How Could You? Hall of Shame-Robert Gaskill UPDATED
This will be an archive of heinous actions by those involved in child welfare, foster care and adoption. We forewarn you that these are deeply disturbing stories that may involve sex abuse, murder, kidnapping and other horrendous actions.
From River Forest, Illinois, adoptive and foster parent Robert L. Gaskill, 63, was charged on Friday, February 3, 2012 with sexual abuse of two girls. He has been foster parent to about 75 children, most with disabilities. “In 2009, the Gaskills had 12 children, four biological, six adopted and two in foster care.”
He “was ordered held Saturday in lieu of $50 million full cash bond by Judge Gregory P. Vasquez.
In bond court Saturday, prosecutors said Gaskill sexually abused two adolescent girls over a period from 1996 to 2009.
He is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Maybrook Courthouse in Maywood. Sources said the case is expected to go to a grand jury for possible formal indictment.
A River Forest detective assisted by members of the WEDGE task force arrested Gaskill at his home Thursday. On Friday the Cook County State’s Attorney approved two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault, which is a Class X felony.
Gaskill and his wife have operated a foster care service in their large three-story frame home on Ashland Avenue, and a foster care support system called Tapestry Chicago. He also served on the board of the River Forest Youth Soccer program and was a program coordinator in the late 1990s.
Gaskill currently works as the marketing director at Lydia Home in Chicago, a residential facility for abused children. He previously worked for Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago.
Gaskill is also a former publisher of the Oak Leaves/Pioneer Press West Group, where he worked for 16 years until the mid 1980s. Following that, he was the president and publisher of Chicago Catholic Publications, which publishes the Chicago Archdiocese’s official newspaper, the New World.
Gaskill was not currently an employee of the Catholic New World or New World Publications, Archdiocese of Chicago spokeswoman Susan Burritt said Saturday. She did not immediately have any information on when he had served as publisher for Chicago Catholic Publications.
In a 2009 interview with the Forest Leaves, Gaskill said he and his wife had “been opening their home to foster children for about 15 years.” Many of them had disabilities of some kind.”
One-Time Religious Publisher, Foster Parent Charged With Sex Abuse Of Two Girls
[CBS Chicago 2/4/12]
River Forest foster parent charged with sexual abuse
[Sun Times 2/4/12 by Bill Dwyer]
Another sick case where there was no accountability before, during or after placements.
Update: “The large home on Ashland Avenue is surrounded by a white picket fence, the only fenced-in yard on the block. Curtains and makeshift drapes cover all of the home’s windows. A pan of baked goods and a note from a well-wisher remain on the front porch.
Neighbors say it’s a startling contrast to the usual daily activity at the home in the 600 block of Ashland Avenue, typically filled with children playing and friends of the well-known Gaskill family dropping by.
But since shocking allegations of sexual abuse surfaced over the weekend, the three-story home has been empty.
“I have always, always loved children, and for me, it’s the innocence of them and the need for close adult mentoring and modeling and advocating and love in this busy crazy world,” Mary Gaskill told Wednesday Journal in a 2009 story. “We know there are a lot of great foster families out there, but we also know there are a lot of things that are real messy in the world, so we do whatever we can, in big and small ways.”
Investigators say the case began to unfold late last month, when the two women walked into the River Forest police station to file their report, which alleged a pattern of sexual abuse from 1996 to 2009. Authorities would not release the current ages of the alleged victims, or say how old they were when the alleged abuse began.
On Thursday, officers arrested Gaskill at his River Forest home. Neighbors say the news stunned the idyllic neighborhood, situated just up the block from St. Luke Parish School.
“If it’s true, it’s tragic for everyone involved,” said Jim August, Gaskill’s next-door neighbor for more than 20 years. “I hope the family has the strength and faith to see them through this.”
A spokesman for state’s Department of Children and Family Services said three adopted children and two foster children living in the River Forest home were removed and placed into other homes.
The charges have sent shockwaves through the foster care community. David Anderson, executive director of the child welfare agency LYDIA Home Association, where Gaskill began work as a part-time marketing director in May 2011, said the organization was “deeply saddened” to learn of the charges.
“Our hearts go out to the alleged victims and the Gaskill family,” he said.
