GALLIPOLIS — Matthew Case, 43, of Rio Grande, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of rape and six counts of gross sexual imposition in the Gallia Court of Common Pleas Thursday after confessing to attacking seven young girls and may be suspected of more.
Case would confess to the crimes a year after they were first suspected of occurring.
When asked how many victims were suspected of being attacked, Gallia Prosecutor Jason Holdren said “It’s hard to put a number on that. We are in the double-digits.”
Operating an in-care daycare with his wife, the victims were between the ages of three and seven. Each rape count carries the penalty of 15 years to life and each gross imposition charge carries up to five years in prison. If Case is sentenced to the max sentencing, as Holdren intended in a plea arrangement, it would be potentially 180 years before Case would be considered for parole. The rapes are considered first-degree felonies, while the imposition charges are considered third-degree felonies.
Case is anticipated to be sentenced May 25 by Gallia Common Pleas Judge Margaret Evans after a presentencing investigation.
All the crimes were said to have occurred between May 1 and April 12, 2016. The children were part of an in-home daycare. According to a press release from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the daycare reported it took care of less than six children. More would have required it to be licensed by the state.
Holdren encourages families who may have had ties with Case to speak up about suspicious activity.
The daycare had reportedly been operating for three years, according to Ohio BCI Agent Larry McCoy.
“There are also items (child pornography) that have come out in the investigation that are on electronic devices,” said Holdren. “I consider all of those individuals, whether those kids are in our area are not. They are victims…I am not suggesting that he (Case) has (created child pornography), I am suggesting that the investigation shows that he did possess child pornography.”
Holdren said the investigation wanted to ascertain how many victims were affected by Case’s crimes.
“But this predator is not coming out of jail,” said Holdren. “He will be there until he dies. It is important to know who the victims are and what others are out there for the reason that we want to provide them with services and we want to provide them with counseling services.”
“I know Mr. McCoy has indicated he’s worked with the FBI in this case,” said Holdren. “Some have indicated that this is the worst of the worst…The goal we’ve all had is to minimize additional trauma on all these victims and I felt it was necessary to extend an offer that would ensure that (Case) is locked up forever so that these children and these families can move forward. Not move on, but move forward in their life.”
Investigators caught wind of the assaults in the middle of April 2017. Two victims spoke with parents about the abuse and eventually Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crimes Against Children Unit, Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and FBI Columbus Child Exploitation Task Force arrested Case in April. McCoy said there may have been upwards of 20 children in and out of the house over the course of their investigation.
Case served as a volunteer fire fighter at the time of his arrest. Holdren said he could not comment as to the status of Case’s wife in the investigation other than that law enforcement wanted to find more victims to ascertain what else may have transpired at the daycare. The prosecutor said the investigation was ongoing and he could not comment as to whether a pattern had been discovered over the years with Case’s activity.
“From our perspective (in child safety services), we’ve resolved the protective issue…The perpetrator is going to be held accountable for what he has done. But this was mentioned before, we do anticipate additional victims and we encourage anyone that may have been victimized to come forward so that we can assist the family in receiving the services that they need…We want the community to know that we are available and ready to assist.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.