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Ricky's Life- Sexual Predator Insanity
Ricky's Life- Sexual Predator Insanity
Started by TheHappyMisogynist, Jan 08, 2009, 10:45 PM
Jan 08, 2009, 10:45 PM
At sixteen, Ricky Blackman was fairly typical of teen-age boys. He loved sports, especially basketball and football, and played them well enough to have realistic hopes for a scholarship. He liked socializing and hanging out with his friends. And girls-- of course there were always the girls.
His Middle American upbringing produced unsurprising ambitions. He dreamed of serving his country in the Navy after school and ultimately of a career in law enforcement. He was, by all accounts, a healthy and well adjusted young man.
Skip ahead three years and you'll find Ricky and his life have changed radically. He takes private instruction in web design because he isn't welcome on a campus. He no longer trusts the law he once wanted to serve, and when in the presence of young women he panics and withdraws. In fact, his life, once so full of promise and hope, is now little more than a daily struggle to survive, and a challenge to even find reasons for doing so.
While the way that Ricky sees the world around him differs greatly from his younger days, it is nothing compared to the way the world around him now sees Ricky. He has become the ultimate pariah and outcast. He is, at least in the eyes of most, pernicious persona non grata; human refuse hardly worthy of life itself.
It all started before his seventeenth birthday. Ricky was at a local hang out for teens and met a girl there. Amanda was from his area, said she was fifteen years old and they seemed to have much in common. They began seeing each other and eventually had sex on two occasions.
The encounters would undo the rest of his life.
Like many young people trying to impress someone they like who is older, Amanda lied to Ricky about her age. She later told Ricky's mother, Mary Duval, that she was only fourteen and pled with her not to let Ricky know. Mary promptly told her son of the confession and he cut off the romance immediately. They found out later that she still wasn't being entirely honest.
The police became involved with Amanda sometime later as a runaway and discovered her prior ties with Ricky during questioning. She admitted the sexual relationship to the police. She also admitted that she had lied to Ricky about her age. After evaluating the situation, Amanda's parents weren't interested in pressing charges and the police weren't interested in making an arrest. Or so it seemed until the Dallas County Iowa District Attorneys office got wind of the case.
Shortly after Ricky turned seventeen he was questioned by the police. His mother was present and it was her instinct to remove Ricky from the interview, but she had just undergone surgery on her eyes and was disoriented due to the post-operative medications she was taking. Unfortunately, Ricky's stepfather at the time wanted the matter resolved and signed a waiver for the police to question him without legal counsel.
The police had something they wanted Ricky to sign as well.
It was a simple statement that he had in fact had sexual relations with Amanda. Ricky was apprehensive, but he signed. It was, after all, the truth. And in Ricky's world the truth served an honest person well.
"Sorry to tell you," said the police officer according to Blackman after he had signed the statement, "Amanda admitted she lied to you about her real age, but she was only thirteen."
It probably wasn't the tactics Ricky envisioned for himself as a police officer. Get a kid to sign a confession, and then tell him what he just confessed to. Ricky's naiveté took a hard blow. But it was only the first of many times that the real world would land on him like a Mac Truck.
The officer told him that the case would be sent back to the D.A. and that it might come to nothing since Amanda had confessed to lying about her age. He also advised him, in a rare moment of clarity and honesty from the system, that it could go either way.
Ten days later Ricky was arrested in front of his friends and taken to jail. He was charged as an adult with two counts of third degree sexual abuse, a felony. In an almost artistic manipulation of timing and the system, police and prosecutors used laws applying only to juveniles to garner evidence and a confession, and then used it all to charge him criminally as an adult.
The arrest made the papers, complete with Ricky's full name, address and the nature of the charges against him. It was the beginning of a two-pronged assault on his life. From the criminal justice system he was threatened with twenty years in prison, more time than he had even been alive at that point.
The community in which he had lived and thrived turned on him in an instant.
When Ricky and Mary went food shopping, cashiers in one line at a local grocery store refused to check them out, forcing them to go to another line while other customers glared at them. His younger brother, who was nine at the time, was badgered and humiliated at school.
Duval read the writing on the wall and immediately made plans to take Ricky and his brother to Oklahoma in hopes that they could put the matter behind them as much as possible. It would have to wait until the Dallas County Prosecutors Office was done with him.
