All-clear for Goddard trial
The boys who were allegedly sexually assaulted and raped by their guidance counsellor, Darren Goddard, are expected to finally start telling their stories in court on Monday.
Although the trial began in January, it has so far been riddled with technical evidence and has suffered several setbacks — from an application for the judge to be recused to the initial prosecutor stepping down and being replaced.
This week, it was all about whether or not Goddard’s rights have been infringed.
But on Wednesday, the case took another twist in the Pietermaritzburg high court that will see his rights no longer taking centre stage.
The state and defence came to an agreement regarding issues over which they were previously at loggerheads.
Goddard has pleaded not guilty to 15 charges.
One is for accessing child pornography, another for being in possession of child pornography, and the remainder are for sexual assault and rape.
The incidents allegedly took place between 2012 and 2016 at a time when he was the guidance counsellor at a local primary school. All but one of his alleged victims had allegedly been referred to him as counsellor.
Certain parents and relatives of the boys have attended the trial to attentively follow what is going on, but not all on a daily basis. Goddard’s mother also sometimes sits in.
The trial is being heard in-camera because of its sensitive nature and members of the public are not allowed to attend.
The father of one of the alleged victims told The Witness on Wednesday afternoon: “I think at the end of the day, all of us parents share the same sentiments. It looks like justice is starting to take its course. I am happy.”
He added it is time for the children to come to court and disclose what happened. The court can then decide.
The father said it seems as if one of the hurdles has been overcome.
Goddard spent two days on the stand this week disputing that his psychologist had made a particular statement to police about him. He was unwavering in his assertions that police “made up” the statement.
Advocate Shane Matthews said on Wednesday that he instituted an investigation relating to the disputed document and found that the psychologist e-mailed “the first document as well as the statement on 7 June 2017, that appears to be the disputed document” to Goddard’s legal representative at the time. “All the allegations against the SAPS made by us that they fabricated the disputed statements are unconditionally withdrawn by the defence,” said Matthews.
Matthews further added that the state had now conceded that a search of the psychologist’s office to seize documents was not proper and that no evidence obtained as a result will be presented in court. However, he said the infringement of Goddard’s professional legal privilege and the various irregularities he complains of still remain. Matthews conceded that the court will only be able to rule on these once the state has finished leading its evidence. In a nutshell, the trial-within-the-trial that was delaying the real trial from starting has now been abandoned.
The case was adjourned till Monday.