Matthew Case, 43, of 45 North Atwood Street in Rio Grande, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to a bill of information charging him with 10 counts of rape and six counts of gross sexual imposition.
Authorities with the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crimes Against Children Unit, Gallia County Sheriff's Office, and FBI Columbus Child Exploitation Task Force arrested Case in April after two victims confided in an adult about the abuse.
As a result of the investigation, five additional victims were identified. All of the victims are females between the ages of three and seven.
The assaults occurred at Case's home between May 1, 2016, and April 12, 2017, while the children were at the residence attending daycare. Because the in-home daycare reportedly cared for fewer than six children at a time, it was not required to be licensed by the state of Ohio.
At the time of his arrest, Case was a volunteer firefighter.
"My agents spoke with many parents who felt reassured by that fact that a firefighter lived at the in-home daycare, but this defendant was truly a predator in disguise," DeWine said. "Our big concern right now is that he may have victimized even more children over the years, and we encourage anyone with additional information on potential victims to contact law enforcement."
“Due to the heinous nature of these crimes and the age of the victims involved, my office wanted to bring justice to this situation as swiftly as possible," Holdren said. "These victims are young children, some of whom still do not have the ability to truly voice what they have experienced. Our goal is to bring an end to this sexual violence and assist in helping these victims and their families begin the long process of healing. If you have been, or suspect your child has been, victimized by Matthew Case, you may contact my office for support services and counseling referrals."
“This investigation is a result of our officers responding rapidly to protect the victims and prevent any future crimes of abuse from occurring," Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin said. "Taking advantage of the vulnerability of children is an unthinkable act and we will continue in our efforts to identify victims who may have been abused.”
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone who believes their child may have had inappropriate contact with Matthew Case is urged to call the Gallia County Prosecutor’s Office at 740-446-0018; the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446); or the Gallia County Sheriff's Office at 740-446-1221.
Case will be sentenced before Gallia County Common Pleas Judge Margaret Evans on May 25.
Each count of rape carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison. Each count of gross sexual imposition carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
DeWine created the Crimes Against Children Unit, which is part of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, in 2011. The unit assists law enforcement agencies throughout the state to investigate cases involving juvenile victims.