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    This Could Happen To Anyone

This is the statement Jim read at his sentencing.  He knew if he didn't say anything it could count against him and he might receive a harsher sentence.  However, he would not confess to a crime he did not commit in order to receive a lighter sentence. 

Jim crafted his statement very carefully to serve both the truth of his innocence and his hope of receiving the lightest possible sentence for a crime he didn't commit.  As you read Jim's statement, notice that he acknowledged how serious the crime is that he was charged with and convicted of. BUT he does not at any point state that he committed the crime. 

He recognizes the judge's right to impose a sentence, given the verdict, and offers reasons why he should be sentenced to probation rather than a prison term.  BUT he does not at any point express remorse for a crime he did not commit; he does not agree that he deserves to be punished for it.  Jim's statement was written very carefully to say exactly that and no more.

The following is Jim's sentencing statement made in court on August 14, 2009  

First, it is important to understand that I fully recognize the seriousness of the offense of which I have been convicted. I have never minimized this, and I have resisted any attempts by any of my friends or relations to do so.  

I clearly understand that this Court has complete discretion in the matter of my sentence, and I sincerely appreciate the Court’s careful consideration of the various pre-sentence reports and motions, along with more than a hundred support letters, and I am grateful for Your Honour’s granting the adjournments we have so far requested.

All of my friends and family who attended the trial commented on the care you took in seeking to cope with the complex technical material presented in the case, and we are all certain that you devoted the same level of care and attention to this large volume of material related to the sentencing.  

It has been more than two years since this situation began with my phone call to the Marist College Help Desk. In that time, my wife and daughter and I, along with my parents and other family members, have experienced trauma after trauma, devastating our lives, our physical and mental well-being, and of course our finances. My reputation and career are irreparably damaged. As several of the letters you read mentioned, this seems like a lot of punishment already. Nonetheless, we all understand that the law requires still more sanctions for such an offense.  

I am prepared to comply with any conditions of probation this Court sees fit to impose. I have already entered therapy and will continue in that course of treatment. I will of course authorize the Probation Department access to any information they require from my therapist.  

As many writers of support letters have stated, I have a strong sense of personal ethics and integrity. That is why I have rigourously adhered to all conditions imposed at my arrest in September 2007. For example, I have scrupulously avoided any Internet use. This has been a notable burden on my wife, since she has had to do all of the routine activities all of us conduct on line, including checking e-mail, looking at news and weather reports, making purchases, banking, and acquiring driving directions.  

Obviously, then, I will gladly submit to any form of monitoring or auditing by the Probation Department of my internet use. I gather that in addition to installing keystroke monitors on any computer in our home, can also install software that will alert them in real time if any of those computers try to access any inappropriate website. I am confident, as they seem to be, that these tools will allow them to discover and act promptly on any infringement of the restrictions you impose.  

I have been checking in with the Dutchess County Probation Department weekly since September 2007, and have been so faithful in this, and in notifying them when I was to be out of town, that for the past several months they have permitted me to check in by telephone.  

I believe my record so far, both in this matter and in the rest of my life, demonstrates my unreserved commitment to complying with this Court’s instructions if I am placed on probation. Many of the support letters and other documents you have reviewed also attest to the fact that I pose no danger to anyone of any age or station in life, and never have. If the criteria for probation are that I am not dangerous and that I will fully comply with any conditions imposed, I believe Your Honour will agree that I am an excellent candidate for Probation Department supervision in the community.  

An additional consideration might be that my parents rely on my being available to assist them in various ways. My father is a 91-year-old retired officer of the United States Air Force and a veteran of three wars. My mother is an 86-year-old retired Special Education teacher with limited mobility. To be frank, they are both in remarkably good health at the moment and do not require help in ordinary activities of daily living, but many household tasks are taxing to them, as you might imagine.  

My wife of 31 years, Michèle, is a clinical psychologist employed by New York State who suffered a broken right shoulder at the end of May. It is mending satisfactorily, and there now only a few daily functions with which she needs help, primarily lifting heavy objects. Although she can manage on her own for the most part, she may not for some time be able to help my parents much if they need her. Our daughter Kate, 21 years old, is not available to help, either. She left a couple of weeks ago for Swaziland to work for a nongovernmental organization, at what you may imagine is very low pay, in aid of her future career plans and consistent with our entire family’s long-standing dedication to public service.  

In addition, if placed on probation I intend to seek and accept whatever employment I can obtain. This will serve two purposes, one private and one public. First, our family is in need of income to replenish our depleted savings and even to meet our current expenditures, not to mention our hope of repaying the many people who have helped us financially throughout these events.  

Second, as many of the documents you reviewed pointed out, when employed I could be paying taxes instead of consuming them. And of course I would be available and willing to perform any community service required of me, whether of a professional nature such as advising governments and small businesses or of a more menial nature, such as helping to clear litter from roadways.  

It would be inexcusable if I did not now acknowledge my profound gratitude to the more than 100 people who wrote support letters, fully aware of the nature of the crime of which I have been convicted. If there is a bright side to these events for me and my family, it has been the many ways in which we have been made aware of the love and support of so many people who cannot hope to gain any benefit for themselves by helping us.  

In conclusion, I need to say again that I fully understand the deeply offensive nature of the crime of which I have been convicted, but I also believe that the material Your Honour has reviewed fully supports my request to be sentenced to community supervision in probation. Thank you.

 

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