When I was 7, my older brother, who was 12, left to go live with his father. Then my stepfather focused on me and my sisters. We would be forced to perform sexual acts on each other while my stepfather watched, participated, and took pictures. When I was 8, I told my teacher, but my school called my stepfather and asked him if it was true. He denied it. We moved the next week.
Right before I turned 9, he left. About a year after he left, I sexually molested my sisters one night while watching them, and I attempted to have sex with one of them. Three months later I tried to commit suicide. Three days after this, my mom came to me and said I was going on a trip. She helped me pack a suitcase. She told me I was going to have fun, gave me $20, and took me to Children's Hospital. From that point on I became a ward of the state.
I was there for the next six months. From there I was moved to a boys' home, where I spent the next 3 1/2 years years in treatment. In therapy, I disclosed all the sexual and physical abuse I had gone through. When they thought I had made enough progress I was placed with a foster family. I continued my therapy there with a psychologist every week. In March of '93, three months before the end of my sophomore year, my foster family moved. And I spent the next month being moved from shelter to foster night bed.
One day my social worker told me there was no place for me to go. He gave me four bus tokens and the 800 number for DSHS. He told me I could get meals at a center downtown, and he told me to check in every week. I slept under a viaduct and sometimes had to eat out of garbage cans for food. I hit the street life hard, turning to alcohol and drugs. In July I was assaulted one night under the viaduct and was beat up pretty bad. Six days later I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.
The day I was released I was arrested. I was taken to juvenile hall, where I was questioned by police. I was asked if I had sexual contact with my sister. I admitted it as I had done many times before in therapy. Fifteen minutes after I was finished being questioned, I met with my lawyer. I was informed that while in treatment for drug abuse my youngest sister, now 13, had disclosed I sexually abused her and my sister. She had also implicated my stepfather and brother. My brother was in the army, my stepfather lived in another state, and most likely they would not be charged.
I was charged with rape of a child in the first degree and two counts of child molestation in the second degree. I was told it did not matter that most of the abuse had happened under the direction of my stepfather. And it did not matter I had been in therapy. It did not matter that I was between 6-10 at the time, it had to do with the fact I was 16 now. I was told this wasn't about the actions of my stepfather. It was about me and my actions, since I had admitted the abuse when questioned by the police. My lawyer would try to plea it down to a lesser charge.
Over the next couple months I went through psychological exams and was deemed "amenable to treatment". I was then told that if I agreed to plead guilty to one count of attempted rape of a child in the first degree, they would recommend community based treatment. It would not affect my adult record, and it would not affect my rights later on in life, since a juvenile court is a civil court, not a criminal court.
Rape of a child in the first degree.
(1) A person is guilty of rape of a child in the first degree when the person has sexual intercourse with another who is less than twelve years old and not married to the perpetrator and the perpetrator is at least twenty-four months older than the victim.
(2) Rape of a child in the first degree is a class A felony. Under juvenile laws in the state, attempted of this felony is a B+.
My sentencing date was pushed to January to give the social workers time to place me
in a treatment home. I was released and taken to a shelter. My social worker said I needed to show that I was willing to turn my life around. I tried to get a job. I was 16, but I needed a GED. So I panhandled the $25, and on October 5, 1993, I took the test. I scored a 259, scoring at the 52nd percentile of high school graduates that year, at the 70th percentile in math, the 59th in science, and the 58th in social studies. I got a job clearing debris from construction sites.
The day of my sentencing, my court social worker said that the boys' home would be willing to take me, and that I would have to go into court and take responsibility for my actions. He said he would see me in court.
About 10 minutes later, a man called my name. He came over and told me that he didn't care about the plea deal. He was going to recommend I stay in jail until I was 21 and make sure I would be raped in prison. I got scared and I ran. I called my father and told him what happened. He said I could come stay with him in another state. He wired me the money for a plane ticket. The next day I was there. My father decided I didn't need to go to school since I had my GED. I got a job at a car wash.
Over the next few months, my father decided the best course of action for me was to join the army. Five generations of my family have served in the army. So he took me down to the recruiters. I didn't really want to go. I took the entrance exam. High school graduates only had to score a 30 or better. With a GED, I had to score 50 or better. I scored a 55. Since I had never been sentenced there was not a record of me having a juvenile adjudication. And to this day serving for the time in the army is one of the best things I could have ever done. I graduated Basic Combat Training. I scored 20 out of 20 on my end of cycle testing and was given a Letter of Commendation by my commanding officer. I then went to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) .
Over the next few months I began to get it in my head I could go back home and show all the people who said I couldn't make it and that I was worthless that I wasn't. When I told my father I would be flying back home, he told me not to. But I did anyway.
The day I arrived, a high school friend picked me up at the airport, and we drove to my mother's house. When I knocked on the door, my mother answered. She didn't even recognize me in my uniform. It took a while for me to say, "Hello, Mom." I told her I was fine, and that I loved her. I was sorry for all the pain I had caused her. We cried together.
My sisters were there, and we did the same thing. I apologized for everything I had done. I was so sorry. I should have been protecting them as I look back, but I was so screwed up then.
A couple days went by and I decided to get a motel room. There were eight people in my grandma's three bedroom house. So my mom went with me and got me a motel room. I was six days from going back to AIT. I decided that Friday to clubbing downtown. I went to a 16 and older club. I went dancing and ended up meeting a girl who said she was 16. We danced for about three hours and were kissing on the dance floor.
