“I’m a child rapist” — a story in four parts; Part III

See also: Part I – Part IIPart IV

Part III: In and through the pain

It was almost 20 years ago, when I was 38, that my stepdaughter reported our sexualized relationship that had been ongoing for several years. She told a teacher at school; it was both the worst and best day of my life. It was the worst because it meant I was facing jail, the collapse of my family, embarrassment, and all the other terrible things you can imagine and that many of you have experienced. It was the best because it meant I no longer had to lead a double life, my daughter was safe, and my family and I could finally get the help we needed.

Why hadn’t we reached out and gotten help earlier? My family and my family of origin could have always stopped, broken the cycle of abuse, and sought help at any point, but the taboo and social shaming aspects are very strong deterrents and a good example of how criminalization justice rather than restoration justice isn’t the answer. There has to be restorative hope to break these cycles of abuse; yes, punishment and accountability are important, but neither of these is restorative, and neither offers hope, and there must be hope.

I was determined to get help and stop the cycle of abuse as soon as my daughter set me free by telling the truth. I had a young son; I didn’t want him or my stepdaughter to go out into life ill-equipped as I was. The system, however, wasn’t designed to help. It was, and in many respects still is today, designed only to separate, criminalize, and punish. There was nothing like restorative justice then for sure.

I sought out and started individual therapy with a certified sexual offender therapist before I was even convicted. I stayed with this doctor for five years. He was beyond helpful, his compassion immeasurable, and I shall be forever grateful to him and all he did for me and consequently for my family.

On intake, I took the Abel Assessment Test and was determined to have a mixed attraction to both male and female adults and prepubescent minors and was clinically diagnosed with pedophilia.

Most of my therapy over the years was cognitive; however, I also had some aversion therapy with ammonia. But since mine was truly a learned behavior, the cognitive therapy helped me the most.

On my discharge, I retook the Able Assessment Test and was determined to be free from any attraction to minors and given a clean bill of health.

During our ordeal, the state and child protective services (CPS) did everything in their power to do two things: (1) break up our family, and (2) cover their asses. Working with families to ensure everyone is safe and everyone gets needed help  might have been in CPS’s mission statement, but it certainly wasn’t in their actions.

To have any hope of reuniting my family, my wife and I were forced by CPS to attend a local group for “family therapy.” The group was made up of offenders, their partners, and other sexual abuse survivors and is the group I mentioned earlier that made all offenders introduce themselves as “child rapists.” Honestly, the only benefit we received from attending that group was the strength to stay together, the strength, despite all the pressure for my wife and kids to jettison me, to fight on.

I was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a minor and given five years of prison, all suspended, so all of my time was served on probation.  Parole and probation were, like CPS, interested in nothing other than absolute control and covering their collective asses. Nothing close to restorative justice was in their vocabulary, much less practiced.

At the time of my conviction, I was in the process of retiring from the service, and by the grace of God, I was allowed to retire at a reduced rank and keep my benefits and retirement, which was a blessing to my family.

I had a top-secret security clearance and had secured post-service employment as a consultant on the Theater Ballistic Missile Program at the John’s Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Both the job and the clearance quickly evaporated upon my conviction.

After being unable to obtain any gainful employment in a suitable field or comparable level, I was forced to take the only work I could find as a part-time, minimum-wage ticket seller for a major entertainment ticketing company, a company where I have remained for the past 18 years. I worked myself up from my initial part-time, minimum-wage employment to the position of director of product operations with a six-figure income.

My status as a registrant came up only once during my 18 years with the company. That was approximately nine years into my employment when the office where I worked was being closed and consolidated. During this transition, the company was trying to decide to whom they would offer reassignment and relocation. By this time, I had worked up to a management position and was being considered for relocation when my status as a registrant was ‘”re-discovered.” The VP of Human Resources interviewed me and indicated that since I had not lied on my initial employment application, had great annual reviews, had no incident reports, and had high recommendations that I would not be terminated and would be offered relocation. Had this happened during the first five years of my employment, I would have certainly been dismissed and would have to restart from the bottom again.

