A Union County grand jury returned a 14-count indictment against a former Elizabeth middle school teacher, charging him with sexually assaulting two students numerous times over the course of a decade, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan said Monday.
Robert Goodlin, 75, is charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, four counts of second-degree sexual assault, two counts of third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, and four counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.
Goodlin was one of the teachers featured in an NJ Advance Media investigation that revealed a broken system for vetting and hiring teachers. The damning cycle, known as “passing the trash,” helped multiple educators get hired in new schools after allegations of misconduct or abuse, including one teacher later convicted of sexually assaulting six students in three different school districts.
Though several accusations were made against Goodlin while he was teaching in the Elizabeth school district, he was able to resign and went on to substitute teach in two other school districts, the investigation noted.
After NJ Advance Media’s report, a law that would require schools to reveal investigations about sexual misconduct was passed by the state legislature and awaits Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature.
An investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit determined the alleged incidents involving the first victim occurred from 1993 to 1998, when Goodlin worked as an industrial technology teacher at Joseph Battin School No. 4 on South Broad Street, according to Unit Supervisor and Assistant Prosecutor Caroline Lawlor.
The victim was allegedly sexually assaulted at his Elizabeth home, in the defendant’s vehicle in Elizabeth, and multiple times at the defendant’s cabin located in North Jersey, Lawlor said.
The alleged sexual abuse involving the second victim took place from 2002 into 2003 in various locations in Elizabeth, authorities said. Both victims were under the age of 18 at the time of incidents, Lawlor said.
After Goodlin was arrested in September 2017, a 50-year-old man who was a student at Secaucus High School in the 1980s, filed a tort claim notice, alleging Goodlin showed him porn, masturbated in front of him and tried to grope him.
“As from murder, the crimes Goodlin has been indicted for are the most serious and heinous offenses in this state,” said Brian Schiller, attorney for all three alleged victims.
Goodlin said he could not comment when reached by phone. Goodlin’s attorneys and a spokesman for the Elizabeth school district did not immediately return a request for comment.
Goodlin taught industrial technology and special education at Battin from 1993-2004. He also taught auto body class at Thomas Edison Career Academy, a public high school in Elizabeth, and coached Battin’s boys soccer team from 1993-1999. After retiring from Elizabeth, Goodlin worked as a substitute teacher for four months in Secaucus and then two years in Wood-Ridge.
In June 2017, the Elizabeth school board settled a civil lawsuit with the first alleged victim for $600,000. That victim’s civil complaint against Goodlin is scheduled to move forward on March 26, when a civil trial begins.
The second alleged victim has also filed a civil lawsuit against the Elizabeth school board and Goodlin. The next hearing in that case is scheduled for March 29.
Goodlin has been on house arrest at his home in Paramus since his arrest last September.
Anyone with further information about his activities is urged to contact Special Victims Unit Detective Annie Coll at 908-965-3876.
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