Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When Justice Fails the Children, PART II, Kristy's Story by Debra Sanders

Part II
Kristy's Story: When Justice Fails the Children

The investigation into the allegation took place over a three month period of time, during which I agonized over what surely must be happening to Kristy, secreted away in her parent’s home, and stressed over what was happening to me as the investigation lingered on.

I am eternally grateful to the detectives and police involved. They could have leaked information to the press and innocent or not, my career would have been history. They did not do this however, and although I was cautioned to discuss the accusation with absolutely no one (except an attorney), life went on in a sort of normal fashion. True, I was not sleeping well, weight was dropping off rapidly and every time I heard a siren, my knees would buckle in anticipation that I was minutes away from an imminent arrest. But I continued to work, enjoy friends and family and carry on with daily chores, while always wondering to myself, “What has been happening to that girl that would result in her making such an accusation?”

I had secured a criminal attorney and because Kristy had identified scarring on my breasts, I went to a plastic surgeon, was photographed and a letter was written attesting to the fact that I had no scarring or other marks. She had also said that I made two boys watch, and she apparently described the boys in detail to the investigators. When these things proved false, the case was dismissed and closed. I always figured that Kristy’s details were her small way of protecting me.

The police never provided any details of their investigation to me. I did not know how they investigated, what they uncovered or what they thought. All I could hope was that the investigation would somehow uncover the abuse I had always been sure was being perpetrated in the home and that something good would come of the whole ordeal for Kristy. But I never knew one way or the other.

In 1996, my father was diagnosed with cancer and I found myself flying between his home and mine as I helped him navigate the terrain of chemotherapy and radiation. I was no longer working for the school district, at that time I had my own intervention practice, so I would go to my dad’s for two weeks, return home and work for three and make the return trip to Colorado while my dad received ever increasing amounts of the toxic chemicals and burning rays we were hoping would save his life.

It had been two years since the case had closed and never once during those years did I hear about or see Kristy. I remember saying to a friend, “I swear to God, one day when that girl is about thirty, she will track me down and tell me the story.”

Kristy didn’t wait until she was thirty to contact me—she waited until she was eighteen and out of the home in a psychiatric hospital, where her pregnancy was revealed.

Her letter arrived while I was at my dad’s, It was dated 10/31/96 and in part, here is what it said:

“Dear Ms. Sanders, I hope you read this and will forgive me in the end....there's times I wish I would of died instead of hurting you. When my parents told me to say that about you, I never thought I would but they had a lot of control...Well daddy kept up raping me and now I'm pregnant....I no longer live at home so they have no control over me anymore... I wish I could make things better for you..."

My heart ached to read those words. Did they pressure her all that time to make such an accusation? What transpired in that home in the four years since I had last seen her? What would become of this child? What would become of this child that was going to give birth to a child? I shuddered to imagine answers to those questions.

I wrote Kristy back a very loving letter, although I did not ask any of these questions. I wanted to communicate to her that I never, ever blamed her; never for a moment had believed she had made the accusation for any reason other than she was forced to; and that I was never, ever angry with her. I wanted her to know I cared about her, believed in her and that whatever had gone on in those intervening years, they were in her history now and I believed in her ability to move forward, to survive and to heal. But I did not, at that time, want to engage in an ongoing letter writing relationship and so, I did not put a return address on the envelope, knowing it would be postmarked Colorado.

TBC. Read and find out how Kristy found me--after looking for twelve years--and what I learned about the truth of her life as a child, a teenager and a young adult.

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