See also: Part I – Part IIPart IV

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    • #55269 Reply
      Darrel R Hoffman

      You mean CPS and parole/probation had donkeys? Where did they keep them? Did they ride them to your house, to work, to the store, had you ride them? I thought most people today would use cars, not donkeys!! This little bit of “humor” is in regards to the poor choice of words to use vulgarity to describe someone’s behind. It isn’t necessary.

      • #55415 Reply
        Mack McCurry

        I see no humor and an accurate use of words…just saying.

      • #55524 Reply
        Mike Goodman

        It’s a relatively mild phrase by contemporary mores! lol

    • #55275 Reply
      John Rackman

      Did you rape this child? If in fact you did, then is it so wrong to state in a therapeutic setting that you had done so? I agree that language is powerful, but let us frame this correctly; you raped a child, but are not a child rapist. There is nothing wrong with stating the truth; is shows ownership of your behaviors.

      Everyone complains about Probation and Parole, but if you were actually abused as you state you were (and I believe you), you know the impact that it has on the victim. I was abused, and I was an offender – therefore, I completely understand why P&P takes the measures that they do, and it is understandable. If my child were molested, I would want assurances as well.

      • #55286 Reply

        Yeah it is wrong to state in a therapeutic setting that you are a rapist because that pounds it in your head that thats who you are and not what you did and that is in no way therapeutic, to admit what you did thats owning up to your crime,” just because your standing in a garage does not make you a car😁” to own up to it and to learn from it and change your behavior and feel empathy for your victim, but you do know that there are many people on the registry that are innocent and I’m one of them even the head counselor believe so plus i took my case after i got out of jail to a lawyer in San Jose an he looked at everything the defense and prosecuting attorneys had and he couldn’t understand how they convicted me and i can’t afford to pay around $30,000.00 to overturn my case which he said he can do!

        • #55288 Reply
          John Rackman

          Words are powerful… with that in mind, read what I said. I said ‘… is it so wrong to state in a therapeutic setting that you had done so’. I never said call yourself a rapist, I was saying that admitting what you did is key to the process. In the process of committing his crime, the author of the OP was a rapist, was he not? Yes, he was. That is not name-calling or shaming… it is the stark reality. Let us not forget the harm we caused. Instead, we like to focus on what society does to us, as opposed to the havoc we created by violating people’s bodies and their trust. It is not ok to violate children or to violate adults against their consent. At least murder victims aren’t forced to continue to suffer… that is why murder, as horrifying as that is, is seen in a different light than sex offenses are.

          Remember – I am both a victim and perpetrator. I understand both sides here.

          I would re-evaluate your position on your offending behavior. While denial of one’s crime is not a statistical factor in re-offense, it certainly is not a good look, so to speak. I urge you to take responsibility for your offending behaviors.

    • #55290 Reply
      Mark Goodenow

      In the State of Oregon, we have mandatory minimum sentencing laws (measure 11).. You would have had prison time. After release approx a decade of “post prison supervision” and mandatory ” treatment ” .. This involves forced signing of a treatment contract (or jail) the completion of a “sexual history disclosure” detailing all sexual activity since birth & verified by polygraph at your expense. there are many requirements and bookmark that has to be completed or You “fail to advance in treatment” a jail time offense! You would be forbidden contact with any victims of any age, and all minors. Contact with Victims can be approved after all treatment requirements are met, or after you are off paper.
      Mark Goodenow, Oregon Voices.

