Oprah’s interview with Daniel Kovarbasich, the teen who killed his abuser, in January of this year, didn’t go as I had expected.
Daniel was convicted this year for stabbing Duane Hurley to death; the same man Daniel says groomed him for sexual purposes since he was twelve. Daniel is serving his sentence of five years probation, in jail, while waiting for a psychiatric treatment facility. Judge Burge allowed Daniel to fly to Chicago to do the interview. Judge Burge said, “…my feeling is if we can prevent another or one more case of abuse, and prevent the horrible death that Duane Hurley had to endure, it would be a public service announcement worth making.”
Oprah’s interview with Daniel was interesting and painful to watch, but not painful in an emotional way. I found myself wondering about this boy. To many viewers, Daniel probably appeared cocky and not believable. Knowing about victims, and having been one myself, I am fully aware that people who have been sexually abused often emotionally remove themselves from the pain. They can seem cold and unaffected when speaking of their abuse, when most people expect them to breakdown in tears.
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Daniel appeared very credible when Oprah asked how the sexual abuse began. Daniel explained that Hurley groomed him with favors and special treatment, and how Daniel did odd jobs for Hurley and that Hurley helped Daniel’s family financially.
I feel Daniel was telling the truth when he said that Hurley’s first sexual offense was asking to see Daniel’s penis. In order for Daniel to drive Hurley’s car, Hurley said Daniel would have to pull his penis out of his pants and show it to him. This rings absolutely true. If Daniel wanted to make up abuse allegations, he would have said that Hurley first touched Daniel, not that Daniel had to make the first move. Which is why I think Daniel was pretty quiet during Oprah’s interview. Daniel was the one who first showed his genitals to the male friend. No doubt Daniel feels embarrassed and guilt-ridden about this.
Daniel was also very believable when he spoke of how the molestation grew into rape. I could see a marked change in Daniel’s facial expression when he described how the anal sex (Daniel’s words) began, and his eyes and face became even more altered when he described how one day, while Daniel was sleeping on Hurley’s couch, Hurley anally penetrated him. Daniel said he pretended to stay asleep the whole time, which is common behavior for child abuse victims to do.
The problem that I was having with Daniel’s story came when Oprah asked him why he kept going back to Hurley’s house and didn’t tell anyone. This is when Daniel stumbled over his answer and was vague. Was this question evoking Daniel’s shame over having sex with a much older man? Maybe. He certainly did not want to talk very much about the sex with Hurley. Daniel avoided it in the interview as much as possible and even Oprah was having a hard time dragging it out of him. But Daniel admitted to having stabbed Hurley 55 times with a knife, and Daniel had the same bland reaction to Oprah when she asked him why he stabbed Hurley so many times. So I think Daniel just deals with uncomfortable subjects by avoidance, and I feel that Daniel is unsure of why he does things.
Daniel seemed to confirm my belief that because he was the one who showed his penis first, Daniels feels that he was the guilty one. He is NOT!
Daniel said he kept going back to Hurley’s home because, “I felt like I had to. Like I couldn’t get away from him.”… “It was like it was my fault. I was the one who showed him my genitals, which started it, and he kept using that against me. … If I didn’t [go over to Duane’s house], he’d come find me. If I tell him no, then he was going to say something.” Even though Daniel hesitated and seemed to be holding something back, this statement rings true.
I believe that Cody Posey was more of a victim than Daniel Kovarbasich was. I believe that Daniel’s evasiveness in Oprah’s interview might have been linked to his willingness to exchange sex for gifts and money; but only for a time. I believe Daniel was still a victim because, when a child or teen is manipulated into having a sexual relationship with an adult of the same-sex, you can bet your life they don’t want to admit to it feeling good or willingly taking part in it to receive material items. Daniel is only human. There may have been a time when his teenage body responded to being touched, orally copulated, or even penetrated. That’s a physiological fact. But what his body responded to had nothing to do with what his mind really wanted, which was girls and freedom from a perverted older man.
On the morning of the murder, when Hurley asked Daniel for a sexual favor in exchange for the money previously promised to him for a date with his girlfriend, I think Daniel was tired of the sexual and psychological manipulation. He wanted to take his girlfriend out for an anniversary celebration, and knowing that he was straight inside, and not gay, Daniel’s true self became enraged at the thought of one more sexual encounter with Hurley.
The interview was not hard-hitting, but I found it bothersome that Oprah kept calling the rapes “molestation.” She should know by now, that rape is rape and molestation is something else entirely.
There are a number of people who don’t believe Daniel and someone posted a comment at Oprah’s website that Judge Burge and Daniel’s defense attorney were once law partners. Although somewhat compelling, it does not discount the fact that the prosecution conceded there was sex between the boy and Hurley, and if Daniel had been having a willing sexual relationship with Hurley, then what was the motive for the murder? And what would Daniel’s reason be to stab Hurley so many times and hit him over the head with a pickle (an object shaped like a penis, and the penis is often referred to as “a pickle”) jar? This was a crime of rage, and what would have caused the rage and murder if not the very sexual abuse that Daniel is claiming? My observation is that an older man, who met a young boy of age twelve, groomed him into being his occasional ‘sex partner.’ That is child sexual abuse.
Duane Hurley’s niece has called Daniel, “the epitome of evil” but she has it wrong. Evil pretends to be your friend and helper but sets you up for being molested. Evil disguises itself as a ‘nice guy’ and a “good man” while hiding behind sexual degeneracy. Evil tricks and lures a young teenage boy with money and gifts and then betrays that boy by slowly seducing him into sexual acts. Evil convinces a child they are at fault and that they are the bad one. Evil acts like a loving grandparent while raping and sexually confusing a young teenage boy. Daniel is not evil, he is just a human being who could not take it anymore.
“A skillful groomer, a skillful abuser, gets into the child’s DNA and becomes a part of the child, and the child can’t cast him off regardless of the age.”
~ Forensic psychologist, Dr. Michael Welner
My other articles about Daniel: Click here
Quote of Hurley’s niece: Chronicleonline
Oprah, ABC, October 18 2010