(This is a true story describing what a friend of mine is presently going through. I never thought I would be writing about the realities of false allegations from such a personal perspective. However, this experience has shown me the extent of the damage done to those falsely accused. My friend Josh and his wife Judy (not their real names) are going through a divorce. He is also facing criminal charges based on her accusations. The story is being written from my own personal recollection of the many conversations between Josh and myself. Josh and I have agreed to write his story from this perspective because he is still in the middle of many legal proceedings. When the outcome of his situation has been finalized, he plans on sharing his experience with my readers in more detail. This is part three.)
Josh stood silent as he tried to comprehend what Judy had just said. He was expecting her to make numerous accusations that would portray him as a terrible person. But by taking the initiative to live out of his business for about six months, he assumed it would cultivate into any accusations made by her to be met with extreme scrutiny. After all, he has been the one making all the sacrifices in order to avoid trouble. He has been the one trying to negotiate a fair and equitable divorce. He has been the one trying to do the right thing all along. He felt his actions and intentions would be obvious.
Now he just took a life-altering sucker punch. He never contemplated a false molestation charge when he constructed his “worst case” scenario. He assumed the worst accusations would be that he physically and mentally abused her. And he assumed choosing to spend months living out of his business, and his willingness to sacrificing his former lifestyle would show that he is not a power and control freak that needs to dominate those around him. Instead, it would show to what extent he is willing to go in order to bring resolution to an often bitter and hostile process such as divorce. But he was not prepared for molestation charges. How do you defend yourself against that?
By the time the police arrived, Josh had calmed down somewhat. Being the optimistic person that he is, he was confident the responding police officers would know this was nothing but spiteful, revengeful bullshit.
The first officers on the scene barley got out of the patrol car when his wife began calling him a criminal and a molester, pointing her finger at Josh more authoritatively with each accusation, making sure she got the first words in, making sure her accusations became the immediate focal point of conversation as the officers began trying to unravel what had taken place. Fortunately, her aggressiveness approach failed. The officers were offended by her behavior. This led to the officers letting Josh speak first. He began telling the officers that she just found out he was filing for divorce. This led to her storming into his office threatening him and eventually physically attacking him.
When it was Judy’s turn to speak, she admitted to attacking him, but said she did so out of rage because her daughter had just told her that he molested her. The officer turned to the daughter and asked if this was true.
Josh recalled this being a poignant moment. The once confident, adversarial young woman who invoked hate and rage upon him with her stare for the last fifteen minutes, suddenly could not look him or the police officers square in the eyes as she responded. With apprehension and a sudden absence of confidence she said, “Yes”.
As the officers began questioning her more intensely, the story was suddenly changing. The molestation was eventually whittled down to what she claimed was a single inappropriate touching incident. The officers decided to call their superiors before doing anything. A supervisor arrived and listened to both sides. He decided to remove Judy and her daughter from the business and instructed Josh and Judy not to have contact with each other for the remainder of the evening or face arrest.
After Judy and her daughter left, the supervisor pulled Josh aside and offered him some advice. “If I were you, I would file a civil battery charge against her and then try to get a permanent restraining in place. I have a feeling your going to need it,” he advised Josh.
This would be the best advice Josh would receive. It would be a critical move that would give him some sanity and help stifle further manipulations and accusations by Judy and her daughters.
After the officers left, Josh felt a sense of relief. Here was an officer who had plenty of experience in these situations, and he was telling Josh that HE is the one needing the restraining order. But buried within this present state of satisfaction, there was one aspect that gnawed at Josh. If she admitted to attacking him, how come the officers didn’t arrest her for domestic violence? Well, nothing to worry about. At least they didn’t arrest him over her stupid accusations he thought.
The next day Josh was working in his office when Judy came walking in. “Oh shit,” he said out loud. Expecting a new round of accusations, violence, and verbal assaults, Josh immediately took a position by the phone ready to call 911. Instead she acted like nothing had happened. When Josh asked what she was doing there, she answered, “I work here. This is my business. I can be here if I want to.”
Josh realized her unpredictability was beyond anything he could imagine. He thought to himself, “Less than twenty-four hours ago she claimed I molested her daughter and did unconscionable damage to her. One would think she would be home comforting her, and making plans to get as far away from me as possible. Instead, she chooses to come here and work beside me, the very beast who caused all this damage to her and her daughter.”
