Former state lawmaker, Wes Goodman, a family values conservative, lived a double life as a closeted gay man who routinely exchanged explicit messages to men in political circles in Washington, D.C. and Columbus, according to media reports.
Goodman abruptly stepped down when confronted by Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger about reports that he had “inappropriate behavior” in his Riffe Center office in downtown Columbus. Related: Another lawmaker resigns, citing behavior
Since his resignation, stories about Goodman, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, have emerged in the Washington Post, New York Times, FoxNews, The Advocate and the Independent Journal Review.
The Independent Journal Review reported that more than 30 men said Goodman had reached out to them via Facebook messenger and Snapchat, often with sexually explicit messages and images. IJR reported that the majority of men targeted by Goodman were between 18- and 24-years-old. IJR published screenshots and explicit photos allegedly obtained from those who experienced Goodman’s advances.
Goodman’s campaign website and social media channels have been shut down and the Ohio House removed his biography from the government website. His wife, Bethany, also closed off her Twitter account.
Goodman had presented himself as a champion of family values, traditional marriage and opposition to abortion.
The Washington Post reported that Goodman allegedly unzipped the pants of an 18-year-old college student and fondled him in his hotel room following a fundraising event in Washington D.C. in 2015. According to the Post, the young man fled and told his parents, who complained to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in an email that said: “If we endorse these types of individuals, then it would seem our whole weekend together was nothing more than a charade.” “Trust me… this will not be ignored nor swept aside,” replied Perkins. “It will be dealt with swiftly, but with prudence.”
The Post said Perkins quietly asked Goodman to drop out of the GOP primary for the Ohio House seat but Goodman declined and eventually won the race.
Cleveland.com reported that Goodman, 33, exchanged messages with gay men in Washington, D.C. and Columbus and some of the men he met through conservative circles were too intimidated to publicly complain. Johnny Hadlock, a staff member for a Republican member of Congress, told Cleveland.com that he came out to Goodman in 2010 and the two men began “sexting” and engaged in phone sex.
“Wes never sexually harassed me — we both knew what we were doing and we were both fine doing it,” Hadlock told Cleveland.com.