Child rape accused ex-counsellor sets out claims over ‘unfair’ trial

Darren Goddard, the former school guidance counsellor accused of the sexual assault and rape of boys, claims his prosecution is “selective”.

The trial resumed in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Monday before Judge Kate Pillay. Goddard (32) is on the stand testifying as to why he believes he can’t receive a fair trial.

He faces 15 counts in total — one of accessing child pornography, another of being in possession of child pornography, and the rest for sexual assault and rape. The incidents allegedly took place between 2012 and 2016 when he was the guidance counsellor at a local primary school.

All but one of his alleged victims had been referred to him as counsellor.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Goddard was asked by state advocate Attie Truter to explain his concerns. “The nature of the investigative process was unfair and biased. It was irregular in numerous ways,” he said.

When Judge Pillay asked him to be specific, he said he had a five-page list. She asked him to summarise it to the court.

Goddard said the approach of the investigating officer in handling the case was improper.

He said that parents of the alleged victims were “approached” by the officer with “highly exaggerated” stories and they were influenced when they “did not even lay a charge”. Asked who in particular, he said it was all the parents.

Goddard alleged that in one case the officer used “threats” to get the parent to take the child for an assessment. The officer approached the matter with the presumption that he [Goddard] was guilty, he said.

Goddard said he was aware that certain statements made by teachers, as well as psychologist reports, were not contained in the police docket.

He also accused the police of “fabricating” a statement. He said it had not been made by the psychologist who he [Goddard] had consulted while he was in custody, prior to being given bail while the state claims the statement was indeed made by the psychologist.

Goddard was questioned thoroughly on this statement and was at pains to explain why, if police made up the statement, words and sentences usually used by psychologists were used.

For instance, Goddard was asked what the meaning of the word “affect” is when used by psychologists and why police used the word in a particular context, instead of “effect”.

Goddard said perhaps police made a spelling error. Questioned what the reason was for police to make a false statement, he said he did not know what the motivation was.

Truter said that the nature of the language used in the statement was that of a psychologist and not an ordinary police officer.

Goddard also told the court that his rights were infringed when police seized documents from his psychologist’s office that were meant only for his attorney and no one else.

Truter asked him if he was aware that the law allows the state to compel a witness to testify, which means that the psychologist can become a witness against him in the trial.

Goddard confirmed he knew this and agreed he had a choice to consult with the psychologist. “I understand there was a risk, but my privacy is protected by law,” he said.

Asked why he had not instructed his counsel to bring an application for the return of the documents that police had seized, he said the issue was not discussed.

The case is ongoing.

There was a protest action outside the Pietermaritzburg high court early on Monday morning arranged by a relative of one of the boys who is a complainant in the matter.

More than a dozen women participated, holding placards to denounce rape.

They were calling for those accused of rape to be denied bail and for stiff sentences to be imposed on anyone found guilty of rape.