It was May 16, my husband and I, along with the granddaughter, went to a car show in Ocean City, Maryland. During the drive I had one of those strange feeling that Moms get that something is wrong. I called my son, Matt, a few times and got no answer. The feeling proceeded to get worse but there was nothing I could do so I convinced myself that he is sleeping.
About 10 minutes after we arrived at the car show I received a call from my son’s phone. It was his girlfriend. She asked what I was doing and then went on to tell me Matt was in the emergency room and in bad shape. I didn’t know what she was talking about so I asked her to have the doctor call me. A couple of minutes later the doctor called saying said my son was on life support due to a drug overdose and she didn’t think he would make it. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and I fell to the ground screaming and crying. He was in Florida and we were in Maryland.
We knew this day was coming but nothing prepares you for it. Your son spiraling out of control and there’s nothing you can do. I was scared to death.
Our story begins in 2009. Matt had recently turned 20 years of age, had been in his own apartment for two years and during that time had various roommates living there. Matt was working and going to school. He kept busy. One evening he called and asked me to come to his apartment because he may be going to jail. During the 10 minute drive to his apartment I called my husband to tell him what little I knew. Matt had never been in trouble with the law except speeding tickets. I felt I was in a twilight movie and nothing was real. Matt told his dad what was going on and his dad told me because Matt was embarrassed.
There were twenty-five cops with guns drawn, a battering ram, and warrants. They started questioning Matt about pornography. He said he downloaded some porn on occasion through file share programs, LimeWire and Frostwire. They started questioning him about the ages and he said teenagers like 17 and 18 year olds and older. The detective started accusing Matt of various things and then asked about pornography of children and he said he is not into that kind of porn. Matt said he asked if he could call me and the detective said no. They continued questioning him and had him write a letter to the prosecutor and said this would make it easier on him. He wrote a generic letter stating he was sorry about pornography on his computer and asked please to give him another chance. There was no mention of any child pornography. The detectives took all the computers at the house; none of them had any virus protection or passwords on them. Matt told the detective he did see younger porn but that was not what he was looking for. He would click on a title and if this was there he would put it in his deleted files. Finally, the cops took all the electronics in the apartment and left. Matt was not arrested.
Our nightmare began. We decided we needed a lawyer even though I did not understand what the big deal was, but my husband understood. He had heard about these cases. The lawyer was supposed to protect my son. He spoke to the detective in charge of the case. She said it will take at least 6 months to complete the investigation and they will take appropriate action when and if necessary against Matt. The days and nights waiting to see what was going to happen got very long.
In the meantime, we had Matt move back in the house with us. The lawyer suggested we get Matt a psycho-sexual evaluation which we agreed to even though none of us ever heard of this.
He suggested Matt see the psychiatrist who works for the State of Florida and the city we live in.
We agreed. We figured, if this psychiatrist works for the state to put away deviant people he would surely help clear a person from any type of charges. The examination took close to 7 hours. The psychiatrist told Matt the report would be finished within thirty days. Again, it was a grueling 30 days for the results of this exam. I started to think positive because I know my son and he would never hurt a child. How could these police officers accuse him of these crimes?
Our lawyer started doing his own investigation. Well at least I believed he was doing everything he could to help Matt. The biggest problem was Matt’s so called “confession” he wrote to the prosecutor which was done under duress with detectives basically conning Matt into writing it.
This was damaging for him. We received the results of the psycho-sexual evaluation and the conclusion indicated Matt had “no deviant sexual interests and no high risk indicators for child molestation or sexual assault”. “There was nothing in the data which would suggest he would be inclined or predisposed to intentionally seek out child pornography”. We all were ecstatic because this man puts away child molesters for those who fail the exam. Since Matt passed this grueling exam we felt it had to help him in whatever the detectives found.
Almost six months later, I received a call from the lawyer saying there was a warrant being issued for Matt and he would be allowed to turn himself in at the jail. I couldn’t believe the lawyer was actually telling me to turn my son into the police. I was scared, confused, and stressed. It took a while to tell Matt what we have to do. His brother and sister went with me for support. He would be arraigned the next day. I still did not understanding what he did was so wrong. We went to the arraignment and the judged ordered a bond in the amount of $250,000.
What? He didn’t murder someone or even hurt anyone. It was in a nightmare. How was I going to get this much money to get him out of jail? The lawyers worked to get his bond down and succeeded in getting it down to $25,000. I had to pay $2500 to get him bonded out.
The next year was nothing but heartache, stress, and frustration. Every month Matt had to go to court just so his case could be continued to the next month. The prosecutor wanted Matt to serve 3 years in prison and 5 years on probation. I asked for what? He was actually looking at fifty years for clicking on wrong images. Matt wanted to fight this to the end. We begged him to take the plea deal because if he would have taken it to court we didn’t know what kind of jury he would have gotten and if it was elderly people he would have been sentenced to 50 years because they don’t understand how computers work. We were all scared. Matt finally accepted the plea deal even though we believed he should serve no prison time or probation.
There was a new judge reviewing Matt’s case and I didn’t know if this was a good or bad thing.
Then sentencing day came. We all went to court including a friend of the family and we prayed.
We stood there while the judge sentenced Matt for something I believed was so stupid. The judge stated “he made a finding with the psychiatrist report NOT to designate him as a sex offender” and stated “he would go along with the psychiatrist report but he is not allowed to do so.” The judge also didn’t want to give him probation until the prosecutor questioned this so the judge gave him one year. Matt was sentenced to 18 months in prison and one year of probation.
This was the hardest day in my life watching my son being sentenced and going to prison for something he did unintentionally. He was irresponsible and just plain stupid for not paying attention to what he was doing on the computer and what was being downloaded. He didn’t deserve this at all. Not just because I am his mom but because he didn’t hurt anyone.
