(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 the last part of the series.)
“You just got out of jail?” I said in disbelief (why the disbelief at this point I don’t know, but it was there). “When did this all happen?”
“Over the last… I don’t know, thirty-six, forty-eight hours,” he said in a tone of voice that harbored elements of exhaustion, anxiety, and defeat.
“I spent almost a whole day in the district lockup.Then I was transferred to the county jail where I spent the night and most of today until I was able to post bond.”
“You mean the detectives believed her story?” I said with anger creeping into my voice.
“No, not at all,” he shot back. “As a matter of fact, they told me her story sounds like a bunch of bullshit. They actually told me if it was up to them, they wouldn’t arrest me at all, but it seems Judy has been calling the police station demanding something be done, making a bunch of phone calls saying heads will roll if the police don’t take action.”
“She also reminded them how the “system” works, and was demanding they follow the law,” he said through frustrated pauses.
“The detectives told me by law they had to do this. I can’t believe we live in a society where any person can make some phony allegation about someone else and put them in jail for almost two days. Didn’t anybody stop to think how an angry, vindictive person can use these laws to ruin another person’s life? What the hell kinda of democracy do we live in,” Josh vented over the phone.
“Now I have to hire a criminal attorney; a good one if I want my life back. And the way things are going, I don’t know how much of a life I will have left. This is just wrong, fucking wrong!” he said before exhaustion set in.
“Get some rest,” I told him, “And we’ll talk later.”
Then and Now
For the next couple of weeks Josh barely slept, barely ate, and started having bouts of depression. He began living in fear of “the other shoe dropping”. Every squad car that slowed or stopped in front of his business caused burst of adrenaline throughout his body. He noticed his wife slowing driving by the business a couple of times a day. When this happened, he felt waves of anger, fear, helplessness and the tremendous urge to “control” his thoughts and feelings.
He feels trapped by all the legal proceedings. The pending divorce and criminal trials make him hesitant to make any major changes in his life because of the financial and possible legal consequences if he is found guilty of any of the false charges.
He says, “Everyday I scrutinize every person who approaches my business. Are they a legitimate customer, or are they some cohort in my wife’s next scheme? Every noise at night makes me sit up and take notice. She threatened to find someone to harm me more than once, so I think, ‘Is someone entering my building with those intentions?’
If I beat this wrap, and I get my business and other assets in the divorce, will she feel so defeated that I will have to live in constant fear of what will she do next?
These thoughts circulate endlessly in my mind. No matter how hard I try to escape them, they just find a way back into my thought patterns.”
Here is where Josh’s case stands as of right now:
In the first court appearance concerning the extension of his order of protection, Josh won the right to have it extended another three weeks. Appearing in family court before a female judge, Josh pleaded his case and showed tremendous restraint from saying any disparaging remarks about Judy. He just stuck to the facts.
Judy, however, chose the moment to malign Josh as much as possible. Her aggressive nature is the reason why Josh feels the restraining order was continued.
The most aggravating part of Josh’s first appearance in the family court system was how the accused and accuser are separated. When Josh walked into the court room, he thought Judy hadn’t shown up because her seat in the court room was empty. When Josh made a comment to his lawyer, he told Josh the women are held in a “safety” room away from the men.
Josh said, “You mean even though I have the restraining order on her, she is getting protection from me?”
His lawyer said, “That is correct. We call family court the meat grinder because men come in through one door, get grinded up, and what’s left of them is spit back out at the end of the day. You’ll need to forget all the gender equality crap you’ve been taught in school, college, work, and in the media. All of that is meaningless here.”
Three weeks later Josh and Judy appeared before the court again. Judy played the victim this time, telling the judge that Josh hasn’t paid a dime towards the needs of her and her daughters. She told the judge all the bills are in arrears because Josh refuses to pay them as a means of revenge. She said the refrigerator is empty, and her and her daughters had to borrow money just to put food on the table.
Josh presented the court with documents showing he has been fiscally responsible – all major finances were paid on time and are up to date including money sent for personal expenses.
The judge ruled in favor of Josh and the restraining order was continued.
That same day Judy fired her attorney.
Two days after the court date above, Josh received a bill from a credit card company that he once had an account with. His wife was added to the account after they were married. He closed the account about six months previosly. He now received a bill from the company for over twenty-four thousand dollars in expenses over the last two months. The charges included “get away” weekends, spa treatments, a 50 inch plasma television, and dinners at expensive restaurants. When Josh called the credit card company, he found out Judy had reopened the account in his name. He his now in a legal battle with the company because they have denied any wrong doing and are holding him responsible.
At the court hearing to obtain the permanent restraining order, the judge who presided over the previous hearings was absent. Josh now had to deal with a judge who was unfamiliar with his story. Because of what transpired in the last two court appearances, Josh felt the previous judge had a good feeling about Judy’s character. He could only hope that Judy’s character would once again be self evident.
In a hearing that took almost eight hours, and involved testimony from Josh, Judy, and her two daughters, Josh was granted a permanent restraining order despite Judy hiring two new attorneys to plead her case. Eventually it was the attitude and behavior of Judy and her daughters that swayed the judge. The judge had to silence the women on a couple of occasions, which at one point included childish laughter and giggles when Josh was testifying about how devastating all of this has been for him.
