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In 1980, I owned a small convenience store in a small Florida town.
A 17 year old, local boy, asked me for a part time job. The priority to him, was not the pay, but to get away from his abusive alcoholic mother.
He was a good worker at stocking the shelves in the store. One day, I received 2 complimentary tickets to a one day off shore cruise. Knowing it would be full of kids, I invited the boy to go with me.
Since I had been working daily in the store, I eagerly closed it for the one day.
I stayed on the top deck and slept the majority of the time.
The boy had one great time meeting so many other kids on the cruise. At the end of the day, driving home, the boy could not stop talking about how great it was to do something he never had the chance or money to do. It was a great day for him and a relaxing day for me.
As we drove back to his home, the police were waiting. They took the boy aside and me a short distance away.
I was questioned by the police as to what my relationship was with the boy. I explained innocently that we went on a free cruise sponsored by one of the store vendors. Throughout the questioning, it never dawned on me that I had done anything wrong until the mother started yelling – “your 24 – going after my 17 year old boy.”
I corrected her – no – I am not 24 – I am 38! It still never dawned on me that I did anything inappropriately.
Then I heard the boy yelling at this mother. “Every time someone wants to do something nice for me – you interfere. You drunken whore. You never want me to have anything good in my life. I hate you.”
Then the police said that is all and left.
This was 30 years ago – long before I ever knew anything about what a sex offender is.
It is only recently that I realized – I too could have been a sex offender – if it had not been for this teen-age boy to stand up to his mother and tell the truth.
You never know who is going to accuse an innocent person.
I could have been falsely accused.
Tomorrow – it could be you.