Metro-East News

Man who raped Swansea girl found dead in his Menard prison cell

Prosecutor talks about rape case involving 10-year-old

Bernadette Schrempp, chief of the Children’s Justice Division with the St. Clair County State’s Attorney's Office, talks about the case involving the videotaping and rape of a 10-year-old who was zip-tied. Gary M.J. “Mikel” Grodin was sentenced
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Bernadette Schrempp, chief of the Children’s Justice Division with the St. Clair County State’s Attorney's Office, talks about the case involving the videotaping and rape of a 10-year-old who was zip-tied. Gary M.J. “Mikel” Grodin was sentenced

The man who was sentenced to 56 years in prison for repeatedly raping and fondling a 10-year-old Swansea girl while she was bound with zip ties has been found dead in his prison cell.

Gary M. J. “Mikel” Grodin, 33, began serving his sentence June 29 at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester. Three weeks later, on July 20, he was found unresponsive in his cell, Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said.

“He was pronounced deceased at Menard Correctional Center just before 10:30 a.m.,” Wilson said in a statement. “The IDOC does not determine cause of death.”

Randolph County Coroner Randy Dudenbostel said Grodin’s death does not appear to be from natural causes.

“The death is under investigation by the Illinois State Police, Menard Correctional Center and my office,” Dudenbostel said.

Results of the investigation are expected in six to eight weeks.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly called Grodin’s crime “one of the most disturbing and heartbreaking cases of child sexual assault in recent memory.”

An Oklahoma resident called police after they received a Facebook message from Grodin, who said he was in Illinois staying with his ex-girlfriend and discussed a sexual relationship with the woman’s 10-year-old daughter.

The sanctity of life is our most important duty. However, I am content the victim of this heinous crime will never have to worry about this evil person again.

Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson

Swansea police went to Grodin’s home and seized four cell phones and a tablet. A search of the electronic devices uncovered dozens of photographs and videos of the girl being raped by Grodin. Prosecutors said the sexual assaults occurred from December 2014 to June 2015.

A forensic interviewer questioned the girl, who told them that Grodin would make her take her clothes off, then he would touch her. The victim said Grodin would bind her hands with plastic zip ties so she could not cover herself, then take pictures of her. In one video, the victim was nude, touching his Grodin’s genitals and performing oral sex on him.

“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, … “said Assistant State’s Attorney Bernadette Schrempp, who prosecuted the case.

After he was questioned by police, Grodin fled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was arrested and extradited to Illinois.

Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said it was the worst case involving children he had worked on, calling it “an ugly, ugly case.”

After learning of Grodin’s death, Johnson said, “The sanctity of life is our most important duty. However, I am content the victim of this heinous crime will never have to worry about this evil person again.”

Grodin pleaded guilty June 28 to four of the 31 child pornography and predatory criminal sexual assault charges he faced. As part of a plea arrangement, Chief Judge John Baricevic sentenced him to 56 years.

The victim, who is now 11, continues to go to counseling, authorities said.

“Each of us is better than the worst things we have ever done. Despite his crimes, I am saddened to hear of Mr. Grodin’s death. May Mr. Grodin, his loved ones, as well as his victim and her family, all finally find peace,” said Patrick Sullivan, Grodin’s attorney.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

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