Editor’s Note: All of the pieces in this series are written by anonymous writers. This allows them to talk about subjects that are sometimes tough to discuss. Please keep in mind how difficult it was for this writer to share these thoughts when commenting.
My husband is serving time in one of the military brigs for sexually abusing my daughter.
The time since my daughter revealed this to me has been the most painful and difficult time of my life. We are okay now; we have done our best to move past that part of our lives and I have had to try and explain to my two youngest children what the brig is (adult time out) and why Daddy is there (he hurt someone).
I immediately left our home and moved states away to my parent’s house. I lived with my parents as I let the investigators, the states, the command and the prosecutors decide what exactly happened and how to handle the ensuing legal case. All of our household goods were still at our duty station.
I was a mess, my youngest kids were confused.. my daughter was a mess.
The time it took for the investigation, ultimately the court-martial gave me just the right amount of time to figure out where I was going to live, how to support three kids on my own and it gave me and my daughter the time we needed for counseling.
My parents opening their home to us and allowing me the time to deal with the military and to attend counseling while my daughter attended her counseling was invaluable to me.
We have moved forward in a healthy way and that is, in large part, due to the way the military handled our case.
Today, while doing my normal household chores, I took a break and logged on to Facebook. Sitting in my newsfeed was an article about the military and childhood sexual abuse. The air was sucked out of my lungs and I felt the blood draining from my face as I read about how some media and lawmakers are trying to portray the military and their handling of child sexual abuse cases. I sat in disbelief as I read accusations of the military allowing military members to arrange plea deals in exchange for a shorter sentence, not being transparent enough with the cases that are tried and trying to sweep a problem of misconduct under the rug.
In my experience, none of these are true.
In the military, plea deals are arranged and agreed to by the defense, prosecution, victims and the convening authority on the case. In our case, the convening authority was the Commanding Officer of the military installation where my husband was stationed.
There are several factors that go into determining who the convening authority will be for any given case.
I hoped and prayed for a plea deal from the beginning for several reasons. Mainly, I wanted a plea deal so that my daughter would not have to get on a stand and recount everything that had happened to her. Even today, she has not told me everything.
I do know that she did cooperate with investigators and her counselors and painstakingly went through every detail with them. That was hard enough for her and I did not want her to have to go through that again with lawyers, a judge and a military panel.
Also, the evidence- because it took her so long to tell me- there was NO evidence.
All we had was her one statement to me, “Mom, Dad molested me,” and her statements to the investigators and my husband’s oral confessions to me.
That was it.
Through my own research, I have discovered in cases like this, most states plea down to child maltreatment or simple assault, neither of which are much, if any, jail time and none label the offender as a sex offender.
So, not only were we able to get my husband to admit all of his crimes and to ensure jail time, we were also able to request that he serve his time at a brig that offered sex offender therapy and we were able to request that my daughters and I receive his pay for six months post conviction.
This was a huge help in getting us on our feet.