The following was sent to us via the "Tell Us Your Story" form and posted with the users permission.
My time on the registry has been nothing short of a nightmare that you never wake. My crime was sexual assault of a child, sounds and reads horrible, however, they use to call it statutory rape or Romeo and Juliet case. I was 19 and she was 13, the sister of a friend that her mother was ok with the relationship. The father came home from desert storm and said no to the relationship and we respected that and broke it off. She explained how she felt and what our relationship was, and then I was asked to come down to the police department for questioning, not thinking that I was actually doing anything wrong cause it was consensual, I went down and was honest about everything. I was released with the information that they could have an arrest warrant for me and asked if I would turn myself in or would they have to come and get me, I agreed to the former. Sure enough two weeks later I received a call that stated that they had an arrest warrant for me, so I went down and had to wait 3 hours for the warrant to be issued, they told me that I would be arrested then released to wait for court. 90 days later I was still in jail waiting to be indicted, and sure enough, on that 90th day I was in fact indicted and went to court. I was given a court appointed lawyer (don’t ever do that if you can avoid it, it’s all a numbers game to them and they will trade you for another deal, they use sex offenders as tokens for deals with the AG) that told me that if I didn’t take the deal that they would give me 35 years in prison, and that she was in the courtroom ready to testify. All of which was a lie! I took the deal, 10 years’ probation and 180 day boot camp/work release program. What they didn’t tell me was what I would have to subject myself to while on probation. I had go to weekly meetings at a sex offender treatment program, call myself a rapist and tell my story over and over again sitting in a room with truly sick individuals, I would become physically sick at some of the stories I would be forced to listen to them every week, plus had to pay for the classes and probationary fees monthly all without a job, and if I didn’t pay I would be locked back up for non-payment. So I called my grandparents that was holding my inheritance from my father’s passing, they offered to pay for the probation and classes all up front, and they told him no. because if he did that and they had to revoke my probation for any reason that they would have to refund the money. So, I never paid them a dime, had no way to pay, couldn’t get employment. So I played this for almost 5 years on probation, got kicked out of therapy cause I wouldn’t call myself a rapist or pay the fees, in fact I said in group that they were in fact the rapist, for if you break down the word therapist is says “the rapist”. So, after 4 applications to revoke my probation (ATRP’s) for non-payment, I finally asked the judge to just sentence me to 5 Years of prison and leave me alone. As the law set at that time I would’ve been able to do my time and get out and move on with my life after paying my debt to society. I turned down parole twice stating that I didn’t want to be on paper of any sort, I wanted my life back. However, by the time I got out on November 23, 1998, the laws had been passed for the registry and they made it retroactive as far back a 1970. So, the nightmare continued even after 5 years in prison. I had to register with the city or county and the department of public safety for life, renewing my license every year, having my information available for all to see, my address, phone number, place of employment (not that there has been many other than self-employment), eye color, shoe size, email, any and all on line identifiers. With the registry it makes the 7 and 10 year background check for employment impossible to pass because it keeps it in the system like it just happened. In 2001 I met a fell in love with a wonderful woman of which had two sons that I came to love as if they were my own, their own father was a drug addicted idiot that was not in the picture, so they called me dad. We married in 2002 and everything was awesome, until the schools came out with the gator system that checked for people on the registry. At that time I was working for a retired Major and Mason that did security systems for the government and the local school system, everything was great until they installed that system and ran my id at one of the schools. That got me fired, even after this guy had sent me to get certified for the systems that he installed. I have gone to college for information technology and have two years toward a bachelor’s degree that I stopped because I will never be able to work in that field. I have been forced to create my own businesses and hide in the shadows placing my wife as owner of the companies, while I hide and do all the work from the shadows. Even built a satellite installation business and had 17 people installing for me with dish network, then one day they find out about my conviction cause of the registry and cancelled my contract and that affected 17 families and my own. Then I had to resort back to work that I did as a kid to earn extra money, I started mowing grass, built it up to a property preservation company and was doing awesome had people working for me doing property inspections, mowing empty properties. Had everything going again then bam, the registry cost me that contract as well, so I started working by myself mowing and lifting and has come to a point I am now disabled with a bad acl reconstructive surgery and 3 deteriorated disk in my lower lumbar with two other bulging disk in my back, almost to the point of being stuck at home in a wheelchair, because of the registry I cannot get hired at a less physical job that I was actually going to school for, I have to depend on my wife to work while I wait on Social Security Disability. I can’t even be considered for jobs that are for the disabled.
Over the years, being 19 at the time and 45 now, I have had to lie, manipulate, and cheat to get the basics needed to live. I was never able to volunteer for my own kids’ school for father/son projects, never been able to attend any of their school functions, they had been ridiculed for my past by their friends as to why their father never came to support them. They were never allowed to have friends spend the night for sleepovers, never able to hand out candy on Halloween or even take them trick or treating. It has been a very sad journey for something that was supposed to be a 5 year sentence. The registry is a life sentence with lifelong punishment for not only the offender, but his or her family and friends as well. Especially for single offenders, what ever happen to a second chance? Now I whole hearted believe that if an offender commits another crime they deserve all of these restrictions, and even some of the offenders that their crime was extremely heinous, but not for just dating a friends sister with the permission of the mother.