It took just 12 minutes for a jury to return a guilty verdict against a Hephzibah man accused of 14 charges including child molestation, rape, incest and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Sentencing was postponed for Robert Gruka, who spent the past three days listening to the recorded statements of the five girls who said he inappropriately touched them as preteens.
Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine said the swift verdict shows the jury believed the victims’ testimony. Asked about the nature of the charges, Gruka’s attorney, Peter Johnson, said he learned long ago not to be judgmental when taking a case.
“You just do the best you can,” he said.
During the trial, prosecutors showed a video of a forensic interview conducted with one of the victims.
The interview, performed at the Child Advocacy Center, showed a girl talking about the times that Gruka inappropriately touched her, starting when she was 6 years old.
The girl told the interviewer she saw Gruka pulling his pants down to molest another girl sleeping in her home and told him, “You better not do that.”
The girl also said in the recorded interview that she once tried to call police after she was molested, but that Gruka took the phone away before she could dial past the “9” in 911.
This was the second trial for Gruka, after the first in September ended in mistrial because of a mistake made by the Public Defender’s Office.