The Gaskills also co-founded Tapestry Chicago, a foster care support service that helps guide potential foster parents through the adoption process.The Tapestry Chicago website does not list a phone number. An email to the agency and phone calls to members of “The Tapestry Team,” which includes a medical consultant and a pediatrician with a “special interest in evaluating child abuse,” were not immediately returned.
On Monday, police remained tight-lipped about the investigation, except to say they’re working with DCFS and that no other victims had come forward.
“I know we’re going to continue to investigate. Where that takes us, I’m not sure,” Police Chief Gregory Weiss said. “I’m hoping for the sake of victims that it’s limited. But when there is up to 75 children that might be involved, who knows where it might end up.”
Investigation Continues Into Sex Abuse Allegations
[Oak Park Patch 2/6/12 by Casey Cora]
Update 2: The victims’ ages and gender are revealed.
“The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office approved two Class X felony charges against Gaskill. The charge is predatory criminal sexual assault against a child. The incidents allegedly occurred between 1996 and 2009, according to a statement from River Forest police.
River Forest Police Sgt. Marty Grill said the female victims are now 19 and 21 and do not reside in River Forest. Three adopted children and two foster children who had recently been in the Gaskill home have now been removed and shifted to other homes, said Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Kendall Marlowe. Deputy Police Chief Craig Rutz said the alleged victims had not been taken from the home but could not say whether or not they lived there previously.
Gaskill voluntarily accompanied local police and officials from the West Suburban Enhanced Drug and Gang Enforcement (WEDGE) Task Force from his home to the police station, where he was arrested. Rutz could not say if Gaskill made any statements to police at that time. Bond was set at $50 million during a bond hearing Saturday at the Maybrook courthouse. Gaskill will face a preliminary hearing on Feb. 9.
“It took us quite a while to figure out whether this was completely valid or not,” said Rutz, noting that the victims came to the police station to report the incidents a couple of weeks ago, but he could not give details about their relationships to Gaskill because of the ongoing investigation.
In addition to his department, Rutz said the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, WEDGE, and DCFS are involved in the investigation.”
“In 2009 Wednesday Journal named the couple Villager of the Year runners-up in recognition of their work as foster parents. At that time, the Journal reported that the family had 11 children: four biological, six adopted and one foster. [Another award-winning foster parent in our archive.]
The recognition followed a feature story in the Journal about the relationship between two of the foster children in the Gaskill home. A teenage son with autism had sponsored a fundraising run to raise awareness for a life-threatening illness which afflicted his 3-year-old foster sister. That young girl died a few months after the story ran in the Journal.
In the Journal’s 2009 article, Mary Gaskill talked about the pledge she and her husband made shortly after their marriage that they would open their home to foster children.
“I have always, always loved children,” she said, “and for me, it’s the innocence of them and the need for close adult mentoring and modeling and advocating and love in this busy, crazy world.”
State removes foster and adopted kids from River Forest home in wake of abuse charges
[Wednesday Journal 2/7/12 by Devin Rose]
Update 3/Hat tip to our commenter below:
“A River Forest foster dad will face a direct indictment on sexual assault charges when he returns to court later this month. That action was set by a judge at a preliminary hearing Thursday[February 9, 2012] morning.”
“Wise did not grant a request made by Seago that Gaskill be taken to a hospital for blood work due to potential prostate cancer and high cholesterol. Wise said he needed to see something in writing that a doctor had ordered the work. Gaskill has already been given medication for his blood pressure, Seago said. The cancer has not been diagnosed.
Seago also requested that someone bring Gaskill his Bible and glasses. Wise entered an order that will be left up to the Cook County Jail to decide. Gaskill is currently being held there on $50 million bail.
The case will be taken before a grand jury when Gaskill is back in court Feb. 24.
Police have said two women, ages 19 and 21, came to the River Forest police station last month and said Gaskill sexually assaulted them as juveniles between 1996 and 2009. The women no longer live in River Forest, and police can’t confirm whether they previously lived in the Gaskill home. Gaskill was arrested Feb. 2.”
River Forest foster dad to be indicted Feb. 24
[Wednesday Journal 2/9/12 by Devin Rose]
“In a show of solidarity and support, dozens of Robert Gaskill’s friends and family stood silently as he entered a Cook County courtroom on Thursday. A bailiff sternly ordered them to sit back down.
