Megan’s story

By “Megan” . . . I didn’t know Matt before his offense. He was in the military for 8 years, was deployed to Afghanistan, and saw lots of things. Some of the stuff he still won’t talk about to me or anyone else. He was there during a very active time in the war. Once he got back, he was dealing with PTSD, but no one in the military wanted to help so he began self-medicating with alcohol. To make matters worse, he was in a bad relationship at the time.

A family friend (who was 15 at the time) reached out to Matt and began talking to him on Facebook. Dealing with his PTSD, Matt was drinking to the point of blacking out, and their conversations turned sexual. At one point he had sent her naked pictures of himself and asked her for some. She never sent any. The military found out and convicted him of a felony (Article 120 B, which in the military is basically saying he sexually assaulted her). They never had any physical contact, but nonetheless his lawyer told him to take the plea deal, and he was sentenced to a year in military prison.

Matt had moved up the ranks while in the military, and it all came crashing down. After his time in prison, he was released and subjected to registration in the state he lived in. He had to move in with his mother, his first time living with his family since high school. His depression was so bad he wouldn’t get out of bed for days. He would confine himself to his pitch-black room.

It was around this time that I met Matt. At first I had no idea of his situation. Things weren’t adding up after our first few dates, and eventually I googled him. I will never forget that day. It was difficult to put myself into that situation and decide that I would help him through the next few years, but I could see he wasn’t the monster the laws were making him out to be.

His mom sent him to therapy where he was told he in fact had PTSD. Military was not interested in hearing that or in taking responsibility. We settled into a life where I was working and he stayed home. He was still living a life being depressed, and no one wanted to hire a sex offender. Two years into our relationship, we decided to move to Ohio. He was considered a nonviolent offender in Virginia and we assumed it would be the same in Ohio. The officer he spoke to in Virginia told Matt, whatever you do don’t let them put you on tier three. We both thought that’s easy enough because he never had physical contact with the girl, and tier three is the highest level of offender.

Unfortunately, states don’t want to give you the status you’ll be registered at until you have an address in their state. After moving, Matt was told he would be a tier three offender. We were crushed. How could Ohio believe that someone who basically “sexted” needed to be on the highest tier?

Thankfully I’m proactive and started calling lawyers right away. If it had remained up to Matt, he would have sat in a depressed state for his lifetime of registration. Over a year and $5,000 later, the state finally admitted to wrongfully tiering Matt and lowered him to tier one. During that time, he had flyers sent out to everyone who lived within 1,000 feet of us. We had to walk around wondering who knew and if they might threaten or harm us.

The point of this recall of events is that in this age of technology, this could be anyone. It is so easy for someone’s bad day to turn into years and years of shame and judgement. I know there is not a day that goes by that Matt doesn’t wish he had demanded mental health treatment after returning from Afghanistan. Matt’s entire career and life’s work, his service to our country, was ripped away, and nothing will ever get it back.

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    • #56186 Reply
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      admin

      By “Megan” . . . I didn’t know Matt before his offense. He was in the military for 8 years, was deployed to Afghanistan, and saw lots of things. Some
      [See the full post at: Megan’s story]

    • #56191 Reply
      Charlie
      Charlie
      Moderator

      Hi Megan, I’m so sorry to hear that an American hero must be forever shamed. It’s unreasonable to assume that when it comes to a sexually defined offense, that one who has served in any noble capacity could be reduced to living life as “the worst thing they ever did” instead of considering the enormity of their lives work. For many serving overseas in the armed forces, asking for any type of help that could be construed as “mental health” issues is unimaginable. The stigma that civilians face is bad enough, but for service person’s, it could spell the end of a career, or at least a curtailing of the career path. After all, aren’t warriors immune to stress and trauma? (Of course not!)
      So, in Matt’s case, self medicating was the natural outcome. Some use drugs, alcohol, or sex, others commit suicide. All because the command doesn’t know how to help without assuming one is damaged goods.
      I do private counseling, outside if insurance. The majority of my clients are service persons who won’t use Tricare or notify the chaplains service out of fear. There are a lot of Matts out there. Yours was let down by his country first, before he made his ill-considered mistake. Still a hero, but he’s being denied.

    • #56192 Reply
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      Thomas

      Dear Megan,

      I’m very sorry to hear about Matt’s plight. I’m thankful he has such a wonderful supporter as you. Like Matt I’m also a military offender. I went through the same depression. I also have PTSD from the horrific things I was put through. I understand his pain and going from a great career in the military to a disgraced sex offender. I have to register every three months for life. If I could offer you some advice. Don’t let your past dictate your future. Like you I have had many jobs where I was fired because of my past. I never stopped trying and ended up getting my ultimate dream job. I never gave up and refused to say no. Please keep your head up. I promise it does get better. The person you are now is not the person you were when you committed tour offense. If you need someone to talk to, let me know.

    • #56204 Reply
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      Timothy

      Presumption is a very dangerous perspective to proceed forward on any path, much less the path to liberty. Matt experienced the presumption of guilt first, the inverse of individual constitutional disposition envisioned by the framers.

