Witness in trial of ex-Gaston coach describes incidents of violence and sexual misconduct

A former high school wrestler testified in Gaston County Superior Court Tuesday that he got angry with himself for not speaking up sooner when he learned about plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the coach he said molested him as a student.

Gary Scott Goins, 46, is accused of committing sex crimes against three former members of his wrestling team at East Gaston High School between 1998 and 2004.

On Tuesday, the former team member, now 27, described how in January 2013 he heard from a friend about a planned anniversary party for Goins.

“I absolutely disliked it,” the witness said, recalling “how mad I was at myself for not doing something earlier and he’s been a coach for 20 years.”

A few days later, the witness said the friend told him that another former wrestling team member might be coming forward with accusations against Goins.

“I told her those accusations were true,” the witness said. “The reason I knew it, it happened to me, too.”

Afterward, the witness said he contacted Gaston County Police.

Taking the stand Tuesday morning in the second week of the trial, the former wrestler described incidents of violence and sexual misconduct by Goins.

Driving the team to wrestling tournaments, Goins sometimes got mad at them for one reason or another, the witness said.

“He’d stop on the side of the road if someone wasn’t doing exactly what he said,” the witness testified. “He turned his college ring around and smacked us on the head.”

On other occasions, the witness testified, Goins grabbed wrestlers in painful headlocks while “smiling all the time.”

“It was just something you had to deal with – getting beat up,” the witness said. “It could happen anytime.”

Asked by Gaston District Attorney Locke Bell why Goins would do these things, the witness said it could be for anything from taking too long to exit a vehicle to being late with packing wrestling gear.

“If you didn’t do what he told you, you’d feel some kind of wrath,” the witness said.

The witness testified that on one out-of-town trip a wrestler said something to make Goins mad and was punished back at the hotel. He said Goins pulled down the wrestler’s pants, squirted mayonnaise on him and shaved his pubic hair.

During these trips, the witness said, he sometimes slept in the same bed with Goins. Between 10 to 15 times, the witness said he woke up and either his hand would be on Goins’ penis or Goins’ hand would be on his penis.

“I jerked my hand back or pulled it away slowly so as to seem like I wasn’t awake,” he said.

When Bell asked why the witness didn’t tell his parents, he responded, “No. 1, I was scared. They (parents) trusted him (Goins) so much. I loved East Gaston and wanted to be on the team. I just wanted to be a wrestler.”

The witness said Goins’ motto was “what happens on trips stays on the trips.”

The witness also described sessions of “mental training,” which took place at home in his locked bedroom. The motivational sessions portrayed different scenarios narrated by Goins, including one for a car race. The witness said that the first time Goins told him to “grab the throttle” it was Goins’ finger; the next time “it was his penis in my hand,” the witness said.

“I wanted to jump out the window and run to the neighbor’s house,” the witness recalled. “I was scared. I didn’t know what he’d do. I’d seen what he was capable of.”

Another former East Gaston wrestler described a team camping/rafting trip where older wrestlers forced younger team members to strip to their underwear and be duct-taped together.

Late at night, he said, they were blindfolded and taken through a railroad tunnel.

Under cross examination by defense attorney Brent Ratchford, the witness said some of what went on at the camping trip resembled fraternity practices. He said Goins was a tough wrestling coach but not abusive toward him.

The witness described a party wrestling team members had away from school, involving alcohol. Goins wasn’t invited but found out about it.

“We got in trouble and had to call our parents,” the witness said. “I was suspended and demoted from being captain.”

The trial resumes Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.