Category Archives: My Story

THE FALLOUT BEGINS

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA


This is the first post to my story in about two years.  Time seems to get away from you, and even with the best of intentions to post regularly, it just didn’t happen.  I was inspired to continue my story now after the unfortunate passing of my attorney, who truly became my friend.  Protecting the public from DA’s who knowingly proceed with the prosecution of innocent people was a passion of his.  I am so proud to have known him, and of the strength he gave to me throughout my ordeal.  

And to the followers of my story – as always there are no words to express my gratitude for the overwhelming support you have shown to my blog over the years.  I want to ensure that you get to hear the full story as well.  So…here is the next ‘chapter’ in my life’s story!


After an arrest for a “crime” such as this, you have no idea how fast your life falls apart.  In my first meeting with my attorney, he cautioned me to be prepared for the fallout.  But, there is really no way to fathom what is actually ahead.  I thought I would use this brief post to share a bit of how drastically my life changed, and began to unravel after word of my arrest got out.

Career – As soon as I notified my boss of the arrest, I was immediately suspend from my position.  For over a decade I had dedicated my life to my career.  It was really all I knew – and now that was stripped from me.  My routine consisted of going to work, giving my all, and making a difference in my community every day.  What was I going to do now without a job to go to every day?  Who was going to pick up my work and make sure it was done to my standard?  How quickly could I appeal and get the suspension overturned?

Professional Reputation – Prior to my arrest I was well known in my profession.  I regularly presented professional development classes in my area.  I was asked to speak from time-to-time on particular topics that I was especially known for.  I had won “prestigious” awards for excellence in my field.  The suspension from my position was expected, but the real, crippling blow came just a week later when I received a certified letter in the mail advising that my professional certifications were being suspended as well.  Any chances of winning my job back were now gone.  Any opportunities to teach on the side had just vanished as well, and along with it the reputation I had worked so hard to built.

Finances – This is by far the biggest unexpected impact.  In the blink of an eye, 100% of your income is gone.  The bills – mortgages, car payments, insurance, utilities -, however, don’t stop!  In fact, your financial obligations now grow wildly beyond all expectations.  Legal retainers, professional fees and more eat through your savings in no time at all.  How are you supposed to live with no income, and new out of control debt?  Is it ever possible to overcome this?

Community Involvement – Another area that was very important to me was involvement in my community.  It was something I was committed to since, literally, my high school days.  I was physically made sick when just days after my arrest I received a letter from the civic organization that received the majority of volunteer hours stating that I did not “meet their high moral standards of membership”.  This is an organization I had sacrificed significantly to support over the years – an organization who’s leaders I was friends with, whom had been to my home countless times.  An organization who’s members I had personally supported when they had fallen on hard times.  And now, for the first time in my life, I was the one who needed support and the leaders I had unconditionally supported for YEARS didn’t even pick up a phone to ask me what was going on, to send their support, to ask questions.  MY organization sent me a letter…

News Coverage – About a week following the arrest my family found a short story buried in our local paper about me, and of course the article clearly insuanted guilt without providing any actual evidence.  The real scare came the following day when my office called and told me there was a news crew there looking for information on me.  They set up a remote feed truck in the parking lot of my office.  Shortly after that a neighbor called to tell me there were news vans in front of my house!  My co-workers already knew what was going on, but my neighbors were about to find out in the worst possible way. What was I going to do now?

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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Choosing the RIGHT Lawyer!

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

The day I got arrested was, to this point, the darkest day of my life!  I never thought this accusation would actually go anywhere…I knew I didn’t do anything wrong.  It had been what seemed like a long time since I was interrogated by the Prosecutor.  Yet – I had just been arrested, been bailed out of jail, and met with a criminal defense attorney.  These are all things I never would have predicted.  As I mentioned before – I wasn’t even sure if this attorney was actually going to be any help.  I seemed like more of a bother to him, than an important case he was going to focus on.  But I had never been in this situation.  In fact, I don’t think I have ever even known anyone else who has been in this situation – so I thought there was nowhere to turn for advice!

After leaving the lawyer’s office I didn’t know what to do next.  I knew the “news” of my arrest was going to get out quickly – so I thought I should make sure I tell those closest to me personally.  I drove to work first, and told my co-workers and friends what had happened.  I knew they knew my character, and would be behind me in this.  Their support was more than I could have even hoped for.  Hugs – crying – disbelief.  And I felt a little better, if that is even possible, just knowing that this wasn’t a secret and that maybe I would have supporters to help me get through this.  After I left work…it hit me.  My father…  He did not know any of this.  When I was first told of the allegations, I was sure the truth would be evident to the investigators and noting would come of it, so I didn’t want to worry my father.  But, now that I had been arrested – he had to know.  But, how do you tell your father this kind of thing?  I couldn’t do it!  There is no way you can call your father and say “Dad, I was just arrested – for child molestation”.  I couldn’t make that call.  That night, when my mom returned home, she made the call for me.  This turned out to be the best call – and literally changed the path of my story for the better.