Gaskill mouthed the words “I love you” to the gathered crowd before facing judge William Wise at a preliminary hearing at the Maybrook courthouse. ”
Supporters Pack Courtroom for Gaskill Hearing
[Oak Park Patch 2/9/12 by Casey Cora]
Update 4: “River Forest foster parent and former publishing executive Robert Gaskill has been formally indicted on felony sexual abuse charges.
Gaskill, 63, appeared in Cook County court before Judge Geary Kull Friday morning. The two criminal complaints filed against Gaskill were superseded by the indictments, prosecutors said.
Gaskill is charged with two felony counts of predatory sexual assault against a child after allegations surfaced earlier this month that he’d abused two young girls in his care for more than a decade. He’s currently being held in protective custody at the Cook County Jail.
At Friday’s hearing, defense attorney Kelly Seago withdrew as Gaskill’s counsel and was replaced by attorney Ellen Domph, who indicated she would be filing a motion to reduce the extraordinarily high $50 million cash bond attached to Gaskill’s Feb. 2 arrest.
As they did in a previous hearing, Gaskill’s friends and family packed the courtroom in a show of support and rose from their seats to show support as Gaskill, clad in a yellow jail jumpsuit, entered the courtroom. Again, bailiffs quickly ordered them to sit down.
Gaskill is scheduled to appear for an arraignment before Judge Noreen Love on March 16.”
Gaskill Indicted on Felony Sex Abuse Charges
[Oak Park Patch 2/24/12 by Casey Cora]
“Details were not made available from the Cook County State’s Attorney because indictments were “red flagged.”
Foster parent indicted; lawyer seeks reduced bond
[River Forest edition of Sun Times 2/24/12 by Bill Dwyer of Pioneer Local]
Update 5: More details and a hearing today allowing Robert out on bail, no contact with minors AND the article claims that there was a confession.
“A $50 million cash bond was reduced for a River Forest foster parent accused of sexually abusing two girls, and details of the 16-count indictment against him were revealed in court Friday.
Accused foster parent free after bond lowered
[Forest Leaves 3/16/12 by Bill O’Dwyer]
Update 6: Thanks to our readers for getting the case in the news again. Rally did contact this journalist weeks ago and is glad that the case is being spotlighted ahead of the next court date!
“A blog dedicated to child welfare has become a forum for anonymous River Forest residents to weigh in on the case of Robert Gaskill.”
“As the case has unfolded, an activist website called REFORM (Rally Ethics for Orphans an At-Risk Minors) Talk has become the de facto forum for community discussion. The blog acts as part message board, part resource agency (it’s MO: “We are on the side of justice and to give voice to the voiceless and powerless, and in this case it means the CHILDREN”) and occasionally highlights troubling cases across the country.
The page on the Gaskill case, originally a collection of local news stories and updates, has exploded with anonymous comments, many from people claiming to be River Forest residents, former family friends of the Gaskills or members of their church.
The authenticity of those claims is nearly impossible to determine: not a single person has put a real name to a comment.
But the discussions are specific and detailed, with some posters maintaining they’ve been to the Gaskill house for parties, that they’ve bumped into the family at the River Forest Tennis Club or were once members of the family’s “inner circle.”
Many have claimed the Gaskills verbally and emotionally abused the two girls who’ve come forward with the allegations. Some commenters are expressing regret that they didn’t speak out against what they saw.
“We are remembering a home in which we saw mistreatment of the adopted/foster children in our presence by our very eyes,” one writer said.
Says another: “I was once in the inner circle and was often confused by much of what I witnessed. It took awhile to wise up and make the decision to pull away, a tricky dance as there were relationships built between the children, as well as the reality of the family’s widespread involvement and influence in the church we attended.”
Commenters on the forum are pledging to write letters of support for the alleged victims and urging residents to contact police and state child welfare agencies about what they’ve seen.
The comments on the forum may be a reaction to the support for Gaskill shown by his family, friends and church members. During earlier hearings they packed the court room in a show of unity and solidarity.
River Forest Police Department Chief Gregory Weiss said he hadn’t heard of the website, and said he wasn’t aware of any letters that had been written on behalf of, or in support of, the victims.
