So what’s up, former youth coach and convicted sex offender?
For five years, you wrote me letters from prison to say how unfairly you had been treated by police. By the newspaper. By the lawmakers and the very prison that held you.
For five years, you eloquently railed on the system. You vowed that one day you would be free to fight it on the outside. You would be labeled a sex offender but you didn’t care about that. You craved your freedom and would do anything to keep it.
“Life awaits,” you wrote just a month before you were set free, “and no matter what type of brand the government wants to put on me, I look forward to my rebirth.”
Very profound. You spent half a decade in a cage because you had been convicted of many counts of exploiting teenage girls. There were times, between all the rage and blame for others, that you acknowledged your crimes. But those moments of humility and remorse always came with caveats.
“I don’t mind being held accountable for what I did,” said you, “but I hate being a victim of America’s modern day witch hunt.”
Ah, yes. The witch hunts. The newspaper was overzealous in its coverage of the many charges against you. The editors showed bias in not sending a reporter to cover conditions at the prison. The prison was overcrowded and your sentence was unjust.
In 2007, three years into your stretch, you came around to a novel idea: you don’t need to change, the laws do. You were sent up for seducing teenage girls with booze and dope but does that make you a criminal?
“Here’s a radical idea,” you wrote. “Maybe the age of consent should be lowered. This is a rocky road to travel but maybe, just maybe, we’ve got it wrong. It wasn’t that long ago that at 15 and 16 you were starting your family, usually with someone older. Even at 14 this was happening. In some societies it’s 11 and you’re out the door with your husband. I don’t advocate that for us but we’ve gone the other way to the extreme, We need to revisit the issues of age, consensual sex, sex assault and violence.”
Sometimes you’d get off topic and write about the Red Sox, the war, the various things that happen in the Twin Cities. When it came time for you to walk out of prison, the bitterness was still there but you seemed intent on getting it behind you.
You were going to be careful.
“I can tell you I’ll walk the line from here on out as I’ve decided this is no way to live,” you wrote, and I could almost hear the sigh. “If a female even looks under 25 near me, I’ll want a photo ID.”
It was a good idea. The right idea. And now this, these allegations that just weeks after you were set free, you were back on a lusty course.
Visiting an old friend to look at photos of prior victims like some junky seeking a fix.
Sex texting (glad you like how technology has evolved) with a teenage girl from Massachusetts.
Under investigation for hooking up with a teenage girl in Lewiston.
Under investigation for getting that stripper business under way and seeking out recruits.
Accused of riding around in a car with a woman and her two young daughters.
I’ll grant you these are only allegations right now, but dude, it’s a lot of them. And while I should never be shocked anymore, this one took me by surprise.
I never sensed that you accepted the bulk of blame for your imprisonment, it’s true. But you also seemed intent on steering clear of further indulgences. I know the story of the scorpion and the frog. It’s hard, if not impossible to change your character. But man, even a scorpion will lay low for a while if he is put in a cage and then set free.
You walked into freedom in November. By January, you were locked up again. Is it just more bad luck? Or incredible conceit, a soaring belief that you are too smart to be denied that to which you are entitled?
I have a plastic bag full of letters that come from prison inmates. A quarter of them are from those who insist they are victims of a corrupt system. They are innocent or misunderstood.
I never ignore those letters, no matter how thin a prisoner’s claims to innocent appear to be. You never know when you’ll stumble on an Andy Dufresne, some poor bastard who got chewed up and sent away by a conspiracy of terrible luck and flawed legal system.
But I haven’t heard from that guy yet. Most inmates stop writing to declare themselves victims before their first year has been served.
But not you, youth coach and convicted sex offender. You wrote from the start of your sentence until the end of it. And then, if the evidence is to be believed, you marched through the prison gate and set off to pick up where you left off.
Which is a disservice not only to yourself and to those who get sucked into your maelstrom of desires. It’s also a hit to every other inmate who sits inside a cell and spends every day vowing to go straight once he hits the street again.
Because there are inmates who will make good on their promises. Only for the rest of us, it’s that much harder to believe them because we’ve heard it all before.