My Dad is an extremely smart, successful and intelligent man.  He has many contacts through his work.  One of them happens to be friends with a nationally renowned legal expert.  When my father told his friend what was happening, he put him in touch with this expert immediately.  The information he gave to my father was literally invaluable.  Here is a synopsis of his advice:

  •  A local lawyer is not what you needed for this kind of charge.  He said this charge is literally a life or death situation, and the best chance is with a nationally known expert in this kind of case.
  • He said to personally meet with, and interview several of the top attorneys, and choose who you feel most comfortable with.  He provided a list of four experts in the immediate area, as well as one national expert on these cases.
  • In the meeting with the attorneys, he advised the following questions were critically important to consider:
    • Is the attorney a member f the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)?
    • What is their track record in cases like this?
    • Who will be the actual attorney leading the case?
    • Who will prepare the case for trial and argue in court?
    • How many others will work on the case, who are they, and what is their expertise?
    • How will you help with non-legal matters like preventing damaging publicity?  He said this can be one of the most important points because history proves that people change what they know and believe when they read and hear things in the news, and are even less likely to continue to be supportive if the case becomes controversial.  He said that often once strong supporters will change their minds once a story appears in the media, and even once the truth comes out they never return as friends.
  • Finally – he advised that Mr. Murphy’s plan to seek a bail reduction hearing was completely inappropriate given the nature of the charges.  He said that a bail reduction hearing would bring the case publicly into a court room, and in front of the media…and the goal of any attorney right now should be to keep the publicity around the case to a minimum until they can do their own investigation.  This advice alone convinced me that Mr. Murphy was the not the lawyer for me.
January 24, 2007
After speaking to this expert, we set up a meeting with the first attorney he recommended locally – Mr. William Buckman (Mr. Buckman’s actual name and information are being used with his permission).  On the day of our first meeting with Mr. Buckman the differences between him and Mr. Murphy were evident immediately upon entering his office.  In contrast to the chaos and mess that we encounter in Mr. Murphy’s office, Mr. Buckman’s office was incredibly clean, orderly, decorated and welcoming.  We were greeted by his staff, and offered a beverage while we waited.  In the waiting area there we countless awards on his walls signifying his accomplishments, and respect.  Mr. Buckman was ranked as one of the top 100 attorneys in the state, was on the Board of Trustees of the ACLU, was the President of the states Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and was on the Board of Directors of the NACDL…  Previously he was a Public Defender, and he tried one of the first capital murder cases in our State’s history.  One of the most impressive things to me, though, were scrap books of cases he had tried, along with very personal letters from previous clients about how Bill had impacted their lives.
Shortly after arriving Mr. Buckman came out of his office and greeted us.  I will never forget his warm smile.  Him and I went into his conference room where he asked me to fill him in on the particulars of the case.  He reviewed the complaints and accusations.  Then he was incredibly honest with me.  He told me that this is the worst kind of criminal charge.  He told me that sexual abuse charges against children have one of the highest conviction rates.  He told me that this is one of the only criminal charges where the police need NO physical evidence to convict, only the word of another.  He also said that it is one of the charges where, regardless of the facts, there is a presumption of guilt.  While the law says “innocent until proven guilty” – in this case most people assume you are guilty until you prove you are innocent.  He reviewed the worst case scenarios with me – a conviction could mean more than 35 years in prison.
After our talk, he brought my family in, and discussed some of what we had talked about, and shared a bit about his plan if we choose him to take the case.  He agreed that we should not proceed with the bail reduction hearing.  He asked me to develop a list of references his investigators could interview.  He asked if I would be comfortable submitting to a polygraph examination with an independent examiner – which I, of course, agreed to.  He closed by letting us know that we should talk as a family, and let him know how we felt, and invited me to contact him with any questions.
Upon leaving his office I knew that Mr. Buckman was the attorney for me.  I didn’t have to talk to anyone else.  I felt completely comfortable with Mr. Buckman from the first moment I met him.  And, more importantly, I was confident that he knew, without a doubt, that I was innocent!  I felt good.  I believed if there was a chance for this to turn out ok, Mr. Buckman was that chance for me.  I decided to retain him, and he went to work on my case immediately!

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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First Experience With A Lawyer

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

Upon leaving the processing area after my mom had posted my $25,000 bail, we were instructed by Mr. Murphy, the attorney I had talked with earlier, to proceed directly to his office.  It turns out he was only 1 block away, so we arrived quickly.  If you remember, Mr. Murphy had been recommended to me by an attorney friend – so I had a lot of confidence in him as we headed to the office, and was optimistic that he would provide some reassurances about what would happen next.  I later learned, and will cover in a subsequent post, that attorney selection is extraordinarily vital to the outcome of the case…and having the wrong attorney can impact your life forever!

As we walk into Mr. Murphy’s office,  which is in a very large, old, historic looking home,  I am first struck by how cluttered and unorganized it is.  There are piles of papers and folders on every surface in the place – the floor, tables, desks – they are all covered with papers.  We head down the main hallway, where we are greeted by Mr. Murphy’s assistant.  She seems very nice, and asks us to sit down.  She tells us Mr. Murphy will be with us shortly, and has us fill out some paperwork.  She points us towards some chairs, and doesn’t interact with us again.

After some time, a man, who turns out to be Mr. Murphy, comes down the hall and ushers us into a conference room.  He pushes some piles of papers out-of-the-way, and we sit at opposite sides of the table.  He asks to see a copy of the charges.  He took what felt like forever looking over the charges.  He then pulls a law-book out from under a pile of papers, and looks through it for even longer.  Finally he says “Wow, they are throwing the book at you”.  He proceeds to explain that the charges filed against me are ‘first degree’ felony charges, that carry up to 37 years in prison.  He goes on to say that “this will be tough to beat”.

He tells us that the first thing he wants to do is file for a bail reduction hearing to get some of the bail money back to use towards the defense.  He introduces me to his detective and says that we will be working together a lot in the coming weeks.  He ends the meeting fairly abruptly and says that his office will be in touch once he speaks to the prosecutor and the bail reduction motion is filed, and he will let us know what the next steps are.  He really had nothing else to say…

I entered Mr. Murphy’s office with confidence that he would be the man who could help me – but left feeling like even he thought I was guilty.  He provided no reassurances, he didn’t even seem to care what my side of the story was.  But, I thought, what other choice is there?

