“Victim impact statements are written or oral information from crime victims, in their own words, about how a crime has affected them.” It’s said that victim impact statements can often play a part in the sentencing of criminals. In the sentencing of perpetrators like you. No one asked for my victim impact statement, but I wrote one anyway.
She is a victim, but so am I, and so is your daughter. The ripple effect of your actions extends far beyond what you’ll ever likely be able to understand or conceptualize… Like a drop of rain added to a lake it touches, impacts, and effects an entire body of people. The fourteen year old, me, your daughter, we are only those most obviously impacted… Your family, your friends, the people who thought that they knew you, the people who loved or continue to love you… they are all victims too. No one asked them or me for our impact statements, but I wrote one anyway…
Just months ago, exactly two weeks before we were to be married I waited for you to come home. I panicked when you didn’t text, call, or respond to me. This was so out of character for you, I thought; as I paced around the kitchen with my heart racing. You were supposed to be at a job interview, but those don’t generally last for four hours… I text, I called, I spoke to our mothers, I grew frantic. I began googling to see if any accidents had been reported, but found nothing.
I changed our daughter into her pajamas and thought about my next move. I called again, I text again; no response; again. I spoke to both of our mothers, again. I was losing ground. Was the man I was about marry (the father of my daughter), hurt? Dead? Cheating on me? Why was that last question even a thought!? Little did I know that the reality would be so much worse…
Unsure of where I was going I grabbed Molly and the dog; I made it to the breezeway before my phone rang… It was you. You informed me that you were being arrested for “gross sexual assault.” What!? How was that even possible!? You were at a job interview. A job interview, for a six figure salaried job. A job that you had spent weeks talking with me and dreaming with me about… But wait, what was that you said? Your interview this afternoon was with a fourteen year old girl that you coach!? Huh? (Fourteen year olds can’t even work, never mind conduct interviews…) You had extra time after your interview together so you both went to the gym for a tumbling lesson? It wasn’t a big deal, you were just changing out of your gym clothes in front of her? You were in your boxers when her dad walked in!? (Why would you ever even change in front of a kid that you coach!?) That’s “normal?”
What in the actual fuck was going on!?
It was such a quick conversation, leaving me with far more questions than answers. Before hanging up you had instructed me to call Cumberland county jail and inquire about what they set your bail at. And there I was… A standing, breathing, but shattered version of myself. How do you wrap your mind around something that your heart can’t begin to believe or understand?
I’ve written and rewritten the beginning of this statement several times. Continuously scrutinizing if what I am sharing is too much or not enough. It feels like a delicate dance for the intention behind this is not to bleed all over anyone that will listen, like a gossip queen; but to heal within the clarity that the process provides to me… To rid myself of the poison that has since that day consumed the nooks and crannies of my soul. It would be easier to make myself small, to slink away and hide from all of this… but I’m finding meaning and a purpose in speaking, standing in, and yes sharing, my truth.
So there I was on Saturday, April 22nd being thrust into the beginning of the end; our end. Lucky for me, it turns out that our bodies serve as these miraculous vessels for our beings. In times of complete chaos they are often able to protect us. This is why in complete shock I was able to call my mother, and then drive to her house to drop off Molly and the dog. This is why I was then able to drive to my fathers while simultaneously calling the jail to discover what your bail was set at. This is why my blood kept pumping, and my lungs kept filling and emptying, even as my head was flooded with confusion, and my heart continued to break…
Your bail was set at “$20,000; cash only.” “Wow, that’s a lot of money,” I thought. The woman on the other end of the phone must have sensed my disbelief for she elaborated, explaining that a “normal” bail was usually around $100. The gravity of this hit me. I thought I was headed to my dads to ask him to potentially help me bail you out, but I wouldn’t ask him for that kind of money! More importantly, how could your bail be this high if you hadn’t been doing anything wrong!?
Shortly after I arrived at my fathers you called me from jail. You reiterated and slightly elaborated on our previous conversation. I questioned you about having had an interview for a government based job with a 14 year old girl that you coached. “I thought it was the aunt of someone you coach that was interviewing you for this!?” You proceed to admit to me that you had been lying to me, and that you had been interviewing with the 14 year old all along.
That’s the last time we spoke. The minutes and hours passed slowly as I processed what was going on. I called your parents. I screamed and I wept. I was in disbelief. I bargained with myself and with God silently. I talked to my most sacred of confidants. I prayed that it wasn’t true. I cried myself to sleep while my father held me.
