Laraway School program key to uncovering allegations of sexual assault that led to conviction of Joliet man
JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that an educational program adopted by the Laraway School District was instrumental in uncovering allegations of child sexual assault that enabled his prosecutors to convict a Joliet man last week.
Gregory Simpson, who is now 51, was found guilty on Dec. 11 of two Class X counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. Simpson sexually assaulted two little girls while they were staying at his home.
He is eligible for a term of natural life in prison when he is sentenced by Associate Judge Robert Livas on Feb. 13.
The sexual assaults occurred while the girls were at Simpson’s home sometime between 2004 and 2006. The girls, who are sisters, were in kindergarten and third grade at the time. They no longer live in Will County or attend school locally.
One of the girls first reported the allegations to adult family members who failed to take action. However, a DVD program recently implemented by the Laraway School District brought this case to the attention of authorities in May.
The program is called “Think Before You Click: Playing It Safe Online,” and it focuses on Internet safety, including a segment dealing with on-line predators. It was first presented to students in fourth grade on up in May 2008.
After viewing the DVD, one of the victims in this case confided to her friend about what Simpson had done. The friend told her teacher of the conversation. The teacher informed school administrators, who reported the allegations to the Joliet Police Department for investigation.
State’s Attorney Glasgow praised the Laraway School District for adopting innovative educational programming to protect its students.
“It’s a travesty that this little girl’s first cry for help to her family was ignored,” the state’s attorney said. “Thankfully, the Laraway School District stepped in with a proactive program that brought these allegations to light and helped police and prosecutors arrest and convict a sexual predator.”
Glasgow continued: “I’m also thankful one of the victims wisely chose a good friend who bravely reported these allegations to her teacher. In doing the right thing, this friend helped the school district and law enforcement to protect other children in our community.”
After the allegations were reported, the two sisters gave videotaped statements to a trained forensic interviewer at the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center. Those statements, which were played during Simpson’s trial, were critical pieces of evidence that enabled jurors to reach a guilty verdict.
In addition, Assistant State’s Attorneys Alyson DeBell and Anna Rossi as well as Victim Witness Advocate Kelly Sullivan worked closely with the little girls to ease their fears about testifying at trial.
“The saddest and most difficult cases often involve victims who are children,” Glasgow said. “But credible statements from the Children’s Advocacy Center and extra attention from dedicated prosecutors and victim witness advocates brought this predator to justice.”