Deliberations in former cop’s sexual assault trial to enter 3rd day

Richard Gooddine

Combined ShapeCaption
Richard Gooddine

Prosecutors: fired East Point officer preyed on women, teens

Jury deliberations will resume Friday in the trial of a former East Point police sergeant accused of using his power to sexually assault three women and two teenage girls over a seven-year period.

After about eight hours of deliberating, jurors told the judge they were deadlocked on several of the counts against Richard Gooddine. The judge told them to go home, get some rest and return Friday morning.

The 41-year-old faces 17 charges, including child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, sexual assault by a law enforcement officer and violating his oath of office. He’s accused of molesting two girls younger than 16 and inappropriately touching three other women during arrests.

The earliest allegations stem from 2011 and involved a 14-year-old girl who Gooddine was “mentoring,” according to testimony by the victim and her father. The final allegation was lodged in August 2018, when a 15-year-old accused the officer of sexually assaulting her in an East Point neighborhood after separating her from her friends during a night out.

Surveillance footage from Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center South showed Gooddine arriving at the hospital about 4 a.m. as the teen underwent a forensic exam. He was told to leave the hospital seven minutes later after security informed him that he was being accused of assaulting the girl, according to evidence presented at trial.

ExploreOfficer accused of sexually assaulting girl, stalking her at hospital

An internal investigation into that case led to Gooddine being fired from the department and later charged.

During the nine-day trial, jurors heard from Gooddine’s alleged victims. One woman, who was homeless, accused the former police officer of reaching into her pants after arresting her for shoplifting food at an area Walmart in 2016.

“I felt very violated. I didn’t know what to do,” the woman testified last week. “I didn’t have anything down there.”

ExploreFired officer accused of sexual assault faced 3 similar allegations

She reported the incident to another officer at the East Point jail, but said she “had no idea it had happened to somebody else.”

Jurors also heard from a grandmother who said the former police officer touched her chest while arresting her during a 2016 traffic stop, and another women who said Gooddine inappropriately touched her during a February 2018 arrest.

The grandmother sobbed on the witness stand as she recalled the way Gooddine touched her while buckling her into his patrol car during her arrest.

“He gave a sigh as if he got great pleasure out of it,” the woman said. “All I wanted to do was get away from him.”

Three formal complaints were lodged against Gooddine over the years, but he was cleared during each subsequent internal affairs investigation, his attorney Rudjard Hayes said during Wednesday’s closing arguments.

Former East Point police Chief Tommy Gardner testified this week that Gooddine was fired in 2018 after a fourth complaint of sexual misconduct was filed by the 15-year-old and her mother.

“When you keep getting the same kind of allegations, even if you don’t have the facts, you still have to get this person out of the department.” Gardner said. “I’ve been in law enforcement 33 years. Not one time did I have a complaint that I had fondled someone inappropriately.”

In Wednesday’s closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Yolanda Mack argued that none of the victims knew each other, yet all five women shared similar stories of being violated by the same police officer.

Combined ShapeCaption
Richard Gooddine surrenders after being charged in 2018.

Richard Gooddine surrenders after being charged in 2018.

Combined ShapeCaption
Richard Gooddine surrenders after being charged in 2018.

“Five victims who don’t know each other, over a period of time from 2011 to 2018, have all accused this defendant of the same and similar things,” Mack said.

She argued that the officer used his badge to prey upon vulnerable teens and women who were facing arrest.

In the 2011 case, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office initially declined to prosecute Gooddine on charges of sexual battery and child molestation involving the 14-year-old.

Hayes pointed to inconsistencies in statements given by the two teens and noted the police department could not substantiate any allegations of misconduct during the initial three internal investigations.

ExploreOfficer accused of sexual assault faced similar accusations years ago — but wasn’t prosecuted

He also argued that one of the alleged victims didn’t file a complaint until more than a year and a half later when she saw Gooddine on the news.

Hayes also noted that four of the five women have the same civil attorney.

The defense attorney acknowledged there were times that Gooddine violated department policy, but said he didn’t think there was enough evidence to convict him on any of the charges.

“The allegations are horrendous and they are vile,” Hayes told the jury. “But those allegations alone, without proof beyond a reasonable doubt, are no reason to find my client guilty.”

Jurors deliberated for about two hours Wednesday afternoon before adjourning for the evening. They reconvened at 9 a.m. Thursday.

In a list of questions emailed to the court Thursday morning, one juror asked, “Is it appropriate to say we can’t let this man walk?”

At about 2 p.m., the jury foreman told Judge Shakura Ingram they were divided on several of the counts against the former officer and didn’t think they could reach a consensus. They were instructed to continue deliberating.

“You guys heard nine days of testimony, approximately 40 witnesses, hundreds of exhibits,” the judge told them. “You’ve only been deliberating six hours. It is just too soon for me to declare that you all are a hung jury. You have got to keep trying.”

Deliberations are expected to resume at 9 a.m. Friday.