The sun rose and in the light of the day the truth was exposed to me, in more ways than one… I realized that our wedding would have to be cancelled. Our wedding that signified the official union and commitment that we had already made to each other long ago. I realized that you had been carrying on a “relationship” with a fourteen year old girl that you coached. A girl who was just younger than my littlest sister, whom you’d been a significant role model to…
How is this the truth? How is it that the man who held my hand and leg alongside my mother as I labored our baby girl into existence could be capable of this? You are the man who asked my fathers permission for my hand in marriage. How could “my person,” my best friend, the being who I’ve shared the most intimate moments of my life and parts of my soul with do this? How could the clearly doting father, to the most precious baby girl in the universe, do this to another’s “baby!?” How would I ever be able to understand or explain this to myself, to others, to our daughter…
As my questions grew in numbers and depth, my breath became scarcer and harder to find. There I was a 35 year old woman and mother, on a kitchen floor, being held by her best friend. As a 500 hour certified yoga teacher I’d spent more time than that learning how to find my breath; but still it managed to elude me that day. My miraculous vessel that had served me so well the night before, could not stand steady in the bright and blinding truth of my new reality.
Your actions have affected me negatively in the following ways… I had a panic attack. I felt hot and drenched with sweat one moment, then cold and shivering in the next. I couldn’t breathe. The paramedics were called and I had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. The entire time I kept thinking over and over again that I just wanted to die. As a mental health professional I kept reminding myself not to say this out loud, because I knew that I needed to get back to Molly. Shortly after arriving in the emergency room I heard the technician ask my new paramedic friend if I was suicidal. He reported that I wasn’t and I felt a flood of relief wash over me, like I had tricked everyone… I sat on a stretcher in the hallway waiting for the anti anxiety pill offerings to come my way. I sat there with my mom and dad while a hospital employee approached and asked me if I wanted to pay my deductible. I didn’t have shoes on, never mind my wallet with me…
As a result of your actions I had to go through our rsvp wedding list, to make sure that my mom and friends had the contact information to inform 200 of our closest friends/ favorite people that the wedding was cancelled. There was no shying away from what you had done. In fact, it was on the news, in the papers and of course on line.
I could not emotionally bear nor logistically live in our home in Kennebunk as a single parent. I had to pack my things and Molly’s belongings. We moved into my mother’s yoga studio space. In this space a therapist came to see me because I was unable to leave. In this space a DHHS worker came to interview me; to be sure I was fit to be a mother. Yes, because of what you did I had to prove myself to be a responsible and safe person for our daughter; even though I had been all along… I sat there holding Molly (as she slept) while I was interviewed, having to recall in detail everything that had happened. When I told the worker that you had called me as you were being arrested and how you told me you were just changing in front of “the girl,” she looked at me and said “Well that’s interesting because I heard his penis was hanging out…” (It was like I had been sucker punched in the stomach). She then went on to explain to me that regardless of wether or not you were found to be innocent that the state believes you are guilty. She further explained that if I had contact with you or chose to support you that they could look into taking Molly away from me. She left. My knees hit the floor as I literally vomited in the bathroom…
As a direct result of your actions I had to have our daughter sexually evaluated. I had to call her pediatrician and tell the ladies working at the front of the desk about my reality. I had to bring our two year old daughter to her doctors office and watch as her pediatrician poked and prodded her, and looked at her private places. All the while thinking about how I’d never really known the man I’d been building a life with for the past three years… Her doctor (who I really like) looked at me and said “Did you have any idea?” (Perhaps this is a standard/important question in situations like this)?
“No.” I responded.
No, I had absolutely no idea that my 43 year old fiancé, the father of my daughter, would be capable of carrying on an “intimate and sexual relationship” with a fourteen year old that he had been coaching for two years. I left the appointment both relieved that there had been no “findings” and nauseated that it ever even had to happen.
Then I had to go back to work. Work would help me. Work would set me free, right? However, as it turns out you happened to coach some kids that attend my elementary school. That being said, I wrestled with how I would approach this situation. In the end I consciously decided to stand in the light and truth of the position you put me in. I told the principal, vice principal, and guidance counselor what had happened. I cried in front them. I wore my grief like a blanket of shame for something I hadn’t done. I walked through the hallways of school as I now did life, feeling naked and vulnerable. Teachers asked me how the wedding went and reached for my left hand to see my now bare ring finger. They assumed I’d taken the week off for our honeymoon, not because I’d been unable to eat, or sleep, or function… I spent my days smiling in sixty minute increments (otherwise known as sessions with kids), and crying with my office door shut in between.