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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I Was Arrested!

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

Two months had passed since I was interrogated for hours by detectives after being falsely accused of molesting a child.  As the days went by, I was becoming more and more confident that there was nothing to worry about.  Some things Detective Smith had said as I was leaving the office after the interrogation led me to believe he actually knew I was telling the truth.  I also couldn’t imagine that if they believed I had abused this kid that they would allow me to continue ‘roaming the streets’ for two months.  We also had been advised by an attorney that if we didn’t hear anything else from them it was pretty safe to assume they dropped it…

January 10, 2007:

This started out as any other Wednesday for me.  I woke up, got dressed for work, and was in early.  It was a fairly slow day, if I remember right.  My co-worker and I had to go off-site for a while that morning.  Interestingly enough – she was the only person at my workplace I had told about the allegations against me because she was a regular close co-worker of mine – and we shared pretty much everything.

11:30 AM – We were having a very good morning – getting things done, when my phone rang.  We were in the middle of things at the time, and as I did not recognize the phone number, I did not answer the call.  I continued to get calls from this number for the next few minutes – so finally I answered.  To my surprise (and horror) Detective Smith was on the other end!  He advised me that he was at my home, and needed to speak with me as soon as possible.  (As a side note – this is just one of the many things that makes no sense about the Prosecutors Office.  Detective Smith knew where I worked, and how many hours a week I put in…so why would they EVER think I would be home at 11:30AM in the middle of the week?).  I advised the detective that I was working off-site, and was not immediately available.  He asked where I was, and I told him.  I later found out that where we were was apparently outside of the Detective’s jurisdiction.  He asked when we could meet, and I told him I would call him as soon as I was back in the area.

As I hung up the phone, my heart was pounding.  It can not be a good thing that the detective is trying to contact me after two months.  I placed a call to the attorney friend I had spoken to about this earlier.  His advice – do not speak to the detective about anything, and he gave me the number of a criminal defense attorney friend, Mr. Murphy.  He told me to call and speak to him before I did anything else.  Oh wow – a criminal defense attorney.  Who would ever think that they would need a criminal defense attorney?  I strived everyday to live my life right…to set an example for others…to take care of people who were less fortunate than me…to give when I had excess…and now I was about to call a criminal defense attorney!  When I called, I got Mr. Murphy’s secretary.  I briefly explained to her the situation, and she advised me that Mr. Murphy was in court, but she would try to interrupt him and have him call me back as soon as possible.

12:00 PM – I told my co-worker about the phone call, and we were actually about to head to another off-site place, when Detective Smith called back.   He asked if I was available yet, and I told him that I was still working.  He asked me where I was – and I thought it would be very bad if I wasn’t honest with him, and I told him where we were headed.  He told me to stay there, and he would come to that site to talk to me.  A few minutes later I received a call from Mr. Murphy, the attorney.  I explained the whole thing to him.  His words frightened me!  He said “They are coming to arrest you.”.  He told me to make sure I went with them peacefully, and to hang up and tell my family to contact him so he could coach them through the next steps.  He told me to tell the detective that I had retained him as my attorney and to say nothing else to them.  He also advised me to let him know what my bail was as soon as I knew so he could start making those arrangements.  BAIL?  I hadn’t even considered any of this!

12:30 PM – Detective Smith and his partner walk into the work site I was at.  He asks if there is somewhere private we could talk so he didn’t have to ‘do this’ in front of everyone.  I led him to an office.  Detective Smith says “I have a warrant for your arrest issued by a Superior Court Judge”.  He then proceeded to read the warrant to me (edited slightly to remove identifying information):

Under oath the complainant (Detective Smith) says that to the best of his knowledge within the jurisdiction of this court; The defendant did commit sexual assault by committing an act of sexual contact with the victim when he was less than 13 years old, and the defendant being at least four years older than the victim in violation of the statute.

Within the jurisdiction of this court, the defendant, having assumed the responsibility for the care of the victim, did engage in sexual conduct which impaired or debauched the morals of the victim in violation of the statute.

Probable cause is found for the issuance of this complaint.  Pursuant to this warrant you are hereby commanded to arrest the named defendant and bring that person before the court to answer the complaint.  Bail amount is set at $25,000 cash or bond, and the defendant may have no contact with the victim.

He then advised me that I had to empty my pockets, and remove my belt and shoelaces.  I asked if I could leave my personal items with my co-worker, which he allowed me to do.  He advised that I might want to take my phone so I had phone numbers I might need.  He then told me that even though it was against their policy he was not going to handcuff me since I had been so cooperative this whole time.  He told me to make sure my hands were visible the whole time, and that I had to walk between the two detectives.  He allowed me to call my mother and tell her the bail amount, but said that is all I could talk about and I would be allowed to use the phone again once I was processed.  I was escorted to their car, and placed in the backseat with the detective I had not met before.  During the drive to the jail, Detective Smith made small talk with me as if we were out for a Sunday drive.  He continued to do things that again made me think he knew I was being truthful (telling me this was all just procedure at the interrogation, asking to go to a private room to arrest me, not handcuffing me in violation of their policies, and now making small talk on the drive).

When we arrived at the jail I actually felt fairly calm and relaxed due to Detective Smith’s attitude.  As we got out of the car he told me to put my hands together like I was handcuffed until we got inside, and he led me by the arm like you see on TV.  I was placed into an interrogation room, and was told them would be back with me shortly.  Detective Smith returned and explained the process to me.  He told me that I would have to fill out some forms, and go over for fingerprinting and photographs.  He asked if I thought my family would be able to arrange bail.  I told him that I hoped so.  He told me he would make the processing take as long as possible, so that if they could arrange bail before we were done I wouldn’t have to go into the jail (another kind gesture).  He explained that once I was processed into holding at the jail it took a lot longer for a release on bail to occur.  He also said “you don’t want to go in there with this kind of charge”.

