“Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
Proverbs 31:9 NLT
“There is no such thing as justice – in or out of court.” Clarence Darrow, 1936
My little “Webster’s Pocket Dictionary” defines ‘justice’ as 1) moral rightness; 2) fairness; 3) the administration and procedure of the law. It is normal with any dictionary to list the most commonly used, and most important definition first, followed by any others in descending order.
For a criminal justice system to truly fulfill its obligation to all members of the society it serves, it must first, and foremost, exhibit a moral rightness. Criminal justice should be about what is best for the people it serves and ALL of those involved, including those accused of a crime, must be the recipients of that consideration.
Clarence Darrow’s statement is likely not true in every instance, but I cannot think otherwise when I consider the case of David Hayden and his family. David himself did not receive justice IN court, and the list of those who did not receive justice OUT of court is long: His wife Leigh, and their children, Tyler, Sam, and Henry; David’s employees and their families; David’s customers; the banks that held David’s mortgage and business loans; the businesses which supplied David’s company with the materials it required to operate; those companies that provided health insurance for David, his employees, and their families; the tax collecting agencies, local, state, and federal. There are probably more but that is quite a list as it stands and I believe I have made that particular point.
There will be those who will not, do not, care what explanation David offers. The fact that he received a twenty year sentence and his business and family were devastated as a result, provide testimony to that fact. Some who have followed his ‘letter’ in these ‘Chronicles’ will agree with all that has been done. There will be others who feel that David’s guilty verdict is justified, but that the sentence was too harsh. Still others (and I say this because this scenario was suggested to me by a friend of mine) might think that David’s real crime was in the use of Peer To Peer software (P2P) to ‘pirate’ copyrighted material and he should have been found guilty of that charge instead, still receiving jail time. There might be a few who agree with me and have taken the position that they are ALL wrong. I am praying for that last group to greatly outnumber all others.
David Hayden broke the law. He did, in fact, break several laws. Or did he? If our government had been acting in a responsible manner and doing its job of serving and protecting its citizens, David would have not been able to break ANY law. If David did, in fact, break any laws, then he did it with the knowing cooperation of the same government that then arrested him and caused all of the devastation mentioned earlier to occur.
First, let’s take a look at the laws that were broken, and examine HOW David was able to break them in the first place. David was arrested and charged with distribution of child pornography. On the surface, this sounds absolutely horrible. Indeed, intentional, purposeful, and knowledgeable distribution of child pornography is a HEINOUS crime and needs to be dealt with harshly, especially when it is done in a manner to profit from the sexual abuse of innocent children. But David is not guilty of that, and there was evidence to support that contention offered in court with the testimony of the lead investigator who arrested David in the first place. So how did he come to be charged with such a vile crime? As everyone who uses P2P knows, and the number of American citizens who do this numbers in the TENS OF MILLIONS, when you set your computer to ‘search’ for certain movies or music, many times it is left to do its work and you go on about your life. As your folder fills up with search results, those files that you received are then available for someone else to receive. In other words, if you have searched for the first Harry Potter movie, anything that has turned up in your computer as a result is now available to anyone else looking for Harry Potter as well, so it is possible that subsequent searchers may ‘receive’ the material from YOUR computer. Only when David took the time to go through and clean out all of the ‘crap’ (as he so eloquently put it), or move what he was looking for to another folder, did it become unavailable for sharing. That is the nature of P2P. The unfortunate nature, I might add, because anyone using this software could be sharing illegal material without even knowing it was there in the first place. This is not rocket science. It is technology today, and it is technology our CHILDREN use. It is technology that is abused, and it is technology that enables the furtherance of illegal activity with the full knowledge of the United States Justice department, thereby making them culpable. At the least, they should have been indicted as co-conspirators with David, since his ability to commit the crime was absolutely impossible without the involvement of the federal government. There are laws on the books of every state in this country that hold an individual liable for criminal prosecution if they knowingly and willingly fail to stop and render aid to someone in need of emergency assistance. The federal government has failed to stop and render aid to its citizens by allowing these websites to continue to operate 1) Whose main purpose is to ‘pirate’ copyrighted material without paying for it and 2) In the process of providing one illegal service, allow the proliferation and transportation of unwanted, harmful, and illegal material to enter the homes, computers, and lives, of American citizens, with children included in the numbers of those receiving this material.
