Wintersville man convicted of gross sexual imposition

LISBON – After about an hour of deliberating Tuesday, a jury in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court found Brian Curran, 44, of Wintersville guilty of gross sexual imposition with a then 4-year-old girl.

Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol said he was pleased with the verdict and hoped it helped bring some closure for the little girl. McNicol, who prosecutes many of the rape and child molestation charges in the county, said he has not seen a case in a long time where there was “such obvious emotional trauma,” something he attributed to the child’s age.

Now 6, the child had testified against Curran by video deposition. The statements were taken a week earlier with Curran able to watch and hear the proceedings utilizing a closed-circuit television. His attorney, Jennifer Gorby, also had been in the courtroom and was allowed to question the child. The jury heard the testimony after opening statements on Monday.

McNicol said he was thankful the court allowed the girl to testify by video deposition, adding it was only the second time to his knowledge that such testimony has been allowed in court in Columbiana County.

It was that video of the child’s testimony the jury asked to see a second time during their deliberations on Tuesday, and it was replayed for them by the bailiff without the attorneys, judge or any interested parties present in the courtroom.

Prior to sending the case to the jury for a decision, McNicol presented four witnesses on Tuesday, the second day of testimony in the case. Jurors heard from the child’s grandfather and then her grandmother, who talked at length about the child’s mother, their own daughter and the issues she has had with relationships with men, drugs, lying and stealing from the family. Additionally, they described their daughter’s reaction when her child first made the accusation to the grandmother and the steps the grandparents eventually took to report those accusations when the mother would not.

Currently, they said they have custody of their granddaughter and her younger brother. They both testified they no longer know where their own daughter is, although they attempted to find her by hiring a private investigator.

Gorby attempted to discredit the story of the child, asking repeatedly if the grandmother spoke about the accusations in front of her while reporting it or while discussing it with family members. In her closing arguments, Gorby claimed the grandmother wanted custody of her grandchildren and the story of Curran sexually abusing the child was one she had planted in the child’s head.

However, McNicol pointed out that if that was the case, in addition to getting the child to make accusations against someone she had loved, the grandmother would have also had to manufacture the physical and emotional evidence to support the claims of abuse.

Jurors also heard from both Dr. Lisa Noble and the child’s trauma therapist, Lynn Manalac Stanley. Noble, a pediatrician who specializes in physical and sexual abuse of children, testified to finding physical trauma. She also spoke about how difficult it was to do the examination on this child, who was kicking, screaming and trying to get away.

Stanley, who has been working with the girl for the past year, described her as a child with emotional issues, problems controlling her anger, difficulties sitting still at times and at other times having her brain simply disconnect, leading to her seeming a thousand miles away.

The child did eventually open up to Stanley and began drawing pictures and using words to share the story of her sexual abuse about a year after her grandparents gained custody.

“Her story was consistent over and over again,” Stanley testified, “and her story was she was sexually abused by Brian Curran.”

Sentencing is set for 9 a.m. Thursday.