Family speaks out after sexual predator changes their lives - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Family speaks out after sexual predator changes their lives

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

A sexual predator wove a path of destruction through a small town in Lorain County, devastating two families. Those families have fought for years to free themselves from his grip. 

Part 1: Photo in paper leads to 8-year-old fight to get girl's identity back 

In part one, we told you about one family’s struggle to get their daughter’s identity back. Now, we’re checking in with the family of his first victim.

We’re protecting the identity of the child involved. His mother Sarah agreed to tell Cleveland 19 their story. It all started in 2008, but Sarah says it feels like yesterday.

She'll never forget when everything changed.
 
“It was a Saturday. I went down to the police station with my son and I spoke with an officer,” Sarah said.
 
Sarah’s three-year-old son had revealed a heart-breaking secret to her.

“He told me that Uncle David hurt him. And I said, 'oh, what did he do?' And he said he was touching him. And that he couldn't tell me or Uncle David was going to kill him,” Sarah said.

From what he told her, Sarah realized her son had been raped. This was a man she trusted. Harold David Hassenruck was her son’s step-uncle. He babysat her son from time to time.

But it was difficult to get her son to speak up to police.
 
Without the evidence detectives needed to move forward, the case sat open for months. “He was only three, so he wasn't speaking up to anyone,” Sarah said. 
 
Later that year there was a break in the case. North Ridgeville Police arrested the little boy's step-uncle for voyeurism in a separate case.

 They said he took pictures of a young girl in a Subway restaurant without her knowledge.

During a police interview, Hassenruck also admitted to raping Sarah's son. But then Sarah was shocked to learn something else.
 
“I found out that he was not being charged as David, he was being charged as Kailey. I was very confused, I knew nothing of this name, nobody ever told me of this name,” Sarah said. 

Harold David Hassenruck, 32 years old at the time, had a new name.
 
“I asked him, I said, 'why did you change your name?' And he said that he wanted a fresh new start, something catchy when he got out. That's why he changed it to Kailey DeMarco,” said Sgt. Adam Freas with North Ridgeville Police.

Sgt. Freas was the detective on the case. He soon learned this wasn't a random name Hassenruck had chosen.

It belonged to a 13-year-old girl who also lived in North Ridgeville.

That wasn't all. When police searched Hassenruck's apartment, they found photos of young children and a newspaper clipping with Kailey DeMarco, who was 10 years old at the time.
 
“It was cut out perfectly, silhouetted where she was standing on a balance beam for gymnastics. It was laminated and it was kind of odd the fact that that was her name and now he had the same name,” Detective Freas said. 

Kailey DeMarco's mom Ronda was once so proud of that article.
 
When Kailey was younger, she excelled at gymnastics. She was a Level 5 and placed first in the Northeast Ohio Gymnastic League, with an overall score of 35.00 in her age group.
 
“The Chronicle wanted to do an article on her, so we thought, 'sure, why not,’” Ronda said. 

They had no idea it would lead to this nightmare.
 
A little while after police notified them of what happened, felony charges popped up under Kailey’s name.

“It was weird 'cause it was my name. It was almost like looking at it like, that was you. But it wasn't me,” Kailey DeMarco said.
 
Kailey is now 21 years old and in college.
 
She and her mom spent the last eight years fighting to change Hassenruck's name back and get her identity back.

“I definitely feel like I've had to grow up faster than most kids did,” Kailey DeMarco said.

Ronda and Kailey formed a friendship with Sarah too as they fought to free themselves from Hassenruck's grip.

But the fight isn't over yet.

In October of next year, Hassenruck is set to be released from prison.

Hassenruck took a plea deal for the charge of child rape and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
 
The Lorain County prosecutor says life in prison was on the table at first, but there wasn't enough evidence to convict if the case went to trial. The charge was amended to a Felony 1, and Hassenruck was sentenced to nine out of ten years
in prison.
 
“He should not be out. The justice center, they failed us,” Sarah said.

Sarah let us speak to her son, who is now 12 years old and still struggling with what happened to him.
 
We're protecting his identity.
 
We asked him how he feels about Hassenruck serving nine years in prison.

“He should have to serve way more than nine because he's gone to prison more than one time, and he's a criminal and he's not going to stop,” he said.

 “You're speaking up, and that's really brave to be able to do that,” Cleveland 19 News reporter Sara Goldenberg said to him.

“To have people not go through what I've gone through,” he said.

Kailey DeMarco and her family also fear for their safety when Hassenruck gets out of prison.
 
“Terrified, not just for my family, but the other victim, anyone else. All the damage he did without a computer. And with technology today, it scares me for any community he ends up in,” Ronda DeMarco said.

The detective who worked so hard to put Hassenruck behind bars worries there could be future victims.

“I think there's a great possibility that he's going to reoffend, I really do. And it's frustrating, it very well is, for the thought that you did the job that was necessary, knowing that he's going to go out, and you just hope for the
best, that there's not going to be a future victim out there, but I'm afraid there could be,” Sgt. Freas said.

“It's two children that had their lives taken away from them by a sick man. And now we have to fear forever that he may come back,” Sarah said.

Cleveland 19 News requested an interview with Harold Hassenruck through the Madison Correctional Facility.

Our request was denied by the prison for "victim reasons and other concerns" including HIPAA privacy laws. We asked to appeal the decision and we were told that is not possible.

We spoke with Hassenruck’s mother over the phone Friday. Paula Leonard tells us her son is not a pedophile. She says Hassenruck did not rape his step-nephew and he gave a false confession.
 
When Hassenruck gets out of prison, he'll be on probation for five years and must register as a Tier III sex offender, making him subject to community notification.

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