What about David’s attempts to download copyrighted materials without paying for them in the first place? Is that not a crime as well? Absolutely, but it was not something David was charged with. But was he really guilty of THAT? I say that he was not, and I will offer this by way of explanation: David followed the example of millions of other Americans. It was a poor example to follow, but that is another issue. The real issue is this: As evidenced by the numerous reports generated for Congress and different government agencies, it is a well-documented and undisputable fact that the United States government knew that this software was being used 1) For the illegal pirating of copyrighted material in the first place and, 2) that there was an extremely high degree of probability (not POSSIBILITY – PROBABILITY) that searches for the copyrighted material would turn up unwanted and illegal material in the form of pornography and, sadly, child pornography as well. The same arguments hold true for these second ‘charges’. The United States government is culpable in each and every case where a citizen of this country is charged with committing a crime such as this when the websites operate with the full knowledge, if not the tacit approval of, the United States, so if David WERE to be charged in this manner, the United States would have to be indicted as a co-conspirator.
Well, we cannot indict a country, so who is responsible? Whoever heads the FCC? FTC? The attorney general? Those are probably good places to start. Then proceed from there and include every member of Congress who has received any of the reports that have raised these issues and taken no action to shut down the offending sites. The sad, sad truth is that hundreds of fine, well-meaning, hardworking American men and women have somehow lost touch with what serving their country means. Providing these avenues of destruction for misguided, but ALSO well-meaning and hardworking American citizens to wander down should be something that happens in error, NOT with the full knowledge of the government. Pull the plug on sites that promote illegal activities or cannot properly screen ALL of their content. Prisons are full of people who can attest to the fact that the United States government can do pretty much whatever it wants, so ‘we can’t do that’ cannot be a defense. The citizens of this country (and yes, David, you ARE still a citizen of this country) have a right to demand protection from unwanted and illegal filth invading their homes, and those elected to serve the citizens of this country are charged with providing that protection. Standing idly by while lives are needlessly destroyed should NOT be an option open to members of Congress, or to the FCC, FTC, or the attorney general of the United States and his Department Of Justice. Remember, Mr. Holder, what the word “JUSTICE” should mean in the first place.
If we wish to operate in a strictly black and white world, then everyone should be happy with what has happened to David, Leigh, Henry, Tyler, Sam, and the many others. But is that the wise course to follow, and should that be the one we DO follow? Would it not be better for everyone concerned to apply moral rightness to matters where we are searching for justice? If the answer to that is “Yes”, and I believe it can be nothing else, then we must re-evaluate what has been done to David Hayden, his family, and the very long list of other people and businesses that have been impacted by this INJUSTICE and this moral OUTRAGE.
Maybe David was right. Maybe we ALL need to heed the words of Sheriff Andy Taylor when he tried to teach Barney Fife, “When dealing with people, sometimes it’s better to go less with the book and more with the heart.”
If there is anyone out there who can do anything at all to help David and his family, please contact David at the address provided at the end of Part 5 of his ‘letter’.
The gratitude I have for what you have done for me cannot be measured on any human scale. The love you have shown me and the love you have placed in my heart are just a couple of ways in which you have touched and transformed me over the last four years.
Even though I have not “written” to you in a long time, you know that I speak with you daily, you know I humbly thank you constantly, and you know that I look to you for direction and guidance throughout the course of each day.
I have found that many individuals look for miracles as proof of your existence and I want to climb up on a mountain and scream, “Look at me! Look at ME! I AM a miracle!”, for you have truly performed a miracle in transforming the life of this man who was so broken he thought that death was the only way to fix the problem. People I meet and I speak with simply cannot understand the miracle that I AM, but you and I know, and I will live the rest of my life trying to use the miracle that is ME to serve and thank YOU.
In “With Eyes Wide Open”, an article in the pages of these “Chronicles” not too long ago, I tried to share with others the miracle you performed when you showed me how to look at the world through the eyes of my heart. The ability you gave me helped me to see the goodness in the world, but it also enabled me to see, and to feel, the pain of others.
