Exoneration

As much as I write about my own difficulties and struggle with my own pain, I remain keenly aware that I am not the only person whose  “fond memories were soon replaced by a nightmare”, and I’m not speaking here of my marriage.

Just this morning I came across a New York Times article about wrongful convictions for sexual assault, and even though I have never been convicted of that, many years ago my first husband was falsely accused of sexually assaulting our children and I was held responsible by government officials for having “allowed” him to do that. I have never figured out how I am supposed to accept responsibility for things that never happened, and although I never served prison time (but my first husband did) for those false accusations, I did lose my first four children…who were subsequently raised by my mother. But that’s another story for another time.

What bothers me is the “large number of cases where the so-called scientific work has been sloppy, result-serving and systematically poor. Wrongful convictions for sexual assault may be “the next frontier for junk science cases in Texas.” That’s good to hear, although it doesn’t repair the ruined lives or restore the time lost spent in prison – either physically or psychologically. Wrongful convictions for any type of child abuse should be part of that “next frontier for junk science” as well.

So many accusations are impossible to defend yourself against. How in the world do you prove that you did not molest a child? How do you prove that you did not abuse a child, especially when there is no physical evidence of it – or when the evidence has been fabricated? I know from experience that once you’ve been accused, your goose is cooked, so to speak, and I know when the government came knocking at my door a second time the first set of accusations rose up from my past to fuel the fire to cook my goose a second time.

I have never done any of the horrid things I’ve been accused of, and I know there are many people who never done any of the horrid things they’ve been accused of, either. One of the problems in so many cases is that “the children may have been coached, and that officials wanted to believe the girls. When you have a crime concerning children, it’s hard…[p]eople don’t know what to think.”

Actually, people decide what they want to think, and what they want to think is that when parents have been accused by anyone of harming a child those accusations are true. And officials will coach children and enlist the aid of doctors who will provide any “evidence” asked for in order to construct a case and secure a conviction. I’m not saying there aren’t real cases of real child abuse – I know from my own childhood those cases are very real and do exist – what I am saying is that those are far less prevalent than the public has been led to believe, or what the government wants to understand.

When my second set of children was taken from me several years ago, they were led to believe and make videotaped statements that I had slashed my wrists in front of them (among other abusive things). There were no scars on my wrists suggesting I had ever cut them in any way, and so obviously there was nothing in my medical records about my slashing my wrists because it had never happened. I kept insisting I had done nothing wrong, but again, how do you prove that you did not molest a child? That was what I was led to believe that the government had videotaped my children accusing me of, not that I had slashed my wrists…that bogus accusation.

What eventually brought that case crashing down was the fact that nobody bothered to ask me about that, or to look either at my wrists or my medical records until after I was forced to plea nolo contendre simply to avoid having my children go through the trauma of a trial. To this day, I wish I had taken the jury trial, although I had no way of knowing back then that was the better option. So many times there is no way to know what the better decision is in a situation until after the decision has been made, and it is useless to regret whatever decision was made.

It still took a year to get my second set of children returned to me, and while my own history bothers me (and that includes that year-plus that is now part of my youngest children’s history) I am still terribly bothered by the tragedy suffered by so many other families “rocked by accusations, often without a shred of serious evidence”, and ruined by government officials who are determined to misuse policy and ignore anyone’s constitutional right to due process.

At any rate, A Growing Battle for Exoneration is worth a read.

Related: On Second Thought

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One thought on “Exoneration

  1. Pingback: Determination | My Latter Half

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