Family members of a man convicted of molesting a girl at a day care 14 years ago believe he is innocent and do not plan to stop fighting until he is free.
Robert Eastwood’s daughter, Jennifer Reder, stood outside the Brown County Courthouse surrounded by her three young children March 28.
The family had hoped the hearing on Eastwood’s motion to correct his sentence would result in a lessened sentence — or even time at home.
Eastwood, 64, is serving time at Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill.
Reder had brought paperwork to court that she had hoped to submit to put him on work-release. Judge Judith Stewart ruled against Eastwood’s request.
“I don’t see anything here that needs to be corrected,” she told him after hearing from Eastwood and from Prosecutor Ted Adams.
“We were hoping for anything possible to bring him home. Thirty years is a long time without your father,” Reder said.
Eastwood was found guilty of molesting a 6-year-old girl at his wife’s day care on Grandma Barnes Road in 2002 and 2003. The day care is no longer operating.
Federal authorities arrested him in 2011 after finding him in a hidden compartment in a house in Crawford County, Illinois. An arrest warrant had been issued more than seven years earlier, in January 2004.
He was found guilty in December 2011 of two counts of child molesting — Class A and Class C felonies — and fondling in the presence of a minor, a Class D felony.
He was sentenced Jan. 12, 2012, to 30 years in prison on the Class A felony. On the other two charges, his sentences were four years and one-and-a-half years. They were to be served concurrently — at the same time instead of consecutive to each other.
At his hearing last week, Eastwood appeared without a lawyer, wearing an orange jumpsuit and with his feet shackled.
In his motion, he said the court used “illegal aggravators” to enhance his sentence beyond the minimum and did not give mitigating circumstances “proper weight.”
Eastwood claims the trial court improperly used his decision to flee and hide from authorities as an aggravator. Eastwood was never charged with fleeing from authorities, according to online court documents.
Eastwood also cited support from family and friends and heart disease as circumstances that were not given enough consideration. Many friends and family members wrote letters to the court proclaiming his innocence.
He also disputed that his flight from capture “worsened the impact on the victim.”
At sentencing, the court disagreed. His decision to avoid facing the charges for seven years “caused additional fear and apprehension,” the sentencing order said.
Eastwood also asserted that he was not in a “position of care, custody or control” over the victim because it was his wife’s day care and not his own.
Stewart disagreed, and that point was counted as an aggravating factor.
According to sentencing documents, the court did consider Eastwood’s lack of criminal history as a mitigating factor. His only arrest had been a self-reported DUI when he was 19.
The sentencing order also described him as low-risk for committing another crime.
Adams said Eastwood’s argument is without merit since his sentence was not enhanced, but kept within the advisory level. Stewart agreed.
“They were neither enhanced or reduced, and they were made concurrent. There is no error on the face of the judgment,” Adams said in the state’s response filed Dec. 29, 2015.
Eastwood’s family is not giving up. They plan to go to federal courts for habeas corpus, asking for relief from illegal imprisonment.
They do not believe he is capable of committing the crimes of which he was convicted.
“If I was concerned at all about any validity to this, I would be concerned about them being around their other grandpa and I am not,” said Wade Reder, Jennifer Reder’s father-in-law, about her three young children.
“They are being deprived of their other grandfather, and that’s wrong,” he said.
“We’re going to keep fighting it until he comes home,” Jennifer Reder said.