December 20, 2014

Medina
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Rape charge shocks friends of Medina Township man, 79

MEDINA — When the FBI showed up at Tess Brown’s door two weeks ago, she was astounded to learn her friend, 79-year-old Robert D. Law, was accused of molesting a young boy 17 years ago.

On Monday, she said she still could barely believe what was happening when Law entered a Medina municipal courtroom in an orange jumpsuit.

Robert D. Law, right, listens to his court-appointed attorney, Matthew Gaeckle, at Monday’s hearing in Medina Municipal Court. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

At the hearing, Municipal Court Judge Dale H. Chase bound Law’s case over to a county grand jury, which is expected to consider the case when it meets Wednesday.

If the grand jury indicts him, Law would face trial in common pleas court.

Law is charged with a count of rape stemming from July 1, 1996, when the accuser was a boy. Rape of a child under age 13 is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison.

Brown, of Medina, said her teenage son and a nephew do yard work for Law. The FBI investigators wanted to know whether he had ever acted inappropriately with her family members.

She said her son and nephew told the investigators Law didn’t do anything like that.

Brown said Law was a kind, generous man. She said he was the sort of man who would send her newspaper clippings when she or family members were featured in a story.

“It’s been very hard to get past what he may have done,” Brown said. “My family loves him.”

Law, a notary who lives at 4898 Century Oak Circle, Medina Township, was arrested at his home March 27 after a joint investigation by the Medina County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau and the FBI. He is being held at the county jail on $1 million bond.

The FBI only investigates federal crimes. According to U.S. law, rape becomes a federal crime when it involves crossing state lines — physically or through the Internet — intending to engage in sexual activity with a child younger than age 12.

Sheriff’s Detective Samo Mernik, one of the investigators in the case, asked anyone else who may be a victim to come forward.

In court Monday, county Assistant Prosecutor Mike McGinty revealed that one more person has come forward accusing Law of molesting him or her. He said both accusers are from out of state and are now adults.

No charges have been filed yet involving the second person.

“There are still numerous victims who need to be interviewed,” McGinty said.

The court appointed Matthew Gaeckle last week to represent Law. Since then, Law was found not to be indigent, so he is expected to retain his own counsel.

In court, Gaeckle said Law was retired, had no close family and was an active member of the community. He said Law ran a side business as a notary to supplement his pension.

Gaeckle said because of these facts, Law presented little flight risk and asked the judge to reduce his bond to $250,000.

“He knew the investigation was going on,” Gaeckle said. “So he had ample time to flee if he was going to.”

The prosecutor disagreed, pointing out the second person who came forward and that the Sheriff’s Office was still investigating to see if there were more.
The judge denied Gaeckle’s request and kept the bond at $1 million.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.