originally posted 9/4/2009
I am 31 years old, and have been living for the past 8 years with this “sex offender” title over my head. In 2000 I was a manager (22 yr old) at a fast food restaurant in a small town in TN. I was new to the town and was not well liked. I was brought there to rebuild this restaurant as it had basically fallen apart. My efforts were commended by most everyone as the place got cleaned up and business picked up.
Everything was going great, until one day, a Friday night, I had two no-call, no-shows ( two 17 year old male students) not show up for work.
This was the third time. They were close friends and were always together. Well when employees saw them come through via the drive through, I decided to call their parents and inform them that their kids were not at work where they were supposed to be and instead told an employee through the drive through that they were going out and then going to a movie. I was called after closing that night by one of the teen’s fathers, saying that the reason they said they didn’t show up for work is because I was pushing myself on them sexually. So I immediately called my boss and
informed her of the situation.
The next day I went to the sheriff’s office to answer questions, where I found out that they were saying I was trying to perform oral sex on them, and participating in the local teen game with sexual overtones. I never did any of the sort, and regardless of what I had to say, after 2 hours of intense questioning and interrogation , I was arrested.
My parents bailed me out and got a lawyer. I took a lie detector test which came back inconclusive, and then the video surveillance tapes showed nothing of their accusations to be true. Then the dates that they accused me of doing these things were starting to change as the scheduling of the days they worked were not matching up with the dates they said these things happened. My lawyer strongly felt that these were two 17 year olds who got caught not showing up for work, and conjured up this story to get their way out of trouble.After 5 months of back and forth to a psychiatrist and passing the lie detector test, and them changing their dates up, and then they added that I was trying to get them to smoke marijuana, we found out via my attorney that the reason the attorney we originally wanted to obtain for my case couldn’t represent me was that 3 days after I was arrested for these alleged crimes, he was obtained by the teens parents for a civil suit against the restaurant. Ah, small town America.
I will advance my story to almost a year later, and many offers for a plea bargain from the D.A. The first day of trial arrives. Before we leave the house my attorney called me and said that the D.A. called her that morning with a final plea bargain offer: 8 years @ 30% for all 21 counts ( yes they claimed I did this to them on 21 different occasions). Would they have stayed working there for that long? I told her no I will not admit to something I didn’t do, and she said we would talk more at the court house. Well, we arrived at the court house and she sat me and my mom down, and said look, your new to this town, its a small town, no one knows you, everyone knows them, they are stars on the county football team(only high school in this town) and you would be sitting there facing 21 charges that you could get up to 60 years for, and the jury is more than likely going to side with them because they are members of the community, and gossip had been flying around left and right.
She advised me to take the plea bargain of 8 years, and she would push for probation. Well me, never having a run in with the law, other than a speeding ticket, and being deathly afraid of going to prison, and thinking about what she said about the jury basically presuming I was guilty before I even walked into the court room. My mom and I discussed it and felt that since there was a chance that I could not have to go to prison to go ahead and take it. Well I sat there and admitted to something I did not do, and ended up serving 6 and one-half years incarcerated in the TN penal system (which was horrible enough).
Here it is 3 years later, and I can’t get a job; I am being ridiculed by the community like I have the scarlet letter
on my shirt. I need help. I would like to know if there is anyone who can help me find a job, or find a way to get my life back on track, and become a productive member of society. My life has been ruined by this, and after making it back home out of prison, I have become just as much a prisoner in my own world, depressed and shut out. Please help me!