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:
Has a child been protected by sending me away? Has my imprisonment stopped child pornography from flowing throughout the Internet? P2P still operates today the same way as it did back in 2003 when Congress reported that our children were being exposed to harmful material and its citizens were in danger of UNKNOWINGLY exposing themselves to criminal liability.
Never have I harmed a child and I have never tried to use the Internet to contact children. I have never visited an illegal website. I have never produced any of this crap, nor have I knowingly distributed or shared any child pornography with others. The government’s own expert witness testified that he did not believe I was trying to share or distribute child pornography.
Even though law enforcement knows that certain websites like “Stickam” are distributing illegal material, they still operate today as they always have. Nothing has changed except this: As government statistics state, MY children are now more likely to turn to drugs, suicide, or head to prison due to the fact that they no longer have a father in the home. The sad truth, as we all know, is that my boys no longer have a father.
How can the music industry go to court and have popular P2P site “Lime Wire” shut down and prevent them from opening back up until they stopped allowing music to be shared for free, yet our government can do nothing about child pornography, rape, and murder on our Internet? Do you know that when “Lime Wire” DID open back up, thereby assuring that copyright holders would receive payment for their songs, NOTHING was done to protect children and unsuspecting adults from the harmful material that often accompanied their product? Not even the simple warnings that Congress had suggested in 2005.
Please tell me how any of this makes sense!
I realize that I am naive and though I have thought that those in charge were much smarter than me, I just can’t understand how our government, which is broke, is still filling prisons with citizens like me (I think I am still a citizen, I honestly don’t know) who are not a danger to society. I could have been left free to take care of my responsibilities and be a productive member of society. With my business I helped senior citizens with no funds to repair their air conditioning or heating systems. I have hired those that others would not, have given them fresh starts and taught them new trades. My service manager had spent years in prison, yet she turned into a great employee. The judge and the prosecutor automatically gave me the maximum sentence…..why??? Kidnappers, and murderers receive less time. Child molesters receive less time. Bank robbers and drug dealers receive less time.
Where is the wisdom in what they have done?
Over the years, I have endured my share of heartache and tragedy. My family suffered the tragic loss of a young niece in an automobile accident. Her grandfather, one of the kindest, most loving men I have ever known, committed suicide. I have heard a sentence of death pronounced on my son, Henry, my beautiful baby boy. For fourteen years I have waited. I wonder if Henry’s loss of balance or his uncontrollable shaking are the beginning of the terrible decline, which we know is inevitable.
I live with the fear that Leigh’s fatigue or her recent cold would send her to the hospital, possibly back into another coma, or worse. Even though my presence would never have prevented the pain that my family’s illnesses have caused them, I would have at least been there for them. I would have been able to give them my love, and my support, no matter what was to come. No matter what we faced as a family. That was my job as a father and a husband, and it was my only wish.
And I have failed.
In the early stages of our relationship, it took a lot for Leigh to learn to trust that I would not abandon her, as had happened through her entire life. That our boys would always have a father who would never leave, as hers had. Such a seemingly simple thing that she sought.
And yet I failed them all.
It does not matter that it was unintentional because the pain and destruction I caused are the same. I had only one priority: TO LOVE MY FAMILY. Yet I let such a stupid, senseless mistake destroy all that I cherished.
I am so ashamed that I have left Leigh with such an unimaginable burden. Though smarter than I, she has had to fight tooth and nail to stay as healthy as she can. It was MY job to support our family, supply work and health insurance for our employees, be there for Tyler and Sam, sending them off to college, helping them to fulfill their dreams. That is what a father is for.
And I have failed.
Until God calls him home, Henry will need love and support, and I should be a part of the journey. He was not viewed as a burden, but as a gift from God. Henry taught us all patience, compassion, and – most important – to never give up. Told that he may never walk or talk, Henry proved them wrong. He realizes he can never do many of the things his brothers can, but Leigh has worked so hard in helping Henry to find his own path. Because of Henry’s love of animals, he and I raised chickens together which allowed him to sell eggs. To see the pride and joy on Henry’s face was all any parent could have wished for and was special to see. I had hoped that Henry would continue to defy the predictions of the doctors and come work with me at our company as he got older.
