You’re a teacher with a great reputation. You have been recognized for your care of others and for the good you’ve done for the community. You’ve always tried to lead by example, and you’ve lived in such a way that your own family and children can be proud. While the type of students you’ve chosen to work with puts you at a greater risk for “injury” in every sense of the word, you’ve always worked transparently and conscientiously. You have always made sure to work in such a way that you would never end up scrutinized or under a microscope.
Until the one day, you are.
The saying is true: What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, you were hosting seminars and teaching cooking skills; today, the day that accusations were levied against you, you don’t want to leave your house. It doesn’t matter that you are adamant the allegations are false. Today is not yesterday, and tomorrow looks nothing like you ever imagined it could.
Even though/if the accusations are false, there are certain things that you can expect to happen. It’s a guarantee that these things will befall you, and, sorry to say, you will have little if any control over any of them. False accusations are rare, but they do happen. That’s one reason why the next part of your life is about to suck badly. That, and even the mere accusation of a sex crime is looked upon by society as worse than murder.
Here are 13 things you should expect to happen if you are falsely accused of a sexual offense.
Especially if you are innocent, you will not want to talk with police and you WILL want a lawyer.
Since you know there is a misunderstanding and you just want to get back on with your life, you figure: I have nothing to hide, so I’ll cooperate fully. The last thought you want is that only guilty people need legal representation. Just because you didn’t do anything, does not mean you will be exonerated. In fact, innocent people need a lawyer as much as, if not more, than guilty people.
“They” WILL lie to you (because they can)
Don’t think for a second that law enforcement authorities are your friends. They are not. They have to close cases, and if they’ve accused you, they’re already planning to take this to the end. They will tell you they only want to help you, and assure you that “just a couple answers should clear things up.” They can tell you anything in order to get a confession or to get you to even slightly incriminate yourself. In their minds, they are sure you’re guilty. Hell, police themselves admit that nothing you say will convince them to change their minds about you. But they can and will do everything they can to get you to change yours.
Once you are charged (and you will be), law enforcement WILL share your situation with the media (and, essentially, with the world)
After the point they process you (they take your mug shot and fingerprints), and regardless if you never see a moment behind bars (you’re released on a citation, etc.), a press release regarding your situation will be passed along to the media. Not only will your local news station get the release, but law enforcement will share your situation on Twitter, their own Facebook page, with regional press bureaus and other mass media. Since the community is entitled to freedom of information, this does not violate your rights. As the article says above, the police are convinced you’re guilty, so they’re sharing their opinion about your guilt.
The news media WILL get your story wrong (on purpose)
Nothing sells newspapers or airtime like controversy. Your situation has just made the job of the salespeople at newspapers and TV and radio stations infinitely easier. Once your story is released, you’ve just become days of increased newspaper sales and broadcast listener- and viewership. And, since it is law enforcement who is making claims about you, newspapers don’t have to say that you “allegedly” did such-and-such, so long as they preface any claims with “according to police;” as long as they start with those words, then the media can say you did whatever it is the press release says you did. And that’s what people hear.
Of course, there are times when the media embellish upon what law enforcement shared with them. But, that’s fodder for an upcoming article.
The social media community WILL vilify you
We’ll assume for the sake of this article that you’re telling the truth and you did not commit the egregious acts of which you’re accused. So what? If the media shared it with Facebook, you are going to become the topic of conversation. And, because the media said (according to police, of course) that you did act like a scum ball, you’re about to become the Worst Person of the Week. The hit-and-run driver who was caught clear as day running over a lady crossing the street will become a saint compared to what you’re about to experience. Comments like, “should be hung by his boy-parts” (it’s usually guys, so we’ll stick with that), “what I’ll do if I ever see him,” or “someone who is supposed to be protecting our kids” will be flung about, often with colorful sentence enhancers attached. Never mind the fact that you’ve not been convicted of anything. The hit-and-run driver gets the “let’s wait until all the facts are in” benefit of the doubt. You, on the other hand, will not get such courtesy.
