*Out of respect for the victims there will be no names in this article.
Early November last year I got something in the mail..
A jury summons. I rolled my eyes and thought of ways to get out of it. That’s the natural thing to do right? I had been called before but each time have gotten lucky and wasn’t actually called in for selection or my current job didn’t pay for me to be away. I figured this time would be the same. But I was wrong. I, along with close to 300 other citizens were called in on a cold December morning, 7am, bright and early. Well, not bright – it was still dark out as I made my way from the parking structure to the courthouse.
When I got into the jury room I sat there and watched Netflix while I waited for my number to be called. One movie and 4 episodes of Friends later my number was called to head up to a court room and get interviewed. 43 other prospective jurors lined up with me. Prior to being called I filled out a quick questionnaire. I must have done something right in the court’s eyes because I was immediately seated in the jurors box and didn’t move for 3 days. Other jurors had excuses for not being able to stay – childcare, work, one guy even had to DJ his company Christmas party. I had nothing. My kids were taken care of, my work was done, I had the rest of the week cleared just in case I had to stay.
The case was regarding a domestic assault. Actually – 8 counts of assault in first and second degree. They were all sexual in nature but I will spare the details for the sake of the parties involved and the potential trigger warnings this may give my readers.
I kept an open mind as I listened to the prosecuting attorney, defense, and witnesses. I have a daughter and I wanted to hear the stories of the witnesses. But I also have a son and would never want him to be wrongfully accused in such a horrific way. I wanted to see that the judicial system was fair to both defendant and plaintiffs. But as the days went on there was more and more evidence against the defendant.
It was very obvious to see that the women that were hurt were telling the truth, that the defendant casually denied allegations and even lied under oath, a fact proven by the prosecutor. Because of that we as jurors can dismiss anything else he says whether it be on the stand or in taped interviews. And it was partially because of this – but mostly due to the testimonies of the witnesses – that he was found guilty. It ended up reminding me that most of the time a woman who is assaulted is telling the truth.
Back in January I decided to go to the sentencing on the urging of the judge after the trial. I wanted to see someone who got away with deplorable behavior for so long get what he deserved. I wanted to see the relief of the women he hurt. I wanted to know that my decision and the decision of the other 11 sitting with me was the right one. In my heart I believe it was. The prosecuting attorney read an emotional joint statement from the victims. He responded with silence. He had no statement. He just stared straight ahead.
He was sentenced to 50 years in prison with no chance of parole. The satisfaction of finally hearing a predator get what he deserved was felt among most of the room. The anguish of his family and their new normal was also felt. But him? He didn’t respond. He didn’t show remorse. He sat there with no emotion before the officers brought him back to his cell. Was he in denial or resigned to the fact that his new home had concrete walls?
Sex abuse has been going on for way too long and not being acknowledged. Women are assaulted daily by the men who say they love them and apologize afterward. The person who was found guilty was only prosecuted because one victim spoke up. But for every one that speaks up there are at least 5 more that stay silent.