Pastor Bill asked me if I would write about my experience. I find him to be a highly treasured friend and I respect him greatly. This is no easy task, me exposing myself, my taboo, my sins, my sorrows. I seek comfort in the thought that if this comes to help anyone, then maybe there could be purpose.
In the November of 2014, I engaged in an inappropriate relationship with an under aged victim. I will not use this time to justify myself or express how ambushed I was by machinations foreign to me. However, it would be disservice to me if I do not at least say that this online relationship, which lasted two weeks, that I ended of my own accord, was with a person who's age I was uncertain of, at the time.
Because of my actions, however, she went to the authorities.
February of 2016, I find myself in jail.
I was constantly told, in jail, that "sex offenders get off easy. like six months". I was facing roughly a thousand years.
Some people may have a level of comfort or familiarity in jails. I do not. I have spent a summer in jail before, but in my 36 years, I never foresaw prison before me. This constantly felt like a bad joke that would soon be righted, once we could talk this out. Everything will become clear once the truth comes out.
I look back on those days with the same sense of disbelief today.
My first plea deal was 200 years, 150 suspended. I become a sex offender and agree to charges that I would later be found not guilty of.
I obviously felt this was crass and greatly unworkable. My lawyer insisted that me becoming released when I was 80 was, all things considered, a fair shot. I disagreed. I expressed that I have no problems with doing the time for my crime, but I refused to accept charges I was innocent of.
Harsh years past by me monotonously. During this time, I went to court over some of my charges. I was found not guilty. Afterwards, my lawyer came again with a plea deal; 200years 150 suspended. The same exact offer. But, this time he reminds me, I wont be admitting to the other charges. (Plus with geriatric parole, I will only be doing 33 years. Lawyers, cup half full kind of people.) I turn it down. I say that I committed a crime but that 200 years is a bit excessive. Then he tells me, for the first time, that if I don't take a plea, I will never get out of prison again.
Well, that's the kinda thing that gets to a man. With noticeably less conviction I repeat my decline.
More time passes. Time that finds me suffering from psychological damages and a protracted term in segregated isolation.
My lawyer comes again, with a new plea. Plead guilty to half the charges, drop the others, I could be out in as little as ten years. Well ten years seem a bit long for text messages, but at least this is in the ballpark of reasonable. He strongly reminds me that I will never come out of prison again, if I do not take a deal.
As I am waiting in the back of the courthouse, my lawyer comes back to let me know everything's OK, but... If the judge says that he cannot run the time concurrent he is mistaken. He brings up a case that illustrated what he was saying but I was in no mood to listen.
At the sentencing it was suggested that I not take the stand. I did not like the idea of not getting to say my side of things. Listening to the Commonwealth Attorney call me "monster" and say things that seemed to me exaggerated and theatrical, I thought maybe this is just her trying to prove a point.
Then the judge speaks. He expresses that the number is staggering and that people do far worse and get not even half the time, but he didn't make the rules.
5 years for the five charges of what I did- run concurrent. 95 years for the fact that it was done online, ran consecutively. (active time, excluding the suspended time)
Allow me to repeat: as to WHAT I did, I received the sentence of 5 years; as to the HOW (via my phone) I received the sentence of 95 years.
That is a feeling I don't wish on my enemies. Have a judge sentence you to 95 years and see how well you sleep at nights.
With the whirl of "didn't I tell you so's" and legal jargon that was lost on me, my lawyer assured me an appeal. Which i got, but in the meantime I started my prison sentence at SussexII. Later, and now, I will find myself at Red Onion.
My appeal for a resentencing was granted. I stood before the same judge who this time, as if he wish he could sentence me to even more, gave me the exact same sentence and said that I "don't deserve to be in this society or any society".
Now I have been sentenced to 95 years TWICE. As a consolation, my lawyer came again to wish me best, say that even if I could retain him again he would decline, and that I will have enough time to read all of my favorite authors.
My battered soul felt shattered.
A wonderful woman, by name of Mrs. Willoughby, sought me out and took my case, pro bono. Unfortunately we got denied for appeal, but there's still a chance for Supreme Court.
So here I sit, in prison, with roughly a century, because of text messages. Now I am not attempting to mitigate my crime, but many people, who commit more heinous crimes, get far less time.
What ever happened to second chances, repentance, forgiveness? Many people in prison do lack the perspective of betterment and growth, but many are people who just needed to be shown a better way.
Myself? I am a father of three daughters, my oldest is six. It is said nothing changes a person like life and death, and I can vouch that my girls being born changed me deeply. Now? A sex offender? Things look bleak and impossible, even if I somehow accomplished the already impossible, and found a way home.
Please, do not judge me from this alone. There is more to me then this. However, THIS is a spectre that will forevermore haunt me.
I was assured ten years, now I'm here for life. Life, for something that I actually did being sentenced to five years. Something is wrong with this. Yet far too few are aware of the facts.