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Materials used in
Tony's treatment program

 Warning: these materials are sexually explicit and seethe with hatred.

Ethical Treatment for All Youth

About the author

As told by his mother

Hello, my name is Tana Fillingame, and I am the proud mother of a registered sex offender, now deceased.  Proud because though the state of Texas tried their best to destroy my son, he held steadfast to his beliefs that people are generally good, and that love makes a difference.  Two ideas that I wholeheartedly agree with.

My son was a registered sex offender because of an encounter he had with a 13 year old girl who misrepresented her age (lied and said she was 15 but that was inadmissible in court).  At the time my son was 17 (a child himself, both were teenagers).  As a matter of fact though, it should be told, that not only was the misrepresentation of the girls age inadmissible, but any information given regarding the girl and her part in the sex encounter was inadmissible.  She held no responsibility at all for lying, for pursuing my son, for sneaking out of her house to be with him or for being a willing participant in what they did together.  There was never any doubt on anyone's part, her parents included, that she was NOT forced to do anything as she made it clear she willingly participated.  Also, please note that the two of them did not actually have intercourse, but very heavy petting and touching etc.

My son was indicted solely based on the age difference.  When we went for legal advice we were told by the attorney we hired, that Tony's only option was to plea bargain.  We did not want to.  He told us if we did not, then we would have to sign a waiver stating that we would not hold him responsible because we were going against his advice.  Honest to God..that's the truth.  Not necessarily because he was a poor lawyer, but because the way the law is written....just what my son did do...qualifies as breaking this law.  The law says the girl has no authority to consent to ANY contact, so if you touch her... even if she is willing...or initiates it...it doesn't matter.  You are a criminal. 

Tony accepted a plea bargain of  8 years probation.  We knew at the time of the agreement that he would have to register as a sex offender.  We thought for the duration of probation, only to find out later, registration was for life.  In other words, he got a life sentence on a plea bargain for 8 years probation!  After his plea bargain was final, and we were given the extent of his consequences I began to try to fight this craziness.  I have correspondence from then President Bill Clinton's office, then Governor George Bush's office among others. 

It is my opinion that the intent of the law was to prosecute pedophiles and rapists.  It is also my opinion that the general public has no idea that the state of Texas is also prosecuting young men for normal teenage sex.  I do not condone nor promote premarital sex.  In fact my views on that subject is much more conservative that what is shown daily on regular television stations on prime time TV.  I do however, vehemently oppose the misuse of this law and the abuse of the victims it makes of the boys they are prosecuting.

I was successful in seeing a small minute change in the Texas law in 2001 as a State Representative here did listen to our story and pass a bill that will now allow these 'Romeos' to petition the court for an exemption to the life long registration (see exemption added to the Chapter 62 bill).

I would like to give some examples of the abuse I feel my son suffered.  First, let me make it clear that just the shame associated with such a charge as "Aggravated sexual assault on a child" was unbearable to my son (and any other boy as well feels this way).  Tony was very concerned about what people thought of him, always had been.  It was important to him to be liked and respected.  He prided himself on being a fair minded person who was honest and good at heart. So, just the fact that he was then labeled a sex offender was a tremendous burden for him to carry.  Please understand, it's not just a matter of going through the court proceedings and trying to defend yourself.  With this charge, as previously stated, there is no defense, and your charge is made as constant public information. 

He was added to the website of sex offenders, I call it the "website of shame".  His picture was posted on this site and he was responsible for going down to the Department of Public Safety once a year to have the picture updated.  Can you say "Cheese"?  He was made to wear a bracelet 24 hours a day, seven days a week that stated he was a sex offender.  He was made to share this information at work, as he was expected to miss work 2 times a week, once to go to the sex offenders "treatment program" (I call that the "torture chamber") and once to go to the probation office. 
[Click here to see materials used in Tony's treatment program.  Warning:  they are sexually explicit and seethe with hatred.]

He was fortunate in that his employers knew him and trusted him and sympathized with his situation.  He worked for a garage door company and had to go to peoples' homes for installation, and his boss so trusted his character even in the light of the charges that they continued to allow him to represent them on jobs such as that.  I personally believe that speaks well of his character.  He was once stopped for a traffic violation and the whole time responded "yes sir" and "no sir" to the officer yet still was pushed down on the concrete and called a "P_ssy" by the officer because he was a registered sex offender, coinciding with the general consensus of the public that he was considered sub-human.

Yet, it was in the sex offender's treatment program where he received his abuse on a weekly dosage.  Tony was literally kicked out of a sex offender's treatment program, because he chose to confront the leaders about trying to force him to lie.  Since I have been involved with the fight against the treatment of these boys, I have spoken to probably 20 or more boys in this situation, of those, everyone of them that were required to attend group treatment programs have confirmed that they also are required to lie in these groups.  It is the opinion of the treatment providers that unless the boys "admit" to force or coercion they are in "denial".  In fact "denial" is the buzz word for these programs.  Tony's challenge to them was that if the State of Texas can prosecute them solely on age being a factor, and the State of Texas does not need evidence of force for what they did to be a crime, then why does the treatment programs require their admittance to force when there was none. 

