GASTONIA The former East Gaston High School wrestling coach charged with molesting team members took the witness stand in his trail Friday and testified about his program’s outstanding record.
Gary Scott Goins, 46, is accused of committing sex crimes against three former members of his wrestling team between 1998 and 2004.
On Friday, much of the questioning from defense attorney Brent Ratchford focused on the physical layout of East Gaston High School, where in addition to being head wrestling coach Goins also coached football and track, and taught science.
Wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants, Goins appeared relaxed as he talked about how the wrestling program had won seven state titles under his direction.
Earlier testimony from prosecution witnesses focused on wrestlers being “choked out,” a term referring to one person choking another unconscious.
When Ratchford asked Goins about the term he recalled how in the eighth grade he’d been choked unconscious by a wrestler and dragged around the locker room.
Goins told the jury that choking was common behavior in the early 1980s.
He also recalled incidents where older students forced younger students to “dress up in drag and be sold as slaves.”
“Things were different then,” said Goins, who characterized the behavior as “horseplay” and “rite of passage stuff.”
Choking incidents continued when he became wrestling coach, but Goins said it was always wrestler-initiated, not by him.
Asked about the term “coach’s boy,” Goins described it as a “term of endearment” and told the jury that he called certain wrestlers “my boys.”
Among those he named were the three accusers.
The Observer’s policy is not to publish the names of sexual abuse victims.
The defense will continue questioning Goins on Monday.
Before Goins took the stand Friday, his wife, Angela, completed her testimony.
She described the interaction she and her husband had with the three wrestlers who later made allegations against him.
Calling one wrestler “arrogant,” Angela Goins said she chose not to be around him a lot.
The others visited the Goins’ home and one was in their wedding.
One of them was particularly close to her husband, Angela Goins testified.
“It seemed like a father-son relationship,” she said. “He needed that extra support from Scott. His dad wasn’t around a whole lot.”
Angela Goins testified that she saw nothing inappropriate in her husband’s relationships with any of the three wrestlers.
Asked by Ratchford whether any flags went up with her husband traveling out of town with the wrestlers, Goins replied “No.”
Under cross-examination by Gaston County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hamlin, Angela Goins said she didn’t know one of the accusers had hesitated to come forward with the allegations because he didn’t want to hurt her and her children.
Angela Goins said she didn’t know police were investigating her husband until the night before his arrest in June 2013.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Monday.
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