Jury Deliberates Case Of Stepdaughter Impregnated With Syringe

By M.R. KROPKO, Associated Press Writer

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A man charged with impregnating his stepdaughter with a syringe did not commit a crime because she agreed to carry his child, his attorney said Thursday.

But prosecutors countered that Ohio's rape law is clear and that John Goff, 41, of nearby Stow, raped his stepdaughter, Shenna Grimm. Jurors started deliberating the case Thursday morning after hearing nearly two days of testimony.

Goff is accused of breaking the rape laws that he and his wife, Narda, campaigned in the 1990s to make stricter. They began the effort after a man accused of molesting Grimm was acquitted because of a loophole.

The couple's campaign, which included sending letters to all 122 members of the state House and Senate, persuaded lawmakers to change the law in 1996 to include penetration with any object as a component to rape. Previously, only sexual intercourse was considered rape.

Goff is charged with two counts each of rape and sexual battery and one count of child endangering.

His attorney, Tim Ivey, told jurors that Grimm agreed to inseminate herself with Goff's semen and turned against her stepfather only after the baby was born, when her new boyfriend pressured her. Narda Goff was unable to have another child because of hysterectomy.

Narda Goff, serving a three-year prison sentence for her role in her daughter's pregnancy, refused to testify against her husband.

"Some of you may not approve of Mr. Goff or the circumstances and that's your right," Ivey said. "But judge him on the evidence. That's his right. There is no rape here if Shenna Grimm consented and there is no sexual battery if Shenna Grimm inserted the syringe."

Goff never tried to conceal that he was the father of the child, now nearly 3 and in foster care, Ivey said. He said Goff's name is listed on the birth certificate as the father.

Assistant Summmit County Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi said the circumstances of how Grimm, who will turn 20 on Friday, became pregnant are "not only immoral but illegal and disgusting."

Grimm testified on Monday that she agreed to inseminate herself -- but only because her stepfather put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her mother otherwise. She also said Goff twice used the syringe to inseminate her instead of letting her do it herself.

"This is a case about rape. When you engage in sexual conduct with another person by force or threat of force, it is rape," LoPrinzi said. "She knew he was violent and abusive. She didn't want to do it but she didn't even know it was wrong. They asked her, a girl with a fourth-grade education, to do the unthinkable without explaining any of the ramifications of having a child."

Goff did not testify. The lone defense witness, his niece, testified that the stepdaughter had told her she inseminated herself.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)