis. The grooming continued and the abuse escalated to anal sex. Daniel hated it, but was afraid to tell his parents due to the shame he felt. He also couldn’t get away from Duane, who would track him down if he didn’t come over.

All this time, Daniel had a girlfriend and wanted to plan something special for their one year anniversary of dating. Duane asked him how much money he needed for that and Daniel said $80. Duane let him know that would cost him; i.e., he’d have to have sex with Duane. That was when Daniel snapped.

There were several messages this family…which also included Daniel’s older brother wanted to convey:

  1. If a child’s behavior changes, something could be terribly wrong. Daniel’s brother noticed that Daniel was acting totally out of character…smoking, acting out, etc.
  2. It is usually a “friend” or relative that abuses a child. They are able to win the child’s and his/her parent’s trust and gain access to the child. Daniel’s parents were shocked that this man won their trust, was their “friend,” and all the while was sexually abusing their son.
  3. Smart child abusers groom children. They win the child’s confidence…and that of their parents…over time. They will do things like offer the child special things the parents wouldn’t…like alcohol or driving a car when the child (as in Daniel’s case) doesn’t have a license. This is a red flag.
  4. Daniel urged children who might now be in a situation like he was in to TELL SOMEONE. The abuse will only progress…it doesn’t get less shameful. Get some help. Get out. TELL.

Oprah is herself a survivor of multiple instances of childhood sexual abuse. I applaud her for continuing to get the story out and to hammer home the fact that it is usually someone the child knows who abuses them.

This is a tragic story…as are all stories about sexual abuse. It all started with the selfish, narcissistic actions of a man who didn’t care what the consequences of his actions were. His actions did have consequences and one of them was that he lost his life. An innocent boy was traumatized and made to perform sexual acts for over three years by a child molester he thought was his friend and his family’s friend. That innocent boy became a murderer because of the abuse and a secret he felt was too shameful to tell. The whole family is suffering and their entire lives will be forevermore impacted.

If you are being sexually abused now or have been in the past, but have never admitted it, tell someone. Get help. Don’t suffer in silence and risk having the abuse continue or your reaction to it spiral out of control. It isn’t and wasn’t your fault and you are not the one who bears the shame. That belongs only to the person who committed the abuse.



3 responses

24 10 2010
Brenda (Rarey) Renshaw

Once in a while I watch the channel on TV that does the live coverage of court cases –I saw a few hours of coverage of this trial – mostly Daniel’s testimony cross-examined by prosecution. I saw nothing but the tragedy you described – thank you for your intuitive and clear summarization.

12 12 2010

It would be nice to see a journalist actually check facts before writing, rather than relying upon the reporting of other journalist who also did NO fact checking. Apparently no one cares if they are reporting responsibly because Hurley is dead. Daniel testified he met Hurley in September 2007, gee, that would make him just weeks away from his 14th birthday, NOT TWELVE. He didn’t even know Hurley for 3 years. He was “groomed” by Hurley paying him for doing his yardwork, as well as his brother. They also on occasion did work for other people. Are those people groomers too? Kovarbasich also testified that the relationship became sexual “he thinks” before his 16 birthday, he wasn’t sure if it was before or after turning 16. Why is that key? Because in Ohio, when you are 16, you can have sex with anyone or any age. So, if he said it happened after his 16th brithday, it’s not considered molestation. He was coached well by his attorneys. That means it was allegedly sexual 10 weeks prior to the murder. Ironically, that is the same time Hurley had a STROKE. So, how he was doing anything physical with anyone is beyond comprehension by Hurley’s friends and family. Why doesn’t anyone report on the FACT that Kovarbasich took a gun to school last year, students alleged he said he was going to shoot people and was expelled and arrested for it? Why doesn’t anyone report on the FACT that the judge in this case stated that Kovarbasich did not get into trouble until after he met Hurley (this was key in the sentencing) when in fact Kovarbasich was arrested, charged and found guilty of slashing tires weeks BEFORE he even met Hurley? Why doesn’t anyone report on the fact that his teachers thought he would go on to kill someone before this even happened? Why doesn’t anyone report on the fact that there were NO fingerprints on the pickle jar that killed Hurley? Who wiped the jar clean and why? Why doesn’t anyone report on fact that father was adamant that his son did not enter the house with him when he went to house to see if Hurley was really dead, as told to police, when, IN FACT, as testified by Kovarbasich he did go back into the house with his father? Why did Kovarbasich call Hurley at 3:00 in the morning, just hours before kiling him. Kovarbasich’s father was supposed to go over to Hurley’s that morning to confront Hurley about allegedly “pushing” his son the night before. Why did the father change his mind and decide not to confront Hurley after all? Why was Daniel up all night before killing Hurley? Why did Kovarbasich convince his father to just drop the issue of Hurley pushing him the night before? Why did Daniel convince him not to go? Did Hurley know something about Daniel and Daniel did not want Hurley to tell his parents? Who was the man seen standing by Hurley’s car in his driveway at 6:00 in the morning? Who was outside Hurley’s house making a loud noise like someone trying to bash in a door at 2:30 in the morning? Covering up something?

Why doesn’t someone ask those questions? It’s easier and more exciting to the media to just go with the story presented.

24 05 2016
justice unjust

All molestation of a child is wrong! BUT Daniel was not “groomed” by Hurley as much as Daniel was a “sugar baby”. Daniel wasn’t upset about the sex,He wanted to exchange sexual favors for money and privileges(driving Hurley’s cars etc.) He always knew what Hurley wanted from him from the start! He wanted what he wanted, when he wanted it! He only killed Hurley after Hurley denied him the money to go take his girlfriend to the prom/or date! The defense was to have you believe that poor little boy Daniel was a victim of some old pedophile!. While Hurley was portrayed as a Pedo (seems like he did like young boys) The fact is Daniel wanted it! He knew what he was into and did nothing to stop it! If he was so traumatized why did he repeatedly go back for more and more abuse? Yeah .Yeah all the psycho- babble would have you believe that this is a part of the “grooming” but that’s all B.S. This young man WANTED to have it all! Sex,Money and Control. He got away with MURDER in the first degree all because he was mad at Hurley for not giving him the money for the date with his girlfriend ,plain and simple. His parents weren’t fooled by Hurley, They aren’t as naïve as portrayed…I mean who in their right mind would let their teenage boy spend so much time alone with a grown man?,,,unless they were to benefit, which they did! His older brother even said he was approached by Hurley to do a porn..UUmmm go tell your parents?…Daniel got awat with MURDER and mark my words ,We will see him in the future…….for another Murder no doubt!

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