Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard’s Conviction (Child Abuse Charges)

First, the local newspaper reported Richard’s summons on their website’s weekly court cases.

Every week (except for the week Richard was convicted, naturally), they post mug shots and details of selected court cases in the county.

The week of 3/4/11, there was his mug shot for all to see, and what he did, along with his confession.  There was no mistaking that was Richard.

But the week of his plea/sentencing hearing, they posted nothing.  So I had to get details from the state’s court website.  Finally, today, 11/11/11, the newspaper printed in the “Day in Court” section:

Richard —-, [address], one year probation, [fine], battery.

It’s heartening to see that his sentence was actually worse than similar convictions in that section.  The person below him got battery (domestic abuse, repeater) and disorderly conduct (domestic abuse), and two years probation, but a much smaller fine.

Another person was charged with battery and also paid a smaller fine, no probation or jail.

Another person got battery (domestic abuse), one year probation, and a much smaller fine.

Apparently, the local courts are trying to keep people out of jail, getting money from fees rather than paying money for their room and board in prison.

When I look at his mug shot, I try to identify his demeanor: Angry at his daughter for turning him in?  Angry at the police?   Sheepish?  I just can’t figure it out.

I can pick up many body language cues these days, but nuances still can elude me.  Sometimes I think he looks upset with himself for getting himself into this mess, and hope that means he’s willing to change.

But lately, when I look at it, I think he looks angry.  My husband agrees.

And that disturbs me, because why should he be angry if he’s truly sorry for what he did?  Why did he plead no contest instead of guilty, even though the newspaper website stated that he did confess after his daughter reported him?  Is he or is he not taking responsibility for his actions?

My husband thinks he’s angry because he doesn’t think the government should be telling him how to raise his kids.  I wonder why it took five months for the police to charge him, when his daughter reported him the next day.

But she was a brave little girl, doing what so many abused children do not do, whether because they’re brainwashed into thinking their parents are just disciplining them and they deserve it, or because they’re too scared to report their parents and enrage them further.

But there you go.  The public knows thanks to the newspaper.  (No, “Richard” is not his real name.)  And because the public knows, he must know that Hubby and I know, and I hope the thought shames him.

I thought he was cool.  I thought he was awesome.  I thought he was gentle, godly and pious.  I thought he was fun to be around, and would never hurt his own children, other than one time when they were little.

But now everybody knows the truth.  How was I so fooled?

We are not to blame.  His wife is most likely borderline personality disordered/malignant narcissist, making all her opinions of me worthless. 

(Borderline is described by NAMI as a serious mental illness, her mother has it, and she was abused herself as a child, making her higher-risk for developing it.)

[Update 5/10/14: I have since learned of a borderline spectrum.  She is more likely to be high-functioning borderline, which is more under control but less likely to recognize one’s own emotional instability–and also more likely to be narcissistic as well.]

Besides her behavior which matches everything I read about borderline, I witnessed her hanging half her body out of their van as Richard drove along the street, very dangerous behavior which I’m told is common with borderlines.  One of the traits of BPD is impulsive and reckless behavior, and this may also be considered suicidal or self-harming behavior, another trait.

Richard, as well, could be personality disordered/narcissistic, especially from living with someone with BPD traits. 

Nobody who was not disordered in some way, would betray and threaten friends who had been extremely kind to him, or choke a child within an inch of her life.

My mind is still reeling from the juxtaposition of what I thought he was and what he’s been proven to be.

(Update 11/13/11):
Another look at the case on the state’s free public database, reveals a page I wasn’t aware of before:

I figured Social Services (or CPS) was involved, because they work together with law enforcement on child abuse cases.

But there on that page was proof that Social Services is indeed involved here, that they set rules which the court ordered to be obeyed as conditions for Richard’s bond:

28
03-01-2011
Signature bond set
Event Party
Amount
Richard…
[I redacted]
Additional Text:
Follow rules of informal agreement of DSS. Fingerprints and photo.

