Al Pleads Guilty… then changes his mind.

I just left Framingham District Court.

The good news is: Al Chase pleaded guilty for everything he did to me. To hear him admit his crimes against me was overwhelming. I was shaking and struggled to breathe.

After his admission, I delivered my Victim Impact Statement. Then we went to sentencing.

Once it became clear that the judge sided with the prosecution (almost entirely, to our surprise) and decided on jail time, Al’s defense attorneys decided to throw out the guilty plea and go to trial.

Al has every right to change his plea in the American justice system. I understand why those accused of crimes are given so much power; it doesn’t make it any less frustrating for me.

The silver lining: I already read my Victim Impact Statement aloud. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. But because I did it once, I know I can do it again.

Despite feeling the fatigue of the case dragging on, I’m not going to stop until I see this through to the end.

I’ve received many messages from people who were sexually assaulted, either by Al or by someone else entirely. Many say the same thing: “I’m afraid of going to court, ripping off the scab, hurting those I love, and bringing up old wounds over and over again.”

I won’t lie. It’s not as though I’m not ripping off the scab. I am. Every single time I go to court. It’s painful for me, and it’s painful for my family.

But it’s worth it.

I cannot tell you the feeling of empowerment I had from speaking my statement aloud, sharing my pain in a courtroom, and to see Al’s reactions to my words. Allowing victims the opportunity to voice the impact of a crime on our lives is one of the greatest parts of the American justice system.

For those who are looking to heal and have the option to pursue legal charges against a sexual predator, it’s a powerful feeling to share your pain while staring into the eyes of a judge. While I do not deny the terror, the pain, and the sadness of this experience, it would be a shame for victims to not take advantage of what the justice system affords us; this opportunity has been healing for me.

What comes next? We go to trial: Al and his lawyers will decided whether they want a trial by judge or by jury. The date is expected to take place sometime during Winter 2020. Slowly but surely, this will end. 

Regardless of what happens with this case, regardless of whether or not Al goes to jail or is found guilty, I at the very least had the opportunity to share the impact of his crimes in court. That’s certainly something to be grateful for.

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