Like last year, Oak Park and River Forest had its share of crime, with the latter seeing a prominent citizen arrested for sexual abuse and a former coach investigated for sex allegations.
Students, parents and everyone in fact, was on alert as a man attempted to kidnap children in broad daylight. One man was arrested; another similar incident still is keeping the community on edge.
River Forest foster parent and former publishing executive Robert Gaskill was formally indicted in February on felony sexual abuse charges. The two criminal complaints filed against Gaskill were superseded by the indictments, prosecutors said. Gaskill was charged with two felony counts of predatory sexual assault against a child after allegations surfaced earlier this month that he'd abused two young girls in his care for more than a decade. He had briefly been released to attend his daughter's college graduation. As of this fall he had remained under house arrest.
Sex Allegations surrounding Former Coach
More than two years ago, Concordia University fired longtime baseball coach Spiro Lempesis over allegations that he was involved in an incident of inappropriate sexual conduct. In October, university officials released a letter to students, faculty and local media announcing that they would conduct an independent investigation of the incident two years ago after the university recently learned that Lempesis had been arrested in a nearby county for alleged "inappropriate conduct with a high school-aged minor," John Johnson, Concordia's president wrote in the letter.
Attempted Child Abductions
Oak Park was on edge until police caught and charged a Maywood man they allege is responsible for two recent child abductions attempts in Oak Park. Shawn Stubblefield, 28, of the 1800 block of South 4th Ave. was accused of one count of kidnapping and one could of child abduction for recent incidents in Oak Park. Stubblefield was also charged with two counts of kidnapping, one count of criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault for an incident police said occurred in the 400 block of North Parkside Avenue in Chicago. Oak Park Police Chief Rick C. Tanksley praised motorists who stopped to help two victims involved in the attempted abductions and for getting good descriptions of the man and his vehicle for police to use in his quick arrest.
Three More Incidents of Children Being Approached
Just before the end of the school year, school officials and police alerted the community about three more incidents in which men attempted to approach children as they were walking in town. Additionally, police praised the teens for ignoring the comments, walking away and later reporting them.
And for the Most Unusual...
Or certainly the most, well, hard to put into words. Oak Park police are looking for a man who threw a poop-filled sockat a rider on the CTA Blue Line. Needless to say, this drew a lot of attention.
As a Follow-Up
The three men charged with the 2011 murder of Chervon Alexander remain in Cook County Jail. Authorities said Devin A. Bickham, 39, a former North Chicago police officer, had conspired his son Devin Ardvell Bickham Jr., and Cardell Taylor to kill Alexander who authorities said was the older Bickham's mistress. Their next status hearing is in January. Attorneys on both sides are awaiting Judge Noreen Love's ruling on whether each defendant should get a separate trial.