Tuesday, 19 May 2009
We learned the hard way, that an Aspie should never never never answer questions at a police station without an attorney present. They want to please and it is sometimes very easy to get them to agree to things they didn't do if they are approached right. My son, spent a year and a half in prison for a crime he didn't commit. His life will never be the same from that experience.
A few years ago, a family member by marriage, ask me to keep her two girls for the weekend. She was meeting a guy she met on the internet for the weekend, but told me she was going on a Christian retreat, so I'd keep her girls. My hands were already full with my three girls as I was a widow at the time, but I was glad she was going to be in a good Christian environment, so I agreed. Sunday evening I was planning to take all 5 little girls to church with me. I asked my Aspie son (who was around 30 at the time) to read them Bible stories while I fixed supper. He sat on the couch surrounded by little girls and read to them for about a half hour. We have a big open living room, dinning room kitchen area. They were all under my supervision. One little girl that I was keeping was a very "streetwise" young lady. It's very hard for my son to read. His focus can only be on one thing at a time. And he struggles with almost every word. So it takes his undivided attention to read.
The next day I got a call from the child's mom and she said while her daughter was sitting next to my son, he put his hand in her jean dress pocket and touched her inappropriately. So she called the police. All the children were called down to the police station and questioned. All the children said they were sitting right there and nothing like that happened. So they let my son go and dropped the charges of child molestation. We've never ever had any problems like that with him. Anyone who knew him knows that his interest is on scientific things around him, he is very literal and transparent.
My son had a friend from school, he hung out with sometimes, who has similar problems to his. This boy’s step dad was a town sheriff. So he heard the talk from other police officers about my son being called down to the station and questioned. He told his son who was married and also had a couple children, not to hang around him because he was a "child molester." So this "friend" of my son, comes knocking on my door one day and ask if my son was a Child molester? I was shocked at his question but assured him that he wasn't. He was satisfied. Soon after that his neighbor girl, who was working as a stripper at the time and had the child welfare on her case, was talking to her little boy, who mentioned that his mommy's girl’s boyfriend touched him in the wrong place. The girl became angry and went to the police. The police ask her if anyone else was there and she said that Levi was working on his broke down truck next door to her house. The police department sent two men dressed in business suits, to our house who casually approached my son who was working on his truck, and ask if he could come with them so they could ask him some questions. My son likes to please, so he said, "Sure" They looked nice enough! They ask him if he wanted an attorney and he said, No!" Because he knew he hadn't done anything wrong to need an attorney. They interrogated him for two hours. I saw the video of the interrogation and was just sick! They took advantage of his autism.
The interrogator became his “buddy” by talking about going fishing. My son can feel a real comradeship to fisherman. After about two hours of wearing him down, the interrogator said in a real sweet voice, "I see you're getting tired aren't you" If you'll just tell us what we want to hear you can go home." Since he was emotionally worn out, he was ready to agree to anything so he could go home. He wasn't able to realize the consequences of "going along with the "interrogation" crowd."
They got a confession out of him for something he didn't do. Never once in questioning the child, did the little boy mention my son's name. The child talked about his mama's boy friend Jimmy, touching him. My son has always been very embarrassed about sexual things. He's showed very little interest in sex. I never had any acting out with him as a child, in that area.
He arrested and put in jail, while I was out of the country on a Medical missionary trip. He was charged with "two" counts of child molestation. They had two because they picked back up the one they had dropped two years before with the cousin. He was crying and scared, when I got home and went to get him from jail, after putting up bail.
The courts sent him to two different psychiatrists who apparently had no idea about Aspergers, to have him tested. After a 20 minute session with each Doctor, the doctors wrote up a report that said he was fine and had "no problems." This was around 10 years ago and he did not yet have the Autism diagnosis.
Our attorney was just sick that my son hadn't called him before the interrogation. We were going to let it go to trial, but our attorney advised against it. He said a jury is usually pretty prejudiced when called to judge a child molestation case. And when they played the part of the video where Levi started agreeing to everything they ask him, and they read the reports from two psychiatrists, saying he had no problems, he would probably receive a guilty conviction on both counts, with an eight year sentence.
The prosecutor agreed to drop the charge concerning the little boy (Because they had no evidence anyway) if he would plead guilty to the incident that was dropped two years ago for lack of evidence. They told him that if he pleaded guilty, he would only get four years which meant he'd only serve a couple years. The attorney encouraged him to agree to the plea bargaining to keep from getting an 8 year sentence. We knew he was innocent, and he knew he was innocent and the attorney knew he was innocent, but the cards were stacked against him. At his sentencing he was handcuffed and led away crying. I ask if I could give him a hug. It wasn't allowed.
