Justin is accused of doing something he says he didn't do.
Will he be cleared, or will he be found guilty?
That night when my dad got home we talked about the scam that someone was trying to pull on me. “On us,” my dad corrected.
“You’re positive that I don’t have a twin sister?”
“Yes, I’m positive. I brought your mom to the hospital, I never left her side, and I was there during the entire birth and you were the only one who showed up. We have the birth certificate which, if you were a twin, would have so indicated.”
“What if she was born like nine or ten months before me? That way we could both be fifteen at the same time.”
“Your birthday is on November seventeenth. Let me assure you that your mother didn’t give birth within nine months prior to the day you were born because she was pregnant with you during those nine months. She wasn’t pregnant at any time earlier than your pregnancy. After you were born she had a kidney stone removed at the end of March. She was in the hospital for two days. If she had been pregnant with this girl, the records from her surgeon and the hospital would have that information. But let me assure you she wasn’t pregnant. In any case, there’s no way the girl could be fifteen years old and your sister.
“But what if it was a different woman and you were the father?”
Dad looked shocked at first, but then he grinned. “You should become a prosecuting attorney, Justin. You don’t have to worry, I never had a relationship with anyone other than your mother. And that can be proven when this girl Susan, you, and I get DNA tests and compare them. That will prove, number one, that I’m your father and, number two, that she isn’t related to either of us.”
“What if she won’t agree to DNA testing?”
“Then there won’t be any charges that you are her brother. It will be more difficult to prove that you didn’t rape or have sex with her. You didn’t have sex with her or any other girl recently, did you, Justin?” Dad wiggled his eyebrows.
“Dad, I’m gay and you know that. Girls don’t interest me. Looking at pictures of naked girls doesn’t turn me on at all. If she was raped and reported it to the police then wouldn’t they have her go to the hospital and have a test and there’d be a rape kit, right?”
“You mean a SAFE kit. That’s the acronym used by the police here, and it means a Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence kit. Yes, without that evidence they can’t prove that you raped, or had consensual sex with, this girl. If they do have the kit a DNA test of the semen residue will prove that you didn’t have unprotected sex with her. If she claims that you used a condom then it’s a she-said he-said situation, and we’ll have to find out where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing when this so-called rape occurred. We don’t even know when that was.”
“What if she’s pregnant? Is there a way to do a DNA test on the baby? I mean, like right away? Before she gives birth?”
“Yes, there are prenatal DNA tests. The child’s DNA is in the mother’s blood, and that can be tested against your blood. It can be done after nine to fourteen weeks, depending on the lab. The test is expensive, but if it’s negative the girl and her parents are responsible for paying the cost of the test. Of course, we don’t know if she’s pregnant so all of this is speculation.”
“Okay. Now we have to figure out what to do about the police. What if they go to a judge and get an arrest warrant and come and pull me out of school?”
“That’s why you and I are meeting with Beth before dinner. She’s going to quash any arrest warrant that is issued.”
“Can’t they just come and take me to jail? That cop said it was a felony.”
“It would probably be classified as unlawful sexual intercourse since you’re the same age. The California statute states that or long as you’re within three years of the girl’s age and you’re under eighteen, it’s a misdemeanor, not a felony. It would be a felony if it was rape, but so far no there’s evidence that supports a rape.”
“When is Aunt Beth going to be here? Or are we going to her office or her house?”
“We’re going to meet in her office.”
“She knows I’m gay. Do I have to tell her anything about that, like am I having sex with anyone?”
“No. She’s going to find out what’s going on with the three policemen, primarily that Lieutenant Brandon Gage. The two policemen that were ready to arrest you said he had prepared the complaint.”
“Should I go somewhere in case they come to arrest me before we go to meet Aunt Beth? That way I won’t be home and you won’t know where I went because I didn’t tell you.”
“No, I don’t see a need to do that. It’s going to take them longer than just this afternoon to get an arrest warrant for a juvenile without any more evidence than the girl’s claim that you raped her. The judge would want the police department to turn it over to the District Attorney’s office. They would then decide to go to a judge and obtain an arrest warrant.”
“But what about that she says I’m her brother? Won’t that make it a felony?”
“It would still have to be turned over to the District Attorney’s office to be investigated and if they felt it was prosecutable they would take it to a judge and get the arrest warrant.”
“Dad, I have a question. Since this Susan Carver is fifteen years old, where’s her mother? Shouldn’t she have gone to the police with her?”
“That’s an excellent question, Justin. How about you ask Beth that question.”
“So, Aunt Beth, I have a question that Dad thought I should ask you. Since Susan Carver is fifteen years old, a juvenile, did her mother go to the police with her? “
“Susan Carver doesn’t have a mother. In fact, her mother, her real mother, died before Susan was born.”
“What?” I blurted out. “That’s impos… wait… she must have died during Susan’s birth, right?”
“Yes,” Beth replied. “The father is unknown. There were no relatives that could be found. Susan Carver became a ward of the court and CPS. That’s California’s Child Protective Services. She was bounced from foster family to group home to foster family, and so on.”
“Okay, we know about her and her mother,” I said. “Why claim that I raped her? I mean, they couldn’t have found a worse person to pick as her rapist.”
“A better question is where is she being fostered. I checked, and she hasn’t been adopted. The problem I have is that her foster records are sealed by the court. I need to go to a judge in the morning and get them unsealed so we can find out where she is.”
“How about checking the police record to see if there’s any information there?”
“Since she’s a juvenile that would be sealed by the Juvenile Division.”
“I don’t think so,” Dad said. “That Lieutenant Brandon Gage who issued the order to have you arrested isn’t in the juvenile division of the Shell Ridge police department. I checked him out because I was curious who would say that a rape by one juvenile on the other would be called a felony and that Justin could be arrested without a warrant. He’s in property crimes. Nothing in his records is sealed. You can search his records, Beth.”
She swung around to her computer screen and her fingers danced on the keyboard. After a few minutes she shouted, “Got ya!” Then she continued, “Damn, this is interesting.” She turned and blushed when she saw me grinning. “Sorry about the language,” she said.
“So, what did you find?” I asked. “Do you know where Susan Carver is living?”
“Yes, but even better I found out two other things that are very interesting. First, I know who her foster parents are. They are Linda and Brandon Gage.”
“The cop?” I shouted. “That goddamn cop who tried to have me arrested is her foster father? But… but why…. Did she decide to do it on her own or did he make her claim I raped her? And in either case, why? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“We’ll have to find out,” Beth said. “Now, the other interesting thing is they don’t live in Shell Ridge. They live in an unincorporated part of the county. So we don’t have to get the Shell Ridge police department involved. We can go to the Sheriff’s Department. I have good relations with the Sheriff, so tomorrow morning a detective from his office and I will make a call on Mrs. Linda Gage. I’ll also set up an interview with Susan Carver, her CPS case worker, and her mother within the next couple days. We’ll get to the bottom of this.”
“So… should I just go to school as usual tomorrow?”
“Yes. As soon as I know what’s going on I’ll let your dad know.” She turned and looked at my dad. “Rob, is that okay with you?”
“Yes. You’ll let me know as soon as you find out why Justin was targeted?”
“Absolutely