August 19, 2002 at 5:43 PM EST - Updated July 1 at 8:20 AM
By JOE MILICIA, Associated Press Writer
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Jury selection began Monday morning in the trial of a man accused of inseminating his stepdaughter with a syringe.
Attorneys began individual questioning of 60 prospective jurors for the trial of John Goff, who is charged with violating rape laws that he pushed legislators to enact.
Goff, 41, and his wife, Narda, persuaded lawmakers to change the state's rape laws after a man accused of molesting Mrs. Goff's daughter was acquitted.
Lawmakers changed the law in 1996 to include penetration with any object as a component of rape. Previously, only sexual intercourse was considered rape.
Juror selection was conducted in private, because of the sensitive nature of the questions being asked. Attorneys are questioning jurors about whether they have experienced sexual abuse in the past or there has been sexual abuse in their family.
Jurors also are being asked whether they read or heard media coverage of the case and whether they can be available for a trial expected to last two to three weeks.
Narda Goff, 43, was convicted in a non-jury trial in March of helping her husband impregnate her daughter. According to paternity tests, Goff is the father of his stepdaughter's baby. The boy, born in September 1999, is in foster care.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge John R. Adams sentenced Mrs. Goff to three years in prison on charges of child endangering and complicity to commit sexual battery.
Mrs. Goff's attorney, Lawrence Whitney, argued during her trial that the daughter willingly allowed the insemination to fulfill Mrs. Goff's wish to give her husband a child. Mrs. Goff had a hysterectomy.
The daughter testified that her stepfather, an auxiliary police officer and former Marine, threatened to kill her mother if she did not agree to become pregnant.
The daughter -- now 19 -- has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and depression and has attempted suicide, problems Adams said stem from the insemination and birth of her baby.
Goff had asked state Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer to remove Adams as his trial judge because he convicted Mrs. Goff and may have already reached a conclusion regarding Goff.
Moyer denied the request, saying Adams has not had an opportunity to hear Goff's defense.
Jury selection is expected to last through Wednesday with opening statements to begin Monday.
Goff appeared in court Monday wearing a military-style haircut and a light brown suit.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)