“What we’d do with those letters, if they’re of evidentiary value, we’d have to give them to the State’s Attorney’s Office as part of their evidence,” Weiss said. “But saying ‘I feel bad’ or ‘I feel guilty’ or that ‘I should’ve recognized the signs’ isn’t of evidentiary value.”
During an arraignment hearing at the Maybrook courthouse in March, prosecutors laid out their charges, including allegations that Gaskill’s drinking led to inappropriate kissing, touching and “digital penetration” of the girls, and that they were forced to indulge his biting fetish.”
“Prosecutors also said Gaskill confessed to the abuse after his Feb. 2 arrest.
Gaskill’s new attorney Ellen Domph, the defense attorney who replaced lawyer Kelly Seago after she withdrew as Gaskill’s counsel, attempted to clarify that by saying a written confession does not exist. Calls to Domph seeking comment for this story were not returned.
Gaskill requested to be kept in protective custody at the Cook County jail, where he was held after his Feb. 2 arrest. After coming up with the $25,000 bond, his March 17 release from jail came with stipulations: He’s under electronic monitoring at an undiclosed location and will only be allowed to visit his doctor and his church. He’s been ordered to keep away from minors.
The state’s Department of Children and Family Services in February said three adopted children and two foster children living in the River Forest home were removed and placed into other homes.”
Community Reacts to Lower Bond and Freedom in Child Molestation Case
[Oak Park Patch 4/12/12 by Casey Cora]
I want to point out that this article states that Robert REQUESTED to be in protective custody. There have been commenters that are Pro-Gaskill that lamented that he was in jail.
Update 7: We wanted to add a few more related items to this case. First, the Illinois DCFS was put on probation on January 11, 2012 for an unknown period of time by the accrediting body Council on Accreditation (COA). See the link here.
Mary was working as a Church & Community Relations Manager for Lydia Home coordinating the Urban word-study program for high school students. See here.
Tapestry Chicago did have a website, but it is now defunct. This loose organization does not appear to have been licensed by the state of Illinois. Parts of the website can be seen on the Wayback Machine.
From the Wayback Machine:
” Tapestry Chicago exists to support people considering adoption and foster care through education, sharing, and personal experience.
Tapestry Chicago is a community of families and individuals that are connected by our passion and interest for adoption and foster care. We are couples and singles alike who feel called to open our hearts to children in need; we are families with children who look like their parents and families with children who do not; we are those who are in the waiting process; we are those trying to decide if adoption is right for our families. We are those contemplating sharing our lives with children in foster care. In the end, we all are weaving our lives by the common passion for children and family. We believe that God is doing something truly remarkable among us as He forms families and transforms lives through the miracle of each child.
We encourage you to start the process by sharing your concerns and questions. Our Tapestry Chicago community will walk beside you by sharing their knowledge and experiences.”
” About Tapestry Chicago
Tap-es-try [tap-uh-stree] n. – a fabric woven together by hand to produce a rich and complex design, often consisting of multi-colored threads
Our purpose is to help children and families as they travel the adoption or foster care journey. It is a road some of us have traveled before and continue to traverse today. While all who have been touched by the miracle of adoption share a common bond, each journey is unique and presents its own joys and challenges. As a result, we seek to come alongside adoptive and foster families, as well as those who are considering or are in the process of adopting or becoming licensed. We are ready to connect, encourage, inform, and equip fellow travelers on their unique adoption or foster care journey. Moreover, Tapestry Chicago stands ready to resource children and families in foster care so that their experience can be all that it can be.”
” Connect, Encourage, Inform, & Equip
Tapestry Chicago provides a loving, supportive and authentic community that encourages families along their adoption journey. It has been our experience that communities such as ours are a unique resource at each stage in the adoption or foster process, and are particularly valuable to families during the difficult times. For those families we offer our prayers, our love and support, our friendship and the collective wisdom and insight of those who have already successfully navigated similar paths.
We also provide quality, objective information about adoption and foster care. This includes honest and accurate information about the adoption and foster care process and a realistic understanding of both the joys and challenges adoptive and foster families often face. We focus specifically on helping those who are considering adoption or foster care to make informed decisions based on facts and realities, rather than idealized notions. Recognizing that in many ways the journey has only begun when a child is welcomed into a family, we also provide effective information and educational resources as well as support and encouragement for adoptive families to help them as they continue along their journey.”
