I didn’t sleep last night. Mother and I arrived at the police station thirty minutes before the administrative office opened. I told the clerk I wanted to speak to a detective about something that happened 16 years ago. Mother and I were lead into what looked like the same room I was interrogated in so long ago. We sat quietly in the closed room waiting for the detective as I glanced at my phone to reread the Facebook instant message conversation from last night pertaining to why we were there. I couldn’t get the last two sentences out of my mind:
“You ruined my life. Please fuck off.”
I couldn’t help but ask myself how this happened? I was just thankful that his friend from that night recognized me yesterday at the grocery store and confronted me. I had only seen both of them once, the same night all this happened. I was surprised he recognized me and knew my name because I couldn’t remember what either one looked like to save my life.
“Priscilla,” an unfamiliar voice called out. I turned around to face a man whom I had no recollection of knowing.
“Do I know you,” I asked confused?
“You put my best friend in jail way back when,” he said.
There was only one person I had put in jail and now everything came together.
“How is he,” I asked not remembering his name?
“He’s been struggling with the charges but he’s doing okay. Maybe you should send him a message on Facebook. He probably won’t respond but it’s worth a try,” he said writing his friend’s full name on a scrap of paper.
Although I had wanted to talk to him after all these years, I didn’t know what to say and messaged him the following:
“Sorry for that night, that was wild.”
He responded back a few times and proclaimed to know who I was as he too didn’t remember.
I was unsure how to put it so I messaged “Cops, you went to jail. I was there.”
Minutes later I received the following response:
“I spent a night in jail. I had to get lawyer and pay court fees. I went back to jail. I was charged with sexual Assault with a minor. You ruined my life. Please fuck off.”
The first time I read that I froze. Sexual Assault with a Minor????
How, I thought? The last time I had walked out of the police station with my mother a detective told us the young man would be released and all charges would be dropped. I hadn’t seen him nor had I heard about it since. I was confused. I continued to ask questions but the only response I got was “Please fuck off or I will file charges for harassment.”
Something wasn’t right, it wasn’t making sense. I went to my computer, put his name in the database and it was confirmed. He was convicted of “Sexual Assault with a Minor”, the same time the incident happened. I called my mother and informed her of this revelation. We agreed to meet at the police station to make things right even though we were both confused.
This moment couldn’t have come sooner. It seemed like it took the detective forever to approach the closed room we had been waiting in for the past hour. The door opens, a chubby man wearing slacks and a tie throws a pad of paper and pen on the table, sits down, removes the pen cap ready to take notes and says “I hear you have something to tell that happened 16 years ago.”
I took a deep breathe, swallowed hard. It was the same story I had told police with mother sitting next to me but this time 16 years later. A night that was supposed to of been innocent fun, but ruined a young man’s life forever…..
I was sixteen years old, three months from turning 17. My mother dropped me off at a friend’s house where I was supposed to spend the night and watch movies. Little did mother know I had packed an extra set of clothes because my friend and I were going to meet some guys. After she dropped me off I changed into a black shirt and leather pants that I had a hard time keeping the button and zipper closed because they were so tight. I topped off the outfit with my friends high heels because I didn’t own a pair. Half an hour later we were dressed and the guys were at her house to pick us up. I don’t remember how my friend and I met the two guys or where we were going but everything else about that night is clear in my mind.
The guys came in separate cars. I rode with one guy and my friend rode with the other. Yes, I was young and stupid, not realizing what a dangerous situation I could be putting myself in. My friend who was riding with his friend were following us to a deserted wooded area at the lake. It was midnight and no one else was around. We noticed they took a left turn and was confused as to where they were going. (I later learned they say a cop on the side of the road and made a detour. It was before cell phones.) At this point I started to grow a little concerned for my friend and for myself. We park and he turns on the car radio. He grabs a beer in a cooler behind his seat which I didn’t notice was there. He offered me a beer but I declined, I hadn’t yet tasted alcohol at this point in my life. We move to the backseat where we proceeded to make out. We were kissing and my shirt came off. He began to fondle my breasts as he was still fully clothed. That was as far as it was going to go. I was still a virgin and hadn’t yet seen a penis. He was very sweet and gentle, never forceful. We heard a car coming and peeked our head out the window. What we thought was our friends were actually the police, six squad cars to be exact. An officer had already approached the window when I was still trying to find my shirt. We were asked to get out of the car and were separated by two different groups of officers asking us questions. The officers that pulled me aside asked questions like: “How do you know him?” “What were you both doing?” “Have you been drinking?” etc.
I didn’t know where this was going and or why we were in trouble. Another officer approached the officer interrogating me and said:
“When I approached the car, her shirt was off,” he said nodding at me.
The officer began to shine his flashlight in my face.
“How old are you,” he asked suspiciously?
“I will be 17 in a few months,” I proclaimed.
The officer got on his radio and asked his fellow officer how old the guy was. The officer shortly responded on the radio that he was 17 years of age. I knew that. So what I thought?
The officer continued to ask me repeatedly what happened between the young man and me. I told the truth. Nothing really.
“Did he take off your shirt or did you,” the officer asked?
“I don’t know, I can’t remember,” I exclaimed.
The officer continues to shine his flash light at me but this time shining it up and down my body.
“Your pant button and zipper is undone,” the offer announced,
I looked down and noticed it was.
“Yeah, these leather pants are tight and they always do that,” I said zipping and buttoning them back up.
“Stay here, I will be back,” the officer said. He walked over to the other officer talking to my guy friend. We briefly made eye contact, I was still unsure what was going on.