    • #56221 Reply
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      Gwen

      Megan,
      I feel like you and I are one in the same- kindred spirits if you will. My boyfriend was targeted with a sting operation while he was deployed to Afghanistan by a OSI agent who disregarded all of the ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) training that they require but he never received (he admitted he had no training in court), disregarded the fact that the “Op” had ended (he had gone rogue) and also sent a picture of a non age regressed 23 year old woman to my boyfriend while he was in Afghanistan at the time (he and I were not boyfriend/ girlfriend yet) even though the Operational standards limited the agent to targeting service members within a certain radius of his base (my boyfriend was not stationed anywhere near his base stateside). Additionally, there were no plans to meet (how could they??) and the agent asked my boyfriend to send a picture while he was on sleeping meds the Air Force gave him and he never asked “her” for anything.
      Even with all of this information, which the prosecution did not give the defense up until about 3 years later, and about 2 days until the start of his trial. They convicted him anyhow. The lawyer for the prosecution was a complete and total tool but he cried in front of the jury. The military judge wouldn’t even let the defense lawyers talk.
      There is no justice in the military justice system. It is completely broken. We have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars paying a good lawyer to protect him from the military. They are the absolute worst in the world.
      Please know that I feel your pain. I feel like the protector of my boyfriend. He gets so depressed it’s hard to get him out of the hole of depression.
      Your boyfriend is so lucky he has you! Continue to be his strength and together you guys can weather the storm.
      If you ever want to contact me, please feel free to get my email from the admin on this site. It sounds like we go through a lot of the same!
      I’m hoping that he won’t be a tier 3 but I don’t know.
      This had all been so overwhelming for me and for him.
      Thanks for sharing your experience, it has given me some hope throughout the darkness.

      • #56446 Reply
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        Megan

        Gwen,

        Thank you for sharing your story! The military seems to make things way harder. I hope that your boyfriend finds justice and peace.

        Megan

    • #56398 Reply
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      Tony From Long Island

      A few things hit me while reading this.

      Sex Offenders CAN get jobs. I sorta get tired of the “no one hires sex offenders” line. Certainly it’s frustrating and there will be rejections but sex offenders work ALL THE TIME. After the first year and a half of being home and not really trying all that hard to work, I have worked pretty much non-stop since 2014. My crimes were rather high profile, my name is not very common (so I can’t say it was someone else) and there were minors involved. Now I am a supervisor at the company I work for. So, I get tired of that line.

      Pretty much any temp agency will get you a job.

      Second, the way “megan” describes “matt,” is hopefully just the negative. He doesn’t sound like the kind of person you’d want to be around all the time regardless of the PTSD. Maybe she should have tried to highlight some of his positive traits.

      Sorry I am so negative with this post. I’m usually not, but this story didn’t really move me at all. Sorry “Megan.”

    • #56416 Reply
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      Megan

      Sorry Tony I wasn’t writing this to prove Matt has positive traits. I was writing to show the TRUTH of most SO. They struggle with depression and motivation and finding work. I’m so glad you’ve worked hard and things are good for you but that’s not the normal story. I was expressing my situation & our story. Sorry I didn’t move you with some fancy dreamy story. Best of luck Tony!

      • #56420 Reply
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        Tracy

        Thanks for your encouraging story and I feel for Matt. As regards to the employment situation, it is very hard to get a GOOD job. Yes, you can find some work and given enough time it is possible to work your way up. I know this was not your focus of article but want share my experience. In my previous career I was making 6 figures at branding and advertising firm. These are only located in large cities. There are dozens in my city but because there is a school or daycare everywhere I can’t work at any of them. We have a 2,000 feet restriction for life. Now I am making less than $30,000 blessed I have friend owning cleaning company. My old company still wants me back but not allowed.

        • #56447 Reply
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          Megan

          Tracy that is terrible! Do you live in the south? I heard it’s bad there

    • #56495 Reply
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      Deb

      Megan,
      I agree that there are many in the same boat you are with our loved ones. My heart breaks when people lump sex offenders all in the same category. Not all SO are bad. My son spent 12 years in the Air Force working with computers. He has lost his career and we are unsure about his career in programming computers. He touched my grand daughter’s breast and stopped himself from doing anything else. She is 14. He got 2 years and two yrs probation in a military brig. After $30,000. To a lawyer that I paid for. My daughter will not let me see her children, but they are old enough now to drive themselves to see me. They do not want me to tell their mom they came to see me. The younger child is 7, and I have not seen him for 2 years. My son’s son is 4 and I have custody of him. His mom left my son and left the child with his father. Things like this drive wedges between family members. My daughter has no other family. My entire family is mad at her. My son admitted his wrong and is paying for his mistake, but it is not fair to me or my grandchildren to be kept apart. The children are kept from all family on my side. They are allowed to visit their other grandparents on their dad’s side. Our military should not be treated this way. I was told that if you served one tour of duty(4 years) before the discharge, you get to keep your GI bill. I’m not sure if that is true. Praying it is true. Deb

      • #56517 Reply
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        Megan

        Deb,

        My heart goes out to you! That is such a difficult and sad situation. After fighting with the VA I do know that if he has completed one honorable tour of duty that he will receive his GI bill. I hope that your family heals from this. I can’t imagine the pain you are feeling.

        Megan

    • #57829 Reply
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      The Criminalized Man

      Thank you all, Deb, Gwen, Megan for speaking out. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

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