One-Time Religious Publisher, Foster Parent Charged With Sex Abuse Of Two Girls

RIVER FOREST, Ill. (STMW) – A River Forest man who took in dozens of foster children since 1996 and volunteered with local youth groups was charged Friday with the sexual abuse of two girls.

Robert L. Gaskill, 63, of the 600 block of Ashland Ave., 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.

He said he had fostered “about 75 different children over that time.”

In 2009, the Gaskills had 12 children, four biological, six adopted and two in foster care.

“Long before we got married, while we were dating, we both agreed we wanted to have large families,” Rob Gaskill said in 2009. “We thought it would be fun to have a lot of children.”

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  • dan

    I have never heard of a 50 million dollar bond-perhaps you got the facts wrong CBS?

    • Jane

      No, I’m pretty sure their report on the $50 million dollar bond is correct….This is a serious case.

  • KLS

    NO WAY he did this! This is an amazing family, awesome morals, somebody is lying..praying for the family!

    • Lyndia

      How do you know he did not do this? Do you live with them? Are you with this man 24/7? Many times we do not believe kids. Some of them lie, I admit that but usually they are telling the truth.

      • C

        Now while you make a valid point, I think it is also important to look at the nature of the case. These “kids” are, in the eyes of the law, adults as they are approximately 20 years old. Further, they are mentally ill and currently residing with their (former?) drug addicted birth mother. While this certainly does not dismiss their claims, it also puts the possibility of an agenda or outside influence into the equation which makes the case more complicated and questionable in more than one way. Truly, as you point out, nobody other than those two girls and the man know what is true or not true. However, based on the man’s strong role in his community, personal knowledge of former actions of the accusing “children”, and the lack of presentation of issue during monthly social worker visits, I think it is in the community’s best interest to take the accusations with a grain of salt and pray merely for the truth to come out in these next few weeks. The news stations are to blame for printing mistruths and not disclosing the smaller details of the story to the readers, as these facts are wherein the case lies and not in the headline.

    • Crazy


    • Christine

      I am with you KLS, no way!! I know the family and the situation. I am praying for the Gaskill’s, this is a terrible injustice carried out first by those children then by the dirty River Forest police department and continued by the corrupt Illinois justice system.

  • Paul

    Get all the facts straight before printing the demise of a good man. Channel 2 is third rate news station that would rather show something sensational than true and authentic. Shame on your profession.

    • Jane

      A good man? Maybe you need to brush up on the definition of a good man because a good man would not sexually assault 2 helpless young girls. That makes me sick.

      • Kate

        You CANNOT assume that he did this when he hasn’t even been proven guilty yet!. HE HAS NOT BEEN proven guilty yet!!!!!!! Not everyone is helpless or blameless. Kids falsely accuse parents all the time because they know they can. This is a case of guilty before proven innocent. Children lie all the time. I’ve seen cases where they lie and it destroys family’s. Once you are proven innocent you can never get your life back. Shame on everyone who automatically assumes guilt before any proof!!!

      • Jane

        @ C and Kate
        I understand that he has not been proven guilty yet, so I guess i’m just basing my opinions off of what I have been reading. Don’t lash out at me for saying this, but it doesn’t make sense to me that 2 young girls would run away from a home where there are 2 loving and caring parents. Sure, when I was younger my parents would discipline me when I acted out of line and at that specific moment I would think they were the worst people in the world, but in the back of my head I knew all the wonderful loving things they have done and for that reason I would never want to hurt them. That part of their story leads me to believe something was going on behind closed doors. I do realize that not everyone works in the same manner I do, so I’m just praying that the truth is revealed.

      • C

        Maybe you need to brush up on your definition of the legal system because here in America, you are innocent until proven guilty. I could accuse you of molesting your own children and it could be in the newspapers without foundation, and then you may not be singing the same tune.

  • Kate

    Shame on you!!! This man has not even been proven guilty. If he is found innocent his life will be ruined. You are not a news agency when you post things like this. You are a nasty evil tabloid. I am so angry at all media nowadays. You can be accused of this from anyone. A student who receives a bad grade and wants to get back at a teacher, a parent who wants sole custody…etc. You cannot believe this just because it’s on the news. This man has NOT been found guilty. Once you look at the facts you will see and then guess what? If this man or any person like this is found innocent, THAT fact will not be all over the news. So what you are doing here is ruining a potential innocent mans life forever! SHAME ON YOU!!!!!

  • Unknown

    I knew something was going on. I was best friends with his daughter and she always had bruises and was emotionally destroyed in that exact date range and wouldn’t tell me why but would hint something was wrong at home. It breaks my heart to know that he did that to them because they are truly amazing girls and do not deserve what he did!!!!! You girls will be in my prayers and my heart goes out to you.

    • Anne

      Check your facts before spewing lies! Or are you secretly someone else? Posting to discredit this man? I am wondering that. Those girls might be the messed up ones! And you post as unknown which makes me think you are friends with those girls trying to discredit this man. You cannot just go by what a friend of the accuser says of course they will be on their side. People lie! This person may be guilty but it’s also entirely possible that he’s 100% innocent! If those girls had bruises then the social workers would have noticed. If you are in foster care I know that you speak to foster care workers many times during those years. Why are they just now speaking up? I think kids lie all the time. Maybe they want money out of this? But what ever reason if their were bruises they would have been taken out of the home. Saying these things is just a lie and slander!