It is all gone now. The dreams. The hopes. The smiles. All of it. And for what? Free movies and songs?
I made an incredibly stupid, but honest mistake in using P2P, and many, many people have paid dearly for my mistake. But does anyone agree with me that the United States Congress and Trade Commission also have made a huge mistake in allowing P2P to operate in the same reckless, destructive, and irresponsible manner that it does, WITH THEIR FULL KNOWLEDGE, while millions of children are being exposed to damaging material and untold numbers of unwitting citizens, such as myself, continue to unknowingly and unintentionally break the law?
They say our system is broke. As a mechanic, I say “Fix It!” I know it is not a simple thing, but it is something that needs to be done. Every day we see people getting ready to leave here and return to their lives of crime because the system has kept them locked up too long, and done too little to educate and prepare them for life in the ‘real’ world. What little training there is in here is only ‘fluff’ so that it looks like something is being done, but I can tell you that is not the case.
Stop handing out these incredibly long sentences and get rid of mandatory minimums. Make judges become judges again and take into consideration things like standing in the community, employment contribution, family, and all of the other things that comprise the yardstick for measuring stability in a community. Reduce prison sentencing and use the money saved to invest in solid, productive trade and education programs for those who ARE left in prison, and even for some who are left in the community in lieu of prison. For the last twenty years I have trained people who could barely read and write, and I know what can be done.
Bring back the meaning of making the punishment fit the crime.
No taxpayer should have to pay for my room and board for the next twenty years or support my family when our once healthy company used to do all of that PLUS take care of 15 other people and THEIR families as well. I gave my word to the bank when I took out those business loans, and I have failed them as well. I have been swallowed into the system and my family has been left to fend for themselves. The individuals who were so concerned about protecting children by prosecuting me are nowhere to be found by my family. Who is protecting THEM?
In the letter I wrote to Judge Moore, I pointed out something Sheriff Andy Taylor tried to teach his deputy, Barney Fife, on the Andy Griffith Show. And told Barney, “When dealing with people, it is better to go less with the book and more with the heart.” True, I have struggled all my life, and who am I to tell anyone what is wrong with our system, but I believe that our government and my judge have lost heart. Has vengeance replaced compassion? Shouldn’t we all have the chance to redeem ourselves for our mistakes? I was taught that we call a judge “Your Honor” because of the wisdom he possesses, but today we are packing our prisons because lawmakers have allowed JUSTICE to become politicized and profitable. It’s not working. Families are being destroyed and our children are being hurt.
I have many faults, but I am not a pervert. I have lived a quiet life, and I am a gentle man who is now begging you to help me if you can. At the same time, stop this from happening to other idiots like myself. Make law enforcement stop monitoring and prosecuting just so they look good and make them shut these sites DOWN if they cannot control what goes in and out of them. They have known for YEARS these sites have been spreading illegal material and hurting our children and it is long past time to end this insanity. They are so busy catching idiots like myself that they have no time to catch those who are REALLY hurting our children!
Does this not make sense? My government does not like to lose, and I am powerless to fight them. I need a miracle!
I have always accepted responsibility for the mistakes I have made, and I am not trying to escape punishment now, if the law says I must be punished. But surely there was a different way to exact justice without cutting such a wide swath of destruction in human terms in the process. As parents, we know that we are given such a small window of time to help our children prepare for life. Time is quickly running out for me. Please, in God’s name, help me! I must be there if something happens to Leigh or Henry. I just have to!
Thank you for your time,
Oakdale, LA 71463
P.S. Please feel free to send David a note or card of support. Thank you.
P.P.S. Please do all you can to support Make A Wish Foundation and The Special Olympics