After pleading guilty to one count of engaging in a lascivious act with a minor, 19-year-old Kraigen Grooms received a 10-year suspended sentence on Monday.
Grooms admitted to sexually abusing a baby girl when he was 16. At the time the act was committed, at least one other grown man watched and recorded the assault via webcam. Grooms performed that acts in Ottumwa, Iowa, while a man in New Orleans and Ireland watched on Skype.
Wapello County Attorney Gary Oldenburger claimed that Grooms was lured into committing the acts while speaking with the men in an online chat room. However, at the time, Grooms believed he was speaking with a teenage girl, Oldenburger said.
After Grooms performed the sex acts, photos of the teen were posted by a “John Doe” and appeared on underground child pornography sites. Ottumwa police used social media to help identity and arrest Grooms, who was taken into custody in March of 2014.
By the time Grooms plead guilty, he had been detained in jail for 860 days. When the teen made his plea, parents of the young girl he molested surprisingly requested that he not be sent to prison or serve any long term jail time. The judge then served Grooms with a 10-year suspended sentence and he was released.
Oldenburger said that the infant’s parents were more concerned with Grooms receiving treatment for his actions.
“While the abuse Grooms committed is disturbing, it would not be accurate to describe it as ‘raping a toddler’ as it has been described on certain websites. The child was not injured, no pain was inflicted, and the child was too young to even be aware of what was happening. The child suffered no ill effects as a result of Grooms’ actions. Additionally, it was not Grooms idea to commit the abuse and he did not know the abuse was being recorded. The abuse was committed at the behest of two men who had, over a long period of time, perfected a technique for duping children into committing sexual acts that they would not have otherwise engaged in. They were so skillful and persuasive in their efforts that they successfully convinced hundreds of children to engage in sexual activity while they surreptitiously recorded it. It seems unlikely that Grooms would have engaged in the abuse under any other circumstances or of his own volition,” Olderburger said in a statement.
Many people have criticized the judge, identified as Judge Randy Degeest, for his seemingly lax sentence. There is currently an online petition to get Degeest fired.
Now that Grooms is out of jail, he will forever remain on the sex offender list. If he makes any future violations, he could receive up to ten years in prison.
(Photo: Hans Neleman/Getty Images)