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Hephzibah man receives maximum sentence in child molestation case

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 3:16 PM
Last updated 7:36 PM
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Four consecutive life sentences followed by 135 years in prison was given Tuesday to a man convicted last week of sex crimes against children.

Robert Gruka  Special
Special
Robert Gruka


Superior Court Judge Michael Annis followed the state’s recommendation to give the maximum sentence to Robert Gruka, who was found guilty of all charges on his 14-count indictment.

Four of the charges – rape, aggravated child molestation and two counts of aggravated sexual battery – carried life sentences. The least serious charges – five misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor – tacked a year apiece on the sentence. The incest charge brought 50 years in prison, plus 20 years each for four charges of child molestation.

The indictment listed five preteen girls as the victims, but testimony during the three-day trial suggested that as many as eight girls were abused of Gruka during the past 15 years.

“Those are only the ones we know about,” Annis said. “We wonder how many other lives have been robbed of their innocence and ... how many others are bearing the scars of childhood abuse.”

Gruka’s attorney, Peter Johnson, said he was contacted this weekend by one of those victims, who he said expressed dismay over the conviction and doubted Gruka’s guilt.

He also told Annis that one of the 8-year-old victims continued to write Gruka in jail, telling him that she loved him and wanted to know when he was coming home.

Johnson said he cannot reconcile those letters with the way the prosecution has portrayed Gruka as a sexual predator.

“I need to understand how there can be such a difference,” Johnson said. “The child is saying ‘he molested me’ but at the same time professes to love him.”

Gruka staggered slightly where he stood when he heard the name of the victim. After swiping his eyes with back of his hand, he declined to say anything to the judge.

Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine made a plea for Annis to give the maximum sentence, calling Gruka a “monster” who never apologized to the victims.

“This man does not deserve to see the light of day ever again,” Paine said.

Annis said he didn’t have any doubts that the children still loved Gruka. They’re too innocent to know any better; it’s when they grow older and realize the reality of what Gruka did to them that it becomes a very different story, the judge said.

“Sadly, for those children, that’s just normalcy,” Annis said.

Comments (21) Add comment
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Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 01/17/12 - 04:40 pm
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Go Judge Annis!!

Go Judge Annis!!

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 01/17/12 - 04:47 pm
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Yes!!! Good job!!

Yes!!! Good job!!

TruthJusticeFaithHope
229
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TruthJusticeFaithHope 01/17/12 - 05:33 pm
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Five confirmed child

Five confirmed child victims... and evidence of more. This Child Predator is off the streets... how many children have been saved from this evil man ? All I can think is that spot on his head is from a hammer that one of the girl's parents used when they found out. How do we stop these demons before they inflict their devastation on our children. Thank you to Law Enforcement, the Child Advocacy Center, the prosecutors and who ever else collected and presented the evidence against this slug of a thing.

itsanotherday1
45345
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itsanotherday1 01/17/12 - 05:44 pm
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Mr. Johnson, I do not care if

Mr. Johnson, I do not care if one or two of the charges were questionable. He deserved what he got for the others alone.

Conservative Man
5577
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Conservative Man 01/17/12 - 06:04 pm
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I thought that spot was one

I thought that spot was one of his horns showing....

Dixieman
15982
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Dixieman 01/17/12 - 06:22 pm
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Only one possible response:

Only one possible response: Good.

my.voice
4918
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my.voice 01/17/12 - 09:07 pm
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What a mess.

What a mess.

scoopdedoop64
2425
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scoopdedoop64 01/17/12 - 09:30 pm
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Push button on forehead to

Push button on forehead to activate life sentence!

Riverman1
86885
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Riverman1 01/17/12 - 09:36 pm
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Ha....Good one, Scoop.

Ha....Good one, Scoop.

Riverman1
86885
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Riverman1 01/17/12 - 09:37 pm
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Did you notice he wore a

Did you notice he wore a band-aid over that thing in court?

scoopdedoop64
2425
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scoopdedoop64 01/17/12 - 09:38 pm
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Had to beat copperhead before

Had to beat copperhead before he got here...thanks riverman1

thewayitis
15
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thewayitis 01/17/12 - 10:45 pm
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Wow...Peter Johnson. Another

Wow...Peter Johnson. Another upstanding member of the Augusta Defense Bar. Money matters, innocent lives don't.

my.voice
4918
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my.voice 01/17/12 - 11:21 pm
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Johnson should be serving

Johnson should be serving with this jerk.

Common.sense
465
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Common.sense 01/18/12 - 12:58 am
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Is Johnson saying that

Is Johnson saying that because a victim thinks they love Gurka that it isn't possible that he molested them? If so his moral compass is broken.

CABoatright
188
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CABoatright 01/18/12 - 08:17 am
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LOL Scoop!! This sicko is
Unpublished

LOL Scoop!! This sicko is another great candidate for my target practice!

Riverman1
86885
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Riverman1 01/18/12 - 08:23 am
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I found the comments by the

I found the comments by the defense attorney to be bizarre. I'm surprised the judge let him throw that stuff out.

GaOldCompass
0
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GaOldCompass 01/18/12 - 09:45 am
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Justice has been served.

Justice has been served. After reading some of the comments I feel as sorry for some of the commenters as I do for those in the case. Compassion does not mean let him off with a slap on the wrist. A life sentence is justice (I wouldn't be against hanging in this case). But when we hate we show how low our own life is.

cheeringonthedawgs
108
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cheeringonthedawgs 01/18/12 - 11:33 am
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He probably told these

He probably told these children that he loved them and that was how he shows his love. They don't know any better. Their "moral Compass" has been broken and will undoubtedly never be correct. No telling how many of the victims will become abusers if not counseled.

my.voice
4918
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my.voice 01/19/12 - 12:06 pm
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The sad part is there is NO

The sad part is there is NO fixing this for these kids. In many ways, this is worse than murder. As far as Mr Johnson not being able to reconcile letters from the child(ren), CHILDREN LOVE PURELY.

itsanotherday1
45345
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itsanotherday1 01/19/12 - 12:49 pm
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I sure hope you are wrong

I sure hope you are wrong about the no fixing part. Children are wonderfully resilient, and I pray they get the emotional support and guidance to put this in the past.

Edit: I think it is when things like this happen to them and they DON'T receive the right kind of therapy, they grow up off balance and mature into people who are psychologically damaged beyond repair. If there is any positive in this case, it is that they won't carry this as a secret all of their lives.

sunny13
6
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sunny13 01/19/12 - 01:08 pm
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I was a child of sexual abuse

I was a child of sexual abuse and unreported too. I was 12 at the time and told no one until I turned 40 after 2 divorces and could no longer push it to the back of my mind as I had done all those years. It took a good deal of counseling and I am 50 now and am better but all the years not telling took their toll. I say to everyone who has gone through this tell as fast as you can and tel everyone who will listen until someone does something...do not hold it in like I did, the damage is lifelong.....

itsanotherday1
45345
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itsanotherday1 01/19/12 - 02:38 pm
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sunny, I'm so happy for you

sunny, I'm so happy for you that you've found some peace. I'm 57 and just now beginning to unwind some things from childhood that have negatively affected me all of my life.

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