River Forest foster parent charged with sexual abuse
Updated: February 22, 2012 12:14PM
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 601 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.”