Over the last couple of months, Judy has tried to destroy some of Josh’s closest business relationships. She has called these customers and detailed all of the allegations of harm and abuse she claims was perpetrated by Josh. She requested that they stop doing business with Josh. When some of the customers refused, Judy began leaving them disturbing phone messages. These customers have been subpoenaed to appear in court.
Josh is now preparing for a month full of litigation. Shortly, he has another divorce hearing about the division of assets. Judy and her attorney’s are aggressively pursuing as many assets as possible while Josh and his attorney are still advocating mostly an even split of assets. Because of Judy’s entrenched position, Josh believes eventually, the division of assets will be determined by the court.
His criminal trial takes place at the end of the month. In a pretrial hearing, Josh’s attorney approached the districy attorney privately about getting his case dropped. He explained all the details to her before entering the court room. When he was done, she looked at him and said, “This one does seem very fishy to me.”
Then in a stunning move to Josh and his lawyer, as the court proceedindgs began, she recommended the case go to trial – and won.
His lawyer is confident that even if found guilty of the battery charges, Josh will spend little, or no time in jail time because he has never been in trouble with the law. Josh sees no victory there. “I am innocent of these charges. I should not be punished on any level, even if it’s probation,” he says.
If this was not happening to a very good friend of mine, I would have a hard time believing it was true. I’ve always tried to find fairness and balance in every controversy, and Josh’s story wasn’t any different. I assumed Josh’s problems were a result of failure on both his and Judy’s parts to attend and repair damage to their marriage that took place over the years. I felt Josh was probably exaggerating some things, and felt that if I talked to Judy, I would hear the same rhetoric – contentious divorce rhetoric that is always present in these situations. But when Josh moved into the business, I felt things had to be pretty bad at home for him to do so. And it wasn’t long after that I tried to call Josh, and had a conversation with Judy that began changing my mind. In the short time I was on the phone with her, I felt totally bullied and deeply offended. When I talked to Josh he said, “Now do you see what I’m going through and why I got out of there?”
Later, Josh would bring something to my attention that shocked me into believing everything he has told me. Unfortunately, because of the sensitivity of the information, I cannot reveal it to my readers until after the legal proceedings are over. But it gave enormous credibility to his side of the situation, and revealed that Judy’s behavior is not an exaggeration.
What I’ve learned from Josh’s story is this:
While Judy’s behavior is aggressive and extreme, and has obviously helped Josh along the way, what about the men who are victims of false allegations and have a wife/accuser who has the ability to play the game better than Josh’s wife, and the ability to sway the emotions of those involved with poignant moments of thespian adroitness?
So far Josh has benefited from Judy’s inability to hide her true character. Those involved are quick to see her motives. But not all cases are as black and white as Josh’s, and that is what disturbs me the most. It scares me to think about how obvious Judy’s intentions and motives have been to the police, the prosecutor, and the judges, yet all are forced to pursue the case against him due to present day laws. And all agree these laws, and the courts that carry out the laws, are extremely biased to men. When faced with the most blantant evidence of false allegations, the present judicial system capitulates to gender politics rather than empirical judicial action. This makes me wonder how many men are falsely accused and convicted each day in this biased system when the wife/accuser is able to appear ordinary and credible. To me, these cases would seem to make up the majority, and if Josh seldom saw mercy from an obvious case of false allegations, imagine the pain and frustration other men are going through to prove their innocence.
I started writing this story for one reason, and that was to show the tremendous amount of damage done to men falsely accused. I feel that society as a whole tends to dismiss false charges as a minimal injustice, seldom happening, and seldom having any long term effects. Society sees a man falsely convicted, and then the same justice system sets him free. No harm, no foul. This is absolutely false. I hope by telling Josh’s story I have shown not just how devastating the process is for these men, but how complex, chaotic, and disturbing the lives of these men may have been even before the false allegations are ever manifested.
We must advocate to eliminate the perception that these events are simplistic and magnanimous.
Josh has decided that once this is over, he is going to advocate for the changing of laws and perceptions concerning the unbridled ability to falsely accuse without consequences. He wants to use his story to eliminate or minimize these scenarios and raise awareness to how complacent society is about acknowledging and punishing those who intentionally engage in a plot to destroy the lives of targeted individuals for their own nefarious purposes. I have agreed to help him in any way I can.
I asked Josh how he keeps going. He has lost twenty pounds, deals with daily episodes of anxiety and depression, and is looking at having most of his life’s savings and assets eliminated at the hands of a vindictive human being. Josh says,
“I think to myself, if I have to start all over again from scratch, leave this building and business behind, go somewhere else and begin the painful process of putting my life back together, starting with what’s ever left… I need to know I didn’t give in to this evil person and her evil ways, and that I stood my ground under intense pressure when it would have been easier to give in and be done with it. That is what I’ll take to my grave, because with that feeling, I might be penny poor, but I’m dying dignity rich.”
God Bless you Josh.
I will keep my readers updated on Josh’s case.