AKRON, Ohio – A young woman testified Wednesday that she repeatedly tried to kill herself because of haunting flashbacks of her stepfather impregnating her with a syringe eight years ago.
Shenna Grimm, 23, told the court at John Goff's rape retrial that he brandished a handgun and said, "If you don't do this, I will kill your mother."
"My mom was more important to me than my own life," Grimm said between tears. "I had no choice. I had to say, 'Yes."'
Goff, 44, is accused of raping Grimm when she was 16 by forcing her to be inseminated with his sperm because her mother could no longer conceive. Goff acknowledges he is the father of Grimm's child but has argued she agreed to the 1998 impregnation.
He was convicted in 2002 of rape, sexual battery and child endangering and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but last June an appeals court overturned the convictions, saying a detective's testimony about statements by Goff's wife should not have been allowed.
On Wednesday, Goff was seated in front of Grimm in the small courtroom and stared down at his hands during her testimony, at times rubbing his jaw.
Under defense questioning, Grimm said she did not tell anyone at the time about the threat Goff allegedly made against her mother. "If I did I would have been killed," she said.
Defense attorney Jerry McHenry also noted that the police report Grimm filed did not include her allegation. Grimm said she gave more details on the witness stand than she offered in the police report.
Grimm said the past years have been emotionally difficult. She tried to kill herself about four times, she testified, including once overdosing on hundreds of pills.
"I had a flashback and saw John's face and that's what made me take the medicine," she testified. Her boyfriend called paramedics.
Grimm's son was born in 1999, and she raised him for about one year before giving him up for adoption. She moved out of the Goff home and went to police in 2001, at the urging of her boyfriend's family.
Grimm's mother was released from prison in 2003 after serving about eight months of a three-year sentence for complicity to commit sexual battery and child endangering.
In the 1990s, John and Narda Goff campaigned for a tougher state rape law. Their activism was sparked by the acquittal of a man accused of molesting Grimm. At the time, the law required intercourse for a rape charge.
John Goff's conviction in 2002 came under the tougher state rape law.