CLAYTON, Mo. — The family of a high school student with special needs believes a St. Louis County judge went back on his word after letting a former Eureka High School janitor accused of sexually abusing the teen out of jail on a bond the judge said he would not get.
Robert Smith was charged in February with one count of sexual abuse after police say he molested a child with Down Syndrome in a special needs classroom and in the school cafeteria who is not able to articulate what happened to him.
A judge originally ordered Smith be held without bond.
On April 28, St. Louis County Judge Bruce Hilton set a $250,000 cash-only bond saying.
“I believe the bond amount is high enough that I don’t believe that he will be able to secure a $250,000 cash-only bond,” Hilton said.
Eight days later, that same judge allowed Smith to post his family’s property as bond.
Smith walked out of jail with an ankle monitor.
St. Louis County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Bomkamp filed a motion with the court to reconsider the bond, which was denied during a hearing Thursday.
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The alleged victim’s family attorney, Grant Boyd, spoke on their behalf.
“It feels like as the weeks go by, there's a new facet to this nightmare, every time they try to come up for air,” Boyd said. “With the allegations of sexually assaulting a young, vulnerable child with Down syndrome, the level of depravity that it takes to do that, especially since it is witnessed by third parties that are independent, have no bias, no reason to lie, when someone's willing to go to that level, you have to wonder, is there anything that can keep the community safe from someone like that?”
On Thursday, Bomkamp appeared before the judge with a transcript of the hearing in which he said Smith would not be allowed to post anything other than cash to get out of jail before trial.
She noted the form Hilton signed allowing Smith to post his family’s property as bond contained typed information about the property and said she didn’t know how it got there.
Hilton said he wrote it, and offered no explanation as to why his order did not reflect what he said he would do in court.
Hilton also admonished the alleged victim’s supporters who packed the courtroom Thursday. Those supporters include members of the Down Syndrome Association of St. Louis.
“This court will not be intimidated or influenced by outside sources,” he said.
Smith’s defense attorney, Frank Carlson, argued in court that his client is innocent, the witnesses that the state will have testifying against him are unreliable and the conditions of his bond limit him to his home, his attorney’s office and church. He noted his client isn’t able to leave home even for a haircut, so his mother gave him a buzz cut.
At that comment, supporters of the victim expressed annoyance with eye rolls and sighs.
Carlson also said the alleged victim’s name in court – which upset the teen’s parents – and served subpoenas on four of the state’s witnesses requiring them to appear at Thursday’s hearing.
Prosecutors asked the judge to reprimand Carlson for serving the subpoenas, calling it “nothing more than harassment,” and noting all of the witnesses had to miss work, arrange for childcare and should be reimbursed for mileage and attorney’s fee costs.
The judge asked prosecutors to put the complaints in writing.
A spokesman for the courts said the judge would not comment.
The alleged victim’s father spoke in court, calling Smith, “every parent’s worst nightmare come true.”
“This was premeditated over months,” he said. “He infiltrated the classroom, the lunch table intentionally and targeted children with disabilities.”
The alleged victim’s father also told the judge he had gathered affidavits from all of the supporters who attended the hearing in April and heard the judge say Smith would get a $250,000 cash-only bond.
“The next time you think you can send things to the court, you should talk with legal counsel,” Hilton said. “This court will not be swayed.”
Hilton then denied the motion to reconsider the bond, allowing Smith to remain free on bond.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell’s Office was disappointed in the judge’s decision, said Sam Alton, Bell’s Chief of Staff.
“We're unhappy,” he said. “We strongly disagree with the court's ruling. We respect the court. We always do. But we strongly disagree with the ruling today.
“It seemed to us it was very clear that the court held that the defendant had to post $250,000 cash only, and that was the only way that the defendant was going to be released pending his trial.”
Prosecutors also said in court they plan to file additional charges against Smith in the coming weeks involving the same victim.
They can ask the judge to set another bond when that happens.
Smith sat in the gallery during Thursday’s hearing and walked out of the courthouse when it was over.