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Man enters Alford plea to sexual battery charge

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Phillip Goodwin

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By Brian Wudkwych
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Winterville man entered an Alford plea for two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery in a Bladen County Courthouse on Sunday.

An Alford plea, treated as a guilty plea in criminal court, is entered when a defendant does not admit to the criminal act but admits that the evidence would likely persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Phillip William Goodwin, 47, was sentenced to 24 months of probation and 30 years as a registered sex offender stemming from workplace-related incidents dating back to an investigation conducted by White Lake Police in 2015.

Goodwin, the co-owner Pizza Connection in White Lake, was indicted by a Bladen County Grand Jury with multiple sex offenses following a complaint from a parent about a child being improperly touched while working at the business, according to White Lake Police. He surrendered to police on Jan. 5, 2016, and was released after posting a $5,000 secured bond.

Goodwin originally was charged with indecent liberties with a child and two counts of sexual battery, though he said the claims against him are unsubstantiated.

“First of all, there was no physical evidence,” Goodwin said. “There was just he said, she said. I got accused of this by some disgruntled employees.”

White Lake Police received a complaint from a parent on Aug. 11, 2015, about the alleged incidents occurring at the business and involving young girls.

The White Lake police conducted an investigation and presented their findings to a Bladen County Grand Jury on Jan. 4, 2016. The indecent liberties allegation included “improper touching” of the victims.

Goodwin said he entered the Alford plea to protect his two children and because he believes he would not get a fair trial.

“First of all, I didn’t think I’d get a fair trial with environment we’re in now, with everyone saying they’ve been sexually harassed,” he said. “I didn’t see any way that I’d get a fair trial. That’s the reason I plead the way I did.”

Goodwin appears to be the owner of Republic Media LLC, a Greenville advertising company, but declined to comment. A call by The Daily Reflector directed to the company was returned by Goodwin.

Contact Brian Wudkwych at bwudkwych@reflector.com or 252-329-9567 and follow @brianwudkwych on Twitter.

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