As I waited for what seemed like hours, I heard a man who must have been Detective Smith’s supervisor say to him “Is he in custody?”.  Detective Smith said “yes”, and the other man said “Then restrain him like he is in custody”.  Detective Smith then came in and apologized, and  attached my leg to a long handcuff bolted to the floor.  He said when we left this room he would have to handcuff me from now on.  I was taken downstairs for fingerprints and photographs by another detective who strangely enough said something to me like “we don’t judge you here” and “we can only do what the bosses tell us to do”.   I ask to use the restroom – and have to be watched by the Detectives…  I am returned to the interrogation room where I am again chained to the floor.

More time goes by, and Detective Smith comes in and tells my mom has arrived with the bail, and that he will have to walk me over to the jail intake where the bail will be processed.  He handcuffs me again, and we walk outside and into the jail building.  My mom, and best friend Charles are there.  She tells me how they will only accept CASH, and she had to rush around to banks, and meet with branch managers, etc. to be able to withdraw that much cash, and she didn’t think she was going to be able to get it done before they closed for the day. Luckily, she had always saved money at home which she was able to use to come up with enough cash to pay the bail.  We stood in the lobby at the jail and counted envelopes full of money for a long time before she was able to give them the money (plus a ‘filing fee’).

Finally – Detective Smith took off the handcuffs, shook my hand, and said “good luck”…as we walked out of the jail.

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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Life goes on?

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

What do you do the day after you are accused of a horrible and unthinkable crime that you didn’t commit?  Where do you start?  Are there things you should be doing?  There is no handbook for this type of scenario.  But the thoughts about all the “what if’s” begin in your head.  How do you go on “if” you lose the career you had worked on for your entire life?  What if you lose your home…your savings…your friends…?  What is the penalty for this kind of crime?  Worst case scenarios start immediately.

The first thing I could think of was to try to figure out what yesterday really meant.  Is it a good thing that I was not arrested – just questioned and let go?  Did the detective actually know I was telling the truth like I thought he did?  Should I tell my friends what happened?  How do you figure all of this out?

Fortunately – my mother has a close friend who is an attorney, and a local level prosecutor.  While he never handles cases of this magnitude, he was an amazing source of information on how things like this work.  What he told us, though, was the start of my total disbelief in our justice system!  He told us, of course, that when an allegation like this is brought to the police, they have to fully investigate it.  That makes perfect sense to me.  I hope they would investigate something this serious…but what made no sense is that they owe the ‘accused’ no more explanation than that.  We learned that the techniques they use in their ‘interrogation’ are designed only to get a confession – NOT to determine the truth.  The detectives don’t even have to give factual information to you in an interrogation in order to get a confession.  They can tell you that there were accusations made that actually were not.  They can phrase questions in a way to lead you to believe things that are not true.  They can promise you things about “deals” and “everything will be ok” if you just confess.  They can outright lie about the reason you are being questioned…all are legally acceptable ‘interrogation techniques’.

After the interrogation, the police don’t ever have to follow-up with you again.  The advice we were given is that if we heard nothing more about this for the next 90 days it is safe to assume they have dropped the investigation.  But – there are no rules either – they can sit on the accusations for a year if they want before they decide to act.  If they decide they are dropping the case – they don’t tell the ‘accused’…so you spend your entire life wondering.  So – our friend’s advice was to just go on with life as if this never happened…because you may never hear anything about it again.  Easier said than done!

From this day forward, I feel like nothing will ever be the same.  Are phone calls being listened to?  Are emails being read?  Quick trips to the store for milk are no longer an easy thing to do.  You look at everyone in the store…do they know?  You scan cars in the parking lot looking for an unmarked police car…are they watching me?  Leaving your house to check the mail raises so many new questions…  Who was in that car that just drove by?  Did I see a neighbor watching me from their window?  And forget about going out to eat…  A knock on the door makes your heart skip a beat every time…is this the knock before they arrest me?

But as the days and weeks go by – it actually becomes easier.  I return to work quickly – and it seems like nothing has changed at all.  No one seems to know.  Day to day activities become easier again as well.  I feel like I am not watching over my shoulder all the time anymore.  Christmas and New Years come and go.  Activities with friends and family happen as they always have.  My life actually feels like everything is back to normal now!  This has to be a good thing…right?

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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Breaking the News

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

I had just been told by detectives that I was accused of sexually abusing a child.  Worse yet – accused by a friend…someone who I considered to be my family.  And…I did not do it!

What do you do when something like this happens to you?  This is something you aren’t taught in school.  What you are taught, though, by society…what you see in the media every day…is that “these people” – those accused of crimes like this – no longer have a life.  They are shunned by family, by friends, by the community.  They are the targets of violence.  They lose everything.  They live meaningless lives in dingy motels –  if they even survive the decades of abuse in prison.  What is going to happen to my life that I worked so hard to be successful at?  I strived to be a moral and ethical person every day.  I made the right decisions.  What about my career?  It is all I know and love.  My house?  My friends…what will they think?  Will they believe me?  My family – how do I even begin to tell my family about this?

As I get in my car to drive away from the prosecutor’s office I am numb.  I don’t know where I should go.  I don’t know who I should call.  I don’t know if I am even able to drive.  I remember turning my phone back on.  The detectives had made me turn it off earlier because it kept ringing.  There were so many messages from work…from my boss.  I had left hours ago to address what I thought was a simple problem with John.  I did not have a position where I could ignore these types of phone calls…but I went missing to them for 6 hours!  And at that point I couldn’t bear to return those calls.