Lastly, there is one active link on the Wayback Machine for their website. It is a foster parent meetup group. We do not know if the Gaskills participated in this group or if any of these members were there to support the Gaskills at the initial hearings. ” Oak Park/River Forest Area Foster and Adoptive Family Meetup”
Update 8: “A judge agreed on Thursday to modify the monitoring conditions for a River Forest foster dad accused of sexual assault so he could let visitors into his apartment, do laundry and attend his daughter’s college graduation in June.
Judge Noreen Love told attorney Ellen Domph that she would “absolutely” draft a court order so that Domph’s client, Robert Gaskill, could attend his daughter’s June 9 graduation from DePaul University. Love said the order would be specific on the location and time of the event.
During the status hearing at Maybrook courthouse, Gaskill, 64, stood in front of Love in an orange button-down shirt, dark jacket and khaki pants. He’s been out of jail on electronic monitoring for about 40 days, Domph told Love.
“I do not think he’s a danger or a flight risk,” she said.
Gaskill pleaded not guilty last month to charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. The charges came after two women, now 19 and 21, told River Forest police in January that Gaskill sexually assaulted them when one was between 12 and 17 years old and the other was between 6 and 9.
Gaskill and his wife, Mary, had operated a foster care service out of theirAshland Avenuehome since 1992.
Domph also asked Love to modify Gaskill’s monitoring conditions so he would be able to go to the second-floor laundry room and buzz people into the apartment where he is now living. Love said she would draft a court order.
Another status hearing on the case will be held at 9:30 a.m. on June 19.”
Gaskill can attend daughter’s graduation, judge says
[Oak Park.com/Wednesday Journal 4/26/12 by Devin Rose]
“A one-time newspaper publisher, Gaskill was at the helm of Oak Leaves/Pioneer Press West Group and later served as the president and publisher of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s newspaper The Catholic New World. More recently, he’s worked as a part-time marketing director for the LYDIA Home Association, a child welfare agency.
The Gaskills also co-founded Tapestry Chicago, a foster care support service that helps guide potential foster parents through the adoption process.
In 2009, the Gaskills were named runners-up in Wednesday Journal’s Villagers of the Year awards for being “resources to the foster care system as parents, they’ve become go-to members of the community as coaches in foster care and adoption.”
During an arraignment hearing in March, prosecutors laid out their charges, including allegations that Gaskill’s drinking led to inappropriate kissing, touching and “digital penetration” of the girls, and that they were forced to indulge his biting fetish.
On Thursday, Gaskill appeared in court clean-shaven and dressed in khaki slacks, blue blazer and peach colored shirt, cutting a more distinguished figure than the haggard, unshorn inmate who appeared in previous court proceedings. And once again, his family and supporters turned out to the hearing in a show of solidarity.
But the hearing also brought a new crowd to the cramped courtroom — supporters of the alleged victims.”
“A spokesman for the state’s Department of Children and Family Services told Patch that of the five children originally removed from the Gaskill’s River Forest home back in February, three adopted children have been placed back in the home and two foster children were placed elsewhere.”
[We have seen this bizarre split of placing some children back into the home and some removed before. We still call upon investigators to screen all previous children in the home and to look into the role Mary Gaskill played in these allegations.]
Judge: Gaskill Can Attend Graduation
[Oak Park Patch 4/26/12 by Casey Cora]
Update 9: There was a status hearing on Monday, July 2, 2012. “Gaskill was in court for Monday’s brief hearing, surrounded by family and friends. He remains out on bond throughout the proceedings.
Attorneys from neither side would comment after the end of the hearing; there is no indication when a trial date will be set.”
The next status hearing is set for August 29, 2012. He still is out on bond with electronic monitoring.
[Oak Park Patch 7/3/12 by Deborah Kadin]
Update 10: The status hearing occured on August 29, 2012. Robert’s attorney asked for him to be relieved of electronic monitoring. The judge ruled that Robert “will not be let off of electronic monitoring.”