That process began with a rare, upbeat moment that seemed to promise a partial reprieve. The prosecution offered a deal with Ricky that almost seemed reasonable given the circumstances. He would plead guilty to one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, a class D felony, and be given two years probation which would be expunged from the records if he satisfied the terms of his probation. He would not have to state a felony on job applications and because of the adjudication he would not be placed on a sex offenders registry.
It seemed like the best offer possible all things considered and Ricky agreed to the plea. Unfortunately, the system came back with a vengeance. Just minutes before the hearing was scheduled to begin, even as Ricky and his mother were seated in the courtroom, the state appointed attorney advised them that there had been a recent change in Iowa law.
Any plea arrangement Ricky now made was contingent on being placed on a sex abuser registry for ten years. Both Ricky and his mother erupted in tears causing a commotion in the courtroom. It took some time for both of them to compose themselves, though they scarcely had time for the anguish. Ricky now had literally moments to decide whether or not to take the deal. He didn't want to be placed on the registry. He didn't think it was right. But to fight it was risking two decades behind bars; a place where young men, especially those not hardened by criminal life, were sure to find out what real sexual deviance and assault are all about.
It was a duel blow for Duval, who lost her eyesight entirely five weeks before the hearing. And it turned out that the "recent" change in the statute had happened nearly a year earlier. Ricky's lawyer just wasn't up on it.
Ricky took the deal, but almost ran into another snag with the court. The prosecution wanted Ricky to state on the record that he had lured the girl to his home for the purpose of having sex. The request was clear. What the authorities wanted was a false allocution. Blackman, with courage almost unimaginable for his age and the circumstances, refused. He told the court that the sex was what they both wanted and he wouldn't make a statement to the contrary.
They entered Blackman's statement into the record and closed the case. Ricky received the adjudication and was now free to move away from Iowa.
It was something he couldn't wait to do. The promise of getting away and getting something a fresh start almost made the situation bearable.
The state of Oklahoma, and some its citizens, had other plans.
Unknown to the family when they moved, Oklahoma law required Ricky to register as a sexual offender for life. And because of the age difference between he and Amanda, he is listed as a tier three offender, which labels him as violent, dangerous and aggravated. He was placed on the sexual offender registry. This affects Ricky's life in ways that most of us cannot imagine.
Since moving to Oklahoma he has been kicked out of school, ousted from public parks and verbally abused by neighbors and strangers. One neighbor shouted obscenities and videotaped him whenever he stepped outside his door. The same man came to their home and told Mary Duval he would not quit bothering them till she took her "child rapist" away. He was not interested in the facts surrounding Ricky's case. He had seen everything he needed to know about Ricky Blackman from the offenders registry.
Ricky cannot live or go within 2,000 feet of schools, parks or any other establishments where children are known to be present, which also forces him to live as far from town as possible. This means he cannot attend his younger brothers football games or go most anywhere where he could make and maintain friendships. He cannot even attend church unless he informs the clergy there that he is a sex offender and gets their permission. Now that Ricky is off probation his younger brother can have his friends in the home while Ricky is there. But most parents don't want their children in a home with a registered sex offender. And the reality is that children around ricky present a dangerous vulnerability...for Ricky. Any allegation against him, even the most patently false, could have disasterous results.
His probation officer had him dismissed from the school system, saying, according to Duval, "He is a liability to them." He was denied G.E.D classes because they were offered on a school campus and the State Board of Education denied him online classes because he was on the registry.
Ricky was eventually allowed to take G.E.D. classes, at a local police station.
He now lives his life in near solitude, helping to take care of his mother and trying to sort out how he is going to make something of the rest of his life. He had a job in a fabrication plant, but was "laid off" when his employers discovered his history. Effectively in prison, Ricky will remain that way for the rest of his life unless something changes.
Ricky and his mother are both involved in trying to effect those changes. They have both taken the story public and Duval has an on-line radio program to raise awareness of what the registry actually does. She has managed to get the story covered by some television stations and newspapers. She also has an internet petition demanding changes in the laws. Primary among those demands is that the states recognize the difference between sexual predation and consensual sex between teens.
Many places, including Oklahoma, the law sees no such difference and consequently makes no legal distinction between someone who lures a child into a car and rapes them and people like Ricky Blackman.