I remember starting to drive towards home, making the turn out of that parking lot…and nothing else.  I don’t know how I arrived safely!  When I walked in my door John was sitting on the couch.  He didn’t expect for me to be able to come home, and jumped into my arms…and we both started crying.  I told him my life was over…everything I had worked for was gone!  I don’t remember much from that day…but I will never forget John saying to me at that moment “no one will believe it”.

Then, I remember feeling sick…almost feelingless…like I was watching all this happen from the outside somehow as the gravity of this allegation really started to sink in.  I climbed the stairs and got into bed.  I just wanted all of this to be over.  Before too long (I think..time seemed to stand still for a couple days) my best friend Charles was standing in my room with John.  I am told that I called him on the drive home, but I don’t remember that phone call.  He was at work, and immediately left without explanation to come make sure I was ok.  What a friend!  He asked me if I had told my parents what happened.  I told him there was no way I could tell them…how do you have that conversation?  I couldn’t do it.  Charles left my house – drove to my mother’s house – and told them the news.  Before too long he returned with my mom and step-dad.  She was crying…he was cursing about Michael – about how we let him into our family – took care of him when his own family didn’t – and now he does this.

I remember my mother saying “if you are innocent then you need to go on with your life”.  She said “you get up tomorrow morning and live like you are innocent”.  I shared my fears about my life…my job…my house…my friends.  This began what turned into an all-night discussion.  I called my boss, who arrived at my house in minutes.  John’s mom showed up soon after.  I called my immediate ex-girlfriend…she had a young son, so I thought she needed to hear about this directly from me.  She also dropped what she was doing and came right over.  The group of us sat around and talked all night.  My boss thought it was outrageous – he told me to take whatever time off I needed, and whenever I was ready to come back to just do so.  My girlfriend was extraordinarily supportive.  She told me there was no way she would have believed it no matter how she heard – and that no one else that knew me would either.

While this should have taken away some of the edge because two of my biggest concerns really didn’t seem to be there anymore…nothing too much had changed for me mentally.  I reached a point where I just could no longer think about it…I could no longer function.  I went to bed thinking “NOW WHAT”.  What do I do when I wake up tomorrow?  What happens next?  Will everyone know?  Now what?

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POLL – Miranda Rights

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The Interrogation

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

November 16, 2006…continued:

As I am sitting in the reception area of the Prosecutor’s Office I continue to think of exactly what kind of issue there could be with John.  Remember – at this point the way the Detective got me into their office was to tell me that there was a custody issue with John that we had to address today.  Eventually Detective Smith came out – introduced himself, and said “let’s go inside and talk”.  As we are walking down the hall, we get into an elevator, then down another hall.  During this time Detective Smith is making small talk about the day, my job, what I was working on today, etc.  My initial impression was that he was very friendly and likable.

We eventually made our way into an interrogation room.  Detective Smith introduced me to Detective Johnson, a female detective who was already seated in the room.  They explained that due to ‘procedure’ they had to have this conversation in a room where it could be recorded.  They then advised me that because the conversation was occurring in ‘this setting’, that they had to provide me with a paper explaining my rights, which was ‘very standard in this type of situation’.  They asked me to read each of the rights below out loud ‘for the tape’, then initial the paper next to each right that I understood them.

  1. You have the right to remain silent
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
  3. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have one present with you while you are being questioned
  4. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish
  5. A decision to waive these rights is not final and you may withdraw your Waiver at any times either before or during questioning.

Finally they had me sign the following waiver:

“I acknowledge that I have been advised of my rights and I understand what my rights are.  I am willing to make a statement and answer questions.  I understand and know what I am doing.  No promises or threats have been made to me.”

LESSON #1:

NEVER give a statement, or answer ANY questions without a lawyer present once you are provided with your rights.  The logical thought process is that “if I didn’t do anything wrong, I have nothing to hide so there is no reason I should not answer their questions”.  This is what law enforcement counts on – yet through my ordeal I learned that especially if you are innocent you need to stop and request an attorney immediately to protect your interests!  As nice as the police may seem they never have your interest in mind – and have only one goal – a confession at all costs!  At the time that I was provided, and waived, my rights I still had no idea why I was really there, but, looking back, even if I had known I still would have waived my rights because I knew I had nothing to hide.  This is the biggest and most damaging mistake anyone accused of a crime makes.  It is well-known that “anything you say can and will be used against you”.  The reality is that “anything you say will be taken out of the context it was said in and will be used against you”.  This is so critically important that it bears repeating – If you are ever provided with your Miranda Rights for ANY reason, STOP IMMEDIATELY.  NEVER give any statement, and NEVER answer any questions without an attorney present! Even though you know your innocence, it WILL come back to hurt you later on!

Back to the story…

This waiving of my rights begins what was to be a five-hour interrogation!  A five-hour interrogation that takes less than one page in the detective’s written report.

The interrogation started with a lot of small talk about my life…how I met John…how he came to live with me…what our relationship was.  Detective Smith questioned me about my job because it was ‘something he was interested in as well’.  He constantly made statements such as ‘people in careers that help people, like us, have to work together’, and ‘we are both on the same team’.  Eventually he turned the questioning to John’s friends, and which of his friends I knew.  I began talking about friends of John’s and how I knew each one.  When I said Michael’s name they stopped me, and started focusing on him.