It is with the eyes that YOU opened and with the love that YOU placed in my heart that I come before you now to talk with you about some of your other children: David, Leigh, Tyler, Sam, and little Henry Hayden. As I have read and typed David’s words over the last few days, you have seen and felt the many tears that have fallen from my eyes. This heart that you filled with love has been battered and bruised as the reality that is the life of each and every member of David’s family has become achingly apparent to me and, I hope, to those who have read David’s words.
Those words have painted a picture in my mind that simply will not go away, Lord. It is a picture of a little boy collecting eggs with his father so that he can sell them. I have never seen even a picture of Henry, but it doesn’t matter. The image of a laughing, giggling boy who has refused to accept the fact that he shouldn’t even be ABLE to collect eggs with his father is clearly seen by the eyes of my heart. I can also see the love and pride on David’s face as he watches Henry collecting the money for the eggs from his ‘customers’ and contributing, in his small way, to his family’s well-being.
I recently watched a DVD featuring Louie Giglio in the chapel. Louie brilliantly demonstrated how very tiny this world is in comparison to the rest of this universe that you created. As I watched, I felt very, very small, indeed, but not nearly as small, helpless, and insignificant as the way I feel when I think about how powerless I am to help this man and his family; to help David be returned to fulfill his responsibility to those he loved and those he employed; to help him be reunited with his little Henry so he can be there to complete Henry’s journey home to you.
David says repeatedly in his ‘letter’ that he is a ‘simple man’. David’s sense of personal responsibility for others and his love for his family is such that I believe EVERY man should strive to be THAT ‘simple’.
Our world has become so complicated and so cynical; so skeptical and so legalistic, that David’s SIMPLE, honest explanations carried no weight and mattered not to those who could have produced a JUST outcome for society, for this ‘simple’ man, for little Henry, and the rest of the Hayden family and those employed by David’s company.
Lord, I have shaken David’s hand and I have promised him that I would do whatever I could to help him, and now I turn to YOU. I ask you to help turn David’s precious little egg collector, Henry, into a symbol of the devastation caused by the insanity that has consumed both our society, and our criminal justice system. I ask you to please bring David’s story to the attention of someone who can lift Henry up before David’s jury and tell them, “THIS is who you convicted!”, and hold him up before Judge Moore and say, “THIS is who YOU sentenced!”
When I made my promise to David, I told him that it is important to have faith in YOU God. David is too decent and too respectful to ever denounce, diminish, or denigrate my faith. He knows just how strong my faith is, and he knows the reasons why. But in the depths of his eyes as I made that promise, I saw the question, “How can I?” Please do NOT hold David’s doubt against him, Lord. I know in that heart you filled with your love David is trying to believe. However, when he thinks about his family, who have now lost their home and have moved into an empty house owned by a friend; when he thinks about the people who depended upon him for security for THEIR families; when he thinks about the lives that were destroyed by this injustice – and that is exactly what it is; when he thinks about the eggs that his precious little boy will never collect again – well, Lord, I know that you understand.
We now need another miracle, Lord. We need your awesome power and your incredible love to move whatever mountains need to be moved to fix these broken lives. I ask for this miracle for this ‘simple’ man. I ask for this miracle for all of those whose lives have been left blackened by the federal government’s ‘scorched earth’ policy, and I ask for this miracle for the love of Henry Hayden.
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
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…….
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:
The federal government charged me with “distribution of child pornography” because P2P makes whatever you have available to others, even though I never knowingly shared ANYTHING with another individual. The U. S. Attorney who was prosecuting the case offered me a plea bargain. If I would plead guilty, instead of the maximum of TWENTY YEARS, they would ‘only’ sentence me to SEVENTEEN! I was shocked, but I was also saddened that they would so easily destroy me and my family, and for what? Free movies and songs? Told that the government wins 97% of the time, I still had no choice but to go to trial and hope that a jury could be made to understand that this was all a tragic mistake and that I was NOT an evil person. I believed (there is that problem with ‘trust’ and being ‘naive’ again) that certain facts would come out in court and the jury would realize how this all happened.
Following are some of the points I thought would help make things obvious to the jury and demonstrate that my actions were innocent, even if those same actions were technically in violation of the law. It was my hope that the jury could be made to see that those laws were designed for people who INTENTIONALLY trafficked in this filth, and that I was NOT one of them:
- The prosecution knew that everything I had told them about P2P was true and had been documented years earlier in the reports I mentioned.
