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Child abuse trial: McCurrys trade blame for neglect

Scott McCurry says the boys were ‘acting out sexually’

By Lynne P. Shackleford

Scott and Molly McCurry took turns trading jabs Wednesday as each testified in their own defense during the state’s child abuse and neglect case against them.

The McCurrys, who are now divorced, each placed blame on the other for the frail, malnourished condition of the three young boys — ages 5, 7 and 8 — when they were in their custody in 2006. Police charged the McCurrys with felony child abuse and child neglect after a neighbor complained of the children’s poor physical condition.

The boys are Molly McCurry’s nephews and had been in the couple’s care for about three years before the charges.

Scott McCurry painted himself as the family’s provider — working 50 to 60 hours weekly as an electrician. McCurry said he would leave early in the morning and return late at night when he would take his family to get dinner and watched the boys eat. McCurry admitted to tying the boys to their beds, saying that was the only way he could keep the boys from “acting out sexually” on one another.

McCurry said he tried putting cups on their hands and pastoral counseling and the couple contacted the Department of Social Services, but to no avail.

“I hoped (the sexual acts) would get better — it wasn’t an everyday thing,” he said. “It was maybe five or six times they were restrained.”

On cross examination, Scott McCurry said that in the case of a fire, the couple would have gotten the boys out of the home, and if they had to use the bathroom at night, the boys would yell for an adult to “cut them loose.”

After being shown photos of tie straps attached to a door stop in the living room and at the foot of the McCurrys’ bed, McCurry blamed his former wife, saying he didn’t know why she would restrain them during the day.

McCurry also denied forcing the boys to stand at the front door wearing bookbags with weighted objects, as one of the children testified on Monday. The McCurrys’ now-13-year-old daughter corroborated the boy’s testimony on being forced to stand with the bookbags and said she saw her father spank the boys, which caused bruising. Scott McCurry said he spanked the children on their buttocks, but didn’t inflict injuries.

Molly McCurry testified that she suffered a broken wrist when she tried to stop Scott from spanking one of the boys. She said she tried to leave Scott, but he threatened her life if she left with the children. No criminal domestic violence complaints were filed with police, and when detectives questioned Molly McCurry about her injury out of Scott McCurry’s presence, she said she fell getting out of the shower.

The McCurrys’ daughter said the boys were forced to stand in the doorway while she and her parents ate, which both McCurrys denied. Molly McCurry testified that she would feed the boys three meals and snacks daily.

Both McCurrys said they were shocked when police showed them photos of how the boys appeared in July 2006 on the day they were taken from the home.

Assistant Solicitor Susan Reese asked how — after looking at the photos of the boys — Scott McCurry did not realize they weren’t eating properly.

“I don’t know, I didn’t notice — I’m only human, I don’t know,” McCurry said. “I didn’t notice. I kick myself every night. I don’t know how I didn’t notice.”

A physician who treated the boys after they were removed from the home testified that the 5-year-old weighed 19 pounds, the 7-year-old weighed 32 pounds and the 8-year-old weighed 39.5 pounds and all were in danger of death from starvation. Dr. Kristy Wolske diagnosed the boys with severe chronic malnutrition as a result of starvation and neglect.

Stomach virus claim

The McCurrys testified the entire family had been sick with a stomach virus in the weeks leading to their arrest and that the boys were the last to get it, causing them to lose weight.

Molly McCurry — who didn’t work at the time the children were removed — said she watched the boys eat, but also saw them “throw up” afterward. She said she didn’t see a need to take them to see a doctor, although she sought medical treatment for her injured wrist.

Prosecutors pointed out that Molly McCurry received Social Security checks of about $360 each month per child. Molly McCurry claimed she would cash the checks and give the money to Scott, who controlled the family’s finances.

Scott said Molly McCurry was supposed to pay bills with cash he gave her after cashing his payroll checks, but stopped giving her money about three weeks before his arrest because he learned she was using drugs. He testified that the family was three months behind on their mortgage payments, and their home phone and Molly’s cell phone had been previously disconnected for failure to pay.

Molly McCurry denied using drugs, although Scott’s mother testified she had used drugs with her.

The McCurrys’ daughter became emotional when asked about her mother’s alleged drug use.

The McCurrys face 60 years in prison if convicted on the charges. Scott McCurry’s attorney will continue to present evidence this morning, and closing arguments are likely to begin later this afternoon.

2009 Jul 23