August 29, 2002 at 7:02 PM EST - Updated August 2 at 5:13 AM
By M.R. KROPKO, Associated Press Writer
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A man was convicted Thursday of inseminating his then 16-year-old stepdaughter with a syringe full of his semen, violating rape laws he had pushed legislators to enact.
After deliberating for just over 2½ hours, jurors found John Goff, 41, of nearby Stow, guilty of two counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery and one count of endangering children. He is to be sentenced Oct. 8 and could face up to 35 years in prison.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge John Adams said he also will hold a hearing to determine if Goff should be labeled a sexual offender, meaning he has to register with local authorities for 10 years after he is released from prison.
Goff (pictured, above) frowned and looked at his family as the verdicts were read.
His sister, Lynne Cain, said, "I love you," as he was led away in handcuffs.
Paternity tests showed that Goff fathered his stepdaughter's baby. The boy, born in 1999, is in foster care.
Goff's wife, 43-year-old Narda Goff, was convicted in March of helping him impregnate her daughter, Shenna Grimm, and was sentenced to three years in prison. She refused to testify against her husband.
The couple had campaigned in the 1990s for tougher rape laws after a man accused of molesting the stepdaughter was acquitted because of a loophole.
Their efforts, which included sending letters to all 122 members of the state House and Senate, helped persuade 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.
County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said Grimm was "very happy" with the verdict.
"I think that the victim came off as very credible in this case," Walsh said. "Certainly, she's been through a terrible ordeal and I think that the jury was probably able to see that she's had a lot of difficulties in her life as a result of this."
Defense attorneys would not comment after the verdicts. Messages were left at their offices.
In closing statements Thursday, defense lawyer Tim Ivey argued that Goff did not commit a crime because his stepdaughter agreed to carry his child. Mrs. Goff had had a hysterectomy and was unable to have another baby.
Ivey told jurors that Grimm turned against Goff after the baby was born and her new boyfriend pressured her.
Grimm testified that she agreed to inseminate herself -- but only because her stepfather, an auxiliary police officer and former Marine, 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.
Assistant Summit 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 has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and depression and has attempted suicide.
"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."
Grimm testified at her mother's trial that she was removed from school after the fourth grade and that her parents did a poor job of home-schooling her.
Narda Goff's brother, Art Grimm, said the truth did not come out in John Goff's trial.
"Shenna proclaims that she never wanted to have a kid, but a year before the insemination she was proclaiming to everybody that she wanted to get pregnant and she didn't care how," he said.
He said that while he doesn't think the Goffs committed a crime, he doesn't think they used the best judgment.
"I do not believe what they did as far as artificial insemination was a proper thing for them to do," he said. "They should have waited until Shenna was an adult and then asked her."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)