Living with 290: Enough

1. My 290 story began in 1999, when I was charged with one count of 288. There is no justification for my actions that lead to that charge. There were mitigating circumstances, but that is another story.

It started three months before the formal charge, when the Sheriffs came and told me to leave the house, under suspicion of CPS that I was a danger to my children. I worked for those three months under mounting fear that I would be charged. My mother had taken me in, God bless her, or I would have been homeless. Under mounting depression, I continued to work, while my coworkers noticed something was wrong, and it was hard to maintain a normal composure under the threat of prosecution.

CPS told my wife and I that it takes about two weeks in these cases to re-unify. Then it became two months, then indefinitely.  They told me to go to group counseling and it would make the re-unification possible. I hired a lawyer, who told me not to go to the therapy group; yet, until, if and when, I was charged. I waited for three months and my lawyer would not return my calls, stuck in the house, waiting for the lights of patrol cars to appears on my bedroom ceiling. I went to the doctor and received medication for depression, and it help reduce feelings of suicide.

I was arrested discretely at the University where I worked and spent a night in a cold cell, until my wife put in bail and I left at one in the morning. I got a ride from my father-in-law to my car still parked at the campus and drove back to my mom’s home. The next day I went back to work, which I guess kind of shocked them, because I was told to go to the administrator’s office. She told me that I was to be put on administrative leave until my case was decided. She said it was to protect me. I knew it was to keep things quiet for the University.

Next month, I plead guilty and my lawyer told me I could go to group therapy, if I wanted, and that it would help in reducing the sentencing. I received an physiological evaluation that put me at low risk and he recommended no jail time. 

After another five months, I was sentenced to sixty days in a work furlough center and five years probation. I lost my job for good. But, I would avoid jail, if I could find a job. I had about two weeks and as the day came near for me to report to the center, I happened to be offered a job as a landscaper. This was odd and fortunate. I originally mentioned nothing about the offense, but when I though about it, there was no way to keep it from the boss. I wrote him a letter, explaining what had happened, and prepared mentally for jail. To my surprise, I was offered employment. Apparently, this boss had a father who had been charged with the same crime and served his time in the work furlough center. I was exceedingly lucky. 

2. At the work furlough center, it somehow got out about my offense. I was approached a couple of time by a guy who suggested he knew about me. I ignored him. Then, I was called into the office to meet a couple of agents from the county. They asked me if I had been threatened and I told them about the incidents with the stranger and asked what I should do. They told me I had to go to the jail, but I refused. I would take my chances where I could work to support my family. Nothing bad happened. In fact, my wife got permission for me to see the kids during visiting hours at the center. As a bureaucratic mix up, she endured the wrath of a social worker for doing that, but I think it helped the situation, having everyone see that I had a wife kids who were happy to see me, and that I was a family man, not some monster. It convinced me also.

3. During my stay at the work furlough center, I studied for the California Contractors License test. When I got out, I applied for a contractor’s license and passed the test and the application process. At that time, one had to only list any construction related offenses on the application. Now, one has to list all offenses, even misdemeanors, and explain why one committed the offense. I had always wanted to become a contractor, so it was a big achievement.  

4. I was made to do group and individual therapy for five years as part of the re-unification process. It wasn’t until a month before my probation was up that I was allowed back in the house. When I returned, I saw the damaged done to my kids. my wife told me how my son, who was 10 at the time, became very angry and remote in school. He was previously the happiest, and quirkiest, kid you could imagine, giving us all sorts of humorous memories. When I was allowed visitation, he always came up to me and gave me a big hug. Natural enough, but when he first did that at a supervised visit, the social worker became extremely upset and attacked my wife for not protecting her kids.

One of my other daughters was not so forgiving, at first. She refused to talk to me for awhile, and I could see she was struggling to make sense of it all. She was older and for a long time would not forgive me for breaking up the family. Eventually, she told my wife that you can love still love someone who has once done something bad. 

5. I have been blessed with a loving family, including my wife’s parents and cousins who have always made me feel at home. I approached them and apologized for what I put them through. I was never excluded from any event they held, Christmas, birthdays, vacations. It was the State that laid out the restrictions. That seems while ago, at a time when there was no park bans, and pictures on the internet were just getting posted. During my probation, in 2003, Oprah Winfrey called sex offenders the “definition of evil” and called for the public to root us all out and keep and eye on us. “Enough, enough, enough,” she lambasted.

The whole moral panic rocketed into the social stratosphere. More disclosure, less freedom, more calls for the State to punish the offenders. 

6. One has to get on with your life.. Enough, enough. ENOUGH.

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Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry that you have experienced such challenges especially with your children. It is too bad that you were convicted when you were. There is now a case, People v. Wolf Child, which allows registered citizens to live with their children unless the children are their victims. It sounds as if your life is better now and that is a good thing. Please keep in touch and continue writing. You are very articulate.