A couple of days after the guilty verdict was returned the defense approached the prosecutor asking if they would consider offering Daniel another plea bargain. This would really benefit both sides because Daniel would get a significantly reduced sentence, BUT there would be NO chance for appeal and he would have to plead guilty in order to take it.
There is a time for mercy and a time for justice. I think that it HAS to be up to the victim to determine what they feel like needs to be given. Every victim, and every case is different. For many reasons I felt like mercy was needed in this case. NOT for Daniel, but for the sake of my mother. I did however agonize over the decision. Ultimately Daniel got a very short prison term IF he gets into counseling and the sex offender treatment program (this will be followed by a significant term of probation). If he does not cooperate with the program his sentence will be extended. In the end, it is up to him how much time he will spend in jail.
I think the best way to understand my thought process is to read my victim impact statement that I shared in court. I know it is long, but I think it is worth the read.
When a person makes the choice to abuse a child whether that be physically, sexually, emotionally, or spiritually they impact the rest of that child’s life in ways most can’t even imagine. Daniel, when he chose to abuse me, forever changed my life.
As a child my life was ruled by fear. Fear of Daniel, fear of God, fear of not being perfect and the punishment that would bring. I also feared being honest with people about what life was really like and learned to keep my mouth shut. I was even threatened about what would happen if I didn’t keep my mouth shut.
When Daniel chose to abuse me he stole so much from not only me, but also my family. From me he stole my innocence, my sense of security, my ability to trust, my mother, and my sense of self-worth. Daniel’s abuse continues to have repercussions today in my home. My children sadly do not know my mother, their grandmother, because he has manipulated her into choosing him over everyone else and in doing so has taken the ability of knowing their grandmother from them. They also do not get to do things (such as sleepovers) that many of their friends do because Daniel taught me it isn’t safe to trust most people with your children. My husband also has paid a steep price because of my trust issues and my flashbacks which cause issues with intimacy. The emotional toll on our entire family as we have walked this process has been immense.
Daniel is a master manipulator, and knows how to use people to get what he wants. In his selfishness he thinks only of himself and not those he has hurt. This was seen even in the trial. Not only did he scoff at people on the stand, but he also worked with his attorneys to pull a dirty, underhanded move to try to get the charges thrown out after the state had already presented its case. This was not only distressing to me as a victim, but a potential waste of the court’s time and resources. This is just one of the many ways Daniel, and in this case his attorneys as well, shows a total lack of character.
Daniel deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail because of what he has done. He deserves to pay for his crimes. Frankly, any person who would sexually abuse a child should be locked up forever so they never have a chance to hurt another child.
Regardless of what he deserves it is my desire that Daniel get help more than punishment. I would love to see him fully admit what he has done, realize how his actions changed my life, and get into therapy so he can get the help he needs. I understand that he appears to be a help to my mother who suffers from MS, and it is not my desire to take away her help. It is however my desire to see Daniel have accountability so that he can’t hurt another child. It is my belief that unless a person understands the ramifications that their actions have and truly desires to make things right and change, that they never will. For these reasons I want Daniel to be in the sex offender treatment program.
In closing, while I never thought that I would ever see justice, or that my story would be as public as it has been, I really hope that my story will show the need for reform. Our children need to be protected! When a child makes a disclosure it is important that they be believed and that the authorities not only be contacted, but that the authorities have the ability to speak with the child in a timely manner. Our churches need to not harbor these offenders and protect them, but instead protect the children. Our legal system needs to be reformed so that victims do not endure even more trauma because of the unethical tactics of defense attorneys. I hope that my story will be the catalyst that spurs even some of these desperately needed changes.