I personally agree with my son with every fiber of my being.  It is my opinion that what these treatment providers do to these boys is far worse than what happened to make these boys criminals to begin with.  How can we expect these boys to have any respect for authority, for the justice system, for the treatment programs?  Each one is required to put into writing how they forced themselves on their victims.  They are told they are scum, they are incurable, they do not deserve to live with the rest of society.

My son was required to pay for and take a test (which in my opinion was biased and aimed to incriminate these boys), the test results were to show what age group and gender my son was sexually attracted to.  His results were acceptable and fell within the "norm", but the positive results could not be used in his favor, the intention was that if the results were negative and showed deviances then the results were to be used against him.  He was required to keep a daily journal of anytime he came into contact (just in the same room with or area with) a juvenile.  He was to record his "feelings" about being exposed to someone
too young for him to be around.  He had to turn that journal in for review at every treatment program meeting.

I filed a complaint on one of the sex offender treatment providers after his death and was successful in getting her reprimanded, but only because of breach of confidentiality when she came to my son's funeral (long story...this same therapist is the one that had my son kicked out of the treatment program because he challenged her on an essay she refused to accept because he told the unacceptable truth in her class).  Anyway, she came to his FUNERAL and made a scene to be able to tell me she 'specializes in grief therapy'.  At the time that I filed the complaint, I addressed numerous breaches made by her in regards to the guidelines she was to follow as a treatment provider.  Her reprimand was because she signed the funeral registery and put by her name in parenthesis 'his former therapist'  Can you believe the gall ?

A part of my son's initial probation requirements was that he could not be around ANYONE under the age of 18 including his younger sister with whom he was extremely close.  This is a common requirement of these boys.  We were expected to ostracize him from our family functions.  How ludicrous. 

And, lastly, my son was never given the exemption, after that bill passed, he was so laden with fear of what else might happen to him if he spoke out, that it took us nearly a year before he was willing to go to a lawyer to pursue it.  When we did, we were advised to wait another 3 months because the judge Tony would have to go before would not likely grant the exemption (even though it was literally written with my son in mind).  Because that judge was to retire at the end of 2002 we were advised to wait until Dec 2002 and return to the attorney's office to get the process started to be able to go before the new judge in January 2003.  My son was killed in a motorcycle accident Oct 2002--still a registered sex offender.

Tony had many friends that knew his situation and stood by him, if not, he may not have survived the bull.  He was suicidal before he made peace with this situation, doing so, by realizing this situation did not in any way mold him into anything other than what he was, a decent guy with alot of love to give.  He cared about people.  He wanted to continue to be himself, and outside of his requirements, he determined to do just that.  Just a few short stories to attest to his character.

Tony fixed the garage door of one of his friends' grandmothers the night before he died.  He was at her house with her grandson and she mentioned to him that she was going to be calling his place of employment because her garage door was broken and not operating correctly.  He told her he'd gladly fix it while he was there and that she would never need to pay for keeping it working as he would take care of her if she'd call him.

Also, Tony was killed on a Saturday evening.  He did not always work on Saturdays but he did work that one.  Not all his co-workers worked that day.  They told me that when they went back into work the following Monday, a couple of them were in the break room and noticed a dollar bill and a note taped to the wall.  They were like "What the...?"  One of them walked over to see what it was, and the note said "This is for who's ever coke I took out of the icebox.  Tony".

I still have more pain involved in the memory of what the state of Texas did to my son than I do associated with the actual loss of my son.  The reason being is that in death my son is no longer being mistreated by a system he was taught to respect.  In death he is free and as painful as it is to me to not be able to talk to him or hold him ever again, there is such relief in knowing he can no longer be subjected to the sex offender treatment.

My stomach still has a sick knot in its pit and disgust in my claw.  The state of Texas allows murderers to defend themselves in court, but not a young man who has unforced sex with a teenage peer.  Am I the only one that can see this is crazy?  These boys have no chance at a future, they are limited to where they can live, eat, breathe, they can not get gainful employment or any chance of advancement, because of their status.  They are modern day lepers in a nationwide witch-hunt.  It's been 5 years since my son was indicted and yet this is still happening every day in Texas.  How many young lives does the state want to ruin, before they put a stop to this?

If anyone reading this wants to help these boys, there are several of them that I am in contact with that are eligible for the exemption that would remove them from the registration requirement, but they do not have the funds to pursue it.  I'm looking for an attorney willing to help at a reasonable rate or other means to help them.

Tana Fillingame
Vidor, Texas
Submitted November 18, 2004
Read the poem Tana wrote about her son.