last spring the man who has been my daughter’s teacher for first and second grade got arrested for molesting children in the classroom. he was charged with four first degree felony counts of child molestation, and the rest of the year passed in chaos as the school and the parents tried to determine exactly which kids were affected and how badly. we, along with most of our close friends, had a rocky road trying to help our kids and support each other through a time that i wouldn’t wish on anybody else.
the man in question has a wife and kids of his own, and he was a friend of ours, too, so this made things even murkier.
luckily, after the last few awful months of school, the kids got summer vacation to decompress from everything, and mostly people put their lives back on track. this year, there were lots of court appearances, as one delay after another pushed the trial date farther and farther away.
this was great on the one hand, because it allowed people to breathe, and to not have to confront their demons in the light, but it was awful too, because we all knew the day would come when the trial would actually happen and everyone would have to relive the horrible experiences that led us here in the first place.
this was really a situation where, regardless of the outcome, there was going to be collateral damage on every side.
the trial date was finally set for march 5th, and both sides were in a frenzy preparing. many of our friends were caught up in subpoenas and their kids were being hauled in to be questioned by the defense, even though they had been through this all already with the police detectives during the initial stages of the investigation.
yesterday, the teacher took a plea to two counts of a very reduced charge that will allow him to serve no time (the judge will have to agree to this at sentencing) and be on the sex offender registry for 10 years. the families will be spared the agony of having their children testify in open court and the teacher’s children will get to keep him at home (is that a plus????). he will receive no treatment, and the community where he now lives (he has moved away from seattle) is under the impression that since he got no jail time that he was talked into taking a plea just to avoid a trial and that he probably did nothing wrong (this is the fiction the teacher’s family has been spreading, in spite of the fact that the prosecution’s case has always been completely solid, but they have no way of knowing this in the other state where he now lives).
so, is this a good outcome? the children who were affected by him can continue on with their lives and they don’t have to have the trauma of re-living their shame in public at trial.
he may or may not be hurting his own children, and the only person who is supposed to be supervising that situation is his wife, who is totally in denial (out of understandable self-preservation, i would guess- but i am literally in no position to judge her, and i literally do pray for her children and for her as well…).
he does have to report his whereabouts to the police (or to the court? i’m not clear on how it works when one is a registered sex offender), and he can’t have a job working with kids for 10 years- but this works IF people are diligent about checking the registry and IF he follows through with what he is supposed to do.
he will get no treatment (he still has made no admission of wrongdoing- aside from the quiet plea behind closed doors, nor any apologies), and has no felony record, since the charges he ultimately plead to were misdemeanors, so he can still get a job that supports his family and possibly contribute to society, but this is certainly no red flag to anyone that he is potentially dangerous, either.
i should say at this point, that the prosecutor in this case was extremely conscientious, extremely moral, and incredibly diligent and hard-working, and would never have offered a deal that he didn’t feel was in the best interests of everyone involved.
so, i have spent the day in bed wondering why in the world i should feel so so conflicted…
but i really do.
i would love to hear your thoughts on this because mine are clearly unclear…