originally posted 4/19/2010
I was convicted of Possession of Child Pornography, something I am deeply ashamed of. My conviction was as a result of viewing a website on a single occasion, as an isolated incident resulting from a longtime struggle with pornography in general.
I received a 1-1/2 year sentence that was all suspended except 15 weekends in county jail and 18 months of probation. I also have to register for a period of 10 years.
While I am fully willing to accept the consequences of a despicable act, I am reminded daily of my crime by being labeled as a monster.
During my probation period, I was allowed to live in my home with my family- including my now six year old son, but I was not allowed to be alone in the same room with him. I was not allowed to hug him or have him sit on my lap, wrestle, etc.
The registration has severely hindered my career as well. I have remained employed throughout, but I am constantly on my guard for fear that someone I interact with professionally will look at the registry and “out” me publicly.
The venom with which people react to any sex offender is appalling to me. It greatly damages my faith in humanity.
addendum to story
A unique aspect to my story is that my arrest was as a direct result of my wife installing monitoring software on my laptop. As a result of my (legal) pornography addiction and our deteriorating relationship, she had filed for divorce shortly before my arrest. During the course of providing information to her attorney, she gave screen shots of the pornography I had viewed, with the intent of gaining custody of our son. As it turned out, there were photos there of subjects deemed by the county prosecutor to be of persons under age 16.
On January 31, 2008 I was arrested and charged with two counts of Child Exploitation, which is a Class C felony in the state where I live. Unfortunately, because of my fear and naivete, I essentially admitted guilt when arrested. Regardless, I accepted a plea agreement, resulting in the sentence I shared in my initial story.
It is worth mentioning that I had a tremendous support system during the legal process, including my wife, whom I reconciled with as a result of our faith in God. I had family members, pastors, friends, teachers etc. all speak on my behalf during the sentencing hearing and, as a result, received a “light” sentence. The local newspaper, which made sure to put my photo on the front page through each step in the process, had a headline the following day which read “Judge Goes Easy in Kiddie Porn Case.”
As a condition of my probation, I attended weekly group therapy sessions an hour and a half from home, my wife went to classes to be an approved supervisor for me, I could not spend any time unsupervised with my son or anyone else under age 16, I have to register for 10 years in my county of residence and my county of employment, I could not be unaccompanied after 10:00 p.m., I could not possess or consume alcohol, etc.
That 18 months was humiliating, to say the least. Having to have my face, name, address, employer, car etc. on the internet for anyone to see and, potentially, use, is in no way proportionate to the crime I committed. A mistake I made during a very bad time in my life will haunt me until
the day I die. Things that I took for granted are now taken from me; future job prospects, serving in many capacities in church, memberships in many organizations, friendships lost, public shaming and branding…
I am grateful for the opportunity to commiserate with others in similar and worse situations is helpful- even therapeutic, but what is a realistic expectation? Are there thoughts as to what we are accomplishing? Is there pending legislation to reform the laws? Are there any in positions of influence with the will to listen to us? Politicians are notorious for riding waves of public outcry against the enemy of the moment. SOs are THE boogeyman currently in this country. What has to happen for this movement to make a difference?
In my opinion,we all need to not only share our stories, but we also need to be willing to do our part in any way we are needed. Also, believe me when I tell you that prayer will work wonders. Without it, I am certain I would still be in jail, serving that full three years…