Robert’s attorney “Domph said it seemed like a waste of time for a judge to have to approve every request for Gaskill to be able to go somewhere, like the dentist. He is currently living in an apartment with his brother-in-law in Oak Park, Domph said.
[Judge] Love said there is “no doubt” the system is difficult, but that she didn’t mind the requests. She said she would not take Gaskill off of electronic monitoring.
Gaskill, who stood next to Domph in a navy blue suit and a tie, did not speak. A group of his relatives and supporters, who have been present at his previous hearings, sat in the back row of the courtroom.
Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Papa told Love that the discovery process of the case was finished. Love scheduled another status hearing on Oct. 2.”
[Wednesday Journal Oak Park.com 8/29/12 by Devin Rose]
Update 11: Robert Gaskill will not be present at the final deposition.
“Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Papa asked Judge Noreen Love for the modification at a status hearing for Robert Gaskill, 64, Monday morning at the Maybrook Courthouse. Papa said victims should not be in close proximity to a defendant.
Gaskill was arrested in February after two women told River Forest police that he sexually assaulted them when they were children. He and his wife, Mary, had operated a foster care service out of their Ashland Avenue home since 1992.
Gaskill’s attorney, Ellen Domph, argued that he’s been present at four of five depositions with victims so far, where he’s sat quietly to the side in a conference room. She said her client is a quiet person and she didn’t file a motion ordering no contact because there had not been any. Domph said it’s been a “very professional proceeding” and “pretty smooth sailing.”
But Papa said the deposition room is small and one of the victims was sobbing at the table. She mentioned the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, which gives a victim the right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
Love said that knowing the defendant is present can be just as intimidating as if the two could see each other.
“He should not be in a location where he can be seen by the complainant,” Love said.
The case was continued to a status hearing on Dec. 19.”
[Wednesday Journal Oak Park.com 11/6/12 by Devin Rose]
Update 12: February 22, 2013 is next status hearing.
“The judge presiding over the case of a former River Forest foster father who is now facing sexual assault charges said Monday she would sign an order asking for modifications to what his lawyer said were harassing visits from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
Citing a log of visits since the end of November, Ellen Domph told Judge Noreen Love that her client, Robert Gaskill, has been visited by representatives from the sheriff’s office at his apartment or at work during mostly reasonable hours. But between Jan. 9 and Jan. 13, Gaskill received at least 10 sheriff’s visits, including several past 2 a.m.
“It has now gone into a level of harassment,” Domph said.
Gaskill, 64, was arrested last February after two women told River Forest police that he sexually assaulted them when one was between 12 and 17 years old and the other between the ages of 6 and 9. He pleaded not guilty in March to charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.
Gaskill and his wife, Mary, had operated a foster care service out of their Ashland Avenue home since 1992.
At the hearing Monday morning at the Maybrook courthouse, Gaskill stood silent next to Domph in a dark suit and an orange tie. A group of his family members and supporters sat in the first two rows of the courtroom.
Domph said the aggressive nature of the sheriff’s visits have created an unreasonable situation for her client. She’s concerned that sleep interruptions will affect his health, and that he might lose his job or apartment. She asked Love again to release Gaskill from electronic monitoring, which he has been on for 10 months.
Domph said Gaskill was face to face with one of his accusers during resolution of a separate matter in the case, which took place at an earlier date, and she said there was never an incident. Domph called it a trial, but Wednesday Journal learned from a source close to the case that no criminal trial has yet been held. The resolution Domph mentioned would have been a civil matter, the source said.
Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Papa argued Gaskill has been given many opportunities that others in his situation have not gotten. Love had previously lowered his bond from $50 million to $250,000 on the condition he stay on electronic monitoring. She has also modified the monitoring so that Gaskill could buzz visitors into his apartment, do laundry and attend doctor’s appointments.
“It would be a mistake,” Papa said, to take Gaskill off of electronic monitoring.
Love denied Domph’s motion, saying she has made modifications on almost every one of his court dates.
“I am not going to continue to modify,” Love said. Though she agreed to sign an order limiting the sheriff’s visits, Love said she can’t tell their office how to control its operation.
Domph also filed a motion for disciplinary records of officers involved in the case.”
[Wednesday Journal Oak Park.com 1/15/13 by Devin Rose]
Update 13: The next hearing is March 19, 2013.
