Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Damage Done

What has happened with us has been a horrendous experience for our family. The outcome of Jon Massey's trial and the almost three year long ordeal has caused much grief and destruction to our family. But the damage inflicted as a result of all of this is much further reaching.

There are many unspoken and unrecognized victims when wrongful persecutions and prosecutions take place, as they did in Jon's case and the case against our family.

First are the twelve jurors and two alternates (or whatever the numbers may be in other cases) who became victims of a legal and judicial system that deliberately misled them. In Jon's case, the impact must be horrendous - even at the initial announcement of his death, some of them must have felt pangs of guilt. However when they realized that the DA and the judge deliberately restricted information from them which would have changed their minds and reversed their verdict, they probably felt overwhelmed. Although I feel that they were naive, to a degree, in arriving at their decision based on what the DA reported (being able to describe differences that are taught in local health classes, even though she inaccurately described Jon's physical characteristics), the volume and nature of the information that was withheld from the jury would have been a major deciding factor for them.

By that same standard, the court officer who took Jon into custody was also a victim, as he attempted to do his duty in securing Jon, but was waved off by the judge. He must wonder if he could have prevented Jon's death by insisting on doing his job correctly.

Also impacted were the corrections officers who were involved with Jon at the hospital. Although at least one of them volunteered for the watch duty because he was friends with the family, this was not an easy job for any of them - they had to watch a man slowly die over a period of three days, and it was a slow death with horrendous physical deterioration. Additionally, they had to witness the injustice inflicted on the family members by their "bosses", and were required to enforce standards that were punitive and not practical.

For that matter, the doctor assigned to the case, as well as the nursing staff and hospital personnel, were all victims of the injustice that occurred. They had to care for a man who would ultimately die, knowing that there was nothing that they could do to avoid the outcome, despite the heroic measures that they took.

At this point, before you start to point out that Jon's decision to kill himself caused these people to become victims, you should ask yourself whether you would attempt the same thing should you be wrongfully convicted. Jon already knew that an appeal could take up to two years, and many of us know what happens in prison to someone who is a "chomo" or a "pedo" - it is thrown around in social media as being an appropriate punishment for these individuals. These were all factors that have led to more than one suicide.

Far wider reaching however is the "girl who cried wolf" aspect of this case. False allegations cause long-lasting destruction.

Jon was a well-liked man who would literally give the shirt off his back to people (and had done so for one of his friends during a business meeting). If someone needed something and he could help them out, he did - and this behavior continued even while we were going through this ordeal.

The impact of the wrongful conviction of a man like this destroys the faith of many people in our criminal justice and judicial systems. It is one thing to make snarky comments on social media about people you don't know being arrested and/or convicted, it is completely different when someone who had such a positive impact on so many people becomes a victim of the system. People question the system and become a predisposed jury pool, more likely to find a defendant innocent who may actually be guilty.

True victims of sexual abuse were also irreparably harmed in multiple ways.

The time and resources that were wasted on prosecuting Ruby's case (and continue to be squandered by CPS and the county with our appeal), were things that should have been used to locate and assist true victims. By the statements of the DSS attorney throughout our case, he knew that Jon and I weren't guilty of the charges being brought, but he and the DA were "under orders" to continue to pursue action against us. We have a few other CPS employees who are now openly stating that it was known all along that the charges were false, but that they didn't dare speak out or they would lose their jobs.

Ruby's claims were so obviously false, yet secured a wrongful conviction. In the aftermath of knowing that this happened, many people will be far less likely to convict when the more ambiguous claims of a true victim are brought forward.

The ability of one manipulative teen to "game the system" and achieve her stated goal casts doubt on any and all teens who come forward with claims of abuse - they will be scrutinized more closely than they might otherwise have been by those who should be helping them.

It is unspoken that not only Jon and our family, especially my youngest daughter, were  negatively impacted were but all the extended friends and family that we had together and individually. Jon had a far reaching impact - he was working diligently with several small businesses to bring them into the digital age and implement technology that helped them grow and expand. They lost this valuable resource and his skills aren't easy to replace locally.

We read every day about wrongful convictions being overturned, and there is recognition of the harm caused to those individuals and their families, but what is often not acknowledged or recognized is the irreparable damage caused to those individuals that they impacted and the beliefs of all who were touched by their case.

Can we have a moment of silence and reflection please?

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