A former Swansea man has received a 56-year prison sentence for repeatedly raping and fondling a 10-year-old girl while her hands were zipped-tied.
Gary Mikel Grodin pleaded guilty to four of the 31 child pornography and predatory criminal sexual assault charges.
“It was a very horrific case,” said Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson, whose department investigated the case.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said the sentence imposed Tuesday by Chief Judge John Baricevic was appropriate.
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“This was one of the most disturbing and heartbreaking cases of child sexual assault in recent memory, so this lengthy sentence is entirely justified,” Kelly said.
This was one of the most disturbing and heartbreaking cases of child sexual assault in recent memory, so this lengthy sentence is entirely justified.
State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly
Patrick Sullivan, Grodin’s attorney, declined to comment.
The case came to police attention a year ago when a citizen in Oklahoma received a Facebook message from Grodin. In that message, Grodin said he was in Illinois staying with his ex-girlfriend and discussed a sexual relationship with the woman’s 10-year-old child. The recipient of the Facebook message called police.
Swansea police contacted Grodin at the home, but he left soon after the interview for Tulsa, Okla. Police seized four cell phones and one electronic tablet after he left the home. A search of the phone uncovered dozens of photographs and videos that showed the child being raped by Grodin on numerous occasions. The sexual assaults occurred from December 2014 to June 2015.
“It’s one thing to have a child describe what happened, but to see it happen and to hear it happen, it’s a totally different circumstance when you can see it for yourself,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Bernadette Schrempp, head of the Juvenile Justice Division.
It’s one thing to have a child describe what happened, but to see it happen and to hear it happen, it’s a totally different circumstance when you can see it for yourself.
Assistant State’s Attorney Bernadette Schrempp
A forensic interviewer questioned the victim, who told them that Grodin would make her take her clothes off, then he would touch her, then he would tie her with plastic zip-ties so she could not cover herself. She told the interviewer that he took pictures of her when she was naked. In a video taken May 25, 2015, Grodin filmed the victim nude, fondling him, performing oral sex on him and discussing celebrating an anniversary.
Grodin was arrested in Oklahoma, charged with the 33 counts and extradited to Illinois where he remained in St. Clair County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Prosecutors dismissed 26 counts in exchange for the guilty plea. Grodin received 14 years on each of the four remaining counts. Those 14-year sentences must be served back-to-back. On two of the counts, Grodin must serve 85 percent before the term is discharged.
“You talk to any police officer who has been on for a while and you see a lot of horrific events, especially when it happens to children,” Johnson said. “I would rank this up toward the top. This was an ugly, ugly case.”
This was an ugly, ugly case.
Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson
Grodin must submit to sexually transmitted disease and genetic testing. Grodin, now 33, who won’t be eligible for parole until he is in his 70s, must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
The victim, who is now 11, still receives counseling.
“She is still receiving services,” Schrempp said. “This was a traumatic and long-time experience for this child, so this will take a long time with her working with her mother, with her counselors to feel comfortable and overcome what has happened.”