- The prosecutor knew that the local detective, who was the government’s ‘expert’ witness, would testify under oath that he believed I was unaware I was breaking the law, and he also believed I had no intention of sharing that material with others.
- The prosecutor was aware that the only child pornography that ever entered my computer was that which was misleadingly labeled and obtained through the P2P software, a defective software which gave consumers unwanted illegal material, as had been documented in several government reports, and was allowed to operate for over twenty years with no warnings to the public, even though such warnings were recommended in some of those same reports! The software companies said “No!” to those warnings and the U.S. Congress and Federal Trade Commission did nothing.
- That I did not put anything on the Internet myself, nor did I ever try to conceal anything that ever came into my computer. I simply deleted the material and put it in the ‘wastebasket’ with the ‘trash’, which is what it was, and is.
- That this software could give ANY average user enough unwanted material in ONE DAY that, with today’s laws, could net a TWENTY YEAR sentence to someone like me who has never been in any sort of trouble in his life.
- I had never used the popular ‘search’ terms used by known pedophiles and predators to locate child pornography on P2P.
- The files that came into my computer that began the investigation had all been deleted long before they ever came to arrest me.
- I had not tried to hide my activities or my actions because, again, my misguided logic kicked in and told me I WAS doing the right thing by simply discarding the trash that came in unwanted and uninvited.
In the course of the trial, the U.S. Attorney’s office went through tremendous effort and expense to prove me guilty of something that I readily admitted to, although NOT for the reasons, and with the intent, that they implied and wanted to destroy my family’s lives for. Since I didn’t use any of the ‘common’ search terms, they brought in an ‘expert’ from CALIFORNIA who testified that “Lord Of The Rings”, which was a search term I had used was a term used by some people looking for child pornography. How was I supposed to know that? When I typed in “Lord Of The Rings” I was looking for the MOVIE because my family wished to watch it.
Another detective testified that most of the material that came into my computer had originated on a site called “Stickam” a website I knew nothing about, but which I learned through the detective’s testimony is a legal website. The website apparently existed for one purpose: For people to upload their private videos for others to view. He testified that there was much illegal material on this so-called ‘LEGAL’ website that had, amongst its 9 MILLION members, children of all ages, as well as adults. When he was asked why the operators of the website were not required to monitor and censor the content on its website as were the operators of “YouTube”, the detective simply stated “I don’t know”. Asked, since users must give their email address in order to become members, could law enforcement track down those belonging to children and notify their parents of what their children were involved in, his answer was “Yes, they COULD do that”, but when asked why authorities did NOT do that, he could only respond, “I don’t know”.
I found it difficult to explain to the jury why I would continue to open these files even though I knew that many of them contained offensive, or illegal, material and some of it depicted children being sexually abused. The jury watched some of the videos which were recovered from the hard drive. As most of us are aware, deleting something doesn’t make it go away completely, but I never worried about it because I felt I was doing the right thing. I refused to watch the videos they were shown. My lawyer watched the jury and made note of the ones who were crying. I regret not telling the jury that I never watched any of the videos long enough to cry. I probably would have, as I am a loving parent and would never think to hurt a child, but I simply channeled through the files and instantly knew if something I opened was what I was looking for.
Congress had it right when they reported that innocent search terms returned files with offensive material at a rate as high as SIXTY PERCENT! It makes one wonder why MILLIONS of ordinary Americans used, and continue to use, P2P with all of its issues, and all of its dangers. Speaking for myself, it had everything to do with my limited time, and it was not complicated to operate. P2P was easy to use, could be left to run on its own, and would deposit everything in one, easy-to-find spot on my computer. No wasted time wandering the internet. Once a week I would make a folder, move the files that had come in into that folder, and then go through them when time permitted.
For six years I did this, feeling no pressure or time constraints checking out the files, and though I deleted so many folders, and thousands of types of files over the years, I did not know that what I had deleted, or how I had used P2P, would come to destroy everything that I hold dear.