Judy then turned to him and asked, “How much money is in the bank?”
Josh ignored her question. Instead he asked her, “Do you really think you should be here right now after all that happened?”
When she became adamant and wouldn’t leave, Josh said, “Well, then I am.”
He then grabbed some things and headed for the door. He saw her car – which is legally not hers, but owned by the business -parked in front of the building. He said to himself, “I think it’s time to file the battery charge and get that restraining order.”
As he approached the vehicle the panic alarm went off with sirens wailing. Startled, Josh looked around to see what was going on. He saw Judy in the office window, belligerently motioning for him to get away from HER car. Josh disabled the alarm using his set of keys. Judy reinstated the alarm. Josh disabled it. And so the game was played continuously until Josh was able to get in and start the vehicle. Josh looked back as he drove away to see Judy becoming hysterical in the office window. Josh headed straight for the bank to protect him and the business from any nefarious schemes. After the bank, he would stop at the local police station to file his battery charge, and set in motion the process of obtaining a permanent restraining order.
After arriving at the police station, Josh was directed to a police officer who would take his complaint. After Josh explained his situation and everything that had happened to him, the officer casually looked at him and said, “So what do you want me to do about it?”
Josh told him again that he wanted to file a battery complaint against his wife. It should be noted that Josh is a sizable guy with an ominous look to him, but that should never be used as an excuse to discriminate.
The officer looked him up and down and said, “Look, give her a couple of days to cool off. She probably really didn’t mean any of it. She just got too emotional.”
Josh was floored by this cavalier attitude. He thought domestic violence was supposed to be taken very seriously.
Josh looked the officer in the eye and said. “So what are you telling me to do?”
The officer smirked, and then looked Josh in the eye and said, “Drop back and punt!”
“What the hell does that mean?” asked Josh.
The officer told him to just give it a few days and everything will work itself out.
The police officer refused to file the complaint.
Josh stormed out of the police station. Extremely pissed off, he called his friend, the police officer, and told him what had just happened. The friend said he’s not surprised. “They don’t take the guys as seriously in these situations,” he said.
He then offered to pick up Josh and escort him to the station where he works to file the complaint.
This time, Josh’s complaint was taken more seriously.
Josh stayed away from the business for about a week, staying at a friend’s house to avoid any confrontations. In the meantime he worked on obtaining his restraining order. He was shocked to find out how difficult it was for him to obtain one. He said it felt like nobody took him seriously. He felt like he was being made to “jump through hoops”.
At one point Josh was escorted to an office where a female representative told him he should not continue the restraining order process until he had a lawyer present. Josh became pissed off again.
“Why do I need to have a lawyer present? I was told that I could do this on my own.” He then became more frustrated saying, “You mean I’m going to have to delay this process further while I obtain a lawyer?”
“You have a lot going on here,” she said. “You will have only one chance before the judge to get your restraining order. I suggest you obtain a lawyer. Otherwise, I do not want to take your case before the judge,” she said succinctly.
Josh was furious. “The system is extremely sexist. They would have given a woman a restraining order without hesitation. But because I’m a man I was denied,” Josh told me over the phone.
I said, “Josh, I think you’re looking at this from the wrong angle. The system is sexist, and this woman knew it. She gave you a great gift. She knew because you are male, your charges would not be taken seriously by the court unless you had a lawyer present. She realizes how important the restraining order is for you, and she wanted to make sure you got it. That’s why she refused to take you before the judge. She was actually trying to help you.”
Josh began to see how the “system” has one set of rules for men, and another set of rules for women in this situation. At this point he felt he had no choice but to bring a lawyer with him and return to court.
With a lawyer present, his restraining order was granted, but he found it was only good for three weeks. At that time, he would have to appear before the court again to plead his case if he wanted to keep the order in place. This process would have to happen a couple of times before a permanent order could be obtained. And he was told his wife will be present at every appearance to counter any claims he makes and plead for its removal.
As he left he was also informed his wife would be served with the order immediately. “I can’t imagine she is going to take this very well,” he said to himself. So he prepared himself for the next confrontation.
He wouldn’t have to wait long.
The very next morning Judy stormed into the business. Josh politely told her she would have to leave. Judy replied, “This is my business and I’m entitled to be here.” Josh told her about the restraining order.
She told him, “I don’t give a shit about any restraining order. I’m entitled to be here. The law can’t prevent me from making a living.”