[Update 2/2/15: DSS is an acronym for “Department of Social Services”: See here, where “DSS” is used in the address and e-mail address for the department, which includes protection of children

The use of an “informal agreement” for a case that has been charged in court is confusing, because the description here is,

If the case is handled informally an Informal Agreement is signed outlining rules of supervision and appropriate services for the family.   This signed contract means that the case does not go to court and is in effect for six months.

The family may or may not continue to work with the Dept. of Social Services beyond the initial six months depending on whether or not the informal agreement was satisfactorily met.

But the above does not fit the actual court case AT ALL.  First of all, contrary to the above description, it DID go to court.

If the court has made following the agreement a condition of bail, and a criminal charge has now been made, it no longer fits the above description.  It sounds more like Court-Ordered Supervision. 

Since it took more than four months for the charges to be filed, I wonder if they made an informal agreement but broke it–then got charged and forced to follow it.  I also suspect the rules of probation, which were not stipulated online, were to follow this agreement.

Also, the charges were formally made on the same day I sent a letter to Social Services describing Richard’s own abuses: He told me he put the kids in the closet and smacks them on the head.  I often wonder if the results of the investigation into that letter, were used in the court case, which took seven months from initial appearance to conviction.]

So they’re working with the family, and Social Services also has a letter I wrote (completely separate from this case, which I did not know about at the time), so they know what I know.

So I do hope that in time, conditions will turn around in this family, that Richard and Tracy will learn how to control their anger and stop the abuse, and some sort of friendship will be possible between us again–though only if the past can be dropped and I can be allowed to be myself.

Because I want to be back in the lives of the precious little children whom I felt led to protect with that letter to Social Services. 

Because I hate having enemies, especially ones who were once friends.

It helps that I have not used their real names, and that I did not publicly shame them.  That Richard did it himself–and now his name is in the paper as convicted of battery, and on the newspaper’s website and the online database as a child abuser. 

He screwed up his own life and dreams.

According to my priest, he’ll never be ordained now that he has this on his record.

Any political aspirations would be cut short as soon as the media dug it up, and any potential employers can Google his name and find his online case file on the very first page. [2/2/15: I’m told that employers are allowed to refuse to hire someone with abuse on their record, if it would affect the job.]

He has no one to blame for his public shame but himself.

(Update 11/15/11):
Until October, I hadn’t cried over this for many, many months.  But the depression is back.  The sadness keeps weighing me down like a lead blanket.

Seeing his name in the newspaper court records on Friday, has put me into a funk again.

I can’t help crying at what he’s done, how many people he’s hurt: his former friend Todd, his little girl, Hubby, me, numerous people in his past.

The proof is there–I need no more evidence–that he has done a horrible thing, been convicted of it.

It’s no dream, no fantasy I dreamed up.

He did such a bad thing that Social Services was involved before they even got my letter, giving him rules that the court ordered him to follow.

This guy was my friend.  I thought he was such a pious, gentle, harmless person, who loves his little children dearly and wants to protect them, who would never harm me, either.

I went to him with spiritual and religious questions, as a fellow searcher who had already found his path.  He guided me every step of the way until I found my way into Orthodoxy, helped keep me there even when the fundamentalist converts on the Net made me waver.

He even offered to be my godfather if I decided to be chrismated (made Orthodox).  (I said no because he was a man my age, so it would be too weird.)

He had a similar religious background to mine, so we both had dealt with many of the same things in our old churches.  I saw him as my spiritual mentor.

Now I see someone I’m afraid of, whom I once loved as my best friend.

Someone who nearly killed his daughter, someone who went along with his wife’s abuse of me and began bullying me as well to save his own skin.

Someone whose circumstances I kept crying over and trying to help with, only to be tossed away like an annoyance for some petty thing.

Things like this don’t just go away overnight; you don’t just forget them.

Breakups with boyfriends in college and the funk they put me into, seem like nothing compared to the betrayal and loss of someone I considered my best friend forever, someone who had my back, only to turn around and stab me in it.

I still keep hoping that one day–especially if Social Services succeeds in helping him turn his life around, counsels him on anger management and parenting and such–that he will come to us and repent of what he’s done to us. 

