October 8, 2002 at 7:05 PM EST - Updated July 26 at 11:40 PM
By JOE MILICIA, Associated Press Writer
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for impregnating his teenage stepdaughter with a syringe and violating rape laws he had pushed legislators to enact.
John Goff, 41, of Stow, quoted Bible verses and said he forgave the judge, police, prosecutors and his stepdaughter.
"I forgive you for tearing my life apart ... and taking away my only son," Goff told Summit County Common Pleas Judge John Adams.
Goff (pictured, above) was found guilty Aug. 29 of two counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery and one count of endangering children. The maximum possible sentence was 25 years in prison.
He was convicted of breaking the rape laws that he and his wife, Narda, campaigned for in the 1990s after a man accused of molesting his stepdaughter was acquitted because of a loophole.
Lawmakers changed the law in 1996 to include penetration with any object as a component to rape. Previously, only sexual intercourse was considered rape.
Shenna Grimm, who was 16 when she became pregnant, broke down as she spoke in court. "You stole my childhood and made my life miserable," she told Goff. "For that you should be punished and put in a place where you cannot harm anyone else ever."
Goff, who has been her stepfather since she was 3, stared at her, slowly shaking his head "no" back and forth.
Goff and his wife asked Grimm in December 1998 to allow Goff's semen to be injected into her. Narda Goff could not have children because she had a hysterectomy. Grimm testified that she agreed because she feared John Goff after he threatened her with a gun and said he would hurt her mother if she did not comply.
Goff said he forgave Grimm, but accused her of destroying her family and keeping him from his son by lying to the court.
"Shenna, I'll never have that little boy standing on the doorstep waiting for me when I get home ever again," Goff said in a quavering voice.
Bill Whitaker, an attorney representing Grimm, said his client is satisfied with the sentence. He dismissed Goff's statements to the court.
"There's no question John Goff is grandstanding. It carries no credibility," Whitaker said.
Adams ruled that Goff is a sexual predator and will have to report his address to authorities every three months after he is released from prison.
The judge said Goff was his stepdaughter's abuser, instead of her father.
"That's all it was, a rape, to fulfill your desire to procreate. We have a child now in this world that his mother cannot love ... because the child reminds her of you," Adams told Goff.
The boy, born in 1999, has been in foster care since March 2001 after Grimm said she could not care for him.
Narda Goff, 43, was convicted in March of helping her husband impregnate her daughter and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Attorneys representing John Goff said the sentences that he and his wife received were unbalanced.
"It seemed like it's being overlooked here that the mother in this case was a very willing participant," attorney Tim Ivey said.
Although paternity tests showed that Goff fathered Grimm's baby, Ivey had argued that Goff did not commit a crime because his stepdaughter agreed to carry his child.
Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi said during the trial that the circumstances of how Grimm 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.
Grimm, 20, of Kent, has sued the Summit County Children Services Board and Summa Health System, which owns Akron City Hospital. The lawsuit contends officials knew of her pregnancy but did nothing to protect her from further abuse.
According to the lawsuit, John Goff abused Grimm from June 1998 to 2000. Grimm reported the abuse to Stow police in January 2001 after moving out of the Goffs' home.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)