October 17, 2006
Dean Gossett, a custodian at an Augusta elementary school, was arrested this afternoon and charged with child molestation and soliciting a minor for indecent purposes.
Officers say he videotaped the alleged incident.
Diamond Lakes Elementary just opened its doors to students this year, and Dean Gossett served as the chief custodian since August. Now, two months later, school officials and parents are learning that the man who walked the halls next to small children every day has been arrested for child molestation.
"The officers came to school and wanted to question the head custodian, and at that point we didn't know anything," Principal Glenda Collingsworth told News 12.
But the school wasn't the only one in the dark. Authorities say Dean Gossett committed the crimes four years ago...and they say he'd gotten away with it up until Monday.
"We got a call from a local media personality who had the tape," said Lt. Scott Peebles of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. "Someone had turned it in to him, and he turned it over to us."
And on the tape, authorities say, were Gossett and a 14-year-old child.
"The tape was of a man who appeared to be with a minor and photographing the minor in nude positions," Lt. Peebles said.
The news spread quickly to parents.
"It scares me a whole lot because my kids go to that school," said parent Larry Scott.
Authorities say the victim had no connection to the elementary school, but the investigation is not over.
"The investigation is still very new," Lt. Peebles said. "We are conducting search warrants and following up on other angles to ensure that this is not the only victim."
And Richmond County school board members aren't taking any chances.
"As soon as the board found out about anything, they put him on administrative leave without pay," Principal Collingsworth said.
That decision eased some of Larry Scott's fears.
"As long as he ain't there anymore, they're safe," he said. "All the folks like that just need to be locked up in jail...that's the best place for them so they don't ever get to come out."
Authorities say Gossett and the child did know each other, but would not say how.
A source who has seen the very graphic tape tells News 12 the child was in fact a girl.
Maj. Autry with the sheriff's office told us that it is their practice to give out information on people charged with sex crimes like Gossett. He said in the past it has helped encourage other victims to come forward.