Chapter 21 – Halls of Justice


Courtroom_164732cFrom my book Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, jail and victory.

Remember when you were a kid? You just could not wait for the big days to come. Like Christmas, I would literally count the days off from Thanksgiving. The anticipation was so pungent that I could nearly taste it.  Yet, the anticipation never quite lived up to its billing. So it seems to be with big days. April 10, 2006 was one of those days for me. It was my day in court. I had prayed about it.  I looked forward to it. I trusted God in it.  Truth won! Vindication is a healing balm.  But my victory was so bittersweet that it did not taste like victory should. I stood on the opposite side of the courtroom looking at Kelly, who apparently against the advice of her friend a district attorney, had filed assault and battery charges against me.  Kelly is a Canadian citizen who had actually lived in our home as our guest for over two years while she was going to college and dating the man who stood next to her.  As she stood there I sadly recalled happier times when she used to refer to me as her “American Dad”.  That was the relationship we had. For years Kelly had referred to my son Michael, who was standing by my side, as her “little brother”. Cathy and I had treated her just like we did Michael. How we had loved her!  From what we could piece together from talking to others, she may have been pressured by Gary, her father in law, to file the charges.   I do know that a few days later, he boasted in an email to me that he is the head of the family and whatever he says “goes”.(1)

It seemed telling to me that when the Judge John Brown asked Kelly if she had anything to say against me, she simply replied “No”. Other than myself, the only other eyewitness to the events of September 6, 2005 choose not to testify against the man she had thrown in jail a few months earlier. And that one little word “No” is the final clue that causes me to know in my heart this whole sordid nightmare most likely is a result of Kelly suffering from past PTSD or some similar condition. If you sort of follow the trail, first Kelly told people that I had attacked her. That morphed into I had her down on the floor and one of the construction workers came in the office and pulled me off. Then it became, “It was so horrible I feared that he was going to break my neck”. It apparently peaked when she told people that she was in fear of her life.  So over several months, prior to her time in court on April 6, 2006 she had a lot to say. When she finally got me when she apparently had wanted me why did she not say one single negative word, not one against me?  I believe that at some point she realized that I had only reignited some very horrible memory from her childhood that she is still to this day keeping a secret. Trust me I have some expertize in that area.  No, she will never to come clean, but she could not bring herself to testify falsely against me under oath before God in that court room. I do believe my theory is at least close to the real truth.

All of the folks standing there on the other side were people we love, who positively impacted our lives, folks I had laughed, cried and shared my deepest secrets. And for reasons none of us will probably ever fully understand, somehow together we all screwed that up.  And there we stood in what the judge called this “church mess”, the worst possible example of Christianity to the other 100 or so people in the courtroom. It did not take the judge long to figure out what was going on. He said the only thing worse than a nasty divorce was a “nasty church split”. He dismissed the charges and ordered that my record be expunged.   Relationships are very precious things and they are delicate. Hopefully someday there will be a healing. None of us are getting any younger or are any of us bad people. All of us carry baggage in life. You have to be willing to let go of it in order to get well. My life is a testimony to that fact.

I learned some very painful life lessons in the seven months leading up to my day in court. First and foremost, relationships often come apart so slowly that often you do not even notice. Secondly, when you do notice something is a little out of whack, address the situation immediately. Not addressing it always leads to trouble. Thirdly, do not assume that people will treat you like you would treat them. Fourth, live in the present, not the past.  Yesterday was yesterday and it is gone forever. There is not a thing you can do about it. Move on with your life and live only for today. Fifth, you cannot control what somebody says or thinks about you, so do not even try. Sooner or later, the truth will always rise to the top.  Sixth, realize that you do not need to respond to every criticism. Finally, in every situation in life ask, “What can I learn from this and what changes do I need to make in the way I do life? When I first wrote those words back in 2006 I naively thought that chapter of my life was closed. How wrong I was. Soon “Moon Mail”, both signed and unsigned would begin arriving both in my inbox and my mailbox. It would prove to be quite a ride. It would also be sad, frightening and very revealing.

Coming up next – “Moon Mail”

Complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877

4 Responses to “Chapter 21 – Halls of Justice”

  1. Lisa Stutz says:

    You sound very forgiving. I believe Kristen is a mental case. Her husband and brother in law are philistines!

  2. Lisa Stutz says:

    I think Kristen is a mental case and her husband and father in law are philistines.

  3. john says:

    Hey Lisa, thanks for your comments!

  4. Janie Tantisook says:

    I just believe I am sad…..wondering why? Really why?

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