Editor’s note: If you have not read this series from the beginning, please go back to ‘Part 1’ and start there. David’s story is too important to miss any part of it.
David’s letter continues:
Before my sentencing, I wrote a letter to Judge Michael Moore pleading for leniency due to my responsibilities to my family, the medical issues we faced. I spelled out for him the issues that my son Henry and I had to contend with, and informed him that my wife Leigh struggles with severe lung damage due to a two month stay in the hospital with pneumonia. She also has Genetic Immune Deficiency, and Hepatitis ‘C’. I pointed out to the judge that she had no family to help her if she became ill and was unable to look after our boys.
Our business depended upon me and my contractor’s license to survive and if the business were to fail, our home would face foreclosure. In addition, and almost worse, would be the loss of the group health insurance that took care of my family’s many health issues. (It is all gone now…all of it)
I included letters from my neighbors stating that for twenty years I had been involved with their children and that they had been safe and had a healthy relationship with me throughout their lives.
I pointed out errors in the pre-sentencing investigation (PSI) that stated I was looking for child pornography. The report also stated that I would not accept responsibility for my actions. I said that while I KNEW child pornography was coming into my computer via the P2P software, I felt I was doing all that could be expected of me by simply deleting them as I came across them. I also took responsibility for what I had done, but I clearly pointed out that I would NOT be bullied into saying that I was interested in that crap.
I pleaded for him to give me any physical punishment he chose to, but not to remove me from my ability to look after my family and employees. Allow me to work for charities or, since I had hired ex-convicts over the years, allow me to set up some sort of training program for local inmates. I pleaded for him to give me anything he wished, but begged him to make it something productive.
Lastly, I gave him the government reports that I have briefly recapped here, hoping that he would see that what I said was true and realize that it all happened exactly as I had stated.
I don’t believe he ever read my letter or the reports. Maybe he just didn’t care.
At my sentencing, Judge Moore told me that he was sentencing me to twenty years as a warning to others. Ironic that the warnings to others which could have come BEFORE the fact had to come in such a devastating manner. Also ironic since he had just added his name to the growing list of government officials who were insisting that people should be warned about the dangers of P2P. To date, there has STILL been nothing done to protect the children who use P2P, or to warn families that something this destructive could happen to them just as easily as it happened to me and MY family.
It was February of 2012 when I knelt down in front of my home of over 20 years and held each of my children, Henry, Ty, and Sam, not knowing when, or IF, I would ever see any of them again. I knew when I hugged my 90 year old father and told him “Goodbye” that it was the last time I would ever see him. The pain of saying goodbye to Leigh, knowing the difficulties she would now face alone, cannot be described.
I was about to enter a federal prison, be labeled a sex offender for life, and classified as a violent criminal because I had received child pornography over a 3 month period in 2011. TWENTY YEARS for using a LEGAL computer program that had been monitored and allowed to operate for many years, even though the government allowed it to operate with the full knowledge that there was a 60% chance that ANY user – man, woman, adult, or child – would receive illegal material.
My first night in prison, I shared a cell with a man who had robbed a bank with a loaded gun. Because he had never been in any trouble, and because he had a drug problem, with a drug rehab program and his ‘good time’, he would be released in seven years, with 5 years’ supervised release. With my ‘good time’, and no time off for drug rehab, since I have never taken illegal drugs, I will leave prison in 18 years at the age of 71, with lifetime supervision, classified as a sex offender, and as a violent criminal.
That is if I make it out of prison.
I am over a thousand miles away from my family. There are at least 2 ‘low’ security institutions in the state of Florida. I have not seen my family since I left them in February of 2012. I share a small converted TV room with 14 other men. (Editor’s note: David has since moved out of the ‘fishbowl’, as it is called, and into a 2 man cell) As I sit here writing this letter, I have a scar over my right eye due to being attacked by an inmate I had never met before. This was not the first time I had been hit, but this time I had unknowingly sat down in this man’s ‘spot’. I am labeled as an ‘S.O.’ (sex offender), but prison talk refers to those like me as ‘Cho-Mos’, which is short for child molester. Sex offenders are threatened and bullied, forced to shower at specific times, and must stay in specific places to watch TV or to sit in the dining hall. I live a daily life of threats, as well as physical and mental abuse. I have been spit on and I am looked down on by drug dealers and bank robbers.
Until I met Leigh, I spent most of my life alone, but in prison, someone who is quiet, and without friends, as I am, is considered weak and fair game for abuse and humiliation. There is just so much anger here. It’s very hard for me to understand it.
As a child working on my Grandmother’s farm in Kentucky, I found something I was good at – hard work. It gave me direction and a sense of completion I had never had before, if that makes sense. Then I discovered heating and air-conditioning and I have worked in that for 37 years, building my own business from nothing into a mid-size, well-respected company that people knew they could rely on and trust.
Now, I ‘work’ in the HVAC department of the prison, but it is not at all productive or meaningful and I believe I am simply going to waste away in the system. Why? Is this what ‘justice’ is all about?
I wonder if Congress gave any thought to the effects their decisions to label people as sex offenders would have on their ability to function as productive members of society. Even if a miracle occurred and I could go home tomorrow, I still could not work in my field. I have lost my contractor’s license, and who wants a sex offender working in their home anyway? In addition, I would not be able to take my children to a park or walk them home from the school bus. Drug dealers and bank robbers get a second chance, but I am labeled a deviant to be watched for the rest of my life.
This justice system knows I am not a danger to children. They KNOW this. I was free to walk around before my trial, and even after being found guilty I was still allowed to remain free until I was sentenced. If I was so dangerous, would I have been allowed to remain free? Does that sound like they considered me to be a threat? Not ONCE did anyone ever interview me or any member of my family to arrive at anything that resembled the real truth about who I was and how I treated my family, neighbors, and employees.
My government is broke, yet they hand out twenty year prison sentences as if they were candy, providing a constant stream of wasted lives into a system that is already overcrowded.
When I arrived in prison I received material from the government telling me that children who grow up without a father in the home are 5 times more likely to turn to drugs and suicide, and 20 times more likely to be sent to prison when they grow up.
How can our justice system know all of this and still feel justified in giving me a twenty year sentence? Call me naive, and stupid, for sure, but to do this to a man who is a productive member of the community, has NEVER been in trouble; to take this parent away from his very dependent children; to take this businessman away from so many people who counted on him for their very livelihood; to do this as a “warning’ to others when WARNINGS could have prevented this from happening in the first place is WRONG!
I was smart enough to recognize that P2P was too dangerous for my children to use, but too stupid to see that using it in what I thought was a responsible manner could destroy my entire family, business, and all that I hold dear to me.
The government was smart enough to recognize that P2P was a serious problem, but has done NOTHING with that knowledge besides destroy lives!
David’s letter will continue…….