The trial lasted only two days, but it took the jury an additional THREE days to find me guilty. It was obvious that they struggled, but what could they do? I had, after all, opened the files in question. The government reports were never brought up in court, nor was it permissible to inform the jury that a guilty verdict would net me a TWENTY YEAR sentence and destroy my life, my business, and my family, in addition to putting 15 people out of work. (Editor’s note: I simply have to interject here that I believe that had the jury any IDEA of what would happen, they never would have found David guilty. This is not strictly conjecture on my part as a federal judge in New York polled a jury AFTER he delivered a mandatory ten year sentence involving child pornography and 7 said that knowledge would have caused them to reconsider and 3 stated that it would have definitely caused them to vote NOT guilty.)
I had hoped that they would see innocence, and not guilt; stupidity, and not evil. Throughout my life I have been told that I have difficulty seeing the whole picture, and that may be true. I also have the tendency to concentrate only on what is in front of me, but it is the only way I can function through my disabilities. However, if you examine my actions closely, you will see that I used the software in exactly the manner in which it was designed. I never had any motives for using P2P other than finding movies and songs for my family to enjoy. If I had any idea I was engaged in illegal activity, I would never have allowed my employees to use it, nor would I ever have spoken with my wife about the crap that accompanied the files I was actually looking for. My actions were stupid, but innocent.
Now that I was found guilty by the jury, I turned my attention to the judge and began to prepare for sentencing. I hoped that I would find compassion, understanding, and fairness….all of the components of JUSTICE….when he sentenced me.
Again, I was to find out that I was very mistaken.
David’s ‘letter’ will be continued……
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.
Additional Editor’s Note: David refers to his son Henry’s medical and mental issues, as well as his own. As part of his letter, David prepared a little synopsis of those conditions and the person or places where they were receiving, or had received, treatment. He also included excerpts from the medical reports regarding those illnesses and aliments. I include them now to help the reader understand a little better the problems faced by David and his family.
The following information was provided by David:
Medical Information for Henry Christopher Hayden:
Miami Children’s Hospital
3100 SW 62nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33155 (305) 666-6511
Diagnosed with Ataxia Telangiectasia (A-T) at the age of 3. A-T is a hereditary, progressive, neurodegenerative disorder. Continual loss of cells in the cerebellum of the brain and DNA. Damage accumulates and leads to the death of cells in the central nervous system. The three most common causes of death are: Cancer, infection, and progressive lung failure.
- Henry also is diagnosed with physical and mental disorders, and Attention Deficit Disorder
- Henry has no life skills and will require special care throughout his life
- Life expectancy 14-24 years. Henry is 16.
Medical Information for David Frederick Hayden:
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
7101 Fairway Dr.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
2701 PGA Bl.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
- Tumor behind left eye wrapped partially around the optic nerve
- Unable at this time to proceed with a biopsy due to location of tumor
- MRI and examination was due on February of 2011 but was cancelled due to being sentenced to prison
- Has not been examined since arriving in prison
- Diagnosed at early age with Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder
The body of David’s letter continues:
In 2011, I received a visit from a local detective at our small heating and air-conditioning business which Leigh and I owned. I was informed that in the last 3 months they had monitored child pornography coming into the building using P2P software. I was surprised that he only said 3 months since I had been using the software for 6 YEARS and this had been a problem since the beginning. I expressed my surprise, and my lawyer later expressed HIS surprise that I would volunteer the information that I had been receiving these unwanted and unasked for files for 6 years.
You have to understand how my mind worked relating to all of this: I had heard about this software from a national news show, I never doubted that I was using a legal program, and accepted without question that from day one this is the way the system operated and that the authorities knew this material was on there. If I had been doing something wrong all those years, my mind would simply not process WHY this software was allowed to continue to operate, and why in the world hadn’t someone said something to me or come to see me six years before?
I know I am slow, but I just could not understand why they were there, but then he asked me why I was looking for child pornography. I was surprised that he asked me that, so I said I was NOT looking for it, and that he must know that ANY search can bring with it that type of material. I was certain that he must know that the titles and descriptions were continually misleading and incorrect and that the only way to determine what WAS in the file was to open it, even if it was only opened very briefly, which was the case with every file that was inappropriate.
