Trial witnesses describe ex-Gaston wrestling coach’s alleged sex crimes

A prosecution witness faced his former high school wrestling coach in a Gaston County courtroom Friday and described in graphic detail the coach’s alleged sexual misconduct and intimidation of team members.

Gary Scott Goins, 46, is standing trial on 20 felony sex crime charges, including indecent liberties with a child, statutory rape, sex offense with a student and crimes against nature.

Goins is accused of committing the alleged crimes against three former members of his wrestling team at East Gaston High School between 1998 and 2004.

The first witness called by Gaston District Attorney Locke Bell was a 32-year-old man who told the jury about overnight trips with the wrestling team and sleeping in the same bed with Goins. The Observer’s policy is not to publish the names of sexual abuse victims.

His first trip was the summer between the ninth and 10th grades to a wrestling camp at Appalachian State University. The man said the wrestlers stayed at a private residence. After falling asleep that night, he said he woke up and discovered Goins had grabbed his hand and put it on the coach’s penis.

“I jerked away, rolled over and tucked my hands under the pillow,” the man said. “Then I went back to sleep.”

The man testified that Goins repeated this behavior “over a dozen” times in the coming years.

When Bell asked him why he didn’t tell his parents about the coach’s actions, he responded: “I didn’t know how. I was scared. I didn’t know if they’d believe me.”

While parents came along on the overnight trips, the man said they always got separate rooms.

He also described what he said was Goins’ fondness for ripping off underwear from wrestlers and sessions of an exercise called “mental training.”

According to the man, the sessions took place in his locked bedroom when his parents weren’t at home. He said Goins lit a candle and then narrated different motivational scenarios “all to make you a tougher mental wrestler.”

However, the man said the training became sexual and included instances of oral sex with such “props” as a blond wig.

The man said his parents trusted Goins.

“He took me all over the U.S. to be a better wrestler,” he said. “And I became a better wrestler.”

The alleged sexual abuse inflicted by Goins was something “I kept pushing down,” he said. “I was hiding this from myself and everybody else.”

Last year, he decided “it was time to tell.” When he was interviewed by a Gaston County police detective, “I poured my guts out,” he said.

On Friday, the jury watched a video of that interview. Near the end, the man told the detective “this is not something you talk about every day. This is not easy.”

But after telling the story, he said “I feel a little better.”

Bell also questioned a second man about what he had observed while serving as captain of the East Gaston wrestling team in the late 1990s.

The man, who is now 33, recalled a trip to DisneyWorld where he and another wrestler were directed by Goins to put makeup on younger members of the team.

What started out as a joke “got very obscene,” he said. “It went from bad to worse. Goins had us to pose them in sexual positions, and he was taking pictures.”

The man testified that he later saw some of the photos in a folder in the top drawer of Goins’ filing cabinet.

He told the jury that Goins sometimes randomly jumped on wrestlers for what he described as a “choking out.” If wrestlers didn’t respond by saying “I’m your bitch,” the man said Goins choked them until they passed out.

At one point, the man said he confronted Goins and called him a “sick SOB.” Later, after he got kicked off the team, the man said he transferred to North Gaston High School and became captain of the wrestling team there.

When Bell asked whether he’d ever tried to get the school system to do something about Goins’ behavior, the man replied “multiple times.”

The man said the parents of some wrestlers who were aware of what he’d seen asked him whether he would sign a formal affidavit and he agreed. The document was supposed to go to the school board, but the man didn’t know what became of it.

The trial, which resumes Monday, is expected to last two to three weeks.