Tales From The Chambers: A Victim Plea Bargains
House to Ninth Circuit: You're Not Activist Enough!

Moving Letter from a Reader

We get a lot of reader mail at C&F.  Most of it from kooks.  But today I received something especially moving.  It tells an all too common tale about a victim of sex offender hysteria.  Even edited, the letter is rather long.  But trust me, it's worth reading:

In December of 2001, I was in my senior year at a Georgia state university, majoring in Business Management. I was 25, and had already earned an associates degree in music at this point, as well....

I went to a party during that Christmas break, and there was a girl there. The fact that she was drinking beer and smoking cigarettes led me to believe that she was of legal age. I have never been a promiscuous person, but she came on to me, and we ended up sleeping together that night. I told the hosts of the party, a couple with whom I was good friends that I had hooked up with the girl at the party. They told me that she was the host's younger sister, and that she was 14 years old. They also told the father, who was a police officer.

***

The plea agreement did not seem all that bad at the time. I knew that, as the adult, I should have had the foresight not to have slept with that girl. I knew that the responsibility for the entire situation rested upon my shoulders. I took all the blame and felt genuinely remorseful for making such a stupid decision. They offered me a "First Offender" sentence. They would drop the Child Molestation charge, and leave the Statutory Rape. I was offered 10 years of probation, no jail time, and ordered to attend counseling, or "Sex Offender Treatment".... According to Georgia's First Offender Act, the case would also be shielded from the public and removed from my record if I was able to stay out of trouble for the duration of my probation. The most significant part of the plea agreement was that I would NOT have to register and have my name, address, and picture plastered across the Internet. The DA and Judge had decided that I did not deserve to have my life wrecked because of this. I took the plea, was grateful for what I had received, and attempted to become a contributing member of society. When I took the plea, the state also dropped all charges against the hosts of the party (Contributing to the delinquency of a Minor).

Over the next 2 years, I did everything that I was supposed to do. I never missed a day of probation or counseling. My probation officer even showed compassion toward me, stating that even he did not believe that I should have been punished as harshly as I had been. Still, I was able to incorporate everything and forge a fantastic, successful life for myself. I closed on my first house in October of 2004, had a fantastic job as a guitarist (studio and live performances) and taught music lessons during the day at a local music store. I bought my house 5 minutes from the store.

***

On July first, 2005, Georgia changed the law. The GBI Website now reads, "Effective July 1, 2005, all First Offenders must register."

***

Two months later, I lost my job. Someone had spotted me on the Internet and called the owner of the store. The owner called me aside one day and fired me. He first said that I should leave the county, but I presented him with my court documents that state that I am only restricted from contact with a specific group, and that I had been following my probation to the letter. I showed him all of the letters that people had written for me. He was very sorry, but explained that he, as the owner of a family business, could not afford to be associated with someone in my position. He did tell me that I was welcome to come back if I was able to get this all sorted out.

***

Last week, the police came to my house to check up on me. It is police procedure to do random checks on everyone who is on the registry. I was not here at the time, but my roommates were. Of course, they were aware of my situation by now. I had told everyone in my life when I was forced to register. The police busted through the door and placed everyone in handcuffs and made them lie down on the floor. They exclaimed, "Are you people aware that you are associating with a Registered Sex Offender?" They said yes. No arrests were made that night, but everyone moved out after that.

***

Being placed on the Sex Offender Registry is one of the most horrible things that our society has ever known. It is a cruel experiment by our government that has already been proven to do absolutely no good towards protecting society from dangerous people. The lawmakers had no idea what they were doing when they passed (and continue to pass) all these laws. I know this for a fact because my uncle, a member of the (GA) house of congress, even said so himself when I told him that my entire life had been ruined by a law that he didn't even remember voting on last year. It is absolutely mind blowing to myself and everyone that I have told (and I've told a lot of people at this point), but nobody seems to be able to do anything about it...nobody wants to touch it because it's such a "hot button" issue right now. Nobody would want to be accused of "Not wanting to protect the children..."

***

The biggest problem with all of this, through my eyes, is that I have done so much over the last 2 years. I have based and built my life around the guidelines that were set out for me. I am being forced to undo the successes that I have accomplished under these guidelines. To go back and change the rules 2 years later just seems unconscionable to me. The worst part is that forcing people to register has already been challenged at the Supreme Court level, and the verdict has been returned that it is not considered additional punishment to be placed on the Registry. If it were considered additional punishment, it would violate the constitutional laws of due process and against double jeopardy and ex post facto laws. The problem is that it IS additional punishment. Being placed on the sex offender website is probably one of the most horrible things that can happen to a person in today's society. The registry does not state the conditions of my probation. I'm sure that the lady who called the store did not realize that I was not violating any laws by teaching there. She, like most other people who check the registry, probably assumed that I was a child rapist/molester/kidnapper who deserves to burn in Hell forever. That is one of the biggest problems with the registry. People who are on it are automatically assumed to be the worst of the worst through society's eyes. I am not a rapist. I do not hurt children. I do not want to sleep with children.

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