An Iowa man who, as a teenager, was filmed raping a 1-year-old will not serve any prison time, Ottumwa Radio is reporting.
CORRECTION: At the time of publishing, a source incorrectly identified the judge who handed down the sentence in this case as judge Myron Gookin. While judge Gookin was involved in some of the proceedings, it was judge Randy Degeest who handed down the sentence.
Wapello County judge Randy Degeest sentenced now 19-year-old Kraigen Grooms to a 10-year suspended prison sentence after accepting his plea of guilty to one count of engaging in a lascivious act with a child. He will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
— Cody Lillich (@CodyLillich) March 20, 2014
Back in 2013, federal investigators became aware of a child pornography video in which a man — unidentified at the time but later determined to be Grooms — could be seen sexually abusing a small baby. That baby was also unidentified at the time, but has since been identified. Grooms was 16 years old at the time; the baby was one year old.
As the Ottumwa Evening Post reported in September 2014, Grooms carried out the assault on the toddler at an Ottumwa home while a viewer in New Orleans watched the assault remotely on his or her computer and recorded it, according to a criminal complaint.
“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.”
Agents from the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jointly investigated the pornographic video, but had little information to go on. They posted the suspect’s face on a “Wanted” poster and hoped the public would be able to help with the investigation.
It is not clear, as of this writing, how the video came to the attention of federal investigators.
Grooms might not have been identified had it not been for social media, according to a March 2014 Ottumwa Evening Post report. Facebook user Tim Caya runs a Facebook group called “Locate the Missing,” and the website LocateTheMissing.com. He started the group as a hobby in order to help out law enforcement back in 2006.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time, I was reading a lot of stuff online about how these people were missing… I just wanted to help. I don’t post every kind of wanted person, but mostly missing cases and people wanted for sex crimes.”
No sooner did Caya post the “Wanted” poster for Grooms than the tips started pouring in. Caya says people started recognizing the Iowa man within an hour.
“All of the sudden thousands of people had shared it. Within the hour I was getting comments and some of them were from Kraigen Grooms’ friends. They tagged his profile, so I called ICE with the tip. I heard shortly later that they had caught him.”
Grooms was arrested March 19, 2014, and charged with second degree sexual abuse, a Class B Felony in Iowa. However, he languished behind bars for over two years, first in juvenile detention and then, once he turned 18, in the county lockup. A series of delays and continuances kept him from going before court for well over two years until finally, this week, when he was ultimately sentenced.
Judge Gookin did not say why he gave Grooms such a seemingly light sentence. However, as reported by the Inquisitr, Iowa can be seen to have a tendency to go light on sex offenders. A Des Moines Register investigation turned up at least seven cases of teachers who had sexually abused students failing to do any prison time, even though Iowa law requires that they do time behind bars.
[Image via Iowa Department of Corrections]