    • #55297 Reply
      Timothy D.
      Tim Davich

      Again I would like to thank you for sharing your story. I will not pick it apart as others seem to be doing. It is in fact your story not ours to be changed by us. I feel you have a understanding of what harm has been caused and been able to move past the barriers that most persons who have sexually offended have a hard time doing. I like you have been able to make the needed changes and have a good job. I think a lot of offenders who have to start over don’t know how to be honest with themselves and to stop beating themselves up, it is also important to think outside the “normal” box when it comes to jobs and living life. We by the nature of our offense must be very careful and do the best to use what we have learned in life (work skills, manners, Etc) to prove that we can be productive members of society and once again coexist. I think it is best said, WE ARE NOT OUR CRIME, AND OUR CRIMES DOES NOT HAVE TO DETERMINE OUR FUTURE. What we choose to do in the future is entirely our choice. Make the right choice.

    • #55312 Reply

      Agree with Tim above. We often like to consider our sentence v. someone else. No prison time seems amazing, yet grace was extended like I wish it were for so many others. Obviously decades have passed and no re-offenses so incarceration was completely unnecessary for rehabilitation. Congratulations and thanks for sharing. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, it only matters where you are going.

    • #55311 Reply

      I look forward to your last installment. Thank you for your courage to speak on such a personal level.

    • #55330 Reply

      I also feel there’s a huge difference between saying “I raped my daughter” and “I’m a rapist.” Even “I raped my daughter repeatedly over a period of years” does not mean that, today, someone is a rapist. This language matters. In prisons in my state, the men and women are given an “offender’s daily schedule” and all the information refers to “the offenders.” There are many men and women who are committed to NOT offending again and being daily reminded that they’re nothing more than “offenders” is degrading.

      Being told over and over “you are a child rapist” seems to be a simple way to dehumanize and label someone – essentially an assumption that he cannot overcome his past heinous choices and move forward.

      I am grateful for reading Joe’s words. It’s hard to speak out, and especially hard to speak out with eloquence, when you have been so shamed and stigmatized, and when people forever want to judge you for your worst mistake ever.

      I would love to hear from your wife and your daughter, if you were able to reconcile your relationship. It’s truly a blessing that you were able to avoid imprisonment and have CPS begrudgingly let you explore reconciliation. Today the environment is so hostile and families that want to explore reconciliation and healing have massive barriers placed before them, as well as outright hatred thrown at them. My family is in the middle of fighting such a battle right now and we are praying for a miracle (ie, for the government to get out of the way and let us try safely and transparently with the many treatment professionals who have stood up and said they are willing to help and that our family is a good candidate for exploring reconnection and restorative practices).

      Again, I appreciate Joe’s story. These stories need to be shared. I hope to share our story. I think by speaking out we help open minds, bring healing, and maybe, just maybe, hearing many voices about this will help some men stop and think before they try to handle their own issues via sexual abusing a child.

      • #55366 Reply

        Thanks for the kind words. I am sorry to hear of your current family travails. Keep the faith and keep fighting for your family; it’s well worth the struggle. I know these words are easier said than done, especially in today’s hostile family reunification environment, and trust me, I know just how much grace my family and I received compared to others. I’m sorry to say that my wife and daughter are not in a place where responding or speaking publicly, even anonymously, is something they are willing to do.

    • #55397 Reply
      Mark Goodenow

      Thank you Joe for your courage in coming forward with this discourse! I wish only the best for you and your family going forward! In my state of Oregon the penalties for SOs are exceptionally harsh, And the mandatory treatment requirements and methods are illegal in my opinion. I’m my case, the DA picked up the charges. My Daughter had tried to contact me on several occasions but had to be told I couldn’t talk to her until 2022. She had been homeless since my 2013 incarceration & she decided to hike in front of a Semi a few weeks ago.. Now we won’t be having that talk.
      Best Regards! Mark Goodenow, Oregon Voices.

      • #55401 Reply

        I really believe that one day (probably 50+ years from now) we as a country and a people will all look back upon this period in our history as a sad example of how to treat fellow humans. That in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, we still let our lesser angels prevail. I’m truly sorry for your loss of your daughter, made all that more tragic by your forced estrangement from her, lack of reconciliation though indications were that she was interested, and hope for what could have been. Keep the faith brother; we may never live to see it, but I believe our better angels will someday prevail.

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