Raleigh, N.C. — A former seminary student and church volunteer intern pleaded guilty Friday to taking indecent liberties with boys as young as 13 years old.
Brian "Doug" Goodrich, 26, whom a grand jury indicted last August on 10 charges, including statutory sex offense, indecent liberties and first-degree sex exploitation, was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
While in prison, he will also undergo counseling for sex offenders and register as a sex offender in the state's registry, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Adam Moyers said.
Tearful at times, Goodrich apologized to the parents of the victims he mentored in a youth-group Bible study at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh.
"I'm sorry for the betrayal of the trust you gave to me for each one your boys," Goodrich said. "To the victims, I apologize for the contradiction that I became to them. I can't imagine how confusing the two distinctly different roles were.
"I apologize for the deceit, for the lies and betrayal that led the victims to think the offending was OK and for putting them in the position of being victims," he continued.
At the time of his arrest, Goodrich was also a student at Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest and had been suspended pending the case's outcome. The seminary had no comment on the case's outcome, but said Goodrich has now been expelled.
Providence officials had no comment about the matter either, but Director of Communications Kristie Melvin said the church has strengthened its process for interviewing interns.
Moyers said Goodrich took advantage of his leadership role over the boys, ages 13 to 15, and began sexually abusing them in January 2005. The abuse started as truth-or-dare games and escalated into "more inappropriate activities" as a group and one-on-one, he said.
The abuse continued until police arrested Goodrich in June 2006 after catching him with one of his victims at night at Laurel Hills Park. A month later, seven other boys came forward, claiming Goodrich molested them.
Through letters read in court, the victims' parents described Goodrich as "a wolf in sheep's clothing" and the effects the abuse has had on their children, including depression, isolation, mistrust and doubts of sincerity and authenticity of church leaders.
"Under the guise of spiritual leadership, he manipulated them for his own selfish purposes. Our son is an innocent victim," Moyers said, reading from one of the letters.
Moyers told WRAL the parents were relieved about the case's outcome and thought it was a just punishment.
"It broke their hearts in a lot of ways," Moyers said. "It wasn't a stranger-type case. This was somebody that, before this came out, they thought a lot of him – enough that they trusted him with the spiritual education of their children at the church."
But Goodrich's defense attorney, Joseph Cheshire, called the prison sentence one of the harshest he has ever seen.
"Quite often, people who are charged with sex offense do not admit what they've done. They can never come to grips with it," Cheshire said. "They have no remorse, no ability to work through those issues. He was entirely different than that."
Cheshire said Goodrich was a victim of unrecognized sexual, physical and psychological abuse and that "there were a lot of very troubling aspects to his life."
"He recognizes he's got to pay the price of man's law," Cheshire said. "I think he'll do it with his head up and come out a good person. He's going in a good person – flawed, but good."