Standing in Victory: How I Got Justice
On December 12, 2017, I walked into the Prince George’s County Police department on Barlow, Rd. and reported my stepfather Joseph Thomas, for sexual abuse of a minor. I had no idea what would happen next. I just knew that it was time for me to take my power back, and most importantly protect any little girl that came after me. I knew from my own experience that telling the adults who were responsible for keeping me safe was not going to be enough. I had told my mother about my abuse since I was 9 years old, and she did nothing to ensure I would never have to suffer at the hands of this monster again. 2017, was a particularly hard year for me. I was in the midst of helping my grandfather with his battle against esophageal cancer. He lost the battle on January 2, 2018. I had also recently launched Speak, Survive, and Thrive, a non-profit organization geared towards empowering survivors of childhood abuse. I knew in order for any survivor to start the healing process, including me, we would have to find our voice and not be afraid to use it.
The Detective assigned to my case was Stephen P. Price, I had to describe my abuse in detail, including drawing pictures of the various locations where the abuse occurred and listing any person that could corroborate my truth. He told me that since this was case was almost 30 years old, we would have to be as detailed as possible and try to get as much proof as possible to charge my abuser. At that time, he also explained to me that I might have to wear a wire and speak to my abuser about what happened so many years ago. On January 5, 2018, Detective Price called and said he had received authorization from his supervisor to move forward with the wired conversation. At that time, I informed him that my grandfather with whom I was extremely close to had just passed a few days ago and I was not emotionally prepared to put on a wire or confront my abuser at this time. He understood and said that he would check back in with me in a week. Detective price checked-in once a week, for a total of 5 weeks before I mustered up the strength to move forward.
On February 18, 2018, I drove to the Eastover police department substation and met with my team of officers for the day. It wasn’t until I was there that I realized how big of an operation this was. There was more than 20 officers there dedicated to my case. Some officers went ahead and parked in my abusers neighborhood and others were there to help brief me on the plan ahead. I was given two wireless microphones, a cellphone, and a code word to use that would send the officers rushing to my assistance if I felt like I was in danger. I was beyond scared. I looked at Detective Price and told him “if you help me through this, I’ll go speak my truth, and confront this pedophile so no other child would suffer as I did”.
A few months prior when I told my story on social media, my mother contacted me and offered to have a sit down meeting with her and my abuser. At that time I refused, but I called a week prior to the February 18, meeting and told her I was ready to talk about the situation.
We talked about my abuse from beginning to end which I had never done as a child. I would just address each incident as they arose. This was my time to speak my entire truth and give my mother’s husband the opportunity to own the fact that he had sexually abused me. He acknowledged what he had done, but the last thing he said to me before I ultimately stormed out was “You weren’t that innocent at 9 years old.” That statement, confirmed that I was doing the right thing by wearing this wire. To me, his statement exposed the person he really is, it made it very clear that he knew what he was doing and felt entitled to keep doing it. That statement confirmed to me that he was capable of violating another child. That statement wasn’t made 30 years ago, that statement was made on February 18, 2018. His thought process and lack of moral compass shows he is not remorseful, and feels like he is above reproach because he got away with sexually abusing me for so long. People quit smoking, they quit drinking but they don’t just stop sexually abusing children.
After I returned to the police department, Detective Price told me that there was no guarantee that the States Attorney’s Office would pick up my case. I told him if nothing else I was able to confront that monster and I did all I was able to do to bring him to justice. The rest was in God’s hands. On March 29, 2018, a grand jury indicted my abuser. He was officially charged with 2nd Degree Sexual Assault, 3rd Degree Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse. Finally SOMEBODY LISTENED to my voice! Our first trial date was set for August, but was continued due to conflicts in the attorney’s schedules. The next trial date was set for October 9, 2018 but was also moved because my abuser had accepted a plea deal. My new trial date was December 13, 2018, one day after the anniversary of me first reporting him on December 12, 2017. It had all come full circle. On December 13, 2018, I stood before a court room full of people and read my victim impact statement, I HAD FINALLY TOOK MY POWER BACK! My abuser was sentenced to register as a sex offender for 25 years, 5 years no contact with children and 10 years’ probation.
Click here to read my full victim impact statement.