They asked more details about Michael than about any other of John’s friends.  The questions started with how I met him – and turned more and more bizarre.  They asked questions about what Michael slept in when he was younger (I told them that he had always slept in underwear, just like both of his brothers), and what he slept in now (I told them I did not know, as I had not seen what he slept in since he was about 11).  They asked if I had ever seen Michael naked (I told them I had several times when he was much younger – he had a habit of getting out of the bathtub and running around the entire house naked when he was 8 and 9 because he thought it was funny that everyone yelled at him to put clothes on – so anyone who was in the house at those times saw him naked).  They asked if he had ever seen me naked (I told them that he had not to my knowledge).  They asked if I had any ‘identifiable characteristics’ that only Michael would know (I responded no…because I don’t).  They asked if I had ever provided Michael with alcohol (I answered no – and that in fact I had taken alcohol away from him on several occasions at his families parties – which was witnessed by many people each time). They asked if I had ever allowed Michael to watch pornography at my house (I answered “of course not!”).  Then they asked me if Michael had come to me and made allegations that someone had molested him, would I believe him.  (I answered yes – because at the time if he would have told me that about someone else I would have believed him). They asked me why I would have believed him.  (I told them because I trusted him – he was like family to me.)

It was at this point that Detective Smith told me that Michael had accused me of sexually assaulting him “a few years ago”.  Now – it seems like it should have been obvious what they were getting to from that line of questioning, but when someone who you have been there for and helped countless times since they were a little kid accuses you of molesting them, it is the furthest thing from the realm of possibility in your mind!  This was a kid who I literally thought of as a little brother – who I would do anything for…and he just accused me of something unthinkable.  I was speechless, nauseous, and honestly did not believe that he said it.  There was no way in my mind Michael would say that!

The next several hours were spent trying to get me to confess to a crime I did not – and would NEVER – do!  They started with statement such as “the only way we can help you is if you are honest with us”.  They tried to be friends – they tried to make me believe that it was not so bad.  And said things like “this is the type of situations we deal with every day, and on a scale of 1 to 10 we are only at about a 2 here”.  After they were unable to get what they wanted this way they stepped up their act.  Detective Johnson, for the first time, stepped in.  She choose an insulting route asking questions like “what could you have been thinking” and slamming her fists on the table and saying “we know what the f**king truth is”.  To every accusation I would answer “I didn’t do it”.  Eventually they told me that “I didn’t do it” won’t work anymore, and that “we can stay here all night” until you decide you are going to be honest with us.  When they felt they got nowhere, they both stepped out of the room – and left me in there alone for what felt like an hour.

Now I am sitting in a small room alone – I know that I am being taped – I know that they are watching me through the glass.  There are countless thoughts going through my head.  I later learn that is the intent of this technique.  We are now probably 3 hours or more into me being interrogated, accused over and over of something I didn’t do.  I am physically and emotionally exhausted.  I had been told ‘there is no way out of this’.  I had been led to believe that the only way to avoid going to jail where people ‘eat stuff like this up’ was to confess.  They said ‘you do not want to go in that jail accused of a crime like this, do you?’.  As I sat there alone I kept thinking – maybe I should just tell them what they want to hear so that this will just end.  Several times I was actually close to knocking on the window just to make the torture of the interrogation stop – thank God, looking back, I stayed strong!

Eventually, Detective Smith comes back in the room alone.  His jacket is now off, his tie is loose, and the top couple buttons of his shirt are undone.  He brings me a glass of water, and pulls a chair up next to me (prior to this both detectives had been sitting across the table from me).  He puts his hand on my arm and says “I really want to help you”…he talks about how he can tell I am a “good person at heart” and probably just made a mistake.  He tells me that he will put in a word for me if I am just honest with him now.  When I tell him that I would not confess to something I didn’t do he became very upset.  He asked me “why would Michael say that if it wasn’t true?”.  I said “I don’t know”.  He said “I don’t know isn’t f**king good enough anymore”.  I asked him how I was supposed to answer a question I don’t know the answer to.  He told me that the answer was “because I did it”.

Well – this back and forth technique continued for five hours.  They would try to be friendly, then would be intimidating and mean (honestly very terrifying…).  Finally I was left alone in the room again.  I felt like this would never end.  I was unable to even think anymore.  I had no comprehension of what was going on.  I was starving – it was now almost 6:00PM and I had not eaten since breakfast.  I had not been allowed to use the bathroom (I learned this is another frequent technique – they give you water to make you have to use the bathroom so you will be more uncomfortable in the interrogation).  Just when I thought this would never end, Detective Smith came in and said “you are free to go now”.  I was unable to even respond…I stood up to leave without a word.  As we were walking through the maze of hallways on the way out Detective Smith says to me in the friendliest way possible “listen, that back there was all just investigative techniques we use – it was nothing personal”.  I felt at this point that maybe he actually knew I was telling truth.

As I got into my car and started the long drive home all I could think was what do I do now…how do I tell my family what has happened…what will my friends think?…

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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The precursor…

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

November 15, 2006:

This was the day before my world felt like it was coming to an end.  That morning I was at a work meeting relating to ADA compliance.  While in the meeting, I received numerous calls on my company cell phone from one of the employees who worked for me.  Becoming concerned with the number of calls – and the fact that they knew I was in a meeting – I stepped out of the room and returned the call.  I was informed that a police officer assigned as the school resource officer in our local high school needed me to contact him as soon as possible.  I knew this officer well, and returned his call immediately.  He asked me if I knew John.  I said, “of course – he lives with me”.  The officer informed me that a detective in the Prosecutor’s Office was looking to speak to John and his mother, but they had no record of John being enrolled in the high school.  I explained that John went to a vocational high school at the time, and provided the officer with his mother’s phone number.

