I was filed into a courtroom among a group of mostly middle-aged strangers. The judge, another middle-aged man, balding with a salt and pepper beard and glasses, approached the bench in robes bearing the Ten Commandments. He drew our names from a large box to pick the grand jury and then sent the rest of us to a different, smaller courtroom, where we were asked a variety of questions regarding the case we were given.
It involved child molestation and rape. What a wonderful way to start my Monday!
I happen to find the court system and court cases very interesting. I love love love all those unscripted forensic television shows. I like the forensic aspect the best but I also enjoy the court side of it as well. It's all great. One of the reasons I didn't flake on jury duty was because I thought it might interest me. I was hoping for something fun like drugs or assault but nothing heavy like child rape. And that was the very case I was given. Thanks.
So, after we answered the questions to weed out the undesirable jurors, we were sent to a room lined with volumes of heavy books. I stood around in a secluded spot, praying I wouldn't be picked. Although I didn't know all the details of the case, through the prosecutor's questioning, I learned there was no DNA and the evidence was mostly circumstantial. If felt a lot like the victim's word against the defendant's, which made me feel uncomfortable. I didn't think until afterward that I should have raised my hand when we were asked if we knew any of the victims or members of the defendant's family. I silently kicked myself and then realized I had to pee.
You all should know I am terribly pee shy. I hate using public bathrooms (side note: I'm proud to say I've never gone number 2 anywhere but home). I also hate being around strangers. I fought with myself for a long time, thinking I should hold it, not wanting to walk through the crowd of people and draw attention to myself.
If I pee, I probably won't be selected, I thought, because that means I could have held it a little longer and then peed privately at work. If I don't pee, I'll probably be selected and then who knows when I'll get the chance to go again.
I went for it. Peed. Everything was fine. Until I tried to wash my hands. I underestimated the strength of the faucet and when I turned it on, this surge of water flew out, hit the sink, then splashed right onto my crotch.
I looked at myself in the mirror, my eye twitching. "Are you #!@*&% kidding me!?"
I unrolled some paper towels and tried to sop up the wetness but it was in vain and I knew it. My pants were too saturated. I thought about waiting until it dried but there was only one bathroom and I didn't want a line forming outside the door. I also didn't want anyone thinking I was pooping in there.
I decided to own it.
Keep in mind that I had not spoken a word to any of these people. I kept to myself in the corner and watched the clock the whole time. So, I came out and a bunch of gray-haired gentleman zoned right in on my package.
"Yeah, I accidentally splashed myself in the sink," I said with a dopey smile.
"Couldn't make it to the commode?" a guy asked with a smirk. Oh, God.
"Oh, no no!" I said with my hands raised in the air. "It was the sink, I promise!"
I tried to find a corner to hide my crotch in but there was none to be found. I was forced to show everyone my damp package. I was mortified and ready to be lethally injected right there.
Well, God, this should get me off the hook! Whaddya think?
We were then called back into the courtroom and I prayed I wouldn't be chosen. I was not mentally, emotionally, or spiritually prepared to condemn a man over what I assumed was mostly hearsay.
I was chosen.
Are you #!@*&% kidding me! Had I not endured enough mental anguish as well as physical embarrassment? No. I guess not.
We were dismissed for an hour lunch and afterward were sent back to the room where I wet myself. We sat and stood around for 2 and a half hours. At first, people talked and laughed and entertained themselves but by around the 2 hour mark, we were all getting restless. I stood in the corner, again, the recluse with the soggy crotch, and watched as the minutes ticked by. I read my Kindle on my phone and that helped pass the time until my neck started hurting from bending down to see the small screen.
Just when I thought I was going to jump out of the second story window, we were called back into the courtroom.
The judge apologized for the delay and then informed us that negotiations took place between the defendant and prosecutor and the defendant actually plead guilty to lesser charges. That meant the trial was over and we were no longer needed. A wash of relief spread over my chest. I was so glad I didn't have to hear the gory details and have a man's fate in my hands like that.
I went home and of course told my parents about the case. They actually knew of the defendant and said he was a smarmy man who was a police officer at one time. Because of that, he thought he was hot stuff and liked to pick up pretty teenage girls. To me, it started to sound a little statutory. I was under the impression that the underage child was more like a little kid, not some 16 or 17-year-old. Don't get me wrong, statutory rape is still wrong and gross and illegal, even if consensual, but I think I would have been more prepared to hear about that rather than him forcing sexual acts on a small child.
I started to feel better about the situation, assuming the guy just thought he was some hot shot cop and took advantage of doe-eyed teens who thought law enforcement was sexy. And then WG sent me a Facebook status update she found on her wall regarding the case. The update said she was glad to have a resolution, although it wasn't quite what her family wanted but the case has been ongoing since 2006 and they were glad to finally have some closure. I was glad she and her family seemed satisfied with the conclusion to the case but the disturbing part was when she revealed the age of the victim. She was not a barely-legal teen like I thought.
She was 3 at the time.