Prison was not good for Matt. He was not a rapist, murderer, drug dealer, etc. who actually hurt someone. He was a kid who downloaded some stupid stuff and clicked on wrong things. He didn’t belong there. He served 15 months due to good behavior and was let out. He then had to start his probation. He had a nice probation officer who even understood what Matt did because he stated as a probation officer we have to download and click on things and he has even gotten questionable images. Matt was put on an ankle monitor throughout the duration of probation which we were not informed of in the beginning. He had so many restrictions which we didn’t know he would be subjected to either. His ankle monitor would go off in the middle of the night and we would get a call from the monitoring center wanting to talk to Matt to make sure he was in the house. This happened many times over the year. It was heartbreaking. No one could sleep.
The worse part of probation was the sex offender group therapy that Matt had to attend on a weekly basis. In the group were people who raped or molested their friend, neighbor, a child, etc. This was extremely hard on Matt because he did none of these. He had to sit and listen to the therapist wanting everyone to describe what they did to a person in detail. Matt would get ill.
He would get very anxious, scared, and frustrated. This was not who Matt was or what Matt did.
The therapist was a horrible person. He had the men start out with “I am a sex offender and I will reoffend.” Matt refused to say this and got thrown out of the class. He did go back the next week and the therapist tried to make him say it again and Matt refused.
Matt started going to his own therapist for depression and anxiety. He asked her if she can help him with this probation therapy. His probation officer sent a request to the judge requesting that Matt be allowed to see his own therapist and the judge approved the request. I believed this would help him. His probation officer retired and Matt was given another one. This individual has made his life a living hell for the last few months. Matt was actually going to be getting off probation and the day before this new probation officer violated Matt citing he did not pass his polygraph; he did not finish therapy, and stated he was a deviant. All of this was not true. I had to hire another lawyer to help me prove this. Together we proved the probation officer lied but Matt still was stuck in jail for a couple days.
After Matt got out of prison he seemed alright, but then changes started happening. He began drinking all the time; he never drank before except twice during his prom and got sick. He was very anxious, depressed, scared and frustrated. He couldn’t find a job, felt hopeless and his life had no meaning.
Due to his drinking and inability to cope he developed blood clots in his leg in May 2013 (he has a hereditary blood disorder). For three months he stopped drinking and it was great. I thought he would be alright, but I was wrong. He started drinking and didn’t stop. He drank morning, lunch and afternoon to get rid of the depression, anxiety, frustration, shame, and any other feelings he was dealing with from this ordeal. He was a sinking ship and no one could save him even though we tried. He was angry. He was hurting so bad and he couldn’t see this. He was numbing his pain. He started hanging out with people bad for him, doing drugs and drinking.
He was passing out, doing stupid things, had no self-respect for himself. He stopped taking showers. He looked horrible. He was being used by many people. He was having a rough time.
As a mother, I knew it was bad and I tried many times to talk to him. I begged him to stop, even took him to AA and he wanted no part of it. We would argue and he would call me horrible names. He would steal money from me; sell my things for his habits, etc. Since I don’t live with him I didn’t see how bad it really was. Two weeks before he was admitted into the emergency room he brought a female back into his life who hurt him just a couple months prior. She lied, stole things and cheated on him. I didn’t like this at all but this is how low he had gotten.
One night Matt was texting me telling me he wanted to hurt himself and this is why she was at the house to help him. I called the police to Baker Act Matt but the officer said he was OK. I was told he was not drinking or drugging by this female. Then Matt was beaten up by a roommate and put in jail overnight. Matt informed me that he had gotten a marriage license and was to be married on Sunday. I was not happy about this at all and tried to talk him out of it.
Both of them were broken and had lots of problems. The day before he was to get married is when I go the call….the call no parent ever wants to hear.
The next five weeks were a nightmare. I watched my son fighting for his life. He had tubes all over, he was on a ventilator, had medications going in him. He could not breathe on his own.
His kidneys, liver, and lungs shut down. He aspirated all night and had infections in his body and lungs. He had arrived at the hospital with only 30% of oxygen to his brain. What was going to become of my son who was once looking at a bright future, a family, kids, and a great life? This all came to a halt when he had to live with a label of the most deviant person in the world, but really was not. He had to live with this label of being a monster like those who raped and molested children. He had a whole life ahead of him and now he is dying in the hospital of an overdose because it is too hard for him to go on like this.
We watched as he received kidney dialysis, medications to get rid of infections, lungs being drained and no one could give us hope. This was, without a doubt, the worst time of my life.
After 3 weeks of praying, things began to look up for Matt. His kidneys and liver were getting better. He had a tracheotomy and stomach tube to help him breath and eat. He started waking up. Now the question was, does he have any brain damage; too many questions and no answers.
I am relieved to say Matt has made it and doing OK. I say “OK” because he has many things to deal with concerning the past 7 years. He goes to a treatment center every day and attends AA meeting where he has a sponsor. His life has changed as well as our entire families lives.
We kept our home in Florida because Matt would never be able to get housing on his own. Now our family will be making more frequent trips back to Florida to make sure Matt is OK. We have had to put our life on hold due to the state if our sons life over the last 7 years. As much as it has affected Matt mentally and physically it has also affected us in those same ways as well as financially.
There has been so much heartache, depression, anxiety, loneliness, worries, stress, and hurt throughout these last 7 years or so for my family. I don’t really know how any of us have survived this. It has caused stress in our marriage, with our other children and family members.
All because Matt downloaded pornography and some bad pornography was also downloaded which he did not ask for at all.