Sex crime victim shares disturbing story; fights for tougher penalties

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - "I haven't been back to the Biloxi beach since that.  Even just walking my dog, I think twice before I do that by myself," said Dawn Baber.

Life is full of fears now for Dawn Baber, since her frightening encounter with a man in October of 2008.  Baber had just moved to Biloxi.  As she and her mom were relaxing on the beach near Keesler AFB, they noticed a man pull up in an SUV.

"When we started to pack up, I noticed that he was preparing something in his car, which gave me an uneasy feeling," Baber recalled.  "As I got halfway up the beach, approaching my car, I noticed that he was exposing himself and fondling himself while watching us. My heart was pounding."

Baber said the man's license plate was covered with a t-shirt.  When the man drove away, she followed him.

"I was just angry at him.  My mom's coming down here to visit me and this is her first impression of the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Baber said.

Baber said when the man stopped to remove the t-shirt from the license plate, she wrote down the plate number and notified police.  In her police report, Baber wrote about her fears about the man.

"My concern is that he will progress and do this to children or sexually assault someone," she read.

Baber never knew the man's name.  Then last week, while watching WLOX News, she saw our story on Vincent Gerald Goff.  The 37-year-old D'Iberville man was arrested for allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting a man and a woman in Harrison County. He is also charged in two other sexual assault cases in 2006.

Baber believes Goff was the same man who exposed himself to her in broad daylight last year.

"The second I saw that car, I knew it was it. The license plate just confirmed it," said Baber.  "Seeing that car definitely gave me chills, because I had convinced myself this was an isolated case."

Biloxi police say they arrested Goff a second time in October 2008, also on a charge of indecent exposure.  And according to state law, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and/or up to six months in jail. Dawn Baber believes the law needs to change.

"Indecent exposure is very different from public lewdness that I experienced, and I think a fine should have been steeper," said Baber.  "With repeated offenses, jail time should have been a possibility.  If the laws had been more severe, this may not have had to happen to these people this spring."

Baber plans to write letters to state lawmakers and enlist other victims to help change the law.

"I do believe this is the wake-up call that there needs to be more severe penalties to protect the children of this area," said Baber.

Goff is charged with 16 counts, ranging from aggravated assault to rape.  He is also linked to four indecent exposure cases in Biloxi and Harrison County. And Goff is a suspect in another sexual assault that occurred last year. He remains in the Harrison County jail without bond.

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