Daniel Kovarbasich
Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
January 22, 2010, started off as a typical Friday for 16-year-old Daniel Kovarbasich. That morning, his father drove his mother to work, dropping off Daniel at the home of close family friend Duane Hurley, who was supposed to take Daniel to school.

Thirty minutes later, Duane was dead. Daniel had stabbed him 55 times.

Immediately after the stabbing, Daniel frantically called his father, Terry. Terry raced to meet Daniel and found him standing on the street, his hands caked in blood. Inside the house, the scene was gruesome. Duane lay lifeless at the top of the stairs with blood splattered across his body, floor and walls.

Daniel claimed that Duane had attacked him, but that wasn't true. The real story would unfold over the next several months, revealing a horrifying secret: Daniel alleged that Duane had been grooming and sexually abusing him for more than three years—and no one had a clue.

Duane Hurley and Daniel Kovarbasich
Daniel was 12 when 52-year-old Duane Hurley first approached him outside a local elementary school. Daniel was charmed by Duane's dog, and when Duane returned a few days later asking if Daniel would watch the dog for a moment, he agreed. Five minutes later, Daniel says Duane returned and paid him $30 for his help.

This was the start of the "grooming process," a calculated behavior that helps child molesters gain the trust of potential victims and, oftentimes, victims' families.

Learn about the six stages of the grooming process.

Initially, Daniel and his parents, Terry and Donna, were suspicious. "We got the information off the dog tag to go look [Duane] up online to see if he was a sex offender," Daniel says. "We didn't find anything."

So, when Duane began inviting Daniel over to his house to do odd jobs for money, his parents agreed—but they went to Duane's house with their son. "Duane welcomed us into his home and seemed very genuine," Terry says.

For the next year, both Terry and Donna accompanied Daniel on his visits to Duane's home. Over time, they began to treat Duane like part of the family. That's when things allegedly took a very dark turn.

The Kovarbasich family
Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
Unbeknownst to the Kovarbasichs, Duane was skillfully grooming Daniel, as well as his parents.

"He'd buy me stuff," Donna says. "I'd say that I'm out of laundry detergent and have to wait until I get paid to get detergent. He would go out and buy detergent and bring it to me. I mean, he was a great guy. Who wouldn't like someone like this?"

Once the family was comfortable with him, Duane moved on to the next stage of the grooming process: lowering Daniel's inhibitions.

"He'd say stuff like, 'How many different ways can you say the word 'penis'?'" Daniel says. "[And] while I'd be using the bathroom, he'd walk by and open the door. He would also pee with the door open."

That's not all Duane did. He also let Daniel—who was too young to get a license—drive his sedan. To get the keys, Daniel says Duane asked him to expose his genitals. Them Daniel says Duane wanted to touch his penis. "After the touching," Daniel says, "I wanted to drive the Corvette. He [said], 'Bigger toys, bigger things.'"

Daniel Kovarbasich and Oprah
Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
After hearing about his sexual encounters with Duane, Oprah asks Daniel why he kept going back.

"I felt like I had to. Like I couldn't get away from him," Daniel says. "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."

Duane continued to sexually abuse Daniel, even though the teen says he told Duane to stop. Then, the abuse began to escalate.

Two weeks before he murdered Duane, Daniel fell asleep on Duane's couch. "He anally penetrated me that night," Daniel says. "I acted like I didn't know."

That's when Daniel says the rage and hate started to surface.
Daniel Kovarbasich
The last straw for Daniel came just before the murder, around the time he was planning a romantic anniversary celebration with his girlfriend. Duane saw another opportunity to seduce his young victim.

That Friday when Daniel came over to Duane's house before school, the two talked about the upcoming anniversary. "So all this [anniversary] stuff's going to cost...what?" Daniel says Duane asked.

"$80," Daniel answered.

Then, Daniel says Duane responded. "You know this stuff isn't free, right?"

Daniel says he knew Duane wanted to have sex, and at that moment, he realized that the molestation was not going to stop.

"I just snapped," he says.

Daniel Kovarbasich
After Daniel snapped, he says he walked over to Duane picked up a nearby pickle jar and smashed him in the head. Then, he admits to stabbing Duane 55 times.

"Did you realize you had stabbed him that many times?" Oprah asks.

"No," Daniel says. "I had no idea."

A judge found Daniel guilty of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. He was sentenced to five years probation and was ordered to stay in jail until the court finds him a therapy-based treatment facility.

At the sentencing, the judge read a quote from forensic psychologist Dr. Michael Welner: "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."

Daniel could have spent a minimum of 15 years in prison if convicted of the original charge—murder. There are some people who feel the judge went too easy on the teen, but Daniel feels differently.

"Do you feel that the sentence was fair?" Oprah asks.

"I feel it was fair," Daniel says.

The Kovarbasich family with Oprah
Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
When Daniel finally came forward and accused Duane of molesting him, his parents were devastated.

"I was shocked that someone could get past my radar like that," Terry says. "And I was angry that this person deceived my whole family. He literally just took our innocence away."

"I was very upset," Donna says. "In my head, [Duane] was such a nice person, but he knew what he was doing."

Oprah asks Daniel what he'd say to other abused children who are feeling the same shame, guilt and rage that he felt. "You need to come out and say something, because it's not your fault," Daniel says. "No one is going to blame you. Man up."

Terry also has advice for children. "When anybody is giving you stuff that your parents don't want you to have and you think: 'Hey, this person's cool. He's giving me alcohol. He's letting me drive his car. He's the cool guy. My parents suck,' listen. Something's wrong."

More from the show
How one family feels the lasting affects of child molestation
Oprah explains how sex offenders groom children Watch  
How far would you go to protect your child?


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