Case of sexual assault of Grand Forks minor goes to jury
GRAND FORKS - The attorney for Cynthia Kusy, accused of luring a 16-year-old Grand Forks boy and having sex with him, rested his case Wednesday without calling any witnesses.
The jury will begin deliberating the fate of the Tennessee woman Thursday.
The prosecution had called a half-dozen witnesses Tuesday and Wednesday, including law enforcement officials and the alleged victim himself. Defense attorney David Ogren questioned the victim's credibility and the lack of physical evidence.
Kusy, 47, of Knoxville, Tenn., faces two counts of sexual assault of a minor between 15 and 17 years of age -- on April 14 and April 16, 2011 -- and one count of luring a minor from November 2010 to April 2011 by using a computer or other electronic means to induce or invite him to engage in sexual acts, or sexual performance.
She has been free on $10,000 bail since January on the three Class C felony charges, each of which carry maximum penalties of five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Kusy and the boy, now 17, began exchanging Internet messages at Thanksgiving in 2010, according to testimony Wednesday from Grand Forks Police Det. Steve Conley, lead investigator in the case.
It started as they both played Wizard101, a popular multiplayer online role-playing game, and Kusy bought a subscription for the boy, Conley said.
(Because the boy's psychiatrist testified he is "very immature" and vulnerable, with "borderline" intellectual functioning, the Grand Forks Herald is not identifying him.)
By early 2011, the boy and Kusy were chatting online via email and Facebook about their love for each other, and their wish to marry and live together, Conley said.
Kusy is married with a 13-year-old son, according to court documents.
The chats became increasingly explicit as they used crude terms to describe sexual acts they planned to do with each other when they met, Conley said.
"Your wife needs her husband," Kusy wrote to the boy, Conley said. "I wish we didn't have to wait until you are 18."
Kusy flew to Grand Forks April 14, 2011, rented a car and paid for Room 138 -- with a king bed and Jacuzzi -- at the Travelodge, where the two spent three nights, according to the boy's testimony and receipts entered as evidence.
During the weekend, they drove to Fargo for lunch at T.G.I. Friday's, Conley said.
Court documents say Kusy returned to Grand Forks April 25, 2011, in a car and drove the boy to Knoxville. His mother notified police and he was found in Knoxville.
In May 2011, after police had returned the boy to his mother, Kusy sent one of her last Internet messages to him, Conley said: "Please forgive me for all the wrong things I did."
Ogren, in cross-examining Conley, established there was "no physical evidence, like DNA," of sexual contact between the two.
In his opening statement, Ogren had told the jury there was not enough evidence to prove the two had sex or that Kusy knew the boy's age.
Under Ogren's cross-examination Tuesday, Grand Forks police officer Brandon Eberhardt testified the boy's mother told him her son had a history of lying, and "she didn't know what to believe" about his accounts of sex with Kusy.
Eberhardt also acknowledged that the boy's cousin told Eberhardt she wasn't sure she believed the boy's accounts either.
But prosecution witnesses, including Tammy Knudson, a social worker who interviewed the boy, testified they believed he told the truth.
Det. Conley said the fact the boy told him about being criticized by Kusy for not being able to complete sexual intercourse with her indicated the boy was not bragging.
He said during his telephone interviews with Kusy asking about her relationship with the boy, she said she hoped her son could help the Grand Forks boy with his school work. But in the myriad Internet chats, he said, there was no evidence she tried to help the boy with his school work.