By Devin Rose
The bond amount for a River Forest man accused of sexual assault of children in his care was reduced from $50 million to $250,000 on Friday, on the condition that he be electronically monitored and have no contact with minors.
Rob Gaskill, 63, will be out on bond if 10 percent of that amount gets paid. As of Tuesday morning, his inmate page on the Cook County Department of Corrections website read "bond in process." A spokeswoman at the county sheriff's press office said the bond was likely in the process of getting paid.
On Friday, he pleaded not guilty in front of Judge Noreen Love at the Maybrook courthouse to charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. If he's bonded out, Love said he'd be allowed to attend church and see his doctor. His lawyer, Ellen Domph, said an apartment would be available for him or he could live with his son in Chicago.
Love said she thought Gaskill's original bail amount — $25 million for each of the two counts — was "certainly excessive, there's no doubt about that."
In January, two women, now 19 and 21, told River Forest police that Gaskill sexually assaulted them between 1996 and 2009.
Domph argued that her client is a highly-respected member of the community where he has lived and worked for four decades. She's received multiple letters from community members expressing their support, and noted that the courtroom was filled with relatives and friends. Gaskill and his wife, Mary, have gone on to adopt several of the children they've cared for as part of their in-home foster care service, Domph said. She told the judge about a few of them with special needs.
"I don't believe he poses a danger to the community," Domph said.
One of the women told police the assaults occurred when she was between 12 and 17, Domph said. If she was at least 13, Domph said a state statute calling for a sentence of life imprisonment does not apply should he be convicted. According to one section of the statute, a person convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child committed against two or more people faces a life sentence.
The other woman told police the assaults started when she was six or seven and continued until she was eight or nine, said Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Papa, adding that both women told police Gaskill kissed them on the mouth with his tongue, penetrated them with his fingers and made them touch his penis. He confessed to police within an hour of being taken into custody that he would kiss and touch the girls after he had been drinking, Papa said. He would also tell the girls to bite him.
According to Domph, one of the women said she saw a younger foster child walk out of a room in the Gaskill home more than a year ago, which made her suspicious that the girl was also being abused. The girl told police that nothing happened, Domph said.
Love set a status hearing for April 26.