Man re-sentenced to 13 years for child rape

By Sara Bruestle | May 28, 2014

A Mukilteo man who sexually abused his step-granddaughter was sentenced to about 13 years to life in prison after his conviction was reversed.

Larry Lee Grubb, 60, was first sentenced to about 23 years to life after a jury convicted him of seven counts of first-degree child rape in 2009. He was re-sentenced on May 21.

His case was sent back to Whatcom County Superior Court for a retrial after the Court of Appeals ruled that his right to a public trial had been violated, according to court papers.

Instead of retrying the case, Grubb pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree child rape.

A judge allowed the more than four years Grubb has already served to count toward his new sentence, meaning he’ll serve a minimum of nine years in prison.

Prosecutors accused Grubb of assaulting his step-granddaughter when he visited her family in Lynden over the course of two and a half years, when she was 8 to 10 years old, court papers said.

Grubb would have the girl sit on his lap with a blanket covering them and touch her sexually with his fingers during visits with the family, prosecutors wrote.

Her parents reported the abuse to Child Protective Services and the Lynden Police Department in 2008 when the girl disclosed to them what Grubb had allegedly done.

The girl’s mother became concerned when the blanket was lifted briefly, showing that her then 9-year-old daughter’s skirt was up and his hands were under her thighs. When asked about it, the girl said, “Nothing happened.”

Two years later, however, the girl admitted to her parents that her step-grandfather had assaulted her when they were sitting together on multiple occasions, court papers said.

She also said she woke up to Grubb rubbing his privates on her foot when she was sleeping in her grandparents’ bed during visits in Mukilteo.

Grubb would tell her, “Don’t tell anyone; this is our little secret,” prosecutors wrote.

She explained that she didn’t tell her parents because she didn’t understand that it was wrong until she was older.

When detectives informed Grubb of the allegations, he said that the girl “may have misconstrued his touches” because he would often tickle her and her brother on the inside of their thighs, prosecutors wrote.

Grubb told them he wasn’t a pervert and didn’t remember ever touching his step-granddaughter inappropriately.

In 2011, the Court of Appeals reversed Grubb’s convictions of first-degree child rape and remanded for a new trial because his right to a public trial was violated during the jury selection, court papers said.

At the outset of his trial, jurors were allowed to disclose their personal histories involving sexual abuse and how it might prejudice the case in a closed courtroom.

Four prospective jurors were questioned privately, with only the judge, Grubb, his lawyer and the prosecutor present.

Citing a Washington state ruling in 2009, State vs. Strode, the Court of Appeals found that the closure was grounds for a retrial because the judge had failed to justify closing the trial by first applying a test, court papers said.

The closure test, called the Bone-Club analysis, established by a 1995 ruling in Whatcom County, details five exceptions to the accused’s constitutional right to a public trial.

As the closure didn’t follow an analysis, it was ruled that the judge had been more concerned with protecting the privacy of jurors than Grubb’s right to a public trial.

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