As told by his mother Jayme
When my son, Justin, was 10 years old, he went to visit his father for the summer. While he was there, he met a bunch of new friends his age and liked being there. Where I lived there were no kids around, and our property was out in the country and pretty isolated. His father lived in Ft. Worth in a neighborhood full of kids everywhere. Justin asked if he could stay and go to school for that year and I told him he could.
Justin had two younger brothers ages 3 and 5, and he adored them. I always tried to make our two families do things together so Justin felt like he had one big happy family and not the typical divorced parents who fight all the time.
Anyway, when school started, I believed everything was going okay until just before Thanksgiving, when my world changed forever. I got a phone call from Justinís stepmother. She was very upset and was on her way bringing Justin back to me because she caught Justin and his 5 year old younger brother "looking at each other naked." They were comparing pee pees. She took the younger child to a counselor who in turn called CPS who then filed a case against my son.
Our lives began to spin downward so fast into a world we had never experienced before and it was terrifying! Justin was not allowed to live with me because I had another young child age 2 at the time, and he could not go to his father's either. He had to go live with my mother in another city. I felt like I was dying inside because I didnít understand what was happening to my son. He was always such an easy baby and young child to be around; he wasnít one to throw fits or cry for no reason. He was the joy of my life, and here we were faced with charges of sexual assault?
His attorney was a family member of the stepmother and advised us to just plead guilty and he would get some counseling and probation and after a year it would all go away. That was a big fat lie! The attorney said we should save Justin any embarrassment of telling what he was doing to a judge in from of a lot of people. Like a dummy I agreed!
By the time it was all done court wise, Justin was almost 12 yrs old. He was required to complete "crisis counseling" in Ft. Worth. I had to drive over 100 miles one way to get him to these classes twice a week, and a parent had to attend a class as well. His father attended none of these classes. It was brought out in these classes that his dad was watching hardcore pornographic movies with my child. They were going to Hooter's frequently and naturally my son got curious about his own sexuality. He was curious as to what other boys had compared to himself, I am guessing. His father was never charged for his part in this mess, rather he was rewarded by never having to pay me any child support again! (I agreed to stop the payments while Justin was attending school and living with his dad...it was only fair I thought.) Since Justin had to live with my mother, she was granted temporary custody and the dad refused to even visit his son anymore.
Justin was given one year probation, he had to complete "crisis counseling", and he was required to register as a sex offender for 10 years starting on the last day of his probation sentence. He was 13 yrs old when he started the registration thing. It was the most humiliating thing we have ever gone through! In "crisis counseling" he was told that if he didnít say and write down what they told him to he would not get to graduate. He hid one of his assignments in his coat pocket and gave it to me. (They were not allowed to bring their worksheets out of the classroom.) He gave this one to me where he had to describe what he did, how he felt, and how he "GROOMED" his victims--the stuff they made him write down was untrue! They made him admit to things he did not do and told him if he didnít do as they said he would not graduate. My baby knew what a hardship it was for me to get him there and how tired we were of going and he complied. It made me sick at my stomach when I read that sheet! They made him write down things he didnít even know the meaning of, things a 10 year old wouldnít ever say, terms kids his age would never use!
Time went on and me and my son survived day by day. I still question our justice system as to why they think this treatment is necessary for a child.
Justin is 21 years old now and has not been allowed to grow up into the adult I dreamed he would be! We were evicted from apartments, he was fired from jobs, he quit school in the 10th grade because someone stood up in class and called him a child molester, he couldnít join the Navy which was his dream from early in life, he never got to go to prom, or have girlfriends. His circle of friends, the ones who knew the truth about what happened, were very few and are still the only ones he socializes with for the most part. Those kidsí parents were sat down and explained about the whole situation so he wouldnít ever be questioned. I never got to see my child graduate from high school and that hurt! All because his name and picture are posted on the city web site and with the DPS web site as well, both easily accessed and searched by zip code! His dad has never had any of these issues bother him!
I am remarried to a wonderful man and most recently we had a new home built in a very small town. Justin stayed in our old home to live for a brief period of time. He was registered in this town and my vehicle was listed as one he drove at times. He registered as a "VISITOR" in the town his dad lived in, as per the rules, but the two police departments were faxing back and forth and calling it "MOVING." But he never moved to that town, he only visited there. He was arrested on the fourth of July because he had a blue warrant issued 30 days after his 19th birthday because his dad moved from the address where he registered as a visitor/moved from and when the PD went to check on him they no longer lived there. He was still living in our old home where he was really registered.
We were fighting this issue in court, going downtown every two weeks only to get the thing reset every time for almost a year. During this time we sold our old house and Justin reluctantly moved to our new house with us. The town we live in is very small, like I said before, and there are only two police cars and four officers. The police department was always locked up when we went to take care of his registration thing. After about 11 days the police from our old town came to arrest him again for failure to register! Two counts of failure to register, and he was looking at state jail time. I could not stomach the thought of my son in prison, not for this mess! He spent 46 days in the county jail in an aggravated tank with murderers and rapists. It killed me to see him in there! I couldnít eat or sleep, I almost went crazy!
I wrote to the Attorney General's office so many times they finally called me to inform me that they have no jurisdiction over state laws and gave me some resources that might help me. I spent every waking moment calling the district attorney handling his case. I finally convinced this man that my son was no child predator, and he was a young man that deserved a chance at life and didnít deserve to be destroyed any further than he already was. It took me awhile but I got through to this man, and I thank God that he had a heart and he listened to me.
My sonís life has been destroyed and our criminal justice system had a huge part in it. I will never trust in our system again. What they are doing to our children is WRONG! There is no way a child of 10 years of age can be a sexual predator unless they have been preyed upon before! A childís so-called "criminal" history should not be blasted all over the internet for the world to see! If there is an issue that needs to be posted it should only be accessible to law enforcement agencies, not the whole world! This nightmare will not end for Justin for another two years and that is so sad. All he wants is a normal life and to be allowed to be on his own, but that is impossible right now! I am lucky; I have a son who is very resilient and easy going. He takes this thing each time it comes up with a grain of salt and he dusts himself off and starts the next day like nothing ever happened. Most kids are not like this, Justin had to grow up very quick and that is so sad! What is going to happen to most kids id that they will have no choice but to become criminals in order to simply survive!
Our children are our future. What is this world coming to when we allow our babies to be ostracized and their young lives completely destroyed because they were curious about their bodies?
Somewhere out there a family is just getting started in this very hard lesson and I pray for them! This is a dark horrible road to travel and they have no idea what lies in store for them. Something has to be done to stop this from happening to a single other child! Where does it end? How do we stop this nightmare from continuing to destroy young innocent lives? Does anyone have the answers? I have looked high and low and I swear I can't find any!
Submitted January 10, 2006