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Wife claims Rep. Goodman drove high with kids in the car, he denies allegations | Update

Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland of the 45th Legislative District  - Contributed
Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland of the 45th Legislative District
— image credit: Contributed

State House Rep. Roger Goodman of Kirkland was accused of driving under the influence of marijuana with his children present by his estranged wife, according to divorce documents filed last October.

Goodman - a legislator for six years with the 45th Legislative District - denies these claims vehemently, as he has been a longtime advocate for safe driving and DUI law reform.

“I would never put the safety of my children at risk,” Goodman said in an email on March 1. “During a divorce, people tend to make all sorts of allegations and oftentimes these claims are unsupported and untrue.”

Liv Grohn, Goodman’s wife, filed for divorce on Oct. 9, 2012, but submitted an 11-page declaration on Oct. 4 detailing several instances in which she believes Goodman was smoking marijuana, prior to Washington’s Initiative 502 legalization. She signed the declaration under penalty of perjury under Washington law that her statements are true and correct.

“From the beginning of our children’s lives until the present day, I have been a full-time stay-at-home parent while Roger has been increasingly dependent and involved with the ‘other party’ in our marriage: His marijuana addiction,” said Grohn in her declaration.

Grohn recounts a time when Goodman allegedly flew across the country to Rhode Island with a “baggie of marijuana” in his backpack, of which she found nearly 10 years ago.

However, it is Grohn’s statement that Goodman has repeatedly driven his children after being “stoned” that directly goes against several pieces of legislation Goodman has worked to uphold.

“The first time I caught him driving while high was when (our daughter) was just a toddler,” Grohn writes. “He feigned remorse and said he’d had a ‘wake up call.’ Sadly I believed him.”

But years later in the summer of 2011, Grohn said she and the family were on their way to the beach for a family outing. When Grohn walked out to the car, the children were buckled in but Goodman was missing. As she went to look for him, “Roger stumbled out from the side of the garage reeking of marijuana.”

“I felt completely sick,” Grohn said. “… Roger then admitted that he had repeatedly and purposefully gotten stoned by the side of the house before driving the children. He stated empathically, once again, that he’d had a ‘wake up call’ but that the first ‘wake up call’ hadn’t really happened.”

The same day the divorce was filed, Grohn reported to the Kirkland Police Department a concern about her pending divorce and the “erratic behavior” of her estranged husband. The report states her concerns were for the well-being of their two children and his erratic behavior. It includes information on their two vehicles.

Grohn alleges Goodman has continued to defend driving under the influence of marijuana.

She claims that he said “it is far safer than driving drunk or talking on a cell phone, that he has never gotten in an accident while driving stoned, and that what he did was ‘totally safe’ and that I was stupid to be concerned,” wrote Grohn.

The couple’s parenting plan indicates Grohn is the only one who may drive the children between November 2012 through February 2013. And only if Goodman follows the terms of their agreement may he pick up the children, which is effective this April. Court documents did not include what the agreement is.

“It is unfortunate and I am saddened that Roger chose to make public statements about this private matter. My painful divorce declaration, signed under penalty of perjury, was intended to be, and to stay, private,” said Grohn in a statement to the Reporter on March 5. “It was written and filed with the court only after I had exhausted all other options to ensure the safety of our children. I stand by every word in my declaration and I sincerely hope, for the sake of our children, that Roger will be able to get the professional help he needs to deal with his ongoing issues.”

But Goodman said “these allegations are simply false.”

“Never in my life have I been stopped or arrested for driving under the influence - or for any other offense,” he said in an email. “As a long-time advocate of safe driving, I am devoted to the issue of safety on our streets and highways, just as I am devoted, as a father, to the health and well-being of my children.”

Goodman states that as part of the divorce proceedings, he “eagerly” volunteered to a “battery” of tests and assessments, including a comprehensive substance abuse evaluation and drug screening, to refute the allegations. The findings were “unequivocal,” he says, and “there were no problems and issues whatsoever.”

Alternatively, Goodman’s emails submitted with the divorce filings state he has become “frustrated” by the use of Grohn’s mobile cell phone while she drives.

“If you continue to drive the kids while talking on the phone, it seems unfair and hypocritical to me, and I am in fact principally concerned for the children’s safety rather than trying to prove a point,” Goodman emailed to Grohn Sept. 7, 2012.

Rep. Larry Springer of Kirkland, who works with Goodman and serves the 45th Legislative District, said he doesn’t pay attention to allegations from a very contentious divorce paper but the whole ordeal is a “sad state of affairs.”

“I’ve been around him with he and his kids in Kirkland and I’ve never seen a more dedicated father,” said Springer, who also notes he spends up to 10 hours a day for up to five months of the year with Goodman - they’ve worked together for six years - and he’s never seen anything true of what the allegations entail.

“I think when you spend as much time with somebody as I do, you get to know their character. He is a tireless worker on behalf of his constituents, and one of the most effective legislators I’ve seen.”

However, in the same email Goodman accuses Grohn of talking on her cell phone while driving, Goodman also speaks of a former unknown habit.

“I understand you cannot trust me at this time,” he writes to Grohn, “despite the objective evidence. I understand how my past behavior and past deceptive statements before I quit the habit continue to give you pause and how everything from the past seems to be just the same to you even now. All I can say is that I am very capable of change and I am capable of highly disciplined behavior; and that I have truly changed and I am now extraordinarily disciplined in regard to any behavior or activity of mine about which you may have been concerned would endanger our children.”

Goodman has been at the forefront of advocating on the legalization of marijuana as well as a backer for decriminalizing marijuana.

It is this avenue that Kirkland Councilman and former State Rep. Toby Nixon met and befriended Goodman. More than 10 years ago, Nixon read a policy brief Goodman wrote for the King County Bar Association on the decriminalization of marijuana.

Nixon, who is an advocate of marijuana legalization believes in the nature of the law, but says it is the 5-nanogram driving limit where he and Goodman’s opinion differ.

“Roger thinks it’s too low,” Nixon said. “He may be right, but my feeling is, you have to have some level …”

Nevertheless, Nixon states Goodman has never smoked anything in his presence.

But since he has been good friends with Goodman’s family over the years, he cannot brush aside the divorce filings.

“I’ve known them for a long time but I have never ever known Liv to lie about anything,” Nixon said. “For people to be tossing around accusations that she’s committed perjury, a felony, I think it’s just wrong.”

Goodman is currently sponsoring House Bill 1482 this 2013 legislative session. The bill modifies provisions that address impaired driving, which include redefining the statutory offense of driving with a child in the vehicle while under the influence to include additional penalties to current DUI infractions.

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