As I hung up the phone – I was very concerned.  As I mentioned previously, John has had some issues with behavior for some time, and even at his age was really no stranger to our local police department…but the Prosecutor looking to speak with him…that is much more serious than anything we were used to with him.  I called his mother, and told her about my phone call.  She shared the same concerns…what could he possibly have done that would involve the Prosecutor’s Office?

My next call was to John.  He said right away that he hasn’t been in any trouble.  I explained to him that the Prosecutor’s Office only handled major crimes.  His only thought was that he had witnessed a friend get assaulted at a local mall, and his name was included as a witness, so maybe they wanted to talk to him about that.  I was still concerned…

In the early afternoon John’s mother was contacted by a Detective with the Prosecutor’s Office.  The Detective stated to her that they needed to meet with her and John the next morning – and that “he may have been a victim of a crime”.  She immediately called me to ask if I was able to go to the meeting with them to find out what was going on.  Unfortunately, I had a commitment at work that I could not break, so they were going to the meeting alone.

November 16, 2006:

John and his mother drove to the Prosecutors Office, where they were met by a male and female detective.  They were immediately separated into different interrogation rooms.  They were told that cell phones were not allowed in the rooms due to ‘policy’ – so their phones were taken from them.  They first spoke to John’s mother, and told her that one of John’s friends had accused me of sexual assault, and they think John was also a “victim”.  She told them immediately that there was no way that could have happened.  She stated that I was a very close friend to her and her family, and they trusted me 100%.  She asked who made the accusation – they declined to tell her.  She told them that if it was Michael who made the accusation she was completely sure it was made up.  She told them that Michael had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse, and was known to lie and make up stories frequently to get himself out of situations.

Next they spoke to John.  They questioned him like HE was a suspect in a crime.  They asked him repeatedly if anyone had ever made him uncomfortable – if anyone had ever touched him inappropriately.  John continued to tell them that no one had ever done anything inappropriate to him.  The detective began to treat him as if he was being hostile by not answering their questions the way they wanted him to.  They finally asked him specifically about me.  They asked what our relationship was, what our sleeping arrangements were (John has always had his own room like any other child would).  They asked him about his sex life.  They asked him about my sex life.  They asked him if he viewed pornography.  They told him that all they did was investigate sex crimes and they “knew” that something had happened to him, and all he had to do was say it.  At this point, John became very upset.  He told them that not only has nothing ever happened to him, but that there was no way it would have happened to anyone else.  He asked to see his mother.  She tells me that she could hear him screaming from inside her room down the hall!

Eventually – they put John and his mother in the same room.  They told them that they would have to stay there until they were able to get in touch with me because they were not allowed to have any contact with me.  They would not return their phones to them until they left.  Their ‘interview’ lasted over two hours – yet the Detective condensed it to only 1/2 a page of typed notes.

(I think it’s important to note at this time that in the Detective’s written report secured as discovery he states “nothing inappropriate occurred” between John and I.)

The Phone Call That Started It All:

I am anxious all morning waiting to hear an update from John about what their meeting with the detective was about.  Calls to his phone and his mothers phone go unanswered.  I am worried about him.  Then my phone rings.  It is Detective Smith, with the Prosecutor’s Office.  Detective Smith tells me that he has John and his mother in his office right now, and that they need to speak to me immediately.  I advise the detective that I was in the middle of a commitment at work that was time-sensitive, and was unable to leave.  Detective Smith stated that there were some issues with the custody of John, and that this meeting had to occur today in order to “get this thing closed up”.  I invited the Detective to meet at my office, or told him that I would be happy to meet after work.  He informed me that “due to the nature of this” their policy required the meeting to be at their office, and that I really had to get there in the next hour.  He told me that it was really important for John’s welfare.  When I questioned him more about it – he told me that he would explain the whole situation when I got to his office.

Now – my heart is really racing.  I am thinking that John is in some kind of trouble.  He mentioned a custody issue – were they trying to put John in foster care?  There were so many thoughts…why hadn’t John or his mother called me?  I made arrangements at work – told them there was some kind of emergency with John – and drove to the Prosecutor’s Office.  When I arrived, I was brought into a reception area of the office, where I sat and waited.  Eventually Detective Smith came out – introduced himself, and said “let’s go inside and talk”…

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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Background

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

So, I think I will start this off with some background information.  A little about me – and my history.  How I met, and knew my accuser, who we shall call ‘Michael’ in this Blog.  This will be some basic stuff so you will understand the story as it begins.  I will provide more background information as it seems more relevant as the story progresses.  I anticipate that this post will get pretty long.  There is so much to tell, and I’m sure as I get more used to this process I will find the best ways to break the information up for the readers.

When this story begins I am 29 years old.  I have worked in the healthcare field since the day I got out of high school, and I was a top-level administrator at my job.  Since I was very young, though, I wanted to work with kids in some way.  My father was a school teacher when I was younger – and I had planned to follow that same path, and hoped to specialize in child psychology.  In fact, while still in high-school I worked at a before/after school program, and was quickly made a supervisor of the program.  When I ended up in a different career, I never lost that passion to help kids – particularly those less fortunate than I was growing up.  Through the years I seemed to continually be in the right place at the right time to make a difference.  When I was fairly young someone who knew my career goals shared this saying by Forest E. Witcraft with me…and I still believe it is true…

“One hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, how big my house was, or what kind of car I drove.  But the world may be a better place because I was important in the life of a child.”

I will share more specifics about some of those I was fortunate enough to be able to help as the story continues – because it is largely due to their overwhelming support throughout the past few years that my situation did end with such a positive resolution – they had an opportunity to help me for a change, and they stepped up and, I believe, truly made a difference.  I am going to focus this post on two kids, though, that play a very early part in this story – Michael (the accuser), and John, who used to be Michael’s best friend.