You were unable to come pack your things from the house so I had to do that for you. I had to throw forty-three years of life into trash bags and boxes. I had to label pieces of furniture and other belongings so that your things could be hauled out, (because I didn’t have enough going on)… As if the emotional burden you placed on me wasn’t already unbearable, I was given a tangible mess to clean up as well.
Simultaneously I had to acquire an attorney, (only days after learning about this), so that I could keep Molly and myself safe. The world becomes a pretty frightening place when the person you trusted most deceives you. You question what else they are capable of as you come to terms with the secrets and the lies. There was a brief period of time where it looked like you might post bail and I knew that I needed to be prepared for that. However, the police refused to give me a restraining order for Molly or myself. You had never hurt me, and they explained to me that the girl you sexually abused was “a lot” older than our daughter. I explained to them that she was actually closer in age to Molly than she is to you…
All the while I was ignoring phone calls from the jail and receiving letters from you, it’s not as if anything you had to say could undo what you had already done. “I’ve left my baby girl and her beautiful mother standing at the alter, for absolutely nothing” you wrote… You’re right about that part. You are however, far sicker than you seem to realize. This isn’t “just” some Infidelity. This is a crime! I negotiated with your attorney through mine and you signed off on giving me a protection from abuse order on behalf of both Molly and I. You also signed off on giving me all parental rights/responsibilities, and granted me the ability to change Molly’s last name. Maybe that felt generous to you? I think it’s the least you could do!
My attorney sat next to me in the court room that day as the tears silently trickled down my cheeks. As I looked around I was really struck by that fact that no one else was crying. We were all there for the same reason; protection orders. I couldn’t stop thinking about what a nightmare all of this was. Of course Molly and I were supposed to share the same last name, but not like this. How was it that I thought I was in a mutually loving and authentic relationship for so long, only to end up here?
The ways in which you have broken my trust are beyond measure. I’m profoundly saddened to come to terms with the fact that I almost committed myself to a man that was as deceiving and untrue as you. The thing about lying is that once you tell one or several (at the least) in your case lies, everything else is up for question. Your behavior was unsafe in a multitude of ways and I had to deal with the repercussions of that as well. I had to ask my gynecologist to test me for STD’s and HIV, because I’d been having unprotected sex with you. So Jeremy, while you were “pacing back and forth in your cold cell,” I want you to know that I was crying in my car. Crying in my car because asking for that slew of tests was another moment in which I had chosen to stand in the blinding light of reality. Another moment in which the gravity of what you have done to me and my dreams was almost suffocating.
I’ve had many moments where it’s all just still inconceivable. I have frequent nightmares about what you have done, only to wake up and realize they are not nightmares; I’m simply dreaming about reality. I am triggered when men tell me how beautiful our daughter is, because no one feels safe. I am triggered when I see families walking together with little kids, or women that are pregnant; because it all reminds me of who I thought we were, and what I thought we had… I get nauseas and sometimes unfocused during my therapy sessions with 13 year olds; unable to understand how you did what you’ve done. I get overwhelmed in crowds and find myself either isolating or taking medication as a result. People are constantly telling me how brave and strong I am, and I think it’s because I’ve been so authentic and vulnerable; but I’ve often times never felt weaker…
I trust that my soul knows what it needs to do to find healing and I think that’s why I’m only able to feel what you have done in doses. The deceit, the abandonment, the crime(s), the cancelling of my dream wedding without even a “formal” breakup, the legal process, the letters, the constant concern of how I will one day explain this to the most innocent girl and victim of all, my Molly. I find it unlikely that you will ever understand the gravity of your actions; for you wouldn’t have been capable of doing what you’ve done if you had the ability to authentically feel.
I wonder if the judge had heard my victim impact statement if your sentence would have still been so light? How does one possibly”pay” for what you have done? I’m not sure, but I’m confident that it’s not with just 22 months in jail. People that rob people of monetary things do more time than that. Your sentence is appalling, you robbed more than one person of things that cannot ever be replaced. Yet, I know with every “good morning mama!” With every “I love you much!” and “Goodnight!” that your true sentence is life.
I like to think that “my story”/”our story” is unique, but it’s not. It’s about love, it’s about loss, it’s about grief, it’s about betrayal, and it’s about learning how to live and rise again. This is why so many people resonate with what I write. I’d like to remind all of them and myself that in the face of great difficulty we are often simultaneously blessed with a gift. It’s like the quote by Mizuta Masahide (a 17th century Japanese poet and samurai). “My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.”