(SALEM) - Following a bond reduction hearing Tuesday afternoon that lasted nearly an hour, Albert M. "Mike" Goering remained incarcerated, held on a $120,000 cash only bond at the Washington County Detention Center.
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell of the Leader Democrat reports Washington Circuit Judge Larry Medlock said he wanted time to reflect on the information presented by the state and defense saying, "I don't want to take this lightly for either side." He said he expected to issue a decision by week's end.
Goering has been charged with six Class B felonies; five counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of attempted sexual misconduct with a minor.
Wearing a white and orange jail issue pants and shirt, Goering sat beside his attorney, Mark Dove, as the North Vernon lawyer argued his client can't reasonably be considered a flight risk, one of the factors considered in establishing bond. Referring to an investigation which began March 5 and culminated with Goering's arrest March 22, he said, "For two weeks he knew charges were coming and he didn't go anywhere." He also said his client is willing to surrender his passport.
Dove said Goering poses no risk to public safety, the other major factor that's considered in setting bond. "We're definitely not talking about a pedophile on a street corner soliciting children," he said. "There's nothing to show this man is a risk to society at large. ... He's never been in trouble before in his life." Dove referred to the alleged sexual relationship between Goering and a 14-year-old girl as "consensual sex with a child who can't give consent," making the point his client is not accused of violent behavior.
Special Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp quickly countered Dove's comment: "It's impossible for her to give consent under the law." The age of consent in Indiana is 16.
Leerkamp also said she's not so sure Goering's not a flight risk, referring to his travels, specifically his several trips to Florida over the course of the past year r skydiving instruction.
Patty Calloway, who said she's known Goering for 25 years, testified for the state, saying, "In the last year, he's done some very unusual things." She said in a conversation some time ago Goering told her the skydiving group "was almost like another family." Calloway said, "I'm very concerned ... many people have said for his own safety he needs to stay where he is."
Calloway said both Washington County and the group who works on the annual Maple Syrup Festival the Goering family holds at their farm are very close knit. "People feel safe and trusting. ... The whole community is hurting. ... I don't want to see this happen to someone else. We want to see justice."
The festival takes place the last weekend of February and the first weekend of March. It attracts huge crowds, as many as 10,000 people, said Calloway.
According to his attorney, Goering has very little in cash assets. Teresa Stewart, an employee of the Allen, Allen & Brown Law Firm, said the firm was retained to assist with Goering's finances. Stewart was appointed power of attorney for Goering effective March 28. A retainer fee check Goering wrote bounced, she said, adding her research shows he has only $12,921 in available cash and possibly a line of credit for $20,689. Under questioning by Leerkamp, Stewart said she understood from a story in the newspaper that Goering had been terminated from his position as manager of the county's solid waste district. He plans to retire, but does not have access to those funds and she does not know how much his retirement will be. He was solid waste district manager 21 years, formerly was county engineer and served two terms as county commissioner, losing his 2008 bid for re-election in the primary to John Mishler.
Leerkamp said Goering's behaviors are those of a "manipulative and devious person who may not be above hiding assets."
Dove urged Medlock to slash his client's bond to $20,000 surety, meaning Goering would have to post 10 percent, or $2,000 cash. The current bond was calculated based on $20,000 for each of the six B felony counts. Dove said since there's just one victim, it's reasonable to lower it.
Leerkamp did not ask for a specific bond amount and indicated she expected Medlock to reduce it but she hoped "certainly not as low as the defense suggests."
Also called to testify Tuesday were Deputy Jimmy Strange, who headed the investigation, and Jennifer Reisenbichler, the eldest of Goering's three children. She told the court her father told her he had "screwed up and would have to face the music."
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