Preachers Sex Trial Likely to Last Months

Brian Shields

AURORA - What is known about the sex abuse case of Aurora minister Paul Goodman is that he's been charged, he's on trial, and the alleged victims recanted a couple of months after the accusations surfaced.

What will not be known until late July is how Kane County Judge Donald Hudson will rule on the case.

Because of a tight court docket, the next court date for the 54-year-old Goodman will be June 8, and 47 more days will go by before the trial's fourth day commences on July 25.

Goodman maintains that the accusations against him are simply a misunderstanding and that he is innocent of wrongdoing. He is charged with 10 felony counts of criminal sexual abuse of a child, accused of molesting his step-granddaughters over several years, according to records.

Defense attorney David Camic maintains that the girls lied about the sexual abuse because they were tiring of the strict rules Goodman established when the children and their mother, at the time the estranged wife of Goodman's stepson, moved into the Goodman house in the 1000 block of Fifth Street in August 1999.

The girls apparently wanted to move out of the house because they could not listen to rock or rap music, stay on the phone too long or talk to boys on the phone, according to the youngest of the alleged victims, who now are 18, 17, and 14.

They thought the sex abuse allegations would cause their aunt in Montgomery to insist they move in with her, according to the 14-year-old's testimony Wednesday, but that it would not go any further than that.

Prosecutors, however, indicated they believe Goodman sexually abused the girls, then somehow influenced the alleged victims to recant the accusations they made to Aurora police and the Department of Children an Family Services in December 1999. The real issues, however, appear to be massages and motivational letters the minister gave to his granddaughters.

The youngest alleged victim, the girl's mother and a Department of Children an Family Services Investigator have all said that Goodman gave his step-grandchildren massages on multiple occasions, apparently for sports-related aches.

The youngest girl and her mother both testified that other people were in the room when Goodman gave the girls these massages, and the DCFS investigator said she was told the same thing by Goodman during her interview with him.

The indictment accuses Goodman of touching the private areas of all three girls during these massages, but the girl who testified denied this. She maintained that the sisters made the whole thing up.

The letters come into play because Goodman wrote to each girl, asking them to let him know if he had "accidentally" touched them where he was not supposed to or made them feel uncomfortable in any way during the massages, according to the DCFS investigator.

He then told the investigator that nothing should happen to anyone who accidentally touches a child in a sexual way, while someone who deliberately does needs help, the investigator said.

Goodman, who began Sinners Repentant Church of Jesus Christ in late 1996 in his former home at the Sagecrest Apartments complex on North Lake Street and produces a religion show on cable television, advised the girls to concentrate on their education, stay away from boys and be good Christians, according to testimony.

The DCFS investigator told Camic on cross-examination that Goodman said he used the letters to "get the girls' attention" because he thought it would be better than talking to them.

He gave two or three letters to the oldest girl and one each to the other two. Goodman wanted them to read the letters and return them to him, the investigator said.

In November, the girls got together and made up the molestation story, the youngest one testified. Late that month, the girls and their mother were asked to leave the Goodman home soon after the argument, she said.

The foursome moved in with the girl's aunt in Montgomery. A month later, they were asked to leave the Montgomery home and moved in with a friend of the mother in Aurora. The family now lives in an apartment building next door to the Goodmans, the girls' mother said.

At some point, the aunt contacted DCFS after the girls told her the accusations against Goodman, and an investigation into the charges started in December 1999.

The girl who testified Wednesday told prosecutor Jody Gleason that the girls became concerned about how far the probe was going after police searched his house and investigators went to the girls' schools to talk to them in December1999.

However, she told Camic on cross-examination the girls were thinking about recanting before being kicked out of the Goodman home the month before. Whenever the thought occurred, the recantation came in late January 2000, almost two after police first learned of the allegations.

The prosecution is expected to call the two older girls to the stand, as well as police officers close to the investigation. It's possible the youngest girl could be recalled, Gleason said.