It was a difference, however, that the prosecution in his case was apparently able to see, even as they held twenty years in prison over the young mans head in order to coerce a guilty plea. It was the prosecution that recommended to the court that Blackman receive two years probation with deferred adjudication. In that recommendation they advised the court that this course of action would be sufficient to rehabilitate the defendant.
One only need consult a mental heath professional with experience dealing with sexual offenders to learn that the perception is that the recidivism for sexual offenders is high. In my considerable time in the field it was the general consensus of clinicians that predators were untreatable and that incarceration was the best option. There is research that disputes all this, but in Blackman's case, it was always perceptions that guided events, not reality.
That being said, prosecutors are generally less generous than psychotherapists. With their recommendation to the court, the prosecution openly acceded to what every one else in that courtroom already knew.
Ricky Blackman was not a sexual predator.
Ricky Blackman was just a kid that had sex with a girlfriend he thought was a year younger than him.
Ricky Blackman had no business being there in the first place.
At this point, though, it was too late. Blackman was caught up in a system largely devised by politicians clamoring to quell public fears about the safety of children. Fanning the flames of public outrage, and sometimes lighting them, lawmakers run for office against each other on platforms largely consisting of "tough on crime" one-upmanship. One ever more draconian measure after another is offered up as a sales pitch to a panic-ridden, woefully ignorant public that will sign on to whatever sounds the most extreme.
The result is laws that not only fail to protect our children, but in the case of Blackman and others, they have actually started destroying them. Elected politicians, like prosecutors and judges, fearful of being seen as soft on crime, force people like Blackman through the legal gauntlet without compunction. They have become robotic assassins, creating unthinkable collateral damage in a war that is supposedly being waged in the publics best interest.
Meanwhile, children are no safer on the streets than they have ever been.
It is perhaps fitting to point to the silver linings in this story. Duval, since the loss of her sight has nonetheless emerged as a dogged and tireless advocate for her son, and for bringing problems with the sexual offenders registry to the publics attention.
Ricky has found some focus for the future as well, though it took some hits and misses. He wanted to get a law degree and work to change the system for the better, but he won't be allowed to practice law anywhere--the registry. Now he takes private lessons in web design, a profession suited for someone who has little reason to leave the house. He also wants to reach out to young people and caution them about the hazards and consequences of teen sex. The jury remains out on whether that can ever happen.
These are thin consolations, lending neither redemption nor solace. Even if Mary Duval had not lost her eyesight, she would never again see the Ricky she knew before all this happened. Her life is, and will be consumed with trying to find justice for her son. She openly admits this may never happen.
And Ricky, at nineteen, is never going to be the same. At an age when he is supposed to have his whole life in front of him, looking forward to the time he will marry and have children of his own, his path looks to be marked by a single set of footprints. His ideas on women are not what they used to be.
"I don't trust them," he says. "When I see one looking at me I just walk away."
Still, he is a young man with a message, albeit forged in the fires of adversity. It is a message that assaults the complacency in which we all too often find comfort.
"Anybody who looks at the registry should not judge people just for being there," he says, "There are lots of people that don't belong. People like me. There are even people that had to pee so bad they went outside and the next thing you know someone takes a picture with a cell phone and they end up on the registry too."
Right along side the child rapists.
Little at this point would ameliorate the damage done to this family. The Kafkaesque storm that overtook them three years ago still darkens every horizon and pummels the simplicity out of life that they used to take for granted. It still rattles their doors and windows, as though trying shake more skeletons from the closet. And it has swept away hope for the future, leaving behind only the solemn, desperate need for peace and safety.
We love to think that justice is blind. But in each of us we pray that those who administer that justice are people of vision. When systems become so twisted that the letter of the law strangles its spirit, then justice cannot exist. It will die as surely as the dreams of a teen-age boy when the world caves in around him.
It is better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. Cyril Connelly
Jan 14, 2009, 06:00 PM
Once again welcome to 1984. America is going to hell in handbasket as a result of the radical lefts anti-sex league campaign. There needs to be some kind of civil damages that can be filed against the District Attorney for this kind of malicious subterfuge.
'It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy.' George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
May 19, 2009, 11:50 AM
That sounds like something straight out of ETAY (Ethical Treatment of Adolescents and Youth). If it isn't there, it should be!
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