ATLANTA - For more than two years, no one believed Rosa Woodard’s story. Her sex assault claim against an East Point police officer was closed via an internal investigation in a matter of two months.
“Ms. Woodard ... We have exhausted all avenues to gather information and locate witnesses to support the facts of your encounter,” read an April 15, 2016 letter from the East Point Police Department
to the now-60-year-old woman. “There is not enough evidence to support your claim of inappropriate touching and this matter will be considered closed by the Office of Internal Affairs.”
Records show Officer Richard Gooddine wasn’t wearing a body camera. Management changed at the gas station along Sylvan Road and Cleveland Avenue. No one retrieved the surveillance.
But Friday night, as Woodard stayed glued to the television. Channel 2 cameras captured Gooddine turning himself into the Fulton County jail.
He’s facing 15 intimidation and sex assault-related charges, including two for the assault for which no one would take Woodard’s word. Several charges are related to abusing a minor.
“I was crying,” Woodard told Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr on Monday. “Crying because I felt some type of relief.”
“They told you there wasn’t enough evidence against him,” Carr reminded her.
“This should have been addressed and handled then,” Woodard replied.
VICTIMS SAY THERE’S A ROAD TO JUSTICE
Woodard’s story was one of several similar sexual assault allegations Carr discovered in Gooddine’s 11-year-old personnel file, about a week after his firing from the EPPD.
In mid-August, Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne reported on the weekend assault of a 15-year-old girl who said Gooddine attacked her when he had her in custody for a curfew violation.
That led to Gooddine’s firing days later. Carr was the only reporter at East Point Police Headquarters as Gooddine was escorted out of the building.
“Not guilty ... leave me alone,” he said to Carr, following a string of questions about the 15-year-old’s allegations.
Soon after, Winne obtained the surveillance video that pointed to what the department deemed a violation of professional standards. Gooddine was walking the halls of the hospital where the 15-year-old was being treated.
- Aug. 31, 2018: Ex-officer accused of sexual assault, child molestation, turns himself into jail
- Aug. 30, 2018: 'It's a terrible feeling': Woman talks about alleged sexual assault by ex-Sgt.
- Aug. 29, 2018: Police Sgt. accused of sexually assaulting girl, 15, faced other allegations
- Aug. 22, 2018: Police Sgt. accused of sexually assaulting 15-year-old girl terminated
- Aug. 21, 2018: Girl, 15, says police officer sexually assaulted her for hours; GBI investigating
He was stalking her, the family attorney and girl’s mother told Winne, who also uncovered a 2011 alleged assault against a 14-year-old girl.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told Winne the case was not prosecuted then, in an effort not to “re-traumatize” the victim.
Within days, an open records request filed by Winne and reviewed by Carr revealed two more similar incidents.
One was in August of 2018, when a shoplifting suspect told police Gooddine pulled her pants back and groped her while she was handcuffed at the jail.
Another was in February of 2016, when Woodard said Gooddine pulled her over for a broken brake light at Sylvan Road and Cleveland Avenue.
Her 4-year-old grandson was crying in the back seat when Gooddine discovered a suspended license record, and yelled for Woodard to get out of the car.
As she was handcuffed in broad daylight, Woodard said Goodine laid his body over her to settle her
into the squad car.
She said his hands were shaking and he smelled of alcohol and wore dark shades. She couldn’t see his eyes. Her account matches records from two years ago in the personnel file.
"When you go over to lock me in, you take your hand, go up the side and fondle my breasts, and you're telling me, 'Don't look at you. Turn your head,’” she recalled to Carr. 'I'm not to look at you.' Why are you telling me not to look at you? I need to look at you. This is my body. You violated it.”
Woodard said it got worse when Gooddine took the long route to headquarters.
“He told me he was above the law and he could do anything to me and get away with it,” Woodard told Carr.
It’s still unclear what led to the state filing charges in the cases that were closed long ago in IA investigations, and the GBI is still investigating the August claims. Woodard said she was just granted a copy of her incident report and claims last week. They were requested and denied shortly after the incidents, she said.
Woodard is now represented by Thomas Reynolds, the attorney for several other victims. They’re both encouraging others to come forward.
“And I pray, please, Paul Howard, please give us justice,” Woodard said. “Listen to us, because nobody listened to me two years ago.”
© 2019 Cox Media Group.