Our Personal Legal Battle

by Judy

Our daughter was sexually abused by an uncle. We did not press charges right away. Our daughter's therapist wanted to wait until she was emotionally stronger before doing this. But, unfortunately, her abuser still managed to get to her to continue his abuse of her; even, after her father confronted him. (Now, it was a challenge for him.) We had not choice but to file charges after we found out this was still happening.

Her abuser never had to experience the humiliation of being put in handcuffs, being taken to jail, or being held there. He retained a very good attorney. His attorney was going out of the country; so, he wrote a letter to the court saying he would bring his client in when he returned. Fortunately, we did not have to be in court for the arraignment. The abuser was released on his own recognizance...No bail at all.

A preliminary trial was held in district court to determine if there was enough evidence to hold the abuser over for trial in circuit court. Our daughter had to tell what had been done to her with her abuser in the courtroom staring at her the whole time. The judge told her that she was very courageous in testifying. She never once faltered in her testimony; not even when the defense attorney tried to confuse her. She was fifteen at this time.

Of course, waiting to go to trial was dragged out for months. No matter what we did, our daughter's abuser was still contacting her and making all kinds of threats. Finally, he said he would kill the whole family if she testified in court against him. So, she refused to talk or testify. The district attorney said she was sure the abuser was guilty; but, now, she was not guaranteed a conviction so she was dropping the charges against the him. Her best advice for us was to get a personal protection order against him. We got one. But, how this would protect our daughter, we had no idea. Her abuser was confronted, charged, and brought to court, and he still was contacting her!

My advice to anyone in this situation would be to find an attorney experienced in this field to protect the rights of your child. There was so much we did not know at the time. Also, if you feel you need to remove your child from the home, DO SO IMMEDIATELY! We did not do this because the experts said it would add to the emotional damage that had already been done. Well, I learned at the expense of my daughter that the experts are not always right! I also learned that the parent must do what they think is best for the child no matter what anyone else says. We learned the hard way the legal system is set up to protect the rights of the criminal not the victim.