Because despite everything, despite my anger and disappointment with him, despite how I feel about his politics and his opinions on NVLD, a part of me still wants my friend back.

(Update 11/26/11):
Another examination of the mug shot, along with some googling for how to identify facial expressions, reveals a more disturbing interpretation: not just anger, but also contempt.

The rest of his face looks angry, and one corner of his mouth curves down–but one corner of his mouth curves slightly upwards, causing just enough wrinkling to look like the beginning of a smile.  In other words, a sneer.

The other basic emotions all have basic facial symmetry, but contempt shows on only one side of the face.  And while both his eyebrows curve downward in the middle, one side of his face definitely looks different from the other, and he’s looking down.

Everything I read says this is a classic contempt expression.

Contempt?  Contempt for whom?  You’ve just been summoned to court for nearly killing your daughter, and your face shows both anger and contempt?

“A feeling of condescension towards another person, or a feeling of moral superiority is the root of the emotion of contempt” –(http://www.facscodinggroup.com/universal-expressions).

 

“Guilt, shame, and contempt are each based on meeting expectations: Guilt: I did not meet your moral standards and expectations, Shame: I did not meet my own standards of behavior, and Contempt: you did not meet my moral standards and expectations” —(http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/contempt.htm).

This is extremely disturbing!  If he were angry at himself, his face would show shame, not contempt.  Contempt means he’s angry at somebody else–but he’s the one who did the terrible deed!  Who is he angry at?  Who did not meet his moral standards and expectations?

Researching “contempt” also brings to mind Tracy’s claims of feeling snubbed.  Well, if she felt snubbed or like I felt contempt because I was reacting to her many acts of abuse of Richard and/or the children while I was right there–well, it’s her own fault!

If you verbally or physically abuse somebody right in front of me, what other expression (other than surprise or fear or being appalled) could I rightfully assume, in all justice toward the victim of bullying and abuse?

(Update 12/4/11):
It’s also baffling to see things turn out like this.  In the beginning, Richard seemed like a good guy, a decent sort, gentle and god-fearing.  He would get excited about theological points and articles just as I would, so we could talk about these and search out what Orthodoxy says about such topics as literal interpretation, End Times, original sin, and universalism.  He was happy to read an article I lent him on what an Orthodox writer says about the salvation of all.

There is a part of him that desires the truth and could still lead to his salvation.  But somewhere along the way, he got lost in all this violence.

I pray that he finds his way back Home again.  Not just for his salvation, but because I miss the friend who once was.

Not what he turned into, which was a jerk, but the friend he was in 2005-2007, the one I told about my family crisis in 2007 even though I only knew him via phone and Internet, because we were that close and comfortable with each other.

But did that person ever really exist, or was it just the facet he showed me?

I pray for the social workers and probation officer, so that they can help this family stop the abuse and begin to heal.  Otherwise the misery could continue for years, because these beautiful, sweet, innocent children will most likely carry it on into their own relationships and families.

(Update 12/20/11):
In trying to find out what happened to a guy I went to school with, who still lives in my home state and is rumored to be in jail now, I discovered a multi-state inmate locator.  So what the heck, I checked it for my state.

Two things I found out: The guy I mentioned a few posts back, who annoyed my SCA shire in 1999 and ended up getting charged with photographing teenage girls a couple years ago?  His stayed sentence has been revoked, and he’s in jail now.  He has to register as a sex offender for many years to come.  LOL  Guy’s a sociopath.

Also, I found that Richard took five updated pictures in November for the state, which were posted on this site.  When he showed up at my church a week or two after the verdict, and showed some signs of repentance (for one, holding himself back from the Eucharist, which you do when you’ve committed some grave sin and need to do penance), I hoped he was sorry for what he did and working on it.  These new pictures were taken after that.

I had hoped to see some evidence of repentance and change in his pictures; all I found was more contempt.  More hatred being sent to the camera.  More “you are scum” being sent to the camera.

