originally posted 12/31/2009
I was convicted of molesting my daughter in 2004. I felt bad about my actions and had self-disclosed them to my wife at the time, who then turned me over to the law during our divorce. Since then, I have undergone 5 years of treatment and have successfully completed probation.
Throughout it all, I have had the support and backing of my current wife, whom I married in 2007. We met online during a brief period of time between being released on my own recognizance and being inducted into the probation system, where I was then denied the ability to be online. We stayed in touch via phone conversations and she visited me on multiple occasions until we eventually married.
My wife is an immigrant and non-US native. When we put in our paperwork for immigration, the Adam Walsh Act had not been well publicized. We were shocked to learn that they wished to deny our application on the basis of MY criminal background.
We’ve now been through two rounds of appeals. The last appeal was dismissed entirely and we have very little time to submit yet another appeal. The financial toll on us during this process is extraordinarily difficult to maintain given that the economic collapse has made a difficult situation a nearly impossible one (I am currently unemployed, very much due to the fact that I am a sex offender.)
I’m not sure where to turn to for help, but this is my plea: My wife has made it possible for my life to continue in a positive direction. I learned in treatment that my ability to maintain positive, emotionally intimate relationships, is a key element in maintaining my strength of resolve in making sure I do not re-offend. My treatment provider has always been fully backing us and our relationship. It was even put to the test in that I would not have been allowed to be with her while on probation if my therapist and probation officers had not met with her, counselled us during our relationship, and found it to be a positive, helpful, and meaningful relationship.
This is what makes it so hard for me to understand the Adam Walsh Act’s outright denial of our ability to maintain a relationship. If I cannot petition for her as an alien relative, she will have no choice but to return home or face deportation, and we all know how impossible it would be for me to enter any other nation on Earth, especially if it is with the intent to maintain residency. So, in short, they are saying that I don’t have the right to marry, or even keep a marriage alive, if it is with a foreign national. I am denied this because I committed a crime against a child. But she has no minor children and I have had a vasectomy. Children will never enter the picture in our relationship. I have thus had to prove that I cannot possibly represent a threat to her. As we know, no therapist can make a claim that a previously charged offender has zero risk to re-offend though they have stated my risk should be evaluated as being as low as possible to assess.
This isn’t enough, apparently. The department then claimed that we failed to prove I am not a threat to my wife. May I now ask, can any human being prove they do not represent a potential threat to ANY other human being? My risk is evaluated as being as low as possible… what more can I prove?
My wife and I are devastated by the most recent dismissal and are feeling some hopelessness creeping in. It is a terrible feeling to know that although I have done everything I can to become a better, more trustworthy person, more morally upstanding person, not only must I now struggle to make ends meet, but I am not allowed to love, or be loved as well? Isn’t the fact that love has been a struggle in the past one of he original causes for my offense in the first place?
And what of my wife? How can the government justify tearing her heart out, crushing her hopes and dreams, in the name of protecting HER?
I ask, how can this possibly be a way to keep our society safer? Joseph Duncan was quoted as saying “I committed my crimes as an act of revenge against our society.” He did some really terrible things. Nevertheless, I can’t believe this provision of the Adam Walsh Act will not invite more such actions, not from myself, for I am resolved to be the best person I can be for the remainder of my time on Earth, but something must be done for the good of us all. We must somehow win a victory against this provision and its going to take a great deal of financial support to do it. So where can we turn?