MICHAEL:

At the time of the accusations, Michael is 16 years old.  I first met him as a patient of mine when he was just 6 years old.  Our interaction at that time was typical for a patient, and following his treatment I didn’t see or hear of him again until our paths crossed years later.  One of my responsibilities at work was leading a group of high school aged youth who were learning about careers in my field.  Michael’s older brother was one of the kids in my group – and I learned that they actually lived only a few doors down from me.  The high school group was planning a trip that required parental permission, and Michael’s brother was the only group member who did not return his permission slip on time.  Since they were only a few doors down, I stopped at his house on my way home from work one day to see if I could get his parents to sign the paperwork.  When I arrived there, I learned that Michael’s brother (who was only 14 at the time) was watching Michael (now 8), his sister (11) and brother (12).  It turns out their parents had left the country for vacation the night before, and had made arrangements with a family friend to stay at the house with the kids while they were away for the next 7 days.  That friend, however, did not show up, so the kids were left alone.  They were without food for that time, had obligations such as school, sports and clubs that they were unable to get to, etc.  So – I decided that I would step up and look after them until the parents (who I had not yet met at this point) returned.  We went grocery shopping, I took the kids to school, to their sports practices and games, took Michael to his Cub Scout meeting.  I did homework with them, prepared meals, washed clothes, read stories at bed time.  We became very close.  When Michael’s parents returned, they were so happy for my unsolicited assistance that they had brought ME gifts.  We all quickly became the best of friends.  Our families felt as if they were combined into one.  Michael and I were probably the closest of all though – the others were all at the age where they were pretty independent…doing their own things with their friends.  Michael wasn’t yet ‘too cool’ to hang around the house, go to sporting events with the ‘family’, etc.  We spent a lot of time together over the next several years.

As time went by, I guess Michael was about 10 at this point, his parents separated.  The day his mom took him out of the house, she called me.  He only wanted to be with me at that time – he was hysterically upset.  Together, his mother and I were able to calm him down, and we spent a lot of time in the coming weeks talking about his feelings – the future, etc.  At the same time, his mom had a pretty big issue.  She had moved into a rented house, now as a single mother – and she worked at night.  Michael was too young to be home alone after school, until she got home around midnight, so I ended up being the crutch to get them through this time period.  I had a flexible enough schedule that I was able to be there for Michael as often as needed, which quickly became an everyday thing.  As time went on with this arrangement, I ended up moving into the house next to theirs.  Our houses quickly melded into one.  It seemed that everyone was never in just one house – we were all free to come and go at each other’s house as we pleased – and it worked great for each of us.  I didn’t have to actually “watch” Michael anymore – I was always right next door if he needed anything…and he ended up being at my house the majority of the time…I probably saw him even more than I had before.  All of the kids usually came to my house after school to get homework done – and I often ended up at their house after work for dinner their mom made us before she left for the evening.  The situation just worked and seemed so natural for all of us.

As Michael got older, he obviously needed less and less oversight.  As my responsibilities at work increased I was not available to him as much either, and he started hanging out with who turned out to be not the best group of friends.  We later learned that he turned to drugs very early – by 11 years old he was regularly smoking marijuana and drinking – by 12 years old he had moved on to even harder drugs like cocaine and heroin.   Once this began I saw less and less of him – except for times he needed something.  He knew that I would not approve of his choices – which is why I think he started staying away.  By the time he was 13 his mom and I started to suspect things we going on, and right around that time I bought a new house further away, which ended up removing me from the situation.  I only saw or talked to Michael a few times a year after I moved.

JOHN:

From the time I met Michael, his best friend was John.  I saw John almost as much as I saw Michael.  Since I was the one usually responsible for rides to and from activities for Michael, I quickly became good friends with John’s parents as well, and we spent a good amount of time together when I was picking John up or dropping him off.  John was almost always included when we had planned activities like sporting events, amusement parks, etc. and his parents were very appreciative, as John was the oldest of 6 kids.  An important factor in John’s life is that he was the only child out of the 6 who was not biologically his “father’s” child.  This often made John feel like he did not fit in with the rest of the family – so he tried as much as he could to stay away from the house.  When John was 12, he started having increasing behavioral issues when he was at home, and in school.  His mother would tell me that the only time he didn’t experience these issues was when he was with Michael and I.  Around the same time, John’s parents separated.  He became increasingly difficult for his mother to control, and she would start calling me when he had outbursts.  At those times I would pick him up for a few hours and he would calm down, talk through his issues with me…and I would bring him back home.  It got so bad, that even the school administrators would only call me when he had an issue at school.  He would not respond to them, or his mother or father.  The behavior progressed to the point that in 7th grade he was expelled from the local public school, and sent to a special services school better able to address his behavior.  Right around the time John was turning 13 I was buying my new house.  John’s mother was at a point where she had nowhere for her and him to stay.  John’s “father” (who has no legal responsibility to him) would not allow John to stay in his house because of the way his behavior was affecting the other 5 kids.  So, with literally nowhere else to go, at the end of his 7th grade year, John moved into my new house…where he still lives today – he is now 19 years old.

John, obviously, plays a huge role in the story to come.  After living here for 6 years, he has been so many things to me – a son, a little brother, a friend…and he was one of the biggest (and a very vocal) supporter through the past several years.  He gave numerous statements, helped get petitions signed, worked with his mother and my family to throw me a huge “support party” to lift my spirits when times got tough.

Well – I hope this is enough background to get the story started in my next posting.  If this leaves any questions in your mind, please send them my way in the comments section below.  I will try my best to address them all.  Until next time…

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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