Kennett businessman charged in taping case dies
Olen Grimes, 54, of New London apparently died of a heart attack
The well-liked Kennett Square businessman who experienced a tidal wave of goodwill after a debilitating automobile accident last year only to find himself charged with videotaping two young girls showering in a motel bathroom has died.
Sources said Olen Grimes, 54, of New London, apparently succumbed to a heart attack on Monday while working at his home in New London, where he had been placed on house arrest last month awaiting trial on charges of sexual abuse of children — the offense associated with creating child pornography — invasion of privacy, and endangering the welfare of children.
The death was announced Thursday morning at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Longwood, of which Grimes — an art and framing store owner — was a member, by club President Timothy F. Rayne. The president said he had been told of the death by Grimes’ wife, Roxanne.
Peter Kratsa, the criminal defense attorney from the West Chester law firm of MacElree Harvey who was representing Grimes in the criminal case, said the cause of death was “apparent natural causes.” He praised his client for his steadfastness under the pressure of the charges he faced.
“I was struck by Olen’s unwavering cheerfulness, optimism, and love for his wife despite the stress he was under during the time I knew him,” Kratsa said Thursday in an email.
A spokeswoman for the Chester County Coroner’s Office said that an autopsy was being conducted because Grimes’ death occurred outside of a hospital or hospice, but that the cause of death is pending. A toxicology report must be completed, which should take at least four weeks, the woman said.
Deputy District Attorney Deborah Ryan, the head of the DA’s Child Abuse Unit who was prosecuting the case against Grimes, said that her office had been notified of Grimes death, but that it would wait until a death certificate is issued before asking Common Pleas Judge William P. Mahon, who had been assigned Grimes’ case, to dismiss the charges.
Grimes is the owner of two Kennett Square businesses, Artworks Fine Arts and Crafts, and My Polished Salon, both located on South Union Street.
According to a criminal complaint filed against Grimes by Chester County Detective Oscar Rosado, the case against Grimes began in November when he asked a friend to pick up a video camera for him that was in a filing cabinet at the Artworks shop.
Grimes could not retrieve it himself because he was unable to drive because of injuries he suffered in the car crash on Nov. 11, 2015, on Baltimore Pike at McFarlan Road in Kennett Township. The collision was so violent, he was trapped in the car and had to be extracted. His legs were crushed. He had been walking with the aid of a cane.
After his car accident, his fellow members of the Rotary Club set up a schedule where Rotarians staffed the shop in three-hour shifts to ensure it stays open. And other Rotarians arranged to take food to him at his rehab sessions every day.
There was also a Go Fund Me campaign for Grimes to help he and his wife get through the crisis. More than $3,500 was raised.
The friend, identified as Andrew White, picked the camera up and kept it in his car until just before Christmas. He told Rosado that when he played the video on the camera, he saw images of Grimes hiding another camera in a bathroom, and then
of two young girls taking showers at different times.
White told Rosado he made a copy of the video and then gave the camera to Grimes at his home. Soon after leaving, he began getting texts messages from Grimes that referred to the video. “Not me, I swear it,” one stated. “I loaned the camera to one of the girls. I can’t even use the damn thing. This is the truth. It was a teenager …”
White turned his copy of the video over to the Kennett Square police in April.
Rosado said that the video was viewed by county Detective Joseph Walton, a member of the office’s Computer Forensic Unit. On it, he saw Grimes hide a video recorder inside a bathroom, covering it with towels. His voice can be heard telling the girls to take a shower. One by one, the two girls, who were not identified in the complaint, enter the bathroom, take off their clothes, shower, and get dressed. Their naked bodies can be seen on the video.
Grimes is then seen coming into the room and collecting the video camera and turning it off, according to Rosado’s affidavit.
The two girls, who were 13 or 14 at the time the video was recorded, later told Rosado that they were unaware that they were being filmed, and had not given Grimes permission to do so.
Grimes had been released on bail after waiving a preliminary hearing in August. But Mahon ordered him confined to house arrest last month after Ryan raised concerns that he had violated his bail conditions by contacting one of the two girls on social media, and had contact with minors at his home, which he had been ordered not to do.
Funeral arrangements are through the Kuzo & Grieco Funeral Hone in Kennett Square.