ATTLEBORO — A baby sitter, who a prosecutor said created a “house of horrors,” was sentenced to jail Thursday after an Attleboro District Court jury convicted her of molesting and assaulting a 4 1/2-year-old girl.
Crystal Goodis, 33, of Norton, was expressionless after the jury of three men and three woman rendered its verdict after 75 minutes of deliberation following a two-day trial.
Judge Debra Shopteese followed the recommendation of the prosecutor and sentenced Goodis, who has no prior criminal record, to serve 18 months of a maximum 2 1/2-year jail term for indecent assault and battery and probation for assault and battery.
She was acquitted of assault and battery on the girl’s younger brother.
Goodis, who denied molesting or assaulting the children when she took the stand in her own defense, was also placed on probation for 20 years. She must register as a sex offender and give a DNA sample, undergo a sex offender and mental health evaluation, and follow any recommended treatment.
The children, who are now 6 and 8, testified that Goodis punched and kicked them on the very first day she was hired to babysit them during the spring of 2009. The girl testified the abuse was followed by Goodis touching her private areas and the boy said the defendant laid on top of him.
Goodis, a horror enthusiast, also wore werewolf and vampire costumes and showed the children scary movies to frighten them during the three months she babysat for them, the children testified.
The girl testified she did not tell anyone about the incidents until about 10 months later because Goodis threatened to come back and hurt them if she told anyone.
Their mother testified the children suffered nightmares and the girl began wetting her bed. The boy started experiencing nervous tics. She said she did not learn of the abuse until she caught her daughter acting out inappropriate behavior.
“This woman created her own house of horrors at their home in Norton,” Assistant District Attorney Karin Welker told the jury in her closing argument.
The mother said she stopped hiring Goodis, the daughter of a co-worker and friend of her mother, in June after her daughter locked herself in a closet and screamed uncontrollably. The tantrum occurred after the girl kicked Goodis in the shin so hard Goodis placed an ice pack on the wound, according to testimony.
But Goodis, testifying in her own defense Thursday for just more than an hour, denied any of those incidents ever took place and said the allegations against her were made up by her accusers.
“Absolutely not. I would never do anything like that, ever. I’m not the type of person who could do anything like that,” Goodis said when questioned by her lawyer, Paula Plouffe of Taunton.
Goodis she did admit a strong interest in horror subjects and to working as an actor in horror-themed entertainment businesses during Halloween. However, she testified that occurred before she started baby sitting and that she was never allowed to take any scary costumes home.
Under cross-examination, she admitted to initially telling investigators she was a teenager when she last babysat children and denied knowing her accusers until pressed by detectives. However, she explained she was nervous and felt intimidated by police.
Plouffe suggested the daughter learned the behavior from someone else. She also suggested the children blamed her client because they did not like her and favored a previous, younger babysitter. They thought that baby sitter was more fun and played games with them, she said.
In their victim-impact statements, the mother and grandmother of the children and family were overcoming the trauma of the experience through counseling at St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River. But they asked for a sentence appropriate for someone like Goodis, who violated a sacred trust in caring for children.
“We need to let people know this cannot be tolerated,” the mother said, holding back her emotions.
Rather than tear the family apart, the grandmother said the family survived the ordeal by coming closer together to overcome “the cruelty and abusiveness of the whole scenario.”
Goodis’ mother, a friend who spoke on her behalf at sentencing, and another family member left the court upset and crying and did not comment.
After her release, Goodis must abide several probation conditions including staying away from the victims and having no contact or employment with children under 12. Goodis, an aunt, cannot even have contact with her own nieces and nephews until after she undergoes sex offender and mental health counseling.