Until recently (thanks to social media), I’d lost contact with everyone who lived in my old town. So, I’ve never known what happened with the church or him after I left Arkansas. That’s always bothered me.
After I started digging all these old memories back up (well, digging them up in public at any rate), I felt like I needed to know. I heard some rumors a couple of years back that he’d done something inappropriate with another girl. I wondered if there was anything I could find about that, so I did some searching.
It’s amazing what you can find on the internet if you know where to look.
There are a lot of public records freely available out there. Like divorce records, for instance.
I didn’t find anything about that girl (which didn’t surprise me since those things often don’t get reported). But, it turns out he got married and divorced a second time. I found a court document where he was charged with domestic abuse. His wife had to take out a restraining order against him. It’s not exactly easy to get a restraining order; they don’t just hand them out because you asked. I know.
I wish I could say I feel terrible about finding that. I mean, I do feel terrible for her.
But, I also feel vindicated.
The whole case against him stalking me and threatening my life was based on the belief that he couldn’t possibly do anything like that because he’d been healed of his mental demons.
I guess exorcisms have an expiration date.
If you take someone with a serious mental illness that makes them prone to having delusions and then go and tell them they’ve been healed and don’t need to take medication or see a doctor, what do you think is going to happen?
Part of me feels guilty. All these documents show is what he’s gone to court over. My case never made it to court. A lot of cases like that never make it to court. How many other girls and women has he hurt? How long did that church protect him while he did it?
What if I had stayed? What if I’d refused to budge until I had enough hard evidence to force the police to arrest him?
I was just a teenager, but still… Maybe I could have protected those other women. Then again, maybe he would have just killed me in the end.
I don’t know.
There’s a lot I don’t know about that whole situation. There’s a lot I will never understand.
It’s easy to drown in all the what-ifs.
I don’t want anyone to tell me it’s not my fault. Right or wrong, I chose to run away and that choice had consequences for more people than just me.
We all made choices and took sides back then (and let’s not kid ourselves, shutting me out and pretending to play Switzerland while he set my bed on fire was as good as taking his side). Those choices had consequences that rippled out beyond that little church. We all have to live with that.
I thought finding something like this would make me even angrier at the church members who stood behind him, but it mostly just made me sad for them.