After a five-day trial and a three-hour deliberation, a jury Friday found Durango resident Harold Loveday guilty of three counts of sexually assaulting three children younger than 15 and one count of incest.
Several people cried when District Judge William Herringer read the verdict to a packed gallery.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 6.
In opening arguments, Assistant District Attorney Christian Champagne told the jury Loveday molested three young girls between 2001 and 2010, performing oral sex on a 12-year-old in his family’s school bus and on a 13-year-old in his trailer.
Champagne said Loveday was a serial predator who sought out “vulnerable children from broken homes because lost kids make the best victims.”
Defense attorney Becky Briggs countered that the girls’ painful stories of childhood sexual abuse couldn’t be trusted.
“These are troubled girls from very dysfunctional backgrounds,” she said.
She said they were not “Girl Scouts or honor students,” but children who partook in “drug use, orgies, skipping school and running away from home.”
Though Harold Loveday did not take the stand, his son Daniel Loveday testified on his behalf as a defense witness. But Daniel Loveday, who said he had been sexually involved with one of his father’s accusers when he was 17 and she was 13, caught the courtroom off guard when he verbally denigrated the girl repeatedly. During his testimony, Daniel Loveday used a fairly even ratio of swear words, misogynist epithets and regular nouns and verbs.
“I have never seen testimony like that in a courtroom,” defense attorney Daniel Shaffer said during his closing argument.
Shaffer said without more meaningful DNA evidence, the entire prosecution depended on the testimony of three “troubled, troubled young women,” who he alternately characterized as drug-addled, disposed to lying and historically prone to sexual promiscuity.
Champagne rebutted, saying that in the course of seeking justice, the victims had gone through years of “living hell,” getting “poked and prodded and examined” while forced to tell their stories of sexual abuse to strangers.
“The women you saw testify are no longer the lost kids of Durango,” Champagne said. “They are strong, powerful women; they are survivors who have turned their lives around. It’s time for you to turn them into heroes because that’s what they are, and it’s time for justice.”