Gaskill’s defense at the February 22, 2013 hearing centered around blaming the police.
“An attorney representing Robert Gaskill hopes that personnel records from River Forest police investigators will help their case.
Gaskill, 64, was arrested last year on allegations that he sexually assaulted two juveniles who were living as foster children in his River Forest home over a 13-year period.
The victims, both female, were between the ages of 12 and 17 years old over the course of the alleged abuse. Gaskill pleaded not guilty to charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child in March 2012.
The former publishing executive and his wife have acted as guardians for 75 foster children since 1992.
Gaskill and his lawyer, Ellen Domph, appeared before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Noreen Love on Feb. 22. At the brief hearing, held at the Maybrook courthouse, Love allowed a continuance of the case to March, pending the resolution of a court-ordered subpoena seeking personnel records of members of the River Forest Police Department.
Filed in October, the subpoena requests all documentation of citizens’ complaints filed with the police department over the past decade pertaining to officials who have participated in the Gaskill investigation. Records sought include reprimands, performance evaluations, suspensions and use of excessive force allegations.
The plea includes records for River Forest Detective Sgt. Marty Grill, Officer Anthony Pluto — both of who whom were involved in pre-arraignment interviews with the defendant — and Officer Jennifer Casey.
Domph stated that the police department has ignored the subpoena and failed to provide a reason why the request should be denied under Illinois law. Casey and two other officers were recently cleared on charges of excessive force related to a 2009 disturbance call.
Following Friday’s hearing, Domph declined to comment on the outstanding subpoena, stating that the issue was “nothing new.”
Gaskill, who was accompanied by friends and family at the hearing, is the former publisher of the West Group of Pioneer Press newspapers, which includes the Oak Leaves and Forest Leaves.
The defendant was released on bail in March and is currently subject to electronic monitoring — a provision which Domph has contested on the grounds that her client is not a flight risk.
Love on Feb. 22 said she would be ready to hear arguments at the next hearing, which is set for March 19.”
[Wednesday Journal Oak Park.com 2/26/13 by Devin Rose and Ian Fullerton]
Update 14: Our commenters continue to support the victims at the courthouse. March 19 had a continuance to April 11. Hearing continued to May 1. May 1 hearing one commenter says “The judge did not allow his attorney to view the personal records of the officers involved in this case. The next court date is set for june 24” The Media is not covering these hearings.
Update 15/August 20, 2013/hat tip to two commenters
Robert Gaskill had a hearing on August 19, 2013 in which he won expanded visitation rights with his children.
“Judge Noreen Love, will allow Rob Gaskill to immediately start seeing his children more often, his attorney Ellen Domph said. She declined to give details.
Gaskill sat in the Maybrook court, surrounded by a few friends and family, during his latest court appearance. He will return to Maybrook Court on Sept. 30 when motions related to the case will be argued.”
No trial has been set.
[Wednesday Journal 8/19/13 by Deb Kadin]
“According to an Oak Leaves report, prosecutors said Gaskill began abusing the girls at different times. One of the girls was 6 or 7 years old in 1996; the second girl was roughly 12 years old when the alleged abuse began several years later, in 2004.”
[Oak Park Patch 8/20/13 by Charlotte Ericksen]
Update 16/January 26, 2015:“A former newspaper executive and Catholic news publisher charged with sexually abusing two young girls is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 25.
Robert Gaskill of River Forest was arrested in February of 2012 for molesting the two children. He was charged with two counts of predatory sexual assault of a child, each a Class X felony.
A Cook County judge in August signed an order allowing Gaskill to see his children more often, the Wednesday Journal reported.
According to an Oak Leaves report, prosecutors said Gaskill began abusing the girls at different times. One of the girls was 6 or 7 years old in 1996; the second girl was roughly 12 years old when the alleged abuse began several years later, in 2004.
Gaskill will return to Maybrook Court, 1500 Maybrook Dr., Rm. 105, in Maywood, on Nov. 25.”
Robert Gaskill Returns to Court Nov. 25[Oak Park Patch 11/8/13 by Charlotte Ericksen]
“The attorney for River Forest resident Robert Gaskill on Thursday filed court motions to dismiss the indictment charging him with numerous counts of aggravated child sexual abuse. With Gaskill standing by her side, attorney Ellen Domph told Judge Geary Kull she was filing the motion on grounds that Gaskill’s right to due process had been violated.