Prison for the Asperger is a nightmare. We ask the DOC to please send him some place close so we could visit often. The attorney also requested it but they sent him to a place over 2 hours away. Thus began the every other week of the long drive to visit my son. He was so glad to see me that he locked me in a bear hug and often there were tears in his eyes. We'd sit and have our two hour visit in the visiting room. He tried hard to be brave. We surrounded him with lots of prayer and God provided a few nurturing incarcerated guys that seemed to see that he was special and protected him.
Once he called me very upset. One of the guys in the dorm threw a roll of toilet paper at one of the female guards. Since they didn't know who did it they made all the guys lay on their stomachs for the afternoon and all night. They weren't allowed to turn over. For a person who has always been hyper, that bordered on cruel punishment. He pretty much kept to himself and stayed out of trouble. We wrote a letter to the prosecutor, asking for a modification hearing. Also my son wrote a short note to the prosecutor in his handwriting and I think that convinced the prosecutor to give him the hearing, which resulted in his him coming home early. What a nice surprise when he was sent home earlier than we expected. That seldom happens. I believe the "powers that be" probably recognized his innocence as well as his special needs. I shudder to think of how many other Asperger/Autistics are in prison who have been railroaded into false admissions of guilt. Soon after he was sent away we got an e-mail from an institution, telling that an Asperger person should never ever answer police questions without an attorney, because they want to please and don't understand interrogation tactics.
Since his release, an officer called me one day and said real sweetly that they'd like to ask him some questions, for him to give them a call. I called our attorney. He said under no circumstances should I allow my son to talk to them. So I told my son to call the officer back and tell him that he was advised by his attorney that he wasn't to talk to them. They seemed satisfied with that and we haven't heard anything from them since. I didn't know that when someone was called to the police station for questioning that they had a choice in the matter. If we'd have known that a few years earlier I believe my son wouldn't have gone through this nightmare.
The nightmare didn't stop with him being released from prison. He was required to report weekly to a counseling program. The "counselor" heading up the program, at the first session, sent home a 4 page, single spaced typed, set of questions for him to answer in the autobiography that he was required to write about himself. I don't think my son (who's writing is about first grade level) has ever written more than a paragraph in his life. He can't write. The counselor didn't care; he said he was required to do it or go back to prison. There was no way he could do that! He couldn't even read it let alone write his life story. Some of the questions he was required to answer were to describe in detail all his sexual fantasies. Write about his parent’s sex life, his sexual feeling toward sisters, each of his friends. Etc. Most the questions were like that. I called the counselor and he wouldn't budge from his order. So I took his very personal list of questions and spent hours at the computer writing what the counselor wanted to hear. For most of the very personal questions I wrote, “I don't know”. That didn't suit the counselor so it had to be done over and over. I was not going to let my son go back to prison for a crime he didn't commit because he couldn't satisfy a perverted counselor's personal questions. I complained to my son's probation officer who agreed that the questions were too personal but her hands were tied because these sessions were court ordered. I called his attorney who was also upset and acted disgusted with the writing assignment but was told he couldn't do anything either because it was court ordered. He said my son's option was to go back to prison to finish out his time and he wouldn't have to take the program. So I typed up most of his ridiculous assignment. Usually the counselor wasn't satisfied so I had to redo them, and redo them. My son would come home from his every Monday evening session like a time bomb ready to explode. He was so angry at the counselor. It was also something he had to pay for.
He was also court ordered to attend the Right Program weekly. I'm still not sure what that was about and he didn't seem to understand it either. But it was another program he had to pay for. He was also required to check in with a probation officer monthly, another big expense. (Hundreds of dollars) Plus he has to go to the police station every year for 10 years and register as a sex offender. He's not allowed to be anywhere where there are children, so he usually doesn't go to family gatherings, and has even stopped going to church. He watches his back side every time he goes to town. When he's not out helping someone, he's usually holed up in his tiny place smoking and watching his tiny TV. In typical Asperger fashion, he watches either PBS or Disney Discovery channel, learning scientific facts. With the stigma connected to "Sex Offender" his life will never be the same. But Levi holds no grudges. This stigma, a “black mark” will follow him the rest of his life. A person born disabled is made even more disabled by society!
Also he was required to take an expensive lie detectors test which he had to pay several hundred dollars for, and passed!
This has ruined his life. Now he wears the label of "Child Molester" He was told he would be on the sex offender registry for 10 years, meaning the officers can come to his place any time, day or night to check up on him, he has to fill out yearly reports and his picture is put on the computer. We have neighbors who have checked it out, printed up flyers with his picture on in and tacked them to other neighbors doors. Recently he went to the police station and reminded them that next year, his 10 years would be up and was told they changed the policy that he will be in the registry for life. We need to appeal this but I'm not sure where to start. He's known rejection all his life, but this is the ultimate rejection!
DO NOT LET YOUR ASPIE TALK TO AN OFFICER WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY PRESENT!!!!!!!!!
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.