Josh picked up the phone and called the police.
Two female officers arrived and began asking questions. Josh explained everything that had transpired over the last couple of weeks. He said the officers took one long look at him, and then took one long look at his wife and said to Josh, “You have the restraining order on her?”
Josh showed them his copy of the order. Then to his astonishment the officers asked him, “So what do you want us to do?”
Josh was shocked. “Get her out of here,” he demanded.
The officers then instructed Judy to leave. She refused. Judy then began the process of lecturing the officers on how they and the law cannot evict her from her own business. The officers stated that Josh has a legal order of protection, and by law they have to remove her from the premises. Judy refused to leave again, and became increasingly adversarial with the officers. Josh said after an intense show down, which almost resulted in Judy being hauled off to jail, did she finally comply and leave the premises. He also took notice of an attitude change from the female police officers. At first they seemed skeptical of his story, but after just five minutes of dealing with her, their attitude changed. One officer said to him as she was leaving, “If she shows up here again, call us immediately. We’ll lock her up next time.”
Another small victory for Josh, but the uncomfortable feeling of not being taken seriously was beginning to dwell on him when considering what may lie ahead, and what the outcome will be after of all this is finalized.
Because of all the threats and accusations directed at him from Judy and her daughter’s, and their unpredictability, Josh had a surveillance system installed at his business. He would now have video tape of all actions taking place inside and outside his business. His lawyer suggested he start keeping the doors locked, and use the new monitor system to screen people showing up at the door to do business. He was starting to feel the exhaustion brought on by bouts of anxiety, fear, uncertainty, etc. It was becoming difficult for him to focus on the daily needs of his business. This was all becoming so surreal, and yet all too real at the same time.
Within a week of breaking the restraining order, Judy’s daughter muscled her way into the business. She confronted Josh and held some legal documents in his face. Briefly he could read something about three separate aggravated battery charges him. The daughter then pulled the documents away and told Josh, “Your going to jail for a long time. You’re going to get exactly what you deserve.”
Josh asked her what this was all about.
It turns out Judy filed civil battery charges against Josh. She’s claiming Josh attacked her first during the office confrontation. She is claiming her use of violence was the result of her having to defend herself against Josh. She also is claiming Josh put a gun to her head the next day and told her he was going to kill her if she didn’t give him the car. And lastly, the daughter is standing by her allegations that Josh touched her inappropriately.
Josh asked her to leave the premises or he would call the police. After she left, Josh called his friend in the police department to find out what this all means.
“So what happens now” Josh asked. “Am I going to be arrested?”
“It depends. At the very least, you will be brought in for questioning. It really depends on the detectives, what they find, and how far she is willing to pursue it,” he explained to Josh. “But they will have to do something.”
Josh called me to have his dilemma explained to a resource I use – a veteran detective of violent crime.
The detective concurred what Josh’s friend told him; however, he was disturbed by the charges.
“I’ve handled many of these cases, and I can tell you the minute I hear abuse charges, molestation charges, etc., in coordination with a divorce, myself and other detectives would know immediately we are dealing with a liar. And 99% of them are women trying to stick it to the guy. It’s always a knee-jerk revenge tactic” he told me.
“But this one is different” he said. “The charges are… how can I say it? Well planned out? She either knows how the system works, or is being coached by somebody within the system. Or I hate to say it – he’s guilty of the charges. You know him better than I do. What’s your feeling,” he said.
I told him everything that transpired over the last couple of months. He said Josh didn’t sound like somebody harboring the usual characteristics of people he’s arrested and found guilty for this type of behavior. But he also said, “The fact that she is going to use her daughters to corroborate evidence is going to be a hurdle he may not be able to overcome. It’s sad. This shit happens all the time to good guys. The system caters to women and their advocates. Nobody is advocating for the average guy in these situations. Tell him to be prepared for some rough times ahead.”
About two weeks later I tried calling Josh to see how things were going. He didn’t answer. Not unusual. He was trying to get out more and relieve the overwhelming anxiety and stress he was feeling.
I called the next day. No answer again. This time I left a message.
The next day I still had not heard from him.
About mid afternoon my cell phone rang. It was Josh.
“How ya doing buddy,” I asked. And with a tone in his voice I had not heard before he replied, “Not good. I just got out of jail.”
Next posting: Where Josh stands as of right now.
Photo Courtesy of: stockxchng.com