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A stupid joke ruined my life. “Hey, there is some dude sleeping in the bedroom. Let’s put this drunk chick in there and see what happens... That’s funny, man – look what she is doing!” The fun ended with the sound of steps in the hallway: “I hear parents coming! What do we do? Let’s say he took advantage of her!”
A successful businessman – let’s name him Joe, his wife – let’s call her Jane - attended a party at their friend’s house which was located in one of affluent neighborhoods of Northern Virginia. At first sight this Washington suburb looks like an ideal place to shoot the next season of Desperate Housewives: big houses, expensive cars, friendly neighbors raising humble, unspoiled, good children.
What you cannot see behind the closed doors, however, is lust, alcohol abuse, drug addiction. And as you look closer, those humble children turn into spoiled brats who inundate social media with never ending party, sex, underage drinking and drug use posts. Thanks to obsessive and over-protecting parental care, these kids, especially teenagers, live in the world of indulgence lacking any sense of responsibility.
The house where Joe and Jane were invited to looked safe, spacious and welcoming. They liked this house – they were at this house multiple times; they knew it inside out. They used to stay at this house overnight, as many other friends did, to avoid driving late and under influence.
That day, the air was full of cheer and expectations of having a good time and celebrating life. The couple knew it would be a great party. Nobody could predict a tragedy to happen several hours after their arrival.
The sad reality was that this house had its worm inside. That was a place where teens were throwing their drinking parties while the homeowner was turning a blind eye on it. That was a place which cops already were checking on the suspicion of juvenile drinking in the past. For teens, the house was a go-to place to go wild out of parents’ sight.
“Hey man, I am having a party at this house. Do you wanna swing by?” “Sure bro, I’ll be there”.
So, who were those teens who crashed the party that day to get drunk at the house, like they did it before? Who were the ones that snuck through the basement while another party was going on upstairs?
That was Natalie – a spoiled daughter of her parents who her own friends called a promiscuous woman in social media. That was Tom – a teen who was drinking alcohol regularly with full permission of his parents, as he just moved to the area from the country which allows teen drinking and prostitution. That was Nathan – a bisexual high school sophomore spending his time by posting on a public domain pictures of his male friends naked in the bottom area.
That night, as usual, the alcohol was pouring. Hard liquor was mixed with beer and wine. Teens brought some alcohol with them; some alcohol was stolen from the party upstairs or was furnished by the host, who knowns. As the intoxication level of teenagers was rising, so was the need have some more crazy fun. The cool thing of the day was to watch drunk Natalie trying to hook up with people at the party. People were wondering: didn’t she care at all who to hook up with, or was it her intention to have an orgy?
At the same time upstairs, tired and sleepy Joe decided to go to bed. The homeowner, as always, allowed Joe to stay at his house and told him to sleep in the basement bedroom. Joe got to the bed and crashed immediately.
Tom and Nathan quickly realized what they could get out of this situation. They decided to push stumbling Natalie into the same bedroom where Joe slept. Natalie seemed excited about finding a snoring man in the bed which was a hilarious thing to watch.
Some time later, teens heard adults going downstairs which was unexpected. Out of fear to get busted, their alcohol-fueled minds produced the idea to cover up their actions by accusing a sleeping man who was unfortunate enough to get on their way.
They hid in the bedroom and locked the door from inside. Holding their breath, they stood still waiting. Adults walked around the basement; the tone of their voice rose up – they seemed worried. Finally, the sound of their steps and voices faded away, and teens sighed with relief. However, they realized that the adults could come back at any minute, so they snuck out of the bedroom hoping that no one would notice. They hastened to another room where they came up with their heinous plan.
Teens took an aggressive approach and told the host Alan that there was a man in bed with Natalie downstairs. Alan realized that Joe could have been in that bedroom since Alan sent him there. Frustrated, he quickly found Jane and angrily insisted that she and her husband leave his house immediately. Once Jane went to that bedroom, she found her husband sleeping like a dead man and some other woman snuggling up to him. Everything looked like a peaceful sleep of two people, and it would have been cute under other circumstances.
