For some of you, this post will prove to be quite a shock, while others already know some of the details. On April 6, 2015, I was arrested on one count of aggravated statutory rape. For the last 15 months, I have been incarcerated in the Hamblen County Jail. On Thursday, July 14, 2016, I agreed to a “Best Interest” plea bargain, which means that I do not admit guilt but accepted the lesser charge of statutory rape in lieu of risking a harsher sentence and possibly time in prison. From that plea bargain, I am now a registered sex offender. I would prefer you to hear it from me directly than from elsewhere.
I’ve had ample time to reflect, gather my thoughts, and contemplate this entire situation. To dispose of the obvious, jail sucks. The privations and unsanitary conditions are grossly inhumane, an inherent byproduct of overcrowding and underfunding. The noisome environment goes beyond anything reasonable for administering punishment. For my part, I have no interest in reliving the worst of the ordeal, so please, do not ask for details. I will not discuss what I endured during my durance, so please, respect my privacy on that subject. I survived and ultimately that’s all that matters.
Now, to dispense with the negative. Because of the accusation, the arrest, and now the plea bargain, I’ve lost many people who were precious to me–family, friends, a woman I loved very much, my sons. There are people who have spread outright lies about the situation, exaggerating my charge to monstrous proportions. There are those who rushed to judgment based on sensationalized media reports and gossip, and those who believe I was not punished harshly enough. I have no control over any of that. All I can do is live my life to the best of my ability and conduct myself in a manner which exemplifies the content of my heart. I wish nothing malevolent on anyone. There are people I hope to rebuild a relationship with and others who are permanently erased from my life, but for my part, I am trying not to carry any animosity in my heart towards anybody.
To the people who have reserved judgment or checked on my well-being or sent kind words of encouragement, from the deepest part of my soul, you have my eternal love and gratitude. To the handful or so who took the time to send me letters and let me know that I was in your thoughts and prayers, I owe you a debt I can never repay, for you will probably never know just how much your words meant to me.
To everyone, I apologize for putting myself in a position even to be accused of this crime. While I still maintain my innocence of the sex crime, I made stupid decisions and showed terrible judgment by allowing myself to be in a situation where the accusation had even a hint of credibility. I do accept responsibility for all of the hurt, embarrassment, friction, confusion, and anxiety I have caused the people who love and care for me. Even though I know some people will never forgive me or believe in me again, I do hope that some of you will allow me an opportunity to redeem myself and prove the true content of my character.
Fifteen months in a tiny cell allows for plenty of introspection, and the most important realization I gleaned during this time is that I have allowed anger and acrimony to control too much of my life for the last 8-9 years. Over the past few months, I have labored diligently to let go of the negative. That’s not to say that anger doesn’t bubble up. It most certainly does. I cannot control whether or not the emotion surfaces; however, I can control how I react to it and whether or not I allow it to control me. My life has been spent in service to others, and I want to be remembered not only as a talented writer but more importantly as a compassionate person full of love and kindness. Anger does not fit into that equation, and holding onto it will only destroy the man I truly am, so a I strive daily to let it go.
A long, steep, difficult climb awaits me. My name and reputation are ruined; of that I have no delusions. There are many fences I must mend and much, much work to catch up on. Living in compliance with the registry will not be easy, but I will make every effort to abide within those parameters. If you are someone who does not want me to be part of your life, please just tell me. I have no desire to make anyone uncomfortable or to impose myself on where I’m not wanted. At this point, my top priority is to rebuild the relationship with my sons. Beyond that, I also hope to get my health in order and reclaim something of my tattered career. I have no idea what the future may hold for me, but I intend to face it with as much courage and dignity as I can muster.