Domph filed a second motion seeking to have Gaskill’s statements to River Forest police suppressed. Judge Kull, who was sitting in for the case’s appointed trial judge, Noreen Valeria Love, continued the case until Oct. 30.
Copies of the two motions were not immediately available.”
Gaskill seeks dismissal, statement suppression[Oak Park.com 9/18/14 by Bill Dwyer]
Update 17: He was Acquitted!!!!
Robert L. Gaskill, 68, was acquitted of the molestation charges by Cook County Judge Geary W. Kull in Maywood, according to court records.
Gaskill operated a foster care service with his wife, as well as a foster care support system called Tapestry Chicago, when he was arrested in 2012.
He was a former publisher of the Oak Leaves/Pioneer Press West Group and also had served as president and publisher of Chicago Catholic Publications, which publishes the Chicago Archdiocese’s official newspaper, the New World.”
River Forest foster parent cleared of sexual assault charges
[Chicago Sun-Times 2/28/17 by Rummana Hussain]
Update 18:There is still his 2nd case!!!
“The judge who has overseen two separate sexual abuse cases against River Forest foster parent Robert Gaskill over the past three years has announced he will recuse himself should the second case go to trial.
Gaskill, 69, was arrested by River Forest police in February 2012 after two young women who had been foster children in his home filed complaints that Gaskill had sexually abused them. Last February Cook County Circuit Court Judge Geary Kull issued a directed verdict acquitting Gaskill of all charges in a 16-count criminal indictment. Gaskill remains free on $100,000 bond in a second, 25-count indictment alleging the sexual abuse of a second girl.
Following the verdict, Kull expressed concerns about his ability to be a “fair” truer of fact if Gaskill’s second case went to trial.
“I should say this: I am considering recusing myself in the charge that remains,” Kull said on Feb. 28, according to officials court transcripts. “You can argue if you want, but I don’t know that there’s an argument to be had. I pretty much made that decision anyway.
“So that we’re all clear, I expect (on the next court date) to recuse myself on that date and transfer it to another judge. You can argue it before I do that, but … .” Kull went on to say, not finishing his thought.
Asked by defense attorney Ellen Domph if he was going to offer a reason for recusal, Kull was unclear, but expressed concern that he would be unable to be “fair” in the absence of something he did not mention.
“Well, simplistically, I don’t think that I can judge the next case fairly without — based on — without — I just don’t think I can be fair on the next case,” he replied. “So that’s my reason. And I’m sure you want somebody fair.”
However, Kull, who has been a judge since 2009, backed away from recusing himself at the April 12 hearing, saying he’d decided to wait to see if the case actually went to trial.
“Rather, than do it on this date, I am going to continue it until the 8th of May to see what the actual trial posture is of all the parties. And if it becomes — if it continues to be necessary to try the matter — I will then recuse myself.”
Kull has remained on the case, and held two additional status hearings since then. The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21.
In issuing his verdict in February, Kull noted that the prosecution called only one witness in the case, the alleged victim, with no testimony from police investigators.
Domph has aggressively attacked the credibility of not only the victim, but also the lead investigator, then-Detective Sgt. Martin Grill. In a June, 2015 motion, Domph said his testimony was “nothing more than a restatement of an inadmissible police report,” and that he was merely repeating what was in the report, with “no actual recollections” of the interview.
Domph also pointed out that while police say Gaskill allegedly confessed to the women’s allegations, no written confession exists, and that the audio was not turned on during his interrogation.
Perhaps most damaging was the fact that Grill had received departmental discipline for removing material from another arrest report he supervised, behavior that Domph said “cut to the heart” of his credibility.
In a motion filed with the court, prosecutors asked Kull to exclude “all references to alleged external incidents of misconduct or criminal acts” by anyone on the River Forest department, as well as any media coverage of the issue, calling it “irrelevant” to the case.
Domph, though, argued that any testimony should receive “heightened judicial scrutiny,” calling it “inherently untrustworthy and unreliable.”
[Cook County Chronicle 7/31/17 by Bill Dwyer]