‘Monster off the streets’ — Child-rape charges for retired teacher after 2 lawsuits
ELIZABETH – A former public school teacher who has been sued by two former students who claimed he raped them as children, was arrested Tuesday and is now facing criminal charges for the first time.
The criminal case against Robert Goodlin, 75, was announced Wednesday, months after the city Board of Education agreed to pay $600,000 to settle a lawsuit by a former student. Goodlin and the district are facing another lawsuit by a second student who came forward after the first lawsuit made headlines. The attorney representing the now-adult plaintiffs says even more victims may come forward.
Brian Schiller, the attorney representing both alleged victims in the civil litigation, said the status of the second case remains unclear because it’s too soon to tell whether Goodlin will be released from custody pending a trial on the criminal charges.
"We are heartened that after four years, the Prosecutor's Office has finally taken this monster off the streets," Schiller said Wednesday in a statement to New Jersey 101.5.
"We continue to learn, as recently as a month ago, that there were many more children victimized than previously known. This firm will not stop until he is held to account for every child he sexually assaulted."
The criminal charges stem from accusations made by the former student who settled the lawsuit this year. The criminal complaint closely follows what the lawsuit had alleged.
Prosecutors say the sexual assaults happened from 1993 into 1998, when Goodlin worked as an industrial technology teacher at Joseph Battin School No. 4 on South Broad Street.
The assaults happened in the victim's Elizabeth home, in Goodlin’s car in Elizabeth, and at Goodlin’s cabin in North Jersey, the criminal complaint says.
NJ.com reported earlier this year that Goodlin also was a teacher at Thomas Edison Career Academy in Elizabeth and coached and coached Battin's boys soccer teams until 1999.
Goodlin retired in 2004 and collects a $35,400 annual pension.
New Jersey 101.5 did not know Wednesday whether Goodlin had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. The attorney who represented Goodlin in the first lawsuit did not return a request for comment.
Goodlin is not the only retired educator facing accusations of child rape by former students.
A former Hillsborough public school principal is being sued by young woman who claims he repeatedly raped her in his office when she was a special-needs 4th grade student in 2006, New Jersey 101.5 revealed earlier this year.
Matthew Hoffman also was previously sued by an adult man who claimed he raped him as a boy when Hoffman was his teacher in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District during the 1980s. A jury in the civil case found Hoffman at fault and awarded the accuser $300,000 in damages in 2015.
Unlike Goodlin, Hoffman has not been charged with a crime. Hoffman’s attorney denies the allegations in the latest lawsuit.
Goodlin is charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault of a minor, second-degree sexual assault of a minor, second-degree sexual assault by force or coercion, third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5.
Also on WOBM: