Champaign man accused of repeated sexual assault of preteen girl

Champaign man accused of repeated sexual assault of preteen girl

CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign man accused of repeatedly sexually molesting a child over a period of months last year was arrested early Friday in downtown Champaign.

Curtis T. Hairston, 42, who listed an address in the 1500 block of Holly Hill Drive, was arraigned Friday on a single count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child under 13.

The charge alleges that between February and August 2017, Hairston committed sex acts on the girl, who was the child of an acquaintance of his.

Laying out the allegations for Judge Jeff Ford, Assistant State's Attorney Peter Su said the child only recently disclosed the abuse to a family member after seeing a public-service announcement on television about the subject matter.

In an interview last week with trained professionals at the Children's Advocacy Center, the girl revealed to authorities that Hairston came in to her bedroom in the middle of the night at least 10 times and allegedly molested her.

"She could see his stature and feel his dreads on her," Su said. "He was tall with a big belly."

Su said the child alleged that on at least one occasion, Hairston held a knife to her neck and told her never to tell anyone what was happening or he would kill her.

She said she did not report what had happened to her any sooner because she was afraid, Su recounted.

Hairston told the judge that he wanted to represent himself on the Class X felony, which carries a mandatory prison sentence of between six and 60 years.

Ford then launched into a long exchange with Hairston, warning him of the consequences of self-representation and asking him a number of questions, including whether he was under the care of a psychologist or taking psychotropic drugs. Hairston replied no to both those questions.

Asked about his education, Hairston said he was two credits shy of obtaining his associate degree in criminology.

"If you represent yourself, you are not just the defendant. You are also the attorney and that could reduce your effectiveness," Ford said.

The judge further warned Hairston that he would get no additional privileges while in jail, such as extra access to the library, or in court.

"Although you may have heard of standby counsel, that is not going to happen. You are on your own," Ford said.

Hairston said he understood all those ramifications but still wanted to act as his own attorney and asked that the case proceed to a probable-cause hearing, which Ford set for Aug. 22.

Regarding bond, Su told the judge that Hairston had prior convictions dating to 1993 for robbery, resisting arrest, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, resisting a peace officer, aggravated battery, driving under the influence and interfering with a report of domestic battery.

Hairston told the judge he's lived in Champaign for 20 years and has been employed as a cook at a restaurant for the last year and a half. He asked for a minimal bond.

Ford set his bond at $250,000, meaning he would need to post $25,000 in cash to be released. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim or her family.

In 2015, Hairston was tried for murder for allegedly aiding and abetting Robert Williams of Champaign in the Oct. 25, 2014, fatal shooting of Jermel Hedrick, 24, outside a home in the 1500 block of Winston Drive, Champaign.

Judge Heidi Ladd acquitted Hairston of that chrage with a directed verdict, ruling that the state had not sufficiently linked him to the shooter. A jury later acquitted Williams of Mr. Hedrick's murder.

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