By Devin Rose
A River Forest foster dad will face a direct indictment on sexual assault charges when he returns to court Feb. 24. That action was set by a judge at a preliminary hearing last Thursday morning.
As a couple dozen family members and supporters looked on, Rob Gaskill, 63, appeared in a yellow jumpsuit in front of Judge William Wise at the Maybrook courthouse in Maywood. Two felony charges of predatory criminal sexual assault against a child were approved by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office against Gaskill last week.
The group of supporters, including his wife, Mary, stood up briefly as Gaskill entered the courtroom. Shortly before he entered, his lawyer, Kelly Seago, urged them to write letters of support that will eventually be submitted to the court.
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 at Cook County Jail. According to a court website, his bail is now set at $25 million. Previously it had been set at $50 million.
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. His bond was set at $50 million after his Feb. 2 arrest.
Gaskill and his wife have operated a foster care service in their home called Tapestry, and took in 75 children over 20 years. In 2009, the Wednesday Journal reported that the family had 11 children: four biological children, six adopted and one foster.
Three adopted and two foster children who had recently been in the home have been removed and placed in other homes, according to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
After the hearing, supporters gathered outside the courtroom and many took turns hugging a tearful Mary Gaskill.