Sex abuse sends ex-Bible study leader to jail

Staff WriterAugust 18, 2007 

— Brian Goodrich Jr. turned Friday and faced the families of teenage boys he was convicted of sexually abusing and said he was sorry.

"I apologize for the deceit, the lies and the betrayal," Goodrich said, minutes before he was led away in handcuffs.

None of the six boys with whom Goodrich was convicted of having inappropriate sexual contact were at the sentencing Friday but parents of several of the boys were.

Goodrich was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand to at least 13 years in state prison in exchange for guilty pleas on two counts of statutory sex offense, four counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child.

Goodrich, 26, had been the leader of a Bible study group for the 13- and 14-year-old boys who attended Providence Baptist Church in North Raleigh. Wake Assistant District Attorney Adam Moyers said Goodrich used his position of trust to participate in and observe sexual acts with the boys between January 2005 and June 2006.

Goodrich volunteered at the 3,000-member congregation and was also a student at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.

One of his victims and parents of several of the boys wrote letters about the painful aftermath of the abuse.

"He's feels used and duped," the parents of one boy wrote in a letter read aloud by Moyers. "He felt that if the truth came out he would be ostracized."

Goodrich's attorney Joe Cheshire said Goodrich was deeply remorseful and was a victim of sexual abuse himself. Cheshire said Goodrich was molested by a neighbor and also a family member when Goodrich was between the ages of 4 and 12. Since his arrest, Goodrich has struggled with depression and underwent intensive therapy to address his problems, Cheshire said.

Cheshire said he recognized a desire in Goodrich to rehabilitate himself.

"I saw somebody that I thought was worth saving," Cheshire said.

In Raleigh, the abuse began when Goodrich introduced a game of truth or dare to the group, Moyers said. The dares became increasingly inappropriate, he said, with the boys eventually engaging in what police have described as group masturbation sessions.

A Raleigh police officer conducting a routine patrol of Laurel Hills Park discovered Goodrich and one boy sitting in a parked car in June 2006.

After questioning the boy, police suspected that Goodrich had victimized him. Additional charges were filed after detectives talked with other youths in the church.

In court Friday, Goodrich also apologized to the larger church community.

"You guys had faith and trust in me and I betrayed that," he said.

Kristie Melvin, the communications director at Providence Baptist Church, said church members have struggled to come to terms with Goodrich's crime, but also have grown closer.

"It's actually strengthened the church, we've been able to lean on each other," Melvin said.

Although protocol was already in place to screen those who work with youth, church leaders now conduct more extensive interviews and requires volunteers to undergo more training before working with youth, she said.

It is the News & Observer's policy to withhold the names of the victims in sex crimes.

Staff writer Sarah Ovaska can be reached at 829-4622 or sarah.ovaska@newsobserver.com.

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