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Jury: Man not guilty in molestation case

BY CAROLINE EGGERS - ceggers@perutribune.com

A Peru man charged with child molesting was found not guilty by a Miami County jury Wednesday.

Rodney Goshert had been charged with two counts of child molesting in 2016.

The trial lasted three days. 

During the closing arguments, citizens huddled in the Circuit Court pews during the final arguments, some putting their arms around their neighbor’s shoulders as others cried.

Many citizens were shaking their heads – in disgust – as they heard graphic descriptions of the allegations.

Criminal Defense Attorney Gary Cook argued that the “smart young lady” would have been 10 years old at the time of the crime and would have yelled for help if she were being molested.

“It’s common sense,” he said.

Cook said maybe the man was just trying to comfort the girl when he was rubbing her back.

Children may not learn about inappropriate behavior until school, such as “there are some touches they should not tolerate,” said Miami County Chief Prosecutor Bruce Embrey.

Embrey later said that often little girls think certain adults are going to protect them.

Cook argued that there were discrepancies in the dates that were presented.

Dates not matching doesn’t necessarily mean an element of defense, Judge Tim Spahr said earlier.

Children aren’t likely to remember specific dates and times that occurred years previously, Embrey said.

Embrey pointed out to the jury that Cook called the girl, who is now 12, a liar seven times in his opening statement.

He didn’t see any evidence for her wanting to convict Goshert, including no financial incentive.

“She has been damaged irreparably,” Embrey said.

Spahr said there was a disagreement in the evidence presented.

“I will leave it to the hands of the jury,” Spahr said.

After about two hours of deliberations the eight women and four men came back with the “not guilty” verdict.

When there is no physical evidence in a case, it’s hard to convince people, Embrey later said. But he was convinced that the incidents did happen, so he agreed to take on the case.

Jurors have a tough job, so Embrey said he can’t criticize them.

“If they weren’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, they did what they had to do,” he said. “We did the best we could.”