This week a coworker of mine was sentenced to 3 years in prison, 32 years suspended. And a year probation. He had been under house arrest for almost a year, after spending months in the county jail.
The charges are possessing and distributing child pornography.
Over a year ago, in February 2017, police came to our office building, went into his office ( 2 doors down from mine),and 15 minutes later, escorted him out. I was in his office when the state police showed up, arranging a meeting we were going to have that afternoon. I was asked, with merely a look and a nod from one of the officers to leave. I did without needing to be told twice. They all drove away and that was the last we saw of him.
The police did return the following day and seize his computer from his office. Apparently when they had gone to his home with him, they found his home computer, phone and a camera set up in the living room to watch kids play outside and record them. Evidently, they needed all the devices he had access to.
I cannot describe the disbelief on everyone’s faces. And, of course, there were the questions and rumors flying around.
No one had any idea. Initially we thought they came and got him because his elderly mother must have fallen ill or, maybe fell down. Or maybe his alcoholic sister had crashed and killed herself or someone. None of these are good reasons, but child porn was the absolute last thing on our minds.
The next day, he was fired. Still no explanation to anyone.
We all started searching online . Took a bit of time, but found out he had over 20 child pornography charges.
Yes, he was now in the local county jail in the county he had been living in. He pleaded guilty to all charges. In the end, half were dropped. Apparently, he had been perusing child porn sites and the police were doing a sting in the area. Lo and behold, they traced his IP address and found him.
My heart went out to his Mom and sister. He was basically their caretaker. Visiting when he could and helping around the house . His mom was 86 at the time, and now in 100% denial. Claiming false charges, he was set up, I am sure he only looked once, and on and on. It was sad and we needed to give her time to absorb the shock. I cannot imagine her grief then, and even more so now with his sentencing.
A few of us who were closer to him then the rest of the office, were asked by his mother, for a character reference letter for the courts. I agonized over this. His moral character was in the gutter at this point in my opinion, but I agonized because I wanted to do it for his mother. She was in pain and thought this would help him. But I couldn’t. I could not write what a great guy he was and how helpful and caring he was. Not when he is looking at child porn and videotaping children. One person did, but I could not agree to it.
I, as well as others who considered him a friend, felt so betrayed. And more so duped. A man who we thought of as a good guy. A man who always offered to help when someone asked. We chatted many hours over the course of the 20 years I knew him as a friend and co-worker.
But, a man who, in his own words, was attracted to young girls between 6-12.
Moved to a family oriented community. A man in his 50’s and never married or in a serious relationship. Never dated. Good with kids. Kids called him Uncle. A man who joined a community theater. All individually, not bad things. But now that we know his “other side” it all made sense.
Hiding a complete side of your self takes talent, or is it manipulation? To never suspect or even get an inkling of any kind to me is astonishing. You ask yourself, how could I not know? How could I have not seen signs? But when you are not looking, you won’t see them. And why would you be looking? People always said he was a bit odd. How odd? Just someone who would be nice quite often, and then suddenly stop speaking to you with no explanation. Someone who offered to help, yet kept to himself. But really, does that translate to the crimes he committed?
Clearly, there are other sides to everyone. You see people at work, in their work mode, and work behavior. They get home and shed the work persona and become, mom, or dad, or roommate. But do you ever wonder what other personas they become when work person is done for the day? I didn’t, but I sure do now.