A Cautionary Tale For Any Man Meeting Girls On The Internet
In June 2010, Rodney Goodwin, a Texas based designer and installer of custom high-end swimming pools, began an online relationship with a girl, J.B., who he met through Mbuzzy, a social-networking site.
Her profile on Mbuzzy revealed her to be 20, just has her profiles on several other social sites did, and the pictures she posted bore that out.
As the relationship progressed online, many of their messages were sexual. J.B. actively pursued Goodwin and other adult men for an extended period of time.
Through messages and phone conversations with Goodwin, J.B. described the unhappiness and severe abuse she was experiencing living with her grandparents, who court documents establish she billed as being religiously fanatical and nothing short of cruel.
She repeatedly professed to be in love with Goodwin and sought affirmations of love from him. She unambiguously stated that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, to be with him “forever”.
On J.B.’s 17th birthday, Goodwin wrote her, saying they could be together in “364.25 days”, believing that she would be willing to travel to be with him in Texas at that time – when he believed she would be 21 – a belief supported by her every action.
According to J.B.’s testimony, Goodwin became impatient, and the two began planning for her to travel from North Dakota to Dallas, Texas, to visit Goodwin.
Goodwin discussed the plan with J.B. He provided her information about the Bismarck bus schedule. He told her to buy a prepaid cell phone and obtain a “Green Dot Card” as a way for him to provide funds.
On a page of J.B.’s journal – produced late in the case by J.B.’s family, only after it appeared that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to actually prove Goodwin’s guilt – that included Goodwin’s phone number, J.B. listed parts of what she testified was “Rodney’s plan”: “Green Dot card, Verizon phone, panties, done, go to the bus stop, pay for a ticket, leave. Transfers in Fargo, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Tulsa.”
On Sunday, October 17, J.B. took her grandparents’ car and drove to Bismarck only to learn that most local businesses were closed until noon.
J.B. obtained a Green Dot card but was unable to activate it because she was underage. she told Goodwin that she was unable to secure one at the closed Bismark stores (typically closed until noon on Sundays).
Goodwin’s phone records show he made approximately ten phone calls to Bismarck businesses on October 17. The two decided she should go to Fargo, where she was able to make her purchases at Walmart. The phone did not work, and J.B. informed Goodwin she was going home.
In interviews with authorities, Goodwin said that J.B. was living in an abusive household with her violent grandparents.
Indeed, records and testimony show that he received a call from a friend of J.B.’s family on October 17, telling him she was a minor and they would be contacting the police, and that immediately after that call, after becoming aware that J.B. was in fact a minor, evidence produced at trial establishes that Goodwin told J.B. to go home or contact the local police for help getting home. A Department of Homeland Security agent testified, “[Goodwin] said honestly he once had every intention of being in a relationship with [J.B.], to include a sexual relationship . . . .” J.B. testified that her plan for when she arrived in Texas was to get a meal, then go to a hotel to engage in sexual intercourse.
Despite a glaring lack of reliable evidence that Goodwin was aware of J.B.’s age prior to the phone call from her family friend, the jury convicted Goodwin. He was
sentenced to 121 months’ of federal imprisonment, and will likely have to register as a sexual predator for the rest of his life.
At no time during the trial was Goodwin’s defense team allowed to present evidence to the jury of J.B.’s other profiles, all representing her as being well into adulthood, nor were they able to introduce any evidence of the other lonely men around the country who she had sought money from with promises of enduring love and sex.
Nearly as disturbing is the fact that the Court would not allow evidence to be introduced that the act Goodwin was accused of, seeking to have sex with a clearly consenting 17 year old, was perfectly lawful in Texas, where the act was to occur, as opposed to North Dakota, one of the last vestigial holdouts from the Puritanistic wave that swept the country in the 1900 determining that people old enough to go off and die home wars (we still allow that for 17 year olds) aren’t allowed to enjoy the bodies they are allowed to die in for our Nation.
Mr. Goodwin’s case provides an unfortunate cautionary tale about courting on the internet. Ms. J.B. packed no luggage, left no good-bye note, showed no signs of doing anything but trying to separate Mr. Goodwin from his hard-earned cash. Even by the most pessimistic view of the evidence, Goodwin never sought to engage in an illegal sex act anywhere it was illegal.
The apparent lessons from this tale are: 1. Always be certain of the identities and ages of the people you are courting; and, 2. Uncle Sam expects us, his beloved nephews and nieces, to be aware of the criminals laws of the states in which we talk to other people, if we don’t we just might find the FBI or, as in Goodwin’s case, Homeland Security, kicking in our doors.
For more information on Rodney Goodwin’s case, how you can help him, or other cases like his, email Xaxis@Engineer.com