Sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw mirror suspect’s 1983 rape case, records show

Sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw mirror suspect's 1983 rape case, records show 2014 Larry Currington Assault Case

http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2014/09/sexual_assaults_that_began_in.html

SAGINAW, MI — The facts surrounding the 1983 rape for which Larry D. Currington was in prison nearly 30 years are similar to those of three recent incidents in which Currington now is charged as the suspect.

Currington, 53, appeared before a judge Thursday, Sept. 18, for arraignment on 19 felonies for two sexual assaults and a third assault on a woman that began near the “Hamilton Street area and Cass” in Saginaw’s Old Town district.

In the two sexual assaults, police have said, the suspect kidnapped women who were alone near their vehicles and forced them to drive to Wickes Park on Saginaw’s South Side; the third incident began as such before a citizen stopped the suspect, police said.

Larry Currington arraigned in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman in Saginaw's Old TownLarry D. Currington, 53, arrives in court for his Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, arraignment by Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman that began in Saginaw’s Old Town district.

A jury in 1984 convicted Currington of four felonies, including two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, for a Nov. 28, 1983, rape that began the same way.

According to court records, the victim in that case testified she was leaving her job at the then-Michigan Bell Telephone building on South Washington in downtown Saginaw about 7:10 p.m. when she saw a man walking across the street in the other direction. When she got to the parking lot, she realized the man was about 40 feet behind her, she testified.

When she reached the first row of cars in the lot, the man jumped behind her, pulled out a knife, and demanded she give him her money, she testified. The man refused to take her purse, however, and said, “Do exactly what I tell you or I swear, I’ll cut your throat, I’ll kill you,” she testified.

The man pulled her across the parking lot as he held the knife to her throat and made her sit down on a wall near a landscaped area of the lot, she testified. He groped her, and then her purse fell to the ground, scattering the items inside, she testified.

The man then told her to get her on the ground behind the wall, she testified. He did the same and then proceeded to rape her, she testified. When he was done, the man looked around, heard a noise, and said, “Shut up or I’ll kill you” before running away, the woman said.

A couple hours later, Saginaw Police Officer Robert Zwingman spotted the suspect coming out of a downtown bar, he stated in a police report. He chased the man for four blocks before an another officer stopped him and arrested him, Zwingman stated.

The man, identified as Currington, denied the officers chased him, saying, “Man, it’s cold out here. I was just trying to get warm,” Zwingman stated. Zwingman located a knife in the vicinity of where Currington was arrested, according to his report; the knife matched the description provided by the victim, according to court records. In addition, the knee area of Currington’s pants were muddy, according to court records.

At some point during Zwingman’s transport of Currington to the Saginaw County Jail, Currington’s artificial right eye popped out and fell to the floor of Zwingman’s patrol vehicle, the officer stated. When they arrived at the Saginaw County Jail, Zwingman asked Currington, who had not mentioned his eye falling out, if the eye was his because Currington’s eye was watering, the officer stated. Currington confirmed the eye was his and placed it in his pocket, the officer stated.

The victim subsequently picked Currington out of a lineup, court records show.

Currington was sentenced in 1984 to 30 to 50 years in prison for the two first-degree criminal sexual conduct counts. He was released from prison on July 17, 2012, and from parole on July 17, 2014, according to county Prosecutor John McColgan Jr. Currington’s parole conditions included him being on tether, McColgan said.

‘Tireless efforts’

McColgan conducted a press conference Thursday after county District Judge A.T. Frank arraigned Currington and ordered him held without bond pending his Sept. 29 preliminary hearing.

The prosecutor did not provide many details of how investigators tied Currington to the three incidents, which occurred on Aug. 19, Sept. 6, and Sept. 14. He did confirm, however, that the Michigan State Police crime lab expedited DNA testing for the case.

Larry Currington arraigned in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman in Saginaw's Old TownSaginaw County Prosecutor John McColgan Jr., second from right, conducts a Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, press conference with, from left, Saginaw Police Interim Chief Robert Ruth, Michigan State Police 1st Lt. Ryan Larrison, director of the state police crime lab in Bridgeport, and state police 1st Lt. David Simon, post commander of the Tri-City Post.

“The evidence all points to Mr. Currington,” McColgan said.

Bridgeport Crime Lab Director and 1st Lt. Ryan Larrison, “as well as everybody else, did a great job in expediting and getting this to the forefront where it needed to be and solved and this person off the street,” McColgan said.

The investigation was a collaboration between the state police, the crime lab, and the Saginaw Police Department.

“I commend everyone involved for their tireless efforts in this investigation,” McColgan said.

Police have said that in the first two incidents, the suspect forced  women to drive in their own cars to Wickes Park on Saginaw’s South Side, where he sexually assaulted them multiple times. In the third incident, the assault occurred near the the victim’s vehicle but was interrupted by a citizen who recognized what was occurring. The man fled the area on foot, police said.

“I would also like to commend the citizen who assisted and intervened in the most recent assault,” McColgan added. “The continuing cooperation of the community is appreciated in helping in the fight to stem the violence here in Saginaw.”

New Image sexual assault SaginawPolice released this sketch of a man believed to be the suspect in three sexual assault incidents.

Following the third incident, police released a sketch of the suspect and described him as a black male, standing about 5 feet 10 inches and weighing approximately 180 pounds, in his mid-to-late 30s with a large forehead, no facial hair, a square chin, and wearing dark clothing.

Currington shaved his head after he was lodged in the Saginaw County Jail, authorities said, and he had a thin mustache when he appeared in court Thursday afternoon.

The incidents that Currington is charged with committing aren’t the only ones to have recently began in Old Town’s bar district and ended in Wickes Park. Gregory D. Agee is serving a minimum of 100 years in prison for carjacking and kidnapping a woman in the rear parking lot of McDonald’s at South Hamilton and Mackinaw early Thanksgiving Day 2012 and then raping her near Wickes Park.

McColgan warned citizens “against being complacent” even though Currington is in custody.

“We can rest easier with that fact,” McColgan said. “However, crime is always looking for an opportunity. Don’t provide that opportunity. Be aware of your surroundings, keep your eyes open, travel in pairs if you can. Again, don’t provide that opportunity for crime. Together, we will tackle the crime problem that exists in our community.”

As they did with Agee, prosecutors are charging Currington as a violent fourth-or-subsequent-time offender, a status that makes his mandatory minimum sentence 25 years in prison.

Larry Currington arraigned in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman in Saginaw's Old TownSaginaw County Prosecutor John McColgan, right, listens as Larry D. Currington, 53, is arraigned by Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman that began in Saginaw’s Old Town district.

In connection with the Aug. 19 incident, Currington is charged with armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, two counts of first-degree and a single count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a weapon, extortion, and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder.

His arrest warrant alleges he used a machete to steal money from a woman and force her to drive her car to Wickes Park, where he sexually assaulted her.

In the Sept. 6 incident, Currington is charged with armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, three counts of first-degree and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and extortion.

His arrest warrant alleges he used a knife to steal money from a woman and then force her to drive her car away from the area in a similar fashion to Wickes Park, where he sexually assaulted her multiple times, including once with the knife.

In the Sept. 14 incident, Currington is charged with attempted carjacking, attempted kidnapping, and felonious assault, or assault with a dangerous weapon. His arrest warrant alleges he used a knife to assault a woman prior to the civilian getting involved.

“Everyone needs to be aware,” McColgan said. “If it hadn’t been for the civilian in the last assault, who knows where that would have ended up.”

— Andy Hoag covers courts for MLive/The Saginaw News. Email him at ahoag@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter @awhoag

 

2014 Larry Currington Assault Case