Asked why I did not recognize that child pornography coming in through the P2P software was illegal, I could only answer that it had never crossed my mind that I was doing anything wrong because I didn’t ask for, search for, or desire any of the material in question. I realize now that this may sound naive, careless, or insensitive, but I never felt any connection to, or involvement with, any of that material since I had not requested it in the first place and all I did was delete it when I saw what it was. Seeing those files was like seeing undesirable things on television to me. When I got to something that was inappropriate or unpleasant, I just channeled through. I have never understood why much of the material that was allowed on TV was allowed to be there, and I viewed the filth that was coming in with the P2P files in the same manner: I assumed that the government agency (whatever that was) that monitored and determined what is allowed on TV and the Internet ALLOWED P2P to operate the way it did.
I had read several government reports that addressed child pornography on P2P sites and it seemed that they were well aware that this material was being attached to legitimate search requests. I also assumed that since the government allowed these sites to operate that it must be the way business was done. I simply thought that as long as I did not keep any of the material that I was not looking for in the first place, I was not doing anything wrong.
Some of the reports are as follows:
2003, United States House Of Representatives 108th Congress (Serial #108-8). This report discusses the ease of access to child pornography and of juvenile users accessing child pornography on the P2P file-sharing networks. Highlights from that report include:
- Using three ‘innocent’ search terms that would likely be used by juveniles (Power Rangers, Pokémon, and Britney Spears), it was found that of the files returned, SIXTY PERCENT of them were pornographic, including child pornography.
- Things that seem harmless in terms of their description are, in fact, way over the line, but this is not known UNTIL they are downloaded and opened.
- There are no warnings whatsoever. Consumers think that they are downloading something that is decent and they are often quite surprised at what actually appears on the screen before them.
2005, United States Federal Trade Commission reports the risks related to what consumers using P2P may face:
- Consumers, INCLUDING CHILDREN may experience inadvertent and unwanted exposure to inappropriate materials.
- Consumers may UNKNOWINGLY distribute files containing pornography, including child pornography, thereby exposing themselves to potential criminal liability.
- Consumers face numerous risks when downloading and using file sharing software (P2P). The government should play a role in decreasing these risks through consumer education, and encouraging industry self-regulation.
2006, U.S. Department Of Justice, Office Of Community Oriented Policing Services Specific Guides Series No. 41 (page 36, under the heading “Prioritize Their Efforts”); “Because of the volume of internet child pornography crime, police forces need to prioritize their efforts and concentrate on the most serious offenders, particularly those actually involved in abusing children and producing pornographic images. It has been noted that success in combating child pornography is too often judged in terms of the number of images recovered, rather than by the more significant criterion of whether the crimes the images portray have been prevented.
My actions did not mean that I condoned, or approved of, child pornography. My actions simply reflected my horribly misguided logic: 1) The government was aware of the problems with P2P as those problems related to illegal child pornography and other inappropriate material; 2) The government indicated there was nothing they could do to prevent this material from being innocently accessed; 3) The government allowed the P2P networks to continue to operate; 4) I trusted the government and felt that as long as I did not keep the unwanted material I was not breaking any law.
The detective took the one computer in question and left my place of business. After he left, I began to wonder HOW I could have been so naive all of those years? I was certain, though, that they would see that I was telling the truth, and that if I had been interested in, or searching FOR that filth, I would have had hundreds of files on my computer, which I did not. All that was there were files that had been deleted as soon as their content was revealed.
I would find out just how wrong I was months later when the State Of Florida notified us that they were not going to prosecute me………….but the Federal Government WAS.
David’s ‘letter’ will continue….
It has been a long, long time since I have highlighted the story of one of my fellow inmates under the “Faces Of Felons” title. Many of them are not interested in writing about themselves. This particular story is actually taken from a very long letter that one of the men in my housing unit wrote. He didn’t know who he was writing the letter to, or if anyone would actually ever read it. He wanted to plead his own case and express hope that someone could help him, but he also wanted to raise awareness to help others avoid the mistakes he made so they, and their families, might not experience the swath of destruction that has cut through his life, destroying his family and all that they had and all they ever might hope to have.
