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D.A. Drops Charges of Sexual Molestation Against Ex-Teacher : Courts: The east county woman, accused by a teen-ager, expresses relief. A mistrial was declared last week when the jury deadlocked 11-1 to acquit.

October 27, 1995|PAUL ELIAS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A prosecutor said Thursday that Gloria (Gigi) Goldman will not have to endure a second trial because his office is dropping all sexual molestation charges against the former elementary school teacher.

"It's been an interesting time," a visibly relieved Goldman said during an impromptu press conference at the courthouse after Deputy Dist. Atty. Mark Pachowicz made his announcement. It was the first time Goldman talked outside the courtroom about the 32 molestation and related charges against her, which were brought more than 18 months ago.

She was accused of maintaining a 2 1/2-year sexual relationship with the teen-age son of a neighbor in Thousand Oaks. The youth, who called her Aunt Gigi, claimed the relationship started when he was 15. A mistrial was declared last week when the jury of six women and six men could not reach a unanimous verdict after deadlocking 11-1 in favor of acquittal.

The majority of jurors said they believed Goldman's claim that the youth fabricated the story. The lone holdout said she believed the teen-ager's claim that the two had about 1,000 sexual encounters during the relationship.

"I'm innocent and 11 people saw that," Goldman said. "Now, I want my life to get back to normal."

The soft-spoken Goldman guardedly answered questions Thursday morning about her life since prosecutors portrayed her as a femme fatale and her arrest made headlines. She said she waited until the jury came back last Friday with its vote before she broke down and cried.

"I could not allow myself to lose it," she said. "I had to keep it together for my daughters."

But she said that most of her neighbors and friends--and even a few strangers--offered her support throughout the ordeal. She recounted the story of a well-dressed man who knocked on her front door just to tell her "to hang in there."

And everybody from her hairstylist to her ex-husband stood by her, she said. For those reasons, Goldman said she has remained living in east Ventura County.

In stark contrast to--and as a result of--her testimony on the witness stand, Goldman declined to discuss details about her personal life. Goldman, who quit teaching several years ago, would only say that she is now in the "jewelry industry" and declined to talk about her new residence.

But during the trial, every nuance of the 37-year-old's sexual habits and preferences was publicly discussed.

"At the beginning of the trial, I was real uncomfortable," she said. "But after awhile, you just get numb."

The youth, who is now a 19-year-old Navy seaman, claimed that the two had a varied and exotic relationship between 1991 and 1993. He told a religious adviser of his claims in February, 1994, and Goldman was arrested shortly afterward.

The teen-ager recanted once but then changed his mind, which brought his credibility into question, several jurors said.

"He recanted because he did not want anything bad to happen to her," Pachowicz said.

In dropping the case, Pachowicz said he still believes in Goldman's guilt but is convinced that he would be unable to get a jury of 12 to agree.

"The case cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt," he said.

Meanwhile, Goldman said she is at a loss to explain the teen-ager's motivation. At trial, her ex-husband testified that he had a romantic relationship with the teen-ager's mother at the time. Goldman said that relationship may have played a role in the accusations against her.

"He told me his mother was out to get me," Goldman said. "But I don't see how anybody can be that horrible."

She said that while she "despised [the teen-ager] and his family for what they did," she said she does not intend to sue anybody.

"I don't want their money," she said. "I want them out of my life and to progress on with my own life."

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