In April of 2013 in the city of Ottumwa, Iowa, 16-year-old Kraigen Grooms live-streamed himself raping a baby girl believed to be between the ages of 12-18 months old while another man in New Orleans recorded and watched the gruesome act. After being identified through social media with the help of a Facebook group known as MissingCases.com, Grooms was arrested and charged with engaging in a lascivious act with a child, to which he pleaded guilty. Investigators in the case also believe Grooms had targeted a 3-year-old boy whom he planned to abuse next; the state released a statement which read, “Forensic analysis of computers used in the transfer of the video recordings shows that the Defendant reported that he found the incident “so hot” and that the Defendant was making arrangements to sexually abuse an unidentified three-year-old male while the subject in New Orleans viewed and recorded the abuse. Analysis of computers seized from the Defendant’s home have discovered photographs of a male subject approximately three years old.” Believing the assault of the baby girl to be premeditated, the Complaint and Affidavit read, “The defendant knowingly committed a sex act with a female child that appeared to be under the age of two years old. The defendant videoed himself [while committing the lewd acts].” On Monday, September 12, 2016, Judge Randy Deegest gave Grooms, now 19, a 10-year suspended sentence. Grooms previously spent two years in a juvenile detention center but was set free after pleading guilty to the crime. As of Monday, the admitted pedophile will serve no further jail time unless and until he violates the terms of his release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
It goes without saying the general public has expressed outrage over Deegest’s ruling; I’d be worried if the universal feeling were anything less than disgust. What could possibly qualify this man to be a judge and why, why, WHY do I ostensibly have to continue asking what is going on with our justice system? In response to the disgraceful sentence, an online petition has been created and posted on whitehouse.gov to remove Deegest from the bench for good. The petition states, “After raping a 2 year old child on video, and targeting a 3 year old child for the same abuse, Kraigen Grooms, 16 at the time of the crime, 17 at the time of arrest, only received 2 years in a juvenile detention and then the Wapello county jail, then Judge Randy Degeest released Grooms with a 10 year suspended sentence. This judge is sympathizing with a toddler rapist, this not the kind of corrupt judge we want or need. If he will not stand up for a toddler, who will he stand for?”
If anyone believes Grooms has been “rehabilitated,” there aren’t other victims of his already, or that he won’t offend again, I’m afraid they are dreadfully misguided. Research indicates on average, pedophiles have victimized at least 13 victims before being caught. This is not to say Grooms has, but I would be more surprised if there weren’t more victims who haven’t been identified yet. According to the California Department of Corrections, “More than 1/2 of all convicted sex offenders are sent back to prison within a year. Within 2 years, 77.9% are back.” That is, of course, if they actually receive jail time in the first place.
Grooms was initially charged with second-degree sexual abuse; because this charge is considered a Class B felony, he faced 25 years behind bars. Why was his charge reduced to engaging in a lascivious act with a child? Because he was 16 at the time of his crime? If he was capable of something this revolting then, just imagine what he is capable of now. Still and yet, he was facing 10 years – not nearly enough time, but time enough to keep him off the streets while the justice system works to repair itself. Instead, the abuser goes free. I can’t see this ending in anything less than unconditional horror; for his previous victims, future victims and the loved ones of each. And it makes me absolutely sick.