Former Elizabeth middle school teacher sentenced for sexual assault of students

A former Elizabeth middle school teacher has been sentenced to three years in state prison for performing sexual acts with two of his students at various times over the course of about a decade in the 1990s and 2000s, acting Union County Prosecutor Jennifer Davenport announced Friday.

Robert Goodlin, 76, must serve at least 85 percent of that time before becoming eligible for parole under terms set down by state Superior Court Judge William Daniel. The period of 21 months Goodlin has spent on house arrest since being charged in September 2017 also will not count as credit for time served, Daniel said.

A lengthy, intensive investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit, led Detectives Colin McNamara and Annie Coll, revealed that the alleged incidents involving the first victim occurred from 1993 into 1998, when Goodlin worked as an industrial technology teacher at Joseph Battin School No. 4 on South Broad Street in Elizabeth, according to Unit Supervisor and Assistant Prosecutor Caroline Lawlor, who prosecuted the case. The victim was sexually assaulted at the victim’s Elizabeth home, in the defendant’s vehicle in Elizabeth, and multiple times at the defendant’s cabin located in North Jersey, Lawlor said.

The alleged sexual abuse involving the second victim took place from 2002 into 2003 in various locations in Elizabeth. Both victims were under the age of 18 for the entirety of the abuse.

Goodlin was arrested without incident in September 2017, and in February 2019 he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree sexual assault. As part of the plea, Goodlin agreed to undergo intensive psychotherapy treatment at the New Jersey Department of Corrections’ Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel, where he will serve his prison term, having been designated a “compulsive and repetitive” sex offender.

“This was never about the number of years (in prison) … it was always about taking responsibility,” Lawlor said prior to sentencing. “Teachers are supposed to keep children safe. School is not a place we think something bad is going to happen to a child, at the hands of someone who is supposed to protect him. So this was not only a crime, but a violation of the public trust we have for teachers.”

Goodlin, who did not have any prior convictions for any other crimes, will also be registered as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and remain under parole supervision for life. He was also barred from having any future contact of any kind with either of the victims. 

Lawlor said the two victims in the case, both in their 30s today, agreed with the terms of the plea, but found it too difficult to attend Friday’s sentencing.

“They suffer, through today’s date, harm that endures,” Judge Daniel said. “These scars linger.”