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ACSOL Conference Oct 1, 2022 


VA: Top Republican Donor Killed in Prison After Serving Nearly Two Decades for Sexually Assaulting His Own Children

Source: 8/8/21

A once-lauded Republican donor and former businessman was killed in prison late Tuesday by another inmate, the Associated Press and a collection of news organizations reported this week.

According to the Virginia Department of Corrections, Mark A. Grethen, 63, who was initially not identified by name, died “following an apparent attack by another inmate inside the victim’s cell.” The attack occurred at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center, a for-profit prison operated by The GEO Group, Inc., a news release indicated.

“The victim was serving a 26-year sentence for crimes including forcible sodomy and aggravated sexual battery,” the DOC continued.  “The apparent assailant is serving a 22-year sentence for crimes including robbery, malicious wounding, and assault by an inmate or probationer on an employee.  This incident is being investigated as a homicide.”

The Norfolk, Va. Virginian-Pilot indicated that Grethen, previously of Suffolk, Va., was a businessman who had been “convicted of sexually assaulting children.”

The Commonwealth’s sex offender registry lists a litany of July 16, 2001 convictions under Grethen’s name:  two counts of indecent liberties with a child by a custodian; two counts of forcible sodomy; and two counts of aggravated sexual battery.  At least two of the counts involved minors, according to the registry records.

A 2006 federal court opinion recapped some of the details of Grethen’s case.  Judge Rebecca Smith said Grethen’s grievances about his defense attorney were “frivolous” — “almost to the point of being disrespectful” given the facts:

It must be remembered that petitioner abused his own children, who were, at the time, approximately five and three years of age. The matter was discovered only when petitioner’s wife found him engaged in sexual behavior with one of the children and found the children engaged in sexual behavior on another occasion.

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