More of it than before, because now he has his head up and cocked to one side (all the easier to look down his nose at the picture-taker), his mouth is curled upwards more clearly on one side, and he’s looking up instead of down, so the look in his eyes is much clearer to see.  (Before, he was looking down, but his eyebrows were angry.)

Heck, I could swear it was my brother’s expression when he bullied me.

The old mug shot has more anger in the eyebrows; the new pictures have more raised eyebrows, making the contempt win out over the anger.

There are five pictures, not just one moment in time like the mug shot, so you can see it’s not just a posed half-smile; all three of the front-facing pictures have the same expression.  It’s a scary look.

I spent so much time with him and got so comfortable with him that I could hold eye contact and pay far more attention than I normally do to people’s body language; I felt I could read him extremely well at times; I don’t recall ever seeing a look like this on his face.

I saw joy, sadness,  religious devotion, humor, annoyance at his children, happiness to see good friends, playfulness, or anger with his wife, even anger at me once, but I never saw him look like this.

And I see it very clearly in these new pictures.  I see that side of him that I never could quite believe in before, that violent side.

Hubby says he looks like the cat who swallowed the canary, like he got away with something.

I see that my suspicions of narcissism–as much as I hoped I was wrong about that–are confirmed.

[Update 7/16/13: To see what I mean, see this post.  I found a picture of George Zimmerman which matches Richard’s expression.]

I had hoped for better than that.  I had thought he was better than that.  What the heck has happened to him?  Yuck.

Somehow I have to stop wishing he’d call me up and say he’s sorry, say he wants to make things right.

Lately, I’ve been missing him and wishing that would happen.  Well, I don’t know if I can ever stop wishing for that; I’ve had bullies and exes do that, so why couldn’t it happen here, too?  Even my abusive ex *Phil* apologized to me.  I know Richard has made peace with people in his past before.

But to long for it, wish for things to be the way they were in October/November 2007–somehow I have to let go of that.

It does help to keep looking at these court records and pictures, because the contempt I see in them is disgusting.  I do it again and again to try to drive the longing for reconciliation out of my heart.

What he did was disgusting.  But still that part of me keeps hoping for change…..

But I am so frickin’ GLAD I sent that letter to Social Services in March. 

I am so glad I told them he talked about putting the kids in the closet. 

I’m glad I told them he might strike Tracy one of these days if she hits his face. 

I’m glad I told them about the crap Tracy was pulling. 

And I hope that the probation officer sees (or probably took) those pictures, sees the contempt in his face, and either makes him do the full sentence, or asks to have the stayed sentence revoked so he can go to jail for ten days.  [Update 2/2/15: Richard served the full probation sentence.]

(Update 3/12/12:) After reading what the District Attorney said about my former boss, that he gave him a deferred prosecution agreement so he could have more control over my former boss than “if he had just pled to the felonies,” such as anger management, medication, etc.–I wonder if it was the same thing here.

Did the plea agreement result in probation so the District Attorney could have more control over Richard, get him into counseling and the like, make sure he followed the agreement with Social Services?  I do hope so.

(My boss went ballistic when his wife wanted to leave him.  It seems he’d been physically abusing her.  He drove the red pickup truck I remembered, into the kitchen and did lots of damage to the side of the house; he resisted arrest; he caused damage when the police hauled him in.)

One of the most fascinating aspects of Zimmerman’s latest incident was that he himself called the police to counter his girlfriend’s call, and offered another dispatcher a separate set of facts. He said that the girlfriend had “gone crazy” and had broken a table in the apartment.

“I just want everyone to know the truth,” he tells the dispatcher. “She got mad that I told her I would be willing to leave.”

There’s no telling what exactly happened before their respective calls to police. But, if Zimmerman’s girlfriend is telling the truth, then his effort to turn the tables and make his girlfriend sound guilty is again a classic case of something domestic violence prevention advocates call “minimization, denial and blaming,” which is when abusers make the victim feel as though they are responsible for the abuse, or crazy for thinking any abuse occurred at all. –Annie-Rose Strasser, What George Zimmerman’s story can teach us about domestic abusers