I was cold, nervous and shaking. I thought we were in trouble because he had beer in his car and both underage but unsure why all the sexual questions.
A few minutes later another squad car pulls up but a female officer gets out and approaches me. I proceed to tell the her the same story I had told the past three times.
I kept glancing at my guy friend who was surrounded by officers, still being questioned like myself.
“Don’t look at him, look at me,” the female officer said. Your safe now, you’re not in any trouble. You can tell me the truth.”
But I already told the truth I thought. What did these officers want me to say?
She continued to assure me I wasn’t in trouble and not to protect him. Then she asked:
“Did he have sex with you?”
I paused, looked her dead in the eye and said “NO!” Again, I was a virgin and the word “sex” scared me.
She walked back over to the other officers who were talking to my guy friend. When she started walking back to me I saw the officers handcuff him.
I grew scared. I thought she would handcuff me for what I didn’t know, but she didn’t. Instead she told me to get in front seat of the squad car, she was taking me back to the station so my mother could pick me up.
Mother? They are going to call my mother? Now I knew I was in serious trouble. I lied to my mother about watching movies with friend who I wasn’t with, and being dressed up like I was to meet a guy.
I was brought back to the station and was asked the same questions repeatedly. My story never changed. Then I was asked to write a statement about what happened. I did and it ended with us kissing and he touching my breasts before the police came. When asked what was going on I never got an answer but rather asked another question. I became even more confused.
The officers read the statement I wrote and left the room. Minutes later an unfamiliar officer walked in the room. I will never forget him. He started yelling at me, calling me a liar etc. Then he said:
Your shirt was off, your pants were unbuttoned and zipped. You’re going to sit here and lie and say he didn’t have sex with you? You are going to lie to an officer? If you are lying you will be faced with criminal charges.
At the time I had no idea they were trying to get me to confess and convict my friend of sexual assault of a minor even though he did nothing wrong. At the time I was not aware of the laws. In the state in which I live, at the age of 17 you are considered an adult which he was, and, I, a minor despite I would be an “adult” in three months.
The officer interrogating me never sat down. Instead he leaned over the table and said:
“I’m going to ask you one more time, did he have sex with you. Don’t lie to me because I know you are.”
“No, nothing happened,” I yelled back, now crying harder and requesting my mother.
Half an hour later I heard my heard my mother talking to detectives in the hallway. When she came in the room she was appalled by the way I was dressed and that I lied to her.
The drive home was silent. When we got home mother asked the following question:
“Did the two of you have sex?”
I continued to cry not realizing the situation. “No mother. I’m still a virgin,” I answered honestly. That’s when she began to explain the law and our ages.
The following morning mother had to take me back to the station for further questioning with another detective. He continued to ask several questions and my answer to all of them again were “NO.” They were all pertaining to sex, most of which I had no idea what he was referring to being I didn’t become sexual active and lose my virginity until six years later. The last question the detective asked was:
“Did his penis penetrate your vagina?”
My mother was sitting next to me when he asked this question. I remember crying and screaming:
“No he did not. I’m a virgin. How many times do I have to tell you?”
The detective leaned back in his chair and announced the young man would be released and all charges would be dropped. Mother and I left the police station relieved this was all over.
Now 16 years later, I sit next to my mother in the same room I was interrogated in that night and I ask the detective sitting before us who knows nothing about the case the following question:
“Why were charges filed when we were told otherwise? Nothing happened.”
He hiked up his leg, cleared his throat and proceed to tell me the initial charges which were much harsher such as indecency of a child, rape etc were dropped. However, he was arrested and charged with a lesser charge which was “sexual assault with a minor” for fondling a minor. He proceeded to explain that at that time the law read if the “complaining person” aka “victim” (me) proclaimed nothing happened but officers believed it did, the state could proceed with charges with “reasonable doubt” and a conviction could be made without the consent of the “complaining person” especially if they are a minor.
Because my shirt was removed when police arrived, and I admitted he fondled my breasts WITH MY CONSENT, the state continued to press charges.
I sat in shock as the officer continued to explain the state law to me.
“The kissing and fondling was consensual. What can I do to make this right,” I asked the officer?
He stared back at me, shook his head and said:
“Unfortunately nothing, even if it was consensual. The law is the law. He was charged with “Sexual Assault of a Minor” for fondling you. You were a minor, he was guilty.”
As a recent victim of rape, it can be difficult to receive justice for such a harsh crime, yet it is easy for a man to be charged with “sexual assault of a minor” because the “victim” was three months under the legal age even though it was consensual and no sexual contact was made.
The officer proceeded to tell me he plead guilty, and because of the laws at that time it will never be expunged from his criminal record. I spoke to several lawyers who did research and they all said the same. “There’s nothing that can be done.”
This man will forever have these charges on his record, and since he was 17 years-old there are limitation on what he can and can‘t do due to this fucked up charge.
Mother and I returned to the car and left the police station. Again we were quiet, same as when she picked me up that night 16 years ago. I saw mother glance over at me a few times. She knew I was hurt, mad and upset.
She took my hand into hers and said: “You tried to make things right, that’s all you can do.”
My eyes started to tear up and I replied, “I ruined an innocent man’s life.”
“No, YOU didn’t, the law did,” mother said squeezing my hand tighter.
I didn’t respond. I don’t know what to do or say after discovering such nonsense.
I stared out the car window and only one thing came to mind:
The law is fucked up in more ways than one, and something needs to be done!!!