Confused and shocked Jane was totally lost and did not know what to do. The only thing that she could grasp with certainty at that moment was that Alan wanted them out of his house. After a long effort, she managed to wake Joe up. Joe was confused and mumbled things. He could not understand what was going on. Jane did what Alan ordered and drove Joe home, shaking and crying all the way. Joe was hysterical, screaming and yelling, as he could not understand why he was being accused of something that horrible.
The distressed couple eventually got home. Joe collapsed on the bed. Jane was still shaking. She felt so cold that it seemed that a million of suns would not be enough to warm her up. The only thing that both wished for was for it to be just a bad dream.
Later, they called the party host to find out what really happened and what was required from them. Alan told them about accusations which the couple just simply could not believe. Confused and terrified, they started looking for an attorney to get the advice and understand what to do in their situation. Eventually, they spoke with a legal counsel but the whole situation still remained in limbo.
The situation grew like a snowball as the wheels of the criminal justice system started grinding. Their lives now were just a sequence of phone calls and meetings with attorneys and unsuccessful attempts to guess what could happen next. With every call and meeting, Joe and Jane were waiting for good news. They spoke with legal advisors early in the morning at 4am and at night at 10pm; they were always ready to jump in the car and drive to attorney offices. They prayed that all this mess would clear up and go away. But it didn’t. The justice machine started biting off of its prey, piece by piece.
Fear turned into desperation. “Don’t do it! Don’t end your life! Stay with me!” Jane was begging Joe who just wanted to end it all. Feeling like a trapped animal in the cage, his pain was unbearable - he just did not see the way out. Jane had sleepless nights so that she would always be with Joe, she would always be there for him. She hoped that her Night Watch could prevent the irreversible mistake that Joe was ready to make. She followed him literally everywhere.
“You are strong! We will overcome this!” she kept on telling this to Joe. “I can’t! I am weak! Just let me go!” Joe cried in response. Jane could not believe that her husband who was radiating confidence and strong will in the past was now totally broken. She had a feeling that she was in virtual reality; everything was so unreal, and what she needed to do is just to wake up to her previous happy life. What she could not understand though is how to make this happen…
The wheels of criminal justice system grind slowly and sometimes blindly. The system is strongly geared towards convictions, not the truth, so many people call it the system of criminal injustice. The fight of an individual with this monstrous mechanism resembles the fight of David and Goliath, with the exception that there are just few happy endings.
Trapped in the system, poor Joe was not an exception. The prosecution and the police did not really care about the so-called ‘victim’; they did not care about Joe or his family; they did not care about finding the truth. Their concern was whether they could win the case. That was the only thing that mattered.
American Bar Association standards state, “The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.” But that would be the case in the ideal Utopia world. Justice is subjective: prosecutors convince themselves that the lie is really the truth, white is really black, and there you go – they found justice! All what it takes is to believe that Joe is a monster, drunk Natalie is a poor little victim - and the prosecution is thrilled with their case.
After the numerous court hearings, the prosecution lowered charges but that still was enough to put a stamp on Joe for the rest of his life. Joe and Jane were devastated, as they were foolishly hoping for a happy ending. The phrase “I was charged and prosecuted for something I did not do” may sound like a cliché but it turned out that such cases are far more frequent than the public thinks, and Joe was walking a mile in shoes of falsely accused.
Joe’s attorneys were hinting on the necessity of Joe pleading guilty from day one. As the case proceeded, their hints became more persistent and more aggressive. Close to the trial date, those hints turned into pure intimidation, harassment and coercion. When Joe and Jane spoke with other attorneys about the case, those attorneys shared the opinion that Joe had a chance to win which made Joe and Jane eager to go to battle and fight for this chance. However, those counsels suddenly changed their opinions 180 degrees after speaking with Joe’s attorneys and joined forces with them in convincing Joe to plead guilty.
... to be continued
jane7901s at gmail.com
Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 08/13/2015 02:55PM by janes.