~by Laurie Furtado
“That was also the year he actually began having intercourse with me. I remember it hurt when he penetrated me, but in my drugged state, any emotion I might have felt was numbed. I just thought, Why is he doing this?
Soon after that, he persuaded my mother to take me to the gynecologist for birth control, telling her I was dating. Since I never went out at night or invited boys to the house, Ma must have known this wasn’t true, but she never asked me about my social life. In all fairness, say mother was just as intimidated by my father’s cruelty as we children were. To keep her in line, he would threaten to call her employer and have her fired.
I needed witnesses to make statements to the police, so it was time to ask for my family’s help. My sister Debbie had known since childhood what our father had done to me, and she was so angry about it that she wanted to kill him. Lena, however, refused to give an affidavit.
I hoped my mother would be sympathetic, or at least shocked, when I told her. She claimed she had never known about the abuse, but she was emotionless, and this strained our already faltering relationship. However, she did give a statement in my defense. The one person I spoke to from my father’s side of the family did everything she could to try to make me change my mind. Furious, I said, “I have to do what I’m doing.”
In November 1990, a hearing was held to discuss evidence that was to be presented at trial. Since I had already given my sworn statement and affidavits to the police, I didn’t have to be present in the courtroom, but I went anyway, wanting to see what would happen.
We all had to sit through another sexual-abuse trial before my hearing. Renee was the prosecutor for this case, too, and I think this might have made an impression on my father. At one point during the proceedings, Renee came over to me and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but there’s talk of your father pleading guilty.”
She was right. My father pleaded guilty to forcible rape of a child, indecent assault and battery of a child younger than fourteen and to indecent assault and battery of a child older than fourteen. The details Renee gave were so horrifically graphic that the judge finally shouted, “Okay, okay! I’ve heard enough!” But there was no remorse in my father’s eyes, and I felt no pity for him. I knew I had done the right thing.
My father’s family and friends submitted fifteen letters requesting a reduced or suspended sentence. They had no such kind words for me.
But the judge chose not to be lenient. At age forty-six, my father is now serving a fifteen- to twenty-year prison sentence. Although I do feel that justice has at last been served, jail is too mild a punishment for the way he robbed me of my innocence and self-worth.”