I said I had a hotel room and asked if she wanted to come with me. She agreed. So we grabbed a cab, and within 15 minutes we were at the motel room. When we got to the room, we started making out again. When it started to get heavy, she stopped and said if I wanted anything else it would cost me $50. I said no. She said if I didn't give the $50 she would call the police. When I refused, she went to grab the phone and I unplugged it and then blocked her from going out the door. I knew I probably had a warrant from running away from court. She started to get really mad, and start to yell at the top of her lungs. So I said I would give her the money. I gave her the $50, and called her a cab.
After she left I went to sleep. About 2 a.m. in the morning there was a knock at the door. She had told a a friend who then told the police that I was was trying to have sex with her. I told the police exactly where I had met her, where we had gone, and that she had demanded $50 from me for sex. They told me she was a 13 year old runaway. I had been required to show ID when I entered the club so I thought she was 16. I was arrested on the warrant from leaving court for failure to appear. I was taken to juvenile detention. I was 17.
That Monday I met with a lawyer. He said since I ran, and had been arrested for another crime, I would probably go to jail. I was charged with unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation since I had admitted to leaving the club with the girl with the intent to have sex, and since I unplugged the phone and blocked the door. Since this last arrest had happened when I was 17, I would have to go to a hearing to determine whether I would be tried as an adult. It was most likely I would be found to be an adult since I was in the army, and had been supporting myself for the last year.
He said I could plead guilty to the class C felony and keep it in juvenile court, and that I would be able to go back to the army. The army agreed to give me a general discharge under honorable conditions. I was told many times that it would not affect my adult record. I was old that if when I got out, I stayed out of trouble and did the treatment I was asked to do, then in five years I would be able to have my record sealed, because it was a juvenile offense and neither charge was a class A felony. I could then reenlist in the Army. I decided that was the best course of action based on what my lawyer and court social worker said. I plead guilty to this charge. I was sentenced to 104 weeks on the first charge, and 52 weeks on the second charge. From there I was moved to an institution where I had treatment for the next three years.
While there, I was placed in the sex offender cottage, and within a week I had to write my entire sexual history. I was told that in order not to be civilly committed, I would have to pass a polygraph on it. So I told everything again. I was told that everyone fails the first time, and that in order to go to school or have any privileges, I would have to pass my polygraphs. When I took it the first time, I passed. I was allowed to go to school.
Over the next 2 1/2 years, I worked to better myself everyday. I achieved so much that I
was awarded a plaque. While I was there I learned about computers. After completing the computer course, I was kept on as the teacher's assistant. I would even fill in for the
teacher on days when he had meetings. I held three jobs working on the campus: I worked in the library, in the art department, and in the printshop. I helped an art museum do a compilation of stories from juvenile prisoners from across the state. I did all the layout work and received letters from the director and artist for my work. At school I maintained a 3.0 or higher GPA. I was awarded many commendations for my work at the school.
Before I left, the teachers and staff thought I should go to college, so they worked with the superintendent and got someone from a technical college to come out and look at me. I was allowed off campus to go to the college to take the entrance exam. I scored one of the highest test scores ever. In the weeks leading up to my release, I was taken off campus to find an apartment. I had earned over $2,500 at 10¢ an hour over those 2 1/2 years. I went and signed up for college.
Two days before I left, the teachers and staff at the school presented me with a plaque that had all of their names on it calling me their teacher. My teachers gave me all kinds of things for my new apartment. My computer teacher and the librarian bought me a computer. The day I was released, I moved out on my own.
The next six months, I was on probation and met every week with my probation officer and a counselor. I worked nights at the 7/11 up the street from my apartment. And during the days I went to college. I was released from my probation when I turned 21. My counselor deemed me not to be a danger to society, and recommended me for a level 1 sex
offender. My probation officer agreed.
Three months after I was released from probation, a notice was sent to my college alerting them that I was a sex offender. I don't know how it happened, but copies were made and distributed to my classmates. I had to quit school. It was then I learned what the stigma of that phrase does to people. I lost all my friends, and no one cared to hear my story. I was called a baby raper and was spit on by one girl. Today I am still paying the college loans to go to a school I was forced to leave. I quit 7/11 and got a job at Kinko's utilizing the skills I had achieved at school. The rest is history.
Three months ago, I decided to go back to the army. We are at war, and I could not stand by and ask someone to go fight in my place. My family has served five generations in the US Army. I love the freedom I have today and the country I live in. What kind of man, or American for that matter, would I be if I didn't go?
So I started to research getting relieved of the duty to register and have my record sealed. I found out it was not possible. The law had been changed while I was in school. Sex offenders cannot have their records sealed. I called many lawyers and none would talk to me. I called the lawyers that had defended me when I was originally charged, and no one would call me back. I was persistent and finally I got a call saying there was nothing they could do. I called the bar association for a lawyer referral. Every referral I got would not talk to me. When I did get one lawyer to call me back, I explained my situation, and he said there was nothing he could do either. He said that there is a group of people like me who were just in limbo when they changed the laws. When I asked how I protect my family from this, he apologized for being flippant but told me to move out of the country.
So here I am, 28, successful, and in limbo. I beat all the odds of my past. According to the statistics I should be dead or in jail by now. Since my release I have had a few speeding tickets. I have not been without a job for more than 13 days in the last seven years. I did
everything I was asked to do, and I pulled myself up by my boot straps from a minimum wage job at 7/11 to owning my own printshop. I am married, pay my taxes, and vote in my elections. I work each day to better the lives of my family and my community.
The laws have been changed so that everything I thought to be true isn't. I made some mistakes in my life. I did what I was expected to do. I took responsibility for my actions, and I worked to better myself. I have paid my debt to society. So I pose this question: What more do I have to do to be rehabilitated? Tell me, so I can serve my country.