"I'm twisted": Infamous Columbus serial groper speaks about decades of sexual assaults

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Lonnie Sturdivant is a sex offender who has targeted central Ohio women for more than 30 years.

He's been convicted more than 20 times of groping women he doesn't know in public places.

Over and over again, he serves prison time, only to get out and immediately re-offend. Police say he most recently did it last week.

Now we are hearing from Sturdivant for the first time.

Up until now, the story of Lonnie Sturdivant has been told through security cameras all over Columbus: on college campuses, COTA buses, and in restaurants.

The venues vary, but the assault remains the same: he sits down next to a woman he doesn't know, and slides his hand between her seat and her backside.

More than 30 arrests, more than 20 convictions, and decades behind bars have done nothing to stop him.

Just last week, two days after leaving jail, police say Sturdivant sexually assaulted three different women - two at a bar near OSU, one in the library at Capital University.

Exactly one year prior to his arrest on Friday, Sturdivant was interviewed by two Ohio State police officers, after he groped two women on that campus.

Both of those assaults happened within two days of his release from jail.

Officer: "What was that for?"

Sturdivant: "Sexual Imposition. That's what I do. That's all my charges, sexual imposition. Every one of them."

Officer: "What do you do to get those charges?"

Sturdivant: "Inappropriately touch someone."

Surveillance video shows Sturdivant walking freely around Ohio State's campus last September, despite having been banned from the campus after a previous assault.

Officers tell him they already have him on video assaulting the women - what they want to know is why?

Officer: "Because something's obviously compelling you to do this."

Sturdivant: "Something's compelling me to do it, has been compelling me to do it, and it's never been addressed. The 'why' I do anything and any of the things, is because I am totally just twisted. And I don't know what it is that's got me twisted, you know what I'm saying, where the sexuality is just expressed in very unconventional ways."

Sturdivant is open about his crimes, but contradicts himself repeatedly. He offers this stunningly perverse view of his assaults:

"There's nothing else that inspires me or motivates me to commit these sexual imposition charges, other than the fact that I'm at the time, based on my reaction and their reaction, feel like I'm pleasuring them. Like a sexual predator or a rapist, he wants women to be traumatized. He wants women to be worried. So when a woman turns around and gets upset, it just blows me away, like maybe I did it wrong."

He downplays his crimes:

Sturdivant: "It's not a fear situation because it's very very public."

Officer: "From your perspective."

Sturdivant: "From my perspective."

But then seems to acknowledge the offense.

"The thing was, they shouldn't have been touched. They didn't give me permission to touch them."

He claims his assaults go as far back as childhood, and that he doesn't know why he commits them.

"Really since before high school. I've committed sexual impositions probably in junior high school or elementary school."

But then he links it to his first sexual experience while in college, which he says left him feeling humiliated.

He says he's repeatedly asked the court for mental health treatment.

He says he's received counseling and medication over the years, but says it wasn't enough to get to the root of his compulsion.

"There was never a clinical psychologist that's gave a damn about Lonnie Sturdivant - want to what's wrong with Lonnie Sturdivant? Is there a problem with Lonnie Sturdivant?"

To his victims, he says this:

"It's nothing personal. I don't know you. You're a perfect stranger, you're as beautiful as you ever were. it's just that the sickness within me, and you happened to be a victim of what I am going through with my sickness."

Of his decades in the justice system, he says this:

"If I walk out of this with treatment, I don't care how much time I do. If I walk out of here and I can get treatment because I want that more than anything in the world. I want this to end. They know I'm sick. They know something's wrong with me. They know I'm not a violent person. They know that I'm sorry I was ever born to do the things I do."

10TV asked the Columbus City Attorney's Office about Sturdivant's claims that he hasn't been able to get treatment.

The court record shows multiple times over the years where he has been offered, even ordered into, mental health treatment as a condition of his probation.

Whether or not he has chosen to follow through with it, they couldn't say.

He has also been evaluated for his fitness to stand trial and found mentally competent.

Lonnie Sturdivant is currently in the Franklin County Jail on $75,000 bond, charged with three new counts of sexual imposition from last Thursday.

So why can't Sturdivant be stopped? Under current law, sexual imposition is a misdemeanor.

It carries a maximum possible sentence of six months in jail. It doesn't matter how many times he does it.

Inspired by the Sturdivant case, Ohio State Representative Jim Hughes introduced a bill to change that - doubling the jail time after a third conviction. The proposal is currently in the House Criminal Justice Committee.

10TV shared this story with the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio, also known as SARNCO.

They say mental illness is not a risk factor for becoming a perpetrator of sexual violence. They say the bigger problem is a cultural one - of men feeling entitled to women's bodies.

"This groping, though it's a misdemeanor, is sexual violence. And it is scary. And when we listen to survivors, we know that they do feel threatened, they do feel scared, and it's a component of people feeling scared all the time when they enter public spaces. and none of our people should ever feel scared to go out in public," said Susan Wismar.

SARNCO offers support and services to survivors of sexual assault. Their 24-Hour Rape Helpline is 614-267-7020. Online help is also available at this link.

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