David is not typical of everyone who is in here for internet crimes involving child pornography. Frighteningly, neither is he unique. David is a simple man who had a life that was built around simple hopes and dreams. His family, his business; His children, his wife; His employees and the obligations he had to them and their families. David is a pleasant man to be around and his inherent goodness is obvious to anyone willing to take the time to get to know him. He demonstrated painful naiveté in the actions that brought him to prison, but he also trusted his government. You will see how that backfired on him as his story unfolds, but the ease with which David’s entire existence was obliterated COULD happen to almost anyone.
I have taken the liberty of breaking David’s story up into parts. It is a long story. It is David’s story and it is very important, not just to David, but to every citizen of this country, particularly those with families. I wish I could guarantee David positive results from his ‘letter’ being printed in these “Chronicles”, but I cannot. Still, we do what we can do, and we pray to Almighty God that HE can cause David’s words to resonate loudly through the homes of America and help David and his family recover some of what they have lost so needlessly, and perhaps save others from losing what they have built for themselves as well. What happened to David and his family could happen to millions of Americans. Most people have no idea how close they are to becoming an inmate in a federal prison.
This, then, is DAVID HAYDEN’S Letter:
To whom it may concern,
My name is David Hayden from Hobe Sound, Florida, a husband and father of three children, and this is the most important letter I have ever written. I have so much to tell you, yet I know your time is valuable. I have been told that no one will care that my family has been destroyed, and though my loss has no importance compared to the responsibilities you must face each day, I still must try, even if there is little hope. If you decide my letter is worthy of your attention, I beg you to understand what has happened to my loved ones and I, and it can easily happen to someone YOU care for. Please do not throw away what I have written, but see if you can help me, and at the same time warn your family and friends.
For years I used a legal software that is also used by over 150 million other children and adults. This sharing network is monitored by, and has been authorized for us to use by, our government since 1993, and allows consumers to receive songs, movies and old TV shows for free. This program does not offer a preview of what you will receive, but gives only line after line of titles and brief descriptions for you to choose from. Unfortunately, not until the file downloads to your computer, and is then opened, do you actually know what the material really is inside. This is due to the fact that very often the material does NOT match the titles or descriptions. Some of those ‘innocent’ titles are attached to some very disturbing material.
The first time I unknowingly broke the law was six years before I was arrested when I opened a movie I had downloaded for my children to watch that was titled “Harry Potter”. Instead of Harry, the file contained child pornography, which I deleted. Though I was shocked, I continued to use this service and soon discovered that child pornography was frequently ‘hidden’ in the files sent to my computer. I deleted them as I discovered them, but came to foolishly believe that, since the federal government was aware of the existence of this site, that they were also aware of the content of some of the files. What my wife and I did not find out until years later was that by simply opening these files I had broken the law and would pay dearly for it. I have been sent away for 20 years, have lost everything I worked so hard to build, will never see my son, Henry, alive again, as he is terminally ill, and I will be labeled for the rest of my life as someone who wishes to hurt a child. I did not ask for such material, did not watch it, and always deleted it, but in the eyes of the federal government, I had opened the files and that was enough. Now my children no longer have a father to love and support them and all of this happened for what? Free songs and movies?
What is so sad is my stupidity in thinking that such material brought in by this program had nothing to do with me or naively not being aware that I had broken any laws. I did not allow my children to use this program, and they knew to ask me to find the songs and movies they wanted, but I did find out later that some of my employees allowed their children to use this file-sharing program (as millions of children throughout the country do) not knowing the dangers. Even though the federal government was aware of what was happening, there were NO warnings!
In 2001, the House of Representatives, 108th Congress and then the Federal Trade Commission investigated and reported on the dangers to consumers using Peer To Peer sharing software (P2P). Napster and Lime Wire were two of many at the time, and there are many more now. Highlights from their investigations include:
- Children and adults are being exposed to unwanted and inappropriate material including pornography, rape, murder, and child pornography.
- Consumers are UNKNOWINGLY exposing themselves to criminal liability when files that seem harmless when downloaded are, in fact, way over the line.
- In 2001 to 2002 alone, child pornography had increased significantly.
- Consumers face numerous risks when using P2P, and the government CAN play a useful role by educating consumers and having the software companies WARN users of such risks.
When it was suggested by Congress that they do just that, the software industry for P2P sent the following response to the United States Senate: “File sharing software distributors do not have a legal duty under FTC ACT to affirmatively disclose the risks associated with the programs.”
