A former high school wrestling coach who gained the trust of his team and community was escorted from a Gaston County courtroom by deputies Tuesday after being sentenced to a term that could keep him prison for more than 40 years.
It took a jury of seven women and five men about 3 1/2 hours to find Gary Scott Goins guilty of molesting team members.
Goins, 46, was accused of committing sex crimes against three former team members of his wrestling team between 1998 and 2004.
The jury found him guilty on 17 of the 20 counts against him. Superior Court Judge Jesse Caldwell sentenced Goins to a minimum of 34 years and 10 months in prison.
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There were no courtroom outbursts when the verdict was read, but several onlookers were in tears.
Goins’ three accusers, who are now young adults, were in the courtroom on Tuesday.
“I’m proud of the three young men who were brave enough to come forward,” said Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell. “And I thank the jury for listening closely. I’m very happy the judge gave him (Goins) the maximum he could.”
Bell also thanked Gaston County Police detective Matt Hensley and the department for hard work on the case.
During the trial, which began July 17, prosecution witnesses described numerous sexual advances by Goins, often under the guise of training. They testified the incidents, including oral and anal sex, occurred in hotel rooms on overnight trips and at their homes, the coach’s apartment and school.
The Observer’s policy is not to publish the names of sexual abuse victims.
After the jury’s verdict came in Tuesday, one of the victim’s told the court he wanted to say he was sorry for not speaking up sooner about what Goins did to him.
“I could have stopped this from happening,” he said.
But as he looked back at what he called his “indifference,” the man said “I will not let it happen again. That’s one good thing to come out of something so evil.”
Directing his comments to another victim, the man urged him to “stand true and proud. We can overcome. You can overcome.”
In an emotional address to the court, defense attorney Brent Ratchford said Goins had “tried to service his community” for about 20 years and recalled a conversation the two had earlier in the week.
Ratchford noted that Goins “gave his life to Christ in 2008 and changed the way he viewed things and acted.”
Struggling for words, Ratchford explained that Goins attitude was “God never promised it would be easy” and that if this was the course God had chosen for him “he’d stick to it.”
“I’ve grown to know him and his family,” said Rathcford. “I stand here proudly to be his lawyer.”