Literally everyone WILL have doubts about you (at least at first)
Even those who know you better than anyone will have a moment where one or another of the purported facts will cause them to wrinkle a brow. Your spouse, your mom, or your best friend, all of whom might be able to account for your every move, will at some point hear something that doesn’t sit right with them…if even for just a second. It’s natural, and there’s likely some psychology behind it. That doesn’t matter; the fact that it happens at all is going to suck.
Your list of friends WILL become infinitely smaller (but you’ll learn who your true friends are)
We’ll assume that pretty much all of the people you know are humans. That said, you can count on the fact that, as humans, they’re a pretty predictable bunch. Most people want to live a clean life and call themselves “good people.” What most people don’t want is to be associated with really bad things. So, regardless of what you think even your closest friends would really think about you is irrelevant. Once accusations are made about you, they’re going to scatter like cockroaches to a kitchen light. The guy you’ve known 10 years? Now he’s nowhere to be found. Your kid’s Godparents? They might as well have moved to the other side of the planet.
On the other hand, there will be a small circle of people who know in their heart of hearts that you’re still the person they’ve always known. You’ll know who they are, too: They’ll be the ones fighting your battle in the news channel comments before you even know what’s going on; they’ll be the ones to call you from 1,200 miles away to tell you what they saw on Facebook and that they’ve got your back; they are the ones you previously only considered a casual friend, but then call you every day to check in on you, because they “just know.” Hold on tightly to these people.
You WILL want to begin professing your innocence
Maybe that’s okay with the group of friends listed above. With everyone else, though, it won’t matter. If you haven’t figured it out by now, with this kind of situation you’re guilty until you are proven innocent. When you shout, only the people who already believe in you will agree with you. The rest have also made up their minds. Differently.
You WILL feel ashamed for something you didn’t do
Sometimes good people get looked upon questionably, simply because they hang around with a certain element. We call this “guilt by association.” There’s a similar term that means you feel ashamed by the things people say about you, even when you know those things aren’t true: guilt by accusation. The mind can be a brutal critic, and there’s little you can do about it. In fact,
You WILL become a hermit (or buy a disguise, or color your hair, or grow/shave your beard)
If you’re “fortunate” (for lack of a better word) to have been released on a citation (that is, the court has issued conditions you must meet, but you remain out of jail), you’re still going to be imprisoned. Regardless if you live in a Podunk town in New England, or a big city in Texas, you’re going to have a local community where people know you. They know you at the grocery store, the bank, and Denny’s. And, they likely heard some not-so-good things about you recently. That’s enough to make you want to stay in bed all day.
If you do plan to venture out, you’ll likely consider a hair color, adding a new beard or shaving off an old one, or buying a baseball cap and sunglasses. Even when you should be holding your head up high, that whole “guilt by accusation” thing, and the Facebook banter about you can take a toll. When you’re sure the world is against you, you’ll do what makes you feel safe.
Your reputation WILL be destroyed, you will lose your job and you will go broke
Thanks to social media, your mug shot showing up on your local Eyewitness news station, and everything law enforcement has done, whatever reputation you had in the past will be staying there. Then, your job won’t want you around anymore for either safety-sake or their own reputation, so a pink slip is all but in the mail. And now, without a job (or even the prospect for one, because accusation) and the need for legal representation, your money will evaporate quickly.
Remember: while all this is happening, you have still only been accused, you have not been convicted of anything and you’re adamant that the allegation is false.
You WILL need mental health counseling
If ever you needed an outside ear, now is the time. You’ll want to keep your mind clean, and you’ll likely have some stress, anxiety and maybe even depression to deal with. Get a good counselor and stick with it. Because (and we’ll put this in a paragraph instead of a heading), you will also contemplate (if even for a moment) taking the easy way out (yes, it can and probably will get that bad).
Even though the accusation is false and regardless of the outcome, you WILL be considered guilty until you’re proven innocent (and most likely even after that)
You’ve read this article, and by now you understand that, during this type of situation, the justice system most of us think we understand does not exist. You’re guilty because of the nature of this allegation. There’s nothing you can do about it. Sure, there’s a shot you’ll be exonerated in court, and if so, congratulations. But even after that, it’s a long road ahead. Check out this article to read more: When a Dismissed Case is Still a Life Sentence.
Comments? Do you have a similar situation? Let us know below.