SIDNEY – After approximately two and a half hours of deliberation, a jury found a 31-year-old Sidney man not guilty of gross sexual imposition Wednesday afternoon in Shelby County Common Pleas Court.
Oziel A. Godinez-Galvan was accused of touching a girl younger than the age of 13 with the purpose of sexually arousing himself or the child, which is a third degree felony. The Sidney man, who identifies by the last name Godinez, denied that he ever touched the girl inappropriately.
“I don’t believe I did anything wrong,” Godinez said, adding he loves the girl who accused him. “I wouldn’t do anything to hurt them.”
The actions Godinez was accused of were reported to have happened over the course of a weekend from July 31 to Aug. 2, 2020. The girl reported three instances in which she said Godinez touched her while she was sleeping or pretending to sleep, twice over her pants and once inside the back of her pants.
The girl, whom the Sidney Daily News isn’t identifying because she is a minor, testified about the events. She cried and sniffled through much of her testimony and said she loved Godinez with all of her heart prior to that weekend.
After spending five nights at Godinez’s house, she said, she cried throughout her first night back home and told her mother about the experience early the next morning.
The girl’s mother, whom the Sidney Daily News also isn’t identifying to protect the minor’s identity, said her daughter and Godinez had a great relationship prior to that weekend and spent a lot of time together. She and Godinez often would babysit each other’s children, the mother said.
“Amazing,” the mother said of the relationship between her daughter and Godinez prior to the accusations. “That’s why it’s a shock to me.”
The girl said Godinez touched her three times, on Friday and Saturday nights in a bedroom where she was sleeping with other children and another time on a couch. She wasn’t certain if the incident on the couch occurred on the Saturday or Sunday.
Godinez and his wife, Elisa Godinez, both of whom also testified, said he went into the bedroom both nights but never touched the girl. The first night he went into the bedroom because another child was afraid of pet geckos in the room and the next night he went into the room to fix a television, they said.
Nicole Hall, a forensic scientist with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, testified that touch DNA from a male was found on the girl’s underwear. However, the sample wasn’t strong enough to positively identify whose DNA it was, and Hall acknowledged that touch DNA could have been transferred without Godinez touching the girl, such as in the laundry basket where the clothes were found.
During his closing argument, defense attorney Dustin M. Davis questioned why the sweatpants the girl was wearing were never tested for touch DNA as they were a major part of the girl’s accusations.
One day after the girl told her mother about the alleged incident, Sidney Police Department Capt. Jerry Tangeman interrogated Godinez. Throughout the hour and a half interrogation, which was played during the trial, Godinez said he didn’t recall touching the girl, but he also made statements that Shelby County Prosecutor Timothy S. Sell sought to portray as admissions of guilt.
“If she said I did it, I probably did it. But I have no memory of this,” Godinez said during the interrogation.
Another time he said, “I would not say that she’s lying because I probably did what she said I did. But I have no recollection of that.”
When Davis asked him about the statements, Godinez said he was confused by the allegations during the interrogation. He also said he’s a non-confrontational person who generally wouldn’t push back.
“I was confused and trying to make sense of what was going on,” Godinez said.
Additionally, Godinez said he was intimidated by Tangeman, at least in part from his experiences with corrupt police in his native Mexico. He also said Tangeman put thoughts into his mind that made him question himself.
Sell pointed to inconsistencies in testimony from Godinez and his wife to try to discredit their accounts. During interrogation neither disputed the girl’s timeline that they all went to bed by 8 or 9 p.m. those Friday and Saturday nights, Sell said, but during the trial the couple said said they stayed up and played cards until 2 or 3 a.m.
“That’s a pretty big difference,” Sell said. “That’s six hours difference than what you told Detective Tangeman during your interview.”
Godinez said he was able to think more clearly after he was out of the stressful environment of the interrogation room and able to talk to his wife about the previous weekend.
The jury started deliberations shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. A little after 4 p.m., Godinez was declared not guilty.
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