Today, there are STILL no warnings to parents whose children are being exposed to damaging material, nor are there any warnings for consumers telling them that by using these legal, and popular programs, they could be sent to prison for 10, 15, and 20 years or more. (Editor’s note: Although there are now dropdown ‘flags’ that will warn you if you are downloading copyrighted material that you haven’t paid for, there is still nothing to warn you that perhaps you shouldn’t be using P2P at all because of the tremendous proliferation of child pornography into the various files and your life could be destroyed if you do continue.) Our federal government has reported that such material is flooding our Internet and that P2P programs are major offenders in the proliferation of this filth hidden behind altered titles and descriptions, and it has been happening for 20 years! Why not just shut them down if they cannot control the content?
Each year it becomes more and more difficult to protect our children from disturbing, damaging, and illegal material on the Internet and on TV. During the 6 years I made use of P2P to download music and movies for my family, I found that there was a continual increase in the amount of violent, disturbing, and illegal material, just like the government reported, and I am sorry to say that the unwanted and unasked for files of child pornography seemed to increase the most.
It is hard for me to believe, but at some point I became numb to such material, but I assumed that it was simply the way it was and I knew the government was aware of it, so it seemed to make sense to me that if they allowed the P2P sites to operate that it must be ok, as long as you were not specifically seeking that type of material or saving it when it was ‘snuck’ into your home via misleading file descriptions and titles. It was simply a matter of immediately identifying and deleting such material and channeling on to the next file. You didn’t watch it, you just moved on until you found the file you were actually searching for. The simple fact was that a title like “Harry Potter” could have Harry Potter inside, or pornography, or some other unrelated movie like “The Sound of Music”. P2P is nothing more than a crap shoot and the federal government KNOWS this.
I had first heard of this file-sharing program on a TV news show, so my wife and I had always assumed that the authorities knew such material was there, and they DID! I have now lost my freedom for the next TWENTY years leaving my children without a father. Worst of all, it left Leigh, my wife of 17 years, alone to raise and support our boys, including caring for Henry, our oldest child, who is physically and mentally disabled, and has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Henry had just received a trip from the Make A Wish Foundation, so you have an idea of the seriousness of his condition. Leigh is also battling her own serious health issues that have sent her back to the hospital countless times, and now with me gone she has no family to take care of our children when she is sick.
Because I was taken away, our once healthy business that supplied an income and health insurance not just for myself and Leigh, but to 15 employees as well, had to close. Our home of over 20 years is in foreclosure, Leigh has no job, and the group insurance needed so desperately for Henry and Leigh is gone. All of this without any family to fall back on. One of my sons is terminally ill and not expected to live past 24. He is 16. I will never see him again. I’M DESPERATE, PLEASE HELP ME!
As a child, and as an adult, I was not one to dream of what my future was going to be. I never wished for a fancy car or home, and never thought of doing anything else but fix air conditioners. I was good at it and built a nice little company with a good, solid reputation. My only friends have been my wife and children, and it was my responsibility to love them and take care of them. It was a wonderful life!
As with any parent, I would do anything to protect my children, but I have left them with heartache and an uncertain future. It was my job to protect, support, and love them, and I had promised to be there for whatever God had planned for our boy Henry. He is the bravest and most inspiring person I have ever met. “Never give up!” he would tell us, but I have given up. I am helpless in finding a way to be there for them. They trusted me and I have failed them.
All of this is such a waste. My ignorance in understanding that I was doing something wrong, and my government’s unusual idea of ‘justice’, has destroyed my family, which did not have to happen. I am 55 years old and have never been in trouble in my life, nor did I think I ever would be. I have never visited an illegal website, or tried to contact a child (or anyone else for that matter), and I did not intentionally search for, or download child pornography, yet I used a defective program and did not listen to my moral compass when P2P brought in child pornography. I should not have become numb to it, but accepted it as an unpleasant part of a program that operated in full view of, and with the complete knowledge of my government, whom I trusted to protect ME so I could then be around to protect my family.
I have paid dearly. I have lost it all. TWENTY YEARS?? Leaving children without their father?? WHY???
David’s Letter will continue……