Blake Goudy – The Other Expert Witness

Parts of this post were used in Aggravated.

The prosecution called two expert witnesses. We’ve already covered Ada Dixon. This post is about the other one, Blake Goudy, the man who gave the speech that day at Hanna’s school. Goudy said he only spoke to Hanna for fifteen minutes, so all he could say was that she had told him she had been molested, and that he counseled her about what to do next. He also testified that she named Steve as her molester, even though (as I cover in Aggravated) she might not have given him anyone’s name. Even with such a limited amount of information from Goudy, the prosecution still managed to fill up thirty-two pages of the second trial’s transcript with an accounting of Goudy’s credentials and a repeat of nearly everything Hanna had been telling the jury. The questions to him about abuse were all couched in hypothetical terms, but they patterned everything Hanna said. So, even though Goudy had no direct knowledge of what happened to Hanna, Ross managed to let the jury hear an authority figure appear to corroborate Hanna’s testimony.

Ross began by simply asking Goudy what he did for a living. He said, “I currently am an independent social services contractor providing services to a number of entities in Texas, including In-Home Parenting.” He also added a whole list of previous jobs and training: “a licensed chemical dependency counselor intern,” spent “eight years with Child Protective Services as lead investigator,” was “a certified parenting specialist,” and was “a specialized investigator who worked all over the State of Texas.” He also said he had worked “over 1,200 investigations of child abuse and neglect,” did a three month training through CPS,” plus “800 hours of continuing education hours” from “the University of Texas and also the Dallas Police Department’s Crimes Against Children’s Unit.” Ross asked him if he had testified in Texas courts as a child abuse expert before.” Goudy said that he had, “numerous times.”

Ross then asked him if he had personally “treated” many children who had been sexually abused. Even though the question of “treatment” should more properly have been asked of a doctor or psychologist, Goudy said, “I have investigated over 300 allegations of sexual abuse against children involving anywhere from one to six children per investigation.” Ross asked if there were “certain phases or circumstances that occur in the course of a sexually abused child,” and Goudy said, “You see certain traits, you see certain reactions. You just gain a variety of experience in interviewing over 3,000 children during the course of my career.”

Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? Let’s see.

According to results from a TPIA request, Mr. Goudy worked for CPS from September 1, 1992 to September 30, 1999. That’s seven years and one month, which is almost a year short of what he claimed under oath. His record indicated a termination code of “Dislike/Unsuit Assigned Duties.” There’s a fairly large chasm between “disliking” something and being “unsuited” for it, so that’s not particularly helpful in determining what sort of an investigator he was. He graduated at the age of 26, in 1978, with a BS in Sociology from the local college, Stockman University. The trials were 28 years later, so that’s our potential timeline for Goudy’s career activities, 1978 to 2006.

In 2004, when he gave the talk at Hanna’s school, he was the representative of a domestic violence and sexual assault shelter in Deep Springs called Cradle’s Rest. By the time of the trials, he called himself an “independent contractor,” not as impressive sounding as a “CPS investigator.” Whether he did that to make his credentials look as strong as possible, boosting his status wouldn’t hurt the prosecution’s case either, whether his credentials were accurate or not. If Goudy started at Cradle’s Rest as soon as he left CPS near the end of 1999, he would have been there for about three-and-a-half years when he gave the talk at Hanna’s school. Although his title at Cradle’s Rest was Director of Prevention and Awareness, he described his duties as “doing a variety of public relation services, speaking to groups, doing radio ads, newspaper articles, talking to civic organizations, religious organizations, and schools throughout the area about abuse and neglect, primarily spousal abuse, elder abuse, and child abuse,” which meant he was serving in a promotional capacity for the organization, not as an investigator.

I have no idea if he worked in any fields related to child abuse in the fourteen years between graduating from college and starting to work at CPS; but, unless I misinterpreted his testimony, he said that he did more than “1,200 investigations of child abuse and neglect” during his less than eight years with CPS. Let’s start with that. If we assume he hit the ground running in 1992, and was investigating cases as soon as he finished the three months of CPS required training, he would have to have been busier than the Energizer Bunny to do “over” 1,200 cases in that length of time. Let’s make it a flat 1,200 since we don’t know how many “more” he meant. For him to handle 1,200 CPS cases in seven years and one month (85 months, or 2,585 days), he would have to do 169 new cases every year. That would mean investigating an average of .465 new cases every day (including Saturdays and Sundays), or 3.26 new cases every week. Let’s round that down to 3.0 cases to make it easier to calculate (even though that gives him a freebie of 94 cases over the 85 months).

Since those cases can sometimes stretch into weeks and months, it’s hard to believe he was able to investigate and dispose of all of them as soon as they landed on his desk. If we use an average of three cases a week, he had three by the end of the first week, six by the end of the second, and nine by the end of the third, etc. Eventually, some of those cases would be resolved, but new cases would still continue to appear at the rate of roughly three a week. How long does it take before a case is resolved? Barbara Osler, the local CASA director, speaking of CPS cases of abuse and neglect (the exact type of case Goudy said his were), said that her CASA volunteers had four to six hearings in the first year-and-a-half of a case that went to trial, then twice per year after that. At three a week, even under the best of circumstances, Goudy could have had hundreds of cases open at once that would need periodic handling. Is a CPS investigator’s case load really that heavy? At the end of his first year, how many cases would Goudy still have open out of the 156 that were begun that year? How many would he be juggling at once? Is what he claimed even possible? The driving time alone from case to case would be staggering.

Even if we assumed he meant that he had handled 1,200 cases in his entire career, instead of just a little over seven years, it would still be a lot. From his graduation in 1978 until he started at Cradle’s Rest in 1999 was 21 years. Even that would have meant he handled an average of 57 cases per year. How would he have the time to do all of that plus the “800 hours of continuing education” training, and the “numerous times” he testified in court as a child abuse expert? Does it sound to you like he’s over-selling himself to make his credentials seem more important than they really are? It does to me.

Michael Sirois

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