The Ripple Affect

By Trent . . .

In 2005, we adopted a child from foster care whom we had fostered for several years. At the time, we didn’t think we could have more children and wanted to provide a daughter with a loving home and stability. This opportunity gave her a second chance and brought immense joy to our lives. However, in a surprising turn of events, two years later, we discovered we were expecting another girl, who would be born with a rare brain condition called holoprosencephaly. She arrived in November 2007, and our lives began to revolve around constant visits to Dallas Children’s Hospital and OU Children’s Hospital. Due to her medical needs, we moved closer to OU Medical Center. During this challenging period, our adopted daughter started to act out, likely feeling neglected due to our focus on her sister’s health. We later learned that she had been in touch with her biological mother, attempting to have her regain parental rights so she could return to her biological family.

In November of 2008, two life-changing events profoundly affected our family. Our youngest daughter, born with holoprosencephaly, tragically passed away. Just seven days before her passing, our youngest son was born. These events brought both profound sorrow and new hope into our lives, marking a period of significant emotional complexity for our family.

Not long after our daughter’s passing, I transferred back to the prison where I was previously employed and began restoring our house to livable condition. Once everything was prepared, we all moved back to Fort Supply, seeking to reclaim some sense of normalcy and continuity in our lives.

Later that summer, we went on vacation to Carlsbad, and life seemed to return somewhat to normal. However, we faced ongoing challenges with our adopted daughter, who persistently tried to contact her biological mother by creating new email accounts and text apps, despite being grounded from her phone and having limited computer access. Throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas, she falsely reported to her school and the Department of Human Services on three different occasions that we had no food at home, were not maintaining cleanliness, and refused to provide Christmas presents. Each claim was investigated and proven false by DHS visits. During this time, our adopted daughter also came out as gay and entered into a sexual relationship with a teacher’s daughter from her school, which further strained our relationship with the school community. In December, my adopted daughter falsely accused me of sexually abusing her to the school principal. Later, it was proven to be untrue in a forensic interview. However, the situation escalated further in January when a search warrant was executed on my property. The mishandling of personal items and clothing occurred during the execution, resulting in DHS taking all of our children into custody. Eventually, they were moved to my wife’s family’s custody. But, our adopted daughter accused a male family member of sexual abuse, and as a result, the children were separated and placed in different homes. The youngest child was placed alone, the two oldest boys were placed together, and the adopted daughter was placed in a foster home.

It took us 25000 dollars and eleven months to get our biological children back home. To gain custody of our biological children, we had to sever ties with the adopted daughter. She was sent home with her biological mother but ended up back in DHS custody shortly after due to skipping school and drug issues.

Things seemed to be improving in December of 2010 when the boys came home just before Christmas, but in March of 2011, I was arrested at the dairy farm where I worked for possession of child pornography and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. We couldn’t afford an attorney due to the civil case, and my bond was set at $100,000, making it impossible for me to bond out or get a paid attorney.

I had a difficult time when I was sent to jail because I worked as a law enforcement officer for eight years before that. As a result, I had to be moved to three different jails and was mostly kept in segregation for fifteen months. The state-appointed attorney kept offering me a deal that involved ten years in and out of jail and treatment, which would have resulted in the maximum sentence for my charge. Finally, my warden, sister, stepdad, and grandparents pooled together enough money to hire a paid attorney who was able to lower my bond. I was then able to bond out and reunite with my family.

Over the next three months, my attorney and I worked hard to collect trial evidence. However, during the preliminary hearing, the District Attorney offered me a deal of five years of unsupervised probation with lenient probationary rules. But, the deal required me to register. I refused the offer and was prepared to go to trial. Later, my attorney called me to his office and warned me that if I didn’t accept the plea agreement, the ADA would pursue charges against my wife and take my children back into custody, and I might never see them again. I was left with no choice but to take the plea agreement to keep my family together.

“I was promised that I would be designated as a level one registrant when I signed the plea agreement. However, when I went to register myself as a level one, I was falsely categorized as a level two registrant. This was because the ADA used a statute that many ADAs use to prolong the time registrants stay on the registry. I have emailed multiple attorneys about this issue, but only one was willing to take my case. However, it will cost me $6,500, which is a significant amount that I’m struggling to come up with. Moreover, I’m hesitant to follow his suggestion to withdraw the plea because I’ve heard horror stories where people were penalized for doing so. Additionally, my son was denied two police officer jobs because of his relationship with me, a registrant, even though I’m his father.”
I am reaching out to highlight a critical issue concerning the plea agreement I entered in 2012, which pertained to two counts: Count 1 for possession of child pornography, and Count 2 for violations of the Computer Crimes Act. According to my understanding, the appropriate citation for Count 1 was supposed to be Oklahoma State Statute 21 O.S. § 1024.2, which prohibits the buying, procuring, or possessing of child pornography and imposes penalties of up to twenty (20) years of imprisonment, a fine not exceeding Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00), or both. This law designates such offenses as Level 1 for the purposes of sex offender registration in Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that my conviction was mistakenly under State Statute 21 O.S. § 1021.2(A). This particular statute addresses those who involve minors in child pornography through various means, including possession, procurement, or manufacturing. While the imprisonment and fine penalties mirror those of § 1024.2, the registration and post-imprisonment supervision conditions under § 1021.2(A) are significantly harsher, mandating a 25-year registration period compared to the 15 years for Level 1 offenses.

The misapplication of § 1021.2(A) to my case is incongruent with the specifics of the charges against me, which align more closely with § 1024.2’s scope. This misunderstanding was further compounded by assurances from District Attorney Susan Meinders at the plea agreement phase that led me to believe I would be subject to Level 1 registration requirements.

This sentencing and registration oversight has not only imposed what I consider to be an excessive and inappropriate consequence but also profoundly impacted my family’s life. Since my conviction, I have been a model registrant, maintaining consistent residency for ten years and advancing my education with a Bachelor of Science in Operations Management and pursuing a Master’s in Forensic Psychology. Despite these efforts, the shadow of this conviction and its ramifications on employment opportunities and my social standing remains a significant burden.

The effect on my children’s and grandchildren’s lives, as well as the restrictions it places on employment prospects, underscore the urgency of rectifying this legal oversight. The broader implications of this situation on my family’s well-being and my ability to contribute meaningfully to society cannot be overstated.

Therefore, I respectfully request that the court consider correcting this possible clerical error or reevaluate my sentence to align the statute from § 1021.2 to the more applicable § 1024.2. This request comes from a place of seeking justice, not only for myself but for my family, who have been undeservingly caught in the crossfire of this legal predicament.

I am eager to discuss this matter further and explore the avenues available for addressing this issue comprehensively, including the broader impact it has had on my family and my professional life. Your time and understanding in this matter are greatly appreciated, and I thank you for considering my request.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *