I am required to register as a Level 1 Offender (WA2013). I was wrongfully accused by a family member of inappropriately touching her breasts when she was 6 years old (1996). Thats when Everything spun out of control as I learned how our justice system handles defendants in these cases. I followed the rules. I completed and passed lengthy and humiliating sexual evaluations. I passed a polygraph. All of my children were interviewed. I was at 22 years of Honorable Military Service, and had spent the last 10 years recruiting High School Students for the Army. I coached kids baseball, girls volleyball, soccer. Spotless record and preparing for post service employment in the Private sector with six figure potential. Instead, I learned that County Prosecutors don’t drop sexual assault cases, even when there is no evidence. Its full on defense ($100K+) even for small cases. They put very little effort into a case unless it goes to trial (or if the victim has a record with no physical evidence). Able to drop their case at any time, they walk into court, ask for a 60 day extension and watch to see how much money you can spend. I took a plea, avoided 30 years in prison if convicted, for 6 months in county jail. Sound familiar? Its a popular move by the states to get a conviction no matter the facts and ADD TO THE REGISTRY. Seemed like a bargain.
My point in writing this is not to profess my innocence, I’m past that. Rather to provide a picture of the reality of just being accused of touching a child brings. The public paranoia and ease of charge/conviction of these crimes is driven by state legislatures trying to look tough on crime. Every year, every state, every lawmaker, trying to look good on paper for their next promotion drives the price of human life into the ground by destroying families and potential recovery of both the innocent and the guilty with unneeded new laws. Creating more socio/economic problems than it solves.
People want quick fixes to things they don’t understand. IML is a perfect example of that failed process. I will not be able to travel outside the United States as an American Citizen on vacation with my wife being required to pre-notify my destination government of my arrival. I am still unemployed for having a Class C Felony on my record now. The actual countries that I fought in during combat won’t even allow me out of the Airport. I AM WHO IML IS TARGETING AND IMPACTING. My constitutional rights, right to due process, the ability to even get to rebuild myself to a level of social and economical status I was at prior to these charges are seemingly impossible now. And Im the lucky one. I still have my wife, kids, and a roof over my head. Thus far my face isn’t plastered all over the internet for the muse of the world (as long as I don’t decide to move to another state or county of course). But after 4 years of being on a registry, Im feeling the effects. I have been forced to work under the table for cash, and have been unable to overcome the feeling that I am living in a cave, observing the world go by. I have systematically distanced myself from my lifetime friends to protect myself and my wife. I am fearful of the police, doctors, and neighbors. Everyday I worry that someone who knows me will discover my record. No voice, no opportunities, no recovery from the stigma of having your sense of belonging and self esteem stripped away, purposeless in your own community.
Thank you for your brave work trying to restore dignity for thousands