UPDATE: Man sentenced to life in prison after raping several young kids at his wife's in-home daycare

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UPDATE 5/25/17 @ 9:05 p.m.
GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A man will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to multiple counts of rape and sexual imposition.

Matthew Case, of Rio Grande, was sentenced Thursday to 180 years to life in prison.

The victims range in ages from 3 to 7. Case pleaded guilty to there being seven victims, but the Gallia County Prosecutor Jason Holdren says they now know of at least 16 victims.

Case was sentenced 15 years to life on 10 rape counts and 60 months for 6 sexual imposition charges.

He appeared in court wearing a bulletproof vest.

Holdren says most of the victims in this case are girls.

The incidents happened at an in-home daycare being run by Case's wife.

Investigators say up to 20 kids were signed up at the daycare around the time the incidents happened.

A mother and grandmother of one of the victims spoke with WSAZ. We are concealing their identity to protect the victim.

They described the moments when they first questioned their daughter, who felt as if she had done something wrong.

"She was more worried about herself being in trouble than anything and we had to tell her, she wasn't the one in trouble," the mother said. "He was."

Gut-wrenching new details were revealed in the courtroom on Thursday.

Gallia County Prosecutor Jason Holdren says Case groomed the young victims by luring them onto his lap with an iPad full of games. He says as Case gained the trust of the young girls, he would entice them upstairs to his bedroom with promises of candy.

"My heart broke and shattered, they were like family to me," the mother said. "You never expect it to happen and then you find out it does and you have a hard time gaining trust with others."

Holdren says Case would tell the girls that they could trust him and that he would never do anything to hurt them. Some girls even referred to him as "Poppaw Matt."

In one case, Holdren says a girl was trained to stand watch outside the bedroom as Case raped a young girl, after she had been raped herself.

Parents of some victims read statements and say that Case presented himself as a trustworthy man, a Christian and a firefighter who parents say would travel to schools to teach about fire safety.

Judge Margaret Evans addressed parents in the courtroom, reassuring that the abuse is not their fault.

Holdren said investigators discovered 1,300 images of child pornography on Case's laptop and 200 images on his cell phone. Investigators found one photo that Case took himself but do not believe it has been distributed.

Holdren says detectives are investigating if there is any further involvement in the case and if more charges will be filed.

Family members say there were warning signs they didn't realize at the time.

One victim's mother says she started noticing aggressive behavior with her daughter.

"We did notice changes as far as our granddaughter not wanting her mommy to leave her when she would drop her off at school, she was having nightmares," the victim's grandmother said.

They say she also had personal issues and would sometimes be stuck in a daze.

"Just subtle things that should have drawn our attention, but just didn't because we always thought if something like this would happen she would come to us because we always loved her. She was our sweet little miss, and the fact that she didn't come to us and tell us breaks our heart," the grandmother said.

Holdren asks that if any other parents had children in the care of Case and his wife to come forward to speak with investigators and get the help the kids need.

"She has a long road ahead of her. She'll seem fine some days and then there's days that she's just not herself and you can tell something's going on," the victim's mother said.



UPDATE 5/11/17 @ 3:45 p.m.
GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A Gallia County man pleaded guilty Thursday to multiple counts of rape and sexual imposition at an in-home daycare operated by his wife, and investigators believe there could be many more victims.

Matthew W. Case, 43, of Rio Grande, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree rape and six counts of third-degree sexual imposition.

A former volunteer firefighter, Case appeared in court in a bullet-proof vest.

The victims range in ages from 3 to 7, and investigators believe there are multiple other victims.

Gallia County Prosecutor Jason Holdren referred to it as one of the worst cases he had ever seen and urged other victims' parents to come forward so the kids can get the help they need. Most of the victims are girls.

"It's the toughest case I've dealt with to talk to parents that have young kids who believed that they were putting their kids in safe hands and that they trusted Mr. Case," Holdren said. "They trusted his wife, they trusted that environment in that home -- to learn that all of that wasn't reliable, it wasn't true and it was a facade."

Prosecutors say the kids started telling their parents about the abuse recently but it dates back to May 2016, and Case admitted to four counts last month and later admitted to three others.

"It is very very tough to look at these parents who are devastated because I think they feel somewhat responsible, so it's been very tough," Holdren said. "It's not their fault, it's not the kids' fault. Just Mr. Case. This conduct, if not addressed by a professional, can have effects years down the road."

Investigators say they recovered a laptop and cellphone in Case's possession that contained child pornography. They say it appears it was not material that Case had taken himself.

Investigators have conducted multiple interviews with parents and kids, and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Crimes Against Children Unit has been involved with the case.

A forensics team also investigated at Children's Hospital where some of the victims were taken.

Investigators say up to 20 kids were signed up at the daycare around the time the incidents happened.

Case's sentencing is set for 1 p.m. May 25. He faces more than 100 years in prison.



ORIGINAL STORY 4/16/17
RIO GRANDE, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A man is in jail facing four counts of gross sexual imposition charges.

According to Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin, Matthew W. Case, 43 of Rio Grande, was arrested during an ongoing investigation in cooperation with the Ohio Bureau of Investigation's Crimes Against Children Unit.

Champlin says the investigation lead to allegations of sexual misconduct which lead to Case's arrest.

"Investigators with the Gallia County Sheriff's Office and Ohio B.C.I. are still investigating this matter and further details will be available as this investigation continues," said Champlin. "Investigators have been in consultation with Prosecuting Attorney Jason Holdren in regards to the charges in this matter and we will continue to consult with Prosecutor Holdren as we further our investigation."

Case is lodged in the Gallia County Jail.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.