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After praying and processing through the frustration of facing another sexual misconduct/assault charge against Asher and adding another victim to our family, I sat down and really thought through anything I could add to the investigation of abuse against Hope.
And then some pieces fell into place from an episode that occurred nearly two years ago.
When Asher was initially placed in a group at JCF, he was assigned to a non-SO one because of his age. The two sexual offender groups on the campus were significantly older than our son and it was believed that he would benefit from a younger group of boys. Also, coming from a relatively healthy family background, we were all concerned about Asher growing harder rather than softer because of the influence of other juvenile delinquents. There is a reason most of us don’t want our children hanging around the bad crowd. The plan was for him to participate in the SO programming but live and go to school with a group comprised of mostly young teens who were on first offenses.
This quickly backfired.
Asher’s peers could not identify with his crimes and struggled to have compassion on him in the face of his ugliness. Asher was also actively crafting a profile of us as bigoted, superficial, physically abusive, and emotionally neglectful parents. However, our son didn’t understand that these boys all came from homes where those were their parents and they, unlike him, were able to quickly recognize what Asher could not – we were genuine and loved him unconditionally. This just made them angrier towards Asher who could not appreciate what they so desperately wished to have. Add his blatant attempt to get all the attention from staff, and his flagrant attempts to use an ever-changing sexual profile for the highest maximum shock value, and it’s not difficult to understand why Asher felt constant disapproval from his peers. But rather than work to address that disapproval in a healthy way, he chose to lash back in the only way he believed he had – make himself appear like an even greater monster than they already believed him to be.
I don’t think I will ever forget the moment when Joseph and I were walking with Asher and his group back to their dorm when his peers pressed him to share with us what he had disclosed to them just two days before. Steeling ourselves for whatever might be revealed, we were still unprepared for what Asher said.
Asher confessed that his crimes went deeper than we knew and included his aunt, me, and his baby sister. He spoke of voyeurism with masturbation and assaulting Hope. He was explicit and smug in his confession.
As Joseph and I left that day, I remember the whole conversation playing out in my mind and something feeling off about it. The details felt forced and were logistically almost impossible. The more I mulled over Asher’s confession and investigated the possibilities behind it, the more holes appeared. By the time we returned the following week, I was convinced Asher made up the entire confession.
I confronted him at our next visit. I shared with him the conversations we had with Hope and how I believed he was lying about his assault of her. I challenged his ability to perform the other acts given the specific details he claimed but coupled with the layout of our home and the schedule of our daily lives. I finally told him I believed he was lying to make himself appear worse out of overwhelming toxic shame and a seared conscience.
It didn’t take long for him to break and acknowledge the truth. He had lied about it all – either by pure fabrication or stretching the truth so far as to be incompatible with the facts. What he had done was to twice experience sexual ideations while putting lotion on Hope after a bath but the incidents were confined to his thoughts.
However the entire episode, lies and all, was written into his file. It was also the breaking point for removing Asher from that original group and placing him with the sex offender specific group where he now resides.
I emailed Mr. Larkson.
Joseph just got home from work and shared with me the conversation he had with you today. He asked that I lend some of my memory to the details.
At the initial disclosure, we spent time interviewing all our children and Hope showed no signs of abuse, awareness of abuse, or memory of abuse. When we started counseling, she also underwent a session with a trained counselor who confirmed that Hope appeared to be hiding nothing.
Then, during a particularly ugly period for Asher in the Overcomers group, he fronted regarding his offenses and exaggerated or made up several incidents that did not actually happen. The first, and most egregious, was marking Hope as a victim. He told this to us during our weekly visit immediately proceeding the disclosure to his group. We were shocked and dismayed but were unwilling to sweep it under the rug. So, I went back to Hope and spoke, again, with her regarding Asher. And at that point, I knew more pointed questions to ask considering the 6+ months of counseling our family was already into. She, again, denied any sexual contact.
The following week, I went back to Asher and confronted him on his alleged crimes. They didn’t match up with the way our family operates or how I run our home. He broke down and confessed that he had made them up and that, in fact, they were all wholesale lies. The only grain of truth being Hope. He had once (perhaps twice) lotioned her after a bath and recognized that he held sexual thoughts while doing so but said he did not inappropriately touch her.
We are grateful for your desire to be thorough in managing Asher’s case. If you need anything further from us, please don’t hesitate to call.
He emailed me today with this simple but wonderful message: Thank you for getting back to me. I’ve spoken to Sgt. Johnson and his report indicated only grooming. Things appear to match up and I thank you for your time. I hope everything continues to go well tomorrow during mediation.
It is a relief to know that we are not facing more abuse. And it amazes me to see the extent to which our real enemy will go to discourage us. We must hold fast to the promises of our God and trust that we can finish our race well. And when we are tempted to take a short-cut, push ourselves into that hard place so that we know we will never need to look over our shoulder in fear of our past.