Stepdaughter Says She Was Forced To Allow Insemination With Syringe
August 26, 2002 at 6:42 PM EDT - Updated July 1 at 9:25 AM
By PAUL SINGER, Associated Press Writer
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A man charged with using a syringe to impregnate his stepdaughter used threats to get her to cooperate, the young woman testified Monday.
Shenna Grimm, 19, told jurors that her stepfather, John Goff, threatened to kill her mother if she refused to carry his child.
Goff, 41, is accused of violating a state rape law that he and his wife, Narda, campaigned to strengthen. The law was changed in 1996 to redefine rape to include penetration with any object.
"Rape is rape, no matter what you use," Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Carolyn Mulligan said in her opening statement Monday in Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Goff's lawyer, Walter Madison, did not dispute that the girl was impregnated with her stepfather's semen. However, Madison said she was a willing participant in a plan to conceive a child for her stepfather because her mother had had a hysterectomy.
"This is a case about an agreement in matters of procreation," he said. "This was not her child, this was John Goff's and his wife's child."
Grimm, who is allowing her name to be used, became pregnant at age 16. The baby boy was born in 1999 and is now in foster care.
Goff, of nearby Stow, is charged with rape, sexual battery and child endangering. He faces 25 to 35 years in prison, depending on whether some of the charges are merged, prosecutors said.
Mrs. Goff, 43, was convicted earlier of child endangerment for helping her husband and is serving a three-year sentence. She refused to testify at her husband's trial Monday, invoking the Fifth Amendment protection against incriminating herself.
Prosecutors said they had been prepared to offer her immunity from any additional charges. They now will try to use her statements to police as evidence against her husband. The trial was scheduled to resume Wednesday.
Goff's lawyers emphasized that his stepdaughter did not report the case to authorities until a year after the child was born and she was no longer living at home. Grimm also acknowledged under cross-examination that there were no witnesses to confirm her allegations that Goff threatened her at gunpoint and forcibly inseminated her.
But she said that when her stepfather and mother initially proposed that she serve as a surrogate mother, she refused, because "I knew something was wrong with me having his child."
The Goffs had helped to persuade lawmakers to change the state's rape law after a man accused of molesting Grimm was acquitted because he did not have sexual intercourse with her.
While the judge and lawyers discussed the legal issues in a separate room, John and Narda Goff exchanged pleasantries across the empty courtroom. John Goff stood and performed a pirouette to show her his suit, and his wife, handcuffed and wearing an orange jumpsuit, smiled. Officers who had escorted her into the room ordered him to sit back down.
John Goff wiped tears from his eyes and said "I love you, sweetheart."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)