August 5, 2014

Ex-coach at East Gaston continues to maintain innocence under cross-examination

Under cross-examination on Tuesday, a former East Gaston High School wrestling coach charged with molesting team members sparred verbally with the district attorney while firmly maintaining his innocence.

Under cross-examination on Tuesday, a former East Gaston High School wrestling coach charged with molesting team members sparred verbally with the district attorney while firmly maintaining his innocence.

Gary Scott Goins, 46, is accused of committing sex crimes against three former members of his wrestling team. He testified on Monday that he never had any sort of sexual contact with his athletes.

Taking the witness stand on Tuesday, Goins sometimes reacted defensively to questions from District Attorney Locke Bell. At one point, Superior Court Judge Jesse Caldwell told Goins to refrain from arguing with Bell.

Much of the cross-examination focused on Goins’ recollections of events and his earlier answers to questions from defense attorney Brent Ratchford.

Goins testified that in some cases Bell had misunderstood statements and “invented stuff.”

Commenting on earlier testimony from a former East Gaston High School principal that he’d told Goins to stop hitting wrestlers on the head with his class ring, Goins said he didn’t remember the principal telling him to stop.

“Is your memory selective to your benefit?” Bell asked.

“Most definitely, like yours,” Goins replied.

Bell asked questions about a wrestling program newsletter written by Goins on March 1, 2000. The document, entitled “The Good, Bad and the Ugly,” was made available to the state Tuesday morning by the mother of one of the accusers. This was in response to Goins’ testimony on Monday that he didn’t remember an alleged incident where older team members shaved a wrestler’s pubic hair with mayonnaise.

The Observer’s policy is not to publish the names of sexual abuse victims.

The newsletter referred to a wrestling team dinner in Ohio and mentioned mayonnaise packets, shaving nicks and puberty.

Under questioning Ratchford, Goins testified the newsletters went out after tournaments to wrestlers, parents and anybody else in the program. He testified that he did 20 to 50 of the newsletters “to help people remember key moments.”

Goins said the shaving nicks reference related to wrestlers having to be clean-shaven and that the mayonnaise reference related to wrestlers playing at the dinner table, smashing mayonnaise packets with their fists.

When cross-examined by Bell, Goins denied that the mayonnaise packets and other references had anything to do with an alleged shaving incident.

Goins testified that he first learned about the sexual misconduct allegations against him when he was arrested in June 2013.

Prior to then, Bell said Goins had gotten a call from a detective who said he’d like to speak to the coach. Bell said that Goins called his lawyer first, and asserted Goins was already aware of the allegations.

“You knew,” said Bell.

“No, sir,” Goins replied.

“You knew you were in trouble,” Bell said. “You didn’t even bother to call the officer and find out what it was all about.”

“No, sir,” Goins testified. “I thought this was all hazing stuff.”

Goins denied he’d ever kept one of the accusers at school after wrestling practice for sex.

Bell questioned Goins about an incident one accuser testified about – a suicide plan that the accuser said Goins suggested in April 2013, saying he wanted to die and needed the accuser to help kill him.

The accuser said he accompanied Goins to a park and followed Goins’ instructions to choke him until he was unconscious. He put a rope around Goins’ neck, planning to twist it tightly for eight minutes – the amount of time Goins had set on his watch timer, the witness testified.

The witness said he ran away when he thought he heard the watch go off. Goins came to and walked back to East Gaston High, the witness said.

Goins testified Monday that he remembered little about the day in question. He told the jury there was no suicide plan and that he woke up in the woods that night and was taken to the hospital.

On Tuesday, Bell told Goins that on the 5.1-mile walk back to East Gaston High “you had plenty of time to think about what you were going to say when you got back.”

Goins responded: “I hope I could come up with a better story than ‘I don’t remember.’ ”

“Actually, it’s pretty good when you can’t come up with another solution,” Bell said.

The trial, now in its fourth week, resumes Wednesday.

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