Set up for Failure

originally posted 4/2/2012

 

After reading some of the stories from other contributors, I wonder where my own story fits. There seems to be many individuals whose charges were either statutory or erroneous. On the contrary, I was not wrongly accused of my crime. I can honestly admit that I abused my victim. It was wrong and I caused tremendous damage both to her, myself and others. Yet, I shall offer my story as a contribution to this sad and controversial dialogue. While my legal consequences have been appropriate; the social ones have been almost unbearable.

In 2002, after a period of grooming, I touched my then eleven-year-old step-daughter’s genitalia and buttocks over her clothes and showed her a book with sexually-explicit diagrams. Two years later, I plead guilty to two 3rd-degree felonies Attempted Sexual Abuse of a Child and Dealing in Material Harmful to a Minor. As a result of a favorable treatability assessment and my relative accountability, my two 5-year prison sentences and $10,000 in fines were suspended, pending successful completion of a three-year probation period and the state-mandated Sex Offender Treatment Program.

While complying with my probation conditions and participating in my therapy, I experienced the expected emotions of shame, frustration and depression that would reasonably accompany such a wrongdoing and its consequences. Despite my education and job skills, I was unable to maintain a good job having had a nervous breakdown. Securing employment afterward was nigh impossible as no employer would consider a Sex Offender as a viable candidate, even for positions which would not require contact with the public or children.

One year after my conviction, my victim was convicted of Sodomy Upon a Child. Her victim was her three-year old half-brother, my son. As an advocate for both of them, I testified at her hearing to leniency from the court, but to disallow her remaining in the home where my son still resided. In an act of vindictiveness, her mother contacted my probation officer to complain that I was allowed to have visitation with my children when she had been facilitating that visitation all along. My probation officer then rescinded any visitation with my children.

Furthermore, she contacted the guardians of my children from a previous marriage to grossly exaggerate the details of my offense to them. The result was that they disclosed this information in a sensationalistic and age-inappropriate manner to my older children. Unable to properly contextualize it, my children were terrified and asked not to have contact with me. For the next several years, I cried myself to sleep.

Ultimately, I graduated from my treatment program and completed my probation without any further violations. I also successfully petitioned the court to have my felonies reduced to misdemeanors. I still see a therapist in order to continue working on any issues that I feel prevent me from being the best person that I can be.

All of my children are back in my life once again. However, the damage done by their separation from me has created challenges for them in areas of self-esteem and self-actualization. My youngest son, the victim of my victim, now resides with me and his challenges are the most pronounced.

In spite of his regular treatment by a therapist, my son has emotional problems that require his assignment to a behavioral class in school. He has great difficulty in making friends as he doesn’t identify with them and he must be bused out of our school district to have access to his program. Moreover, I can’t help him learn how to make friends since any visits to our house by other children require a permission slip from the parents for the specific date and time of the visit. Any request for that would require disclosure of my offense, subjecting my son to possible rejection and ridicule by his peers, a burden I am not willing to place on his shoulders.

Further, I can’t participate in Boy Scout activities with him or engage in his soccer team practices. I can’t take him to the park to fly a kite or throw a football. He feels isolated and alone. He acts out with video games and violent role-playing. All I can do is love him and hope for the best.

It’s been ten years since I committed my offense and I have six more years on the Sex Offender Registry in my state. I am still unemployed and I have very few friends. Meeting new people is extremely difficult. I can’t help wondering, “Would they accept me if they knew that I once committed a sex offense?”

Every day I struggle to find my place in society.

 

s.

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