Monday, January 31, 2011

Horrible Horrible Thing

On Saturday our family & our street (Magnolia) received some horrible horrible news.  An article in the local newspaper informed us all that our neighbor - my NEXT DOOR neighbor was now a convicted sex offender.  He was found guilty of Indecency With A Child.  To say that we are devastated would be an understatement.  Our street is our safe haven, our family, our place of refuge and now there is this scary ugliness here.

So often we think that this is not the kind of thing that happens where we live, to people we know.  So let me start by describing where I live.  My neighborhood has been recognized as historical with the accompanying designations.  It is located on the edge of downtown and considered very desirable.  The houses are wonderful and old with big front porches.  People take care of one another.  We know every neighbor on the street.  People hangout  on their porches and front yards when the weather is nice. When a baby is born, or someone dies, or is sick we all make food for them, or mow their lawn, or whatever - we take care of each other.  Those of us that live here feel so so lucky. 

Now I'll tell you about the neighbor.  He has lived next door to us for about 7 years.  His wife has lived in the home for many years and was here when we moved in 14 years ago.  They both worked for our local city newspaper.  Nice cars, nice furniture, two sweet little white fluffy dogs, and a great old school coke machine with the coldest cokes ever.  What I'm trying to say is that they were very very normal.  My neighbor, the convicted sex offender, is what many would call a good old southern boy living in the big city.  His manners are impeccable, he has a kind word for everyone he meets, always willing to lend a hand, each morning as he walks his dogs he puts his neighbors newspapers on their front porches.  He has always been nice to my children and the other children on the street - but not to nice, not weird nice, just normal nice.  And then Saturday the bottom fell out of our perfectness.  Or better said, what we thought was our own little slice of perfectness.

I was coming home from a yoga class all relaxed and peaceful.  I got a call form a neighbor asking if I had read the paper. I had not.  The article said a 58 year old local man had been sentenced in fondling case.  I would love to post a link to the article, but not feeling so much like putting our address out for all of cyber space. To the few (two) of you who have been reading this blog since the beginning if you want to read it let me know and I'll email the link.  Now for the rest of the story - the article says that the victim was 11 and had told her grandmother that he had fondled her on several occasions. (this took place in a small town near us where he has land that he tends his cattle on)  He plead guilty and now is on 10 years probation, has to pay a fine, do 200 hours of community service, stay away from places where children congregate ect.  I am appalled.  He admits his guilt and gets probation?   How can this be? How can this be considered justice?

We had to sit down with our sweet and innocent children and tell them.  We had to tell them that this man, that had always been so kind to our family, had committed a crime against a child.  It was awful to have to tell them this.  They were shaken.  They were unable to reconcile this.  E said "But you don't believe it do you?  You don't believe he would ever do anything bad do you? Do you?"  What I told her was that there were two things that we knew to be the absolute truth and they were #1. That daddy and I were very very thankful that in all the years that we had known him he had only shown kindness to our family. And  #2.  That  he was guilty of a crime against a child, that a child had said he had hurt her - and we believed her. Shug then told the children that the newspaper was on the dining room table, open to the article, and that if they wanted to they could read it.  And that we would answer ANY questions they had.  We assured them they were safe. I hardly feel sure of anything.  Except that I would do anything to keep my children safe.

And then when I was alone I cried.  I cried a lot.  I cried for the lost innocence of my children, of my street.  I cried because this beautiful sweet loving place that has been our refuge for 14 years has this ugly thing in it.  I cried because this man that I, that we all, thought was so wonderful was something else. I cried because a child was hurt.  I cried because I wante this man gone from my street, from my neighborhood.  It is sad, I am sad.

Shug and I will ask him to move.  Not because we think this will make him move but because we want him to know how we feel. We want him to know that we will never accept this for our children or ourselves.  This is OUR safe place, our refuge, our home, our family, our street - and he cannot be here.  I don't know how it will happen but I can promise you that he will move away.  We will not.
 The outcry of the street and neighborhood is big.  People are upset on so many levels, for so many reasons.

This post is long and I'm worn out. I will write more if there is more.

It still feels unreal, unfair, unjust.  My mind wanders to the little girl, my heart aches for her.  When I hear his truck pull into his driveway I feel myself tense.  As I stand at my kitchen sink I see their windows. I think about his wife - I watched her cry the other evening. 


jadenotjaded said...

That IS horrible! So sorry for the loss of your perfect little neighborhood. I, too, live on a street like yours and would be devastated to hear news like that!

M said...

This is terrible!! I can't believe it. Poor little girl!

Jessica said...

Some friends and I were just talking today about sex offenders and how you just never know who it could be or how to keep kids safe these days. It's so sad. I'm so sorry Mecca. I hope he does move too. I also agree that probation is NOT justice enough for any harm done to a child, it's sickening.