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Former Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina board chair’s wife pleads guilty to communicating threats; animal cruelty charges dismissed

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RALEIGH, N.C. (BP) – The wife of the former chairman of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s (BCH) board of trustees pleaded guilty to communicating threats to a neighbor, while multiple animal cruelty charges against the couple were dismissed during their appearance in Wake County District Court on Thursday, March 21.

James and Agnes Goldston of Raleigh were each arrested and charged with three counts of animal cruelty and communicating threats in May 2023 amid allegations that the couple poisoned their neighbor’s three dogs and sent them threatening letters as part of an ongoing dispute.

According to court documents, Agnes Goldston pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of communicating threats. She was placed on 12 months of unsupervised probation and is required to complete 50 hours of community service. Agnes Goldston must also pay $1,000 in restitution and was ordered not to have any direct or indirect contact with the victims.

The animal cruelty charges against the Goldstons were dismissed because there was insufficient evidence to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that dogs were intentionally poisoned as opposed to accidentally ingesting [a] toxic substance,” according to court documents.

Court documents also said that Agnes Goldston was “more responsible” for communicating the threats.

All charges against James Goldston were dismissed.

At the time of the Goldstons’ arrest in May 2023, James Goldston was serving as the chairman of the BCH’s board of trustees. In the days after news of the arrest became public, James Goldston resigned from the BCH’s board, but denied the allegations against him and his wife.

In a statement announcing his resignation that was released through BCH officials at the time, James Goldston said, “My wife and I have been falsely accused of some horrible acts and I do not want this to be a distraction or hindrance to the work done on behalf of BCH as the truth plays out within the justice system.”

The Goldstons were arrested on May 11, 2023, and James Goldston resigned from the BCH board on May 21, 2023.

The Goldstons’ arrest stemmed from an ongoing dispute with their neighbors, Phillip and Jessica Ridley. According to multiple media reports, the Goldstons allegedly sent letters to the Ridleys, threatening to kill their dogs if they continued to come onto the Goldston’s property.

According to arrest warrants, the Goldstons were accused of poisoning three dogs belonging to the Ridleys, two of which died. The warrants also accused the Goldstons of threatening to physically injure the Ridleys’ daughter through a handwritten note.

During the Goldstons’ court appearance on Thursday, WRAL News in Raleigh reported that Agnes Goldston’s attorney said her client made a bad decision to communicate threats, but there was no evidence to establish animal cruelty.

“Ms. Goldston did not do harm to animals,” her attorney said, according to WRAL.