I first met my husband at a church sponsored event in March of 1999. The connection we shared from the very beginning was undeniable. Conversations from that first evening were indicative of our mutual values, beliefs, and goals. I was thrilled and grateful that I had met a man who shared my beliefs, encouraged my values, inspired my dreams, and complimented my strengths. Bottom line, I knew he was my intended from early on. We wasted no time and were married December 12, 1999.
My greatest time of mourning (so far) came over ten years ago with a phone call notifying me of Todd's arrest. Through tears, Todd shared with me what had happened. Two teenagers had thought it would be funny and had emailed him a video of themselves involved in sexual conduct. Fearing the worst (possession of underage pornography), he failed to report it. That came back to haunt him.
To say I was shattered would be an understatement. My whole world was turned upside down. I didn't know what to think or what to do. I didn't know who to trust. Knowing I couldn't function without help, I quit my job to focus on myself and my two daughters.
I remember asking God what to do. I looked down to find that the wind had whipped the pages and that it had stopped to land on a page with the highlighted verse, "What God has joined together, let man not separate" (Mark 10:9). For me, this was divine intervention. It was God telling me to fight for my marriage, for my family, and for my husband.
The next few months were filled with legal issues. It was horrific. I can honestly say that I have lost all respect for our justice system. I actually loathe even calling it that - a "justice" system, since there is very little justice to be found in it. Everyone says that it's based on "innocent until proven guilty." That's wrong. Very wrong. Our system is based on "guilty unless proven innocent." I would never have believed this myself had I not experienced it first-hand.
Anyone reading this who is a prosecuting attorney probably already knows this, but I did not. When someone is convicted of something, they throw EVERYTHING at that person. And I mean everything. They include accusations that never happened. Why? Because they know that the more they throw, the more they have a chance of more things "sticking." I found this absolutely incredulous. In my naivety, I couldn't believe that a prosecutor could (or would) accuse a perpetrator of crimes they didn't commit. Apparently this happens all the time.
My righteous anger kicked in and I was ready to fight. There was just one problem... if you fight it in a court of law, you could be convicted of ALL the crimes listed against you. (Not to mention the cost of a trial, which we could not afford.) Todd convinced me to go with what our attorney suggested - to take a plea deal.
Plea deals suck. No matter what remains on the deal, you have to admit to doing it. In other words, the attorneys will settle on what is accused and the "perpetrator" has to sign the plea deal, even if they didn't commit all the crimes listed on the deal. So Todd signed a plea deal to escape a longer prison sentence since we couldn't afford a trial. Sound like justice? Not really.
It goes without saying that our marriage took a beating. This was certainly a time of tears and a time of mourning. Believing what was posted in the press and the details of the plea deal, we had friends and family turned their backs on us. People would come up to me and say things like, "I can't believe what your'e doing. If it was me, I'd be long gone." In times of trial such as this, you find out who your friends are. Your circle becomes tighter.
Out of circle of family and friends, Todd had over 50 character references that attested to his true character. The court was blown away with the influx of letters that affirmed their trust in Todd's values and principles. Nevertheless, the inevitable came and he had to serve time. It was difficult for all of us. We knew we had 8 months to endure his absence and then we could have our lives back. We were determined to fight even harder during his time away for us to stay together as a family.
Todd could easily have given up during this time as his trials were extensive. But he exceeded every single requirement asked of him. He completed all assigned therapy, polygraphs and registrations.
We thought our legal woes were over after the completion of his probation, but unfortunately Todd had to serve an additional 8 months for an oversight by our first attorney who wanted to keep the second girl out of the charges. So he had to go back for another 8 months on account of the second girl in the video.
We survived an additional 8 months of separation. It wasn't easy, but we did it. The girls and I drove to visit Todd every weekend in central California. We did all that it took to keep our little family together.
Today, I am grateful for our perseverance. God has brought us through the toughest of trials and the wildest of storms. I wish I could say that the storms are over, but they are not. There are those who choose to believe what was listed in the media or online. They still accuse. And it still hurts. But, when it happens, I turn to God. He alone is my Rock, and my Protector. I will not allow evil to tear us apart. When it happens, I think to myself, "well, we must be doing something right, because we rattled the devil again." Ultimately, truth will prevail. Ultimately, God prevails. He has done it in our lives and I know He is doing it in the lives of those around us.
This is our story... at least the beginning of it... I am certain that God will do much, much more as we continue to listen and obey His words.