A jury today found Keith Gadsden guilty of first- degree criminal sexual assault with a minor, and a judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison.
Gadsden was arrested on suspicion of raping a boy on his basketball team and faced his now-adult accuser in court this week, decades after the alleged attack.
What makes the case of 49-year-old Keith Gadsden even stranger is that the alleged victim only came forward when the two men worked together at the city of Charleston Parks and Recreation Department, where the accuser said the attack took place.
The accuser, now 33, took the stand Tuesday morning and described mood swings that make working and sleeping tough and that sometimes lead him to take out frustrations on his family.
The man said he hears about child molestation cases on television news and thinks, “That's me.” The Post and Courier does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
The man came forward to police three years ago, telling them that some time between 1985 and 1987, Gadsden told him that if he wanted to play as a starter on the team, he had to take off his pants and lie down on the floor at the St. Julian Devine Community Center. The man, between 7 and 9 years old at the time, told police he complied and that Gadsden sodomized him.
In a recorded conversation played in court Tuesday, Gadsden told the man: “I'm more than a coach to you. I'm like a father to you.”
Gadsden also alluded to patching their tattered relationship in the recording.
“I got a girlfriend. I got a wife. I got babies. We can go forward, try to let it go between us,” he said. “We can be friends, good friends.”
Gadsden's defense attorney, Melissa Gay, pointed out that the accuser and his wife held their wedding reception at the St. Julian Devine Community Center, where the man told police Gadsden had raped him. Gay also noted that the accuser's stepson befriended Gadsden's son.
When his stepson left home, Gay said, the boy left with Gadsden.
The accuser filed a separate case last year, still pending in federal court, against the city, the accuser's former supervisor and Gadsden, alleging retaliation after the accuser came forward. Gay noted that the accuser's supervisors once disciplined him for allegedly cursing at a child.
The accuser's mother, weakened by cervical cancer, took the stand to describe how her son sold newspapers and cut grass to help her pay the bills. Still a child himself, he helped care for his three siblings and cooked, washed clothes and cleaned the house, the woman said.
Asked about the alleged rape, she said, “He didn't tell me. I could see he was getting withdrawn from me. He didn't talk. I thought it was the area we lived in, because it was a rough area.”
The trial continues today. Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allyson jbird.