Towns County, GA – Family members of a child involved in the Kristen Goodwin abuse investigation reached out to Fetch Your News after Goodwin was indicted on 13 separate charges by the Towns County Grand Jury.
Kristen Goodwin, 19, a former daycare worker at the Towns County Child Development Center, faces six counts of first-degree cruelty to children, four counts of simple battery, and three counts of battery.
Suspicion of abuse was reported to the daycare center on June 14, and the Towns County Sheriff’s Office on June 16, by a family member when bruises were noticed on the child after spending time in Goodwin’s care.
The child’s family member, who asked her name not be published, tells Fetch Your News she fears Kristen Goodwin will only plead guilty to the misdemeanor charges, which will not prohibit her from working with children in the future.
The family member says she was told Goodwin would plead ‘not guilty’ to all charges and waive her August 1 appearance in court. A trial date was originally expected to be determined at that time. However, approximately an hour and a half prior to the scheduled appearance, an advocate contacted the child’s family member and explained there was some confusion, relaying Goodwin would in fact plead guilty to the lesser charges.
“This was not acceptable to us so I called my husband who then went to the courthouse and spoke with the Victims Advocate and the investigator,” the family member wrote. “After speaking with them they did NOT [sic] allow her to plea at all.”
According to the child’s family, videotaped evidence from the Child Development Center shows Kristen Goodwin grabbing the 2-year-old child by the arms and forcing her face first into a cot. It is also said to show Goodwin shoving the child into a table while seated in a highchair, striking the child’s abdomen.
The video allegedly shows two additional young victims. Goodwin appears to have forcefully carried a small child by the arms and grabbed another’s arm and face, causing bruising.
Families of the alleged victims met with the Towns County District Attorney, the Assistant District Attorney, and the law enforcement investigator assigned to the case on Wednesday morning, August 9.
District Attorney Jeff Langley stated in a phone conversation initiated by Fetch Your News that 90% of criminal cases never make it before a jury, but he is uncertain if this particular case will be an exception.
Kristen Goodwin does not have a prior criminal record.
Steve “J.R.” Bennett, the uncle of one of the children involved, believes the most probable outcome will be a sentence of three years probation if Goodwin pleads guilty to misdemeanor charges. Based on his understanding, it will be difficult to receive a guilty verdict on felony counts by jury. Bennett also shared concerns the 2-year-old child could be forced to testify by Goodwin’s defense.
“I would be disappointed of [sic] the lack of justice for the children involved.”, Bennett said, regarding a possible plea. “I am afraid she will be able to go work with kids and do this again once her probation is served.”
Both Bennett and the family member who reported the information to authorities claim the child has been “deeply traumatized by the abuse” and would like to see Goodwin tried on felony counts.