      • unknown

        Yeah she isnt talking about the foster kids. Im too friends with his biological daughter who has tried to hide her pain for too long. I know exactly what you mean unknown. and yes I stay unknown too because right now she needs my full support. Frankly, you’re extremely defensive of this man you do not know.

    • Jessica

      In the “exact date range” of 13 years? Who doesn’t have a bruise or have an emotional day in 13 years. Hmm I smell someone with an agenda “Uknown”.

  • Joe

    This is no tabloid story. He wouldn’t be held on $50 mil bond (which is true…he was charged of two class X felonies) if they had no reason. His poor family must be going through Hell, and the people who choose to not wait for the facts to be revealed before you go posting defense of Rob Gaskill are just as despicable as those who are condemning him. I couldn’t think of a way to make it harder for the family than trying to prove his innocence on no basis. I also know the family well, and it’s unbelievably sad….but very very true.

  • Anne

    How do you know this is true? I just heard of another abuse case just today. The guy accusing is suing. You just wait for the suite. You can’t be sure this guy is guilty or innocent but I bet there’s motivation behind this and watch for them to sue I bet you. You have no facts they haven’t proven him guilty and as with the other case you can’t be sure until he is proven guilty.
    –Just a citizen who believes that people’s lives should not be ruined when they haven’t even been proven guilty. It’s 50 million because it’s two people. Two people who could have easily gotten a story together, they had time.

    • Anonymous

      I have known the family for years as well. No matter what you think of them the whole situation is sad. I will not say if I think he’s guilty or not because I don’t know everything that’s going on. As someone who is an immediate family member to someone that was sexually abused for years, I can say that ANYONE can be a molester. The man that abused my family member was a very nice man and no one would have suspected it. IF these allegations are true, how do you think the girls would feel to see someone calling them liars that don’t know all the facts? Anyone that claims they think they know “the real truth” has no idea what they’re saying. I pray that the guilty party will be found out in this case, and I pray that the family be protected through this.

    • Briana

      Yeah two terminal children decided to plot against the only man taking of them during their last moments of life? Think about it…did someone send a “not” guilty “alleged” child molesting friend of yours to jail and now you defend his honor by defending all abusers?

      • Anne

        Terminal? Last moments of life? These kids are not dying. They may be sick but only mentally. I am leery BECAUSE his bail is so high. Makes me think they have no evidence but are trying to hold him so they can rack up anything to make him look guilty. I do know people who have been sent to jail for crimes who were innocent. Years lost and family’s ruined but this is not why I’m saying this. I am saying this based on what I said and what the other commenter said when he mentioned even Sandusky only had to pay $50,000 for bail. Murderers don’t even have bail set this high. If they have no evidence they try to hold you as long as they can until they can find something. I pray that this family has strong people behind them and fighting for them. I am praying the real truth gets out there either way.

  • anonymous

    I agree with Flarg, there is so much hatred in these comments. I know the family personally and I can say that whether this is true or not, his family are good people and are hurting right now. The best we can all do is pray for them, because anger never helped anyone. peace

    • Erik

      They’re good people? What the hell is wrong with you people? Yeah, I know a lot of people who rape little girls that are good people…. Of course there’s hatred you dumb ass. He allegedly RAPED little girls. Do you want us to buy him cookies, and wish him well – after all, the bible says we all have temptations right? God you are naive idiots – I bet he tickled your as*hole free of charge so now you support him for life.

  • speak the truth

    Sanduski had a bond of $500 thousand got out on 50 thousand bail
    Rob has a $50 MILLION CASH BOND which means he needs the whole 50 million to get out !! UNHEARD of for allegations!!!! I PRAY FOR THE FAMILY AND CHILDREN

  • Brent R Jones

    The accusers ran away from home years ago and are attempting to get out of charges made against them. They are malicious because they were disciplined for bad behavior by foster parents. Their birth parents were abusive to both girls which placed them in the child care legal system of Illinois, itself riddled with wrongdoing.

    • Erik

      Is that what the family told you? God you’re an idiot. Go lick Sandusky’s as*hole creep.

  • Erik

    Yeah, let’s all hide behind Christ and act as if that makes him a good man. Jesus you people are brainwashed lunatics. You think the court had it out for him too? A bond of 50 million is symbolic of an air-tight case. You creeps who went to church with the guy, and read a few articles he wrote, can support him all you want but you’re exposing yourselves as creepy instigators. Anyone that is ripping into these kids is an absolute moron and should spend nights getting raped in Jail with this creep. People who use their power to exploit the innocent and naive are the worst kinds. You can continue to support him, like a bunch of religious sheep, but I’ll past my own judgement on this piece of trash.

    • J.

      I know these girls and their family and there is no way they are innocent. It seems like someone is behind this. They have a history of lying to the police. Weather or not this guy is a Christian It seems like he has a clean history and they do not. I pray that this family will be o.k. I know that you can never be sure that a person is innocent but I know you can’t be certain the other way also. So spewing the hateful statements you are writing shows your character also. You know nothing about this. In time I hope the whole truth come out. For right now I am praying for both parties that they speak the truth and get treated to a fair trial.

  • Science

    God does not exist and Jesus was a liar. And if God did exist he wouldn’t be too fond of pedophiles parading around using him has a front to lure in victims. You people who defend this monster and bad mouth the unnamed kids are terrible people. God has nothing to do with this. Real love is compassion and empathy shown for your fellow human beings.

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