A Champaign man was arrested early on Friday in downtown Champaign for repeatedly molesting a child sexually over a period of months last year.
Curtis T. Hairston, 42, who listed an address in the 1500 block of Holly Hill Drive, was arraigned on Friday on a single count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child under 13.
The charge claims that between February and August 2017, Hairston committed sex acts on the girl, who was the child of an associate of his.
Laying out the claims for Judge Jeff Ford, Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Su said the child just recently disclosed the abuse to a relative after seeing a public-service announcement on television concerning the subject matter.
In an interview last week with trained experts at the Children’s Advocacy Center, the girl made it known to authorities that Hairston came into her room in the middle of the night at least 10 times and allegedly molested her.
“She could see his stature and feel his dreads on her,” Su said. “He was tall with a big belly.”
According to Su, the child claimed that on at least one occasion, Hairston held a knife to her neck and told her never to tell anyone what was going on or he would kill her.
She said she didn’t report what had occurred to her any sooner because she was scared, Su said.
Hairston told the judge that he wanted to represent himself on the Class X felony, which carries a mandatory prison sentence of between 6 and 60 years.
Ford at that point got into a long exchange with Hairston, warning him of the consequences of self-representation and asking him a number of questions, including whether he was under the care of a psychologist or taking psychotropic drugs. Hairston replied no.
Hairston said he was two credits shy of obtaining his associate degree in criminology when asked about his education.
“If you represent yourself, you are not just the defendant. You are also the attorney and that could reduce your effectiveness,” Ford said.
The judge further warned Hairston that he would get no additional benefits while in prison, for example, extra entrance to the library, or in court.
“Although you may have heard of standby counsel, that is not going to happen. You are on your own,” Ford said.
Hairston said he understood all those consequences but still wanted to act as his own attorney and asked that the case proceeds to a probable-cause hearing, which Ford set for August 22.
Concerning bond, Su told the judge that Hairston had earlier convictions dating to 1993 for robbery, resisting arrest, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, resisting a peace officer, aggravated battery, driving under the influence and interfering with a report of domestic battery.
Hairston told the judge he’s lived in Champaign for 20 years and has been employed as a cook at a restaurant for the last year and a half. He asked for a reduced bond.
Hairston’s bond was set at $250,000 by Ford which meant he would need to post $25,000 in cash to be released. He was likewise ordered to have no contact with the victim or her family.
In 2015, Hairston was tried for murder for allegedly aiding and abetting Robert Williams of Champaign on Oct. 25, 2014, fatal shooting of Jermel Hedrick, 24, outside a home in the 1500 block of Winston Drive, Champaign.
Hairston was acquitted by Judge Heidi Ladd of that charge with a directed verdict, ruling that the state had not adequately linked him to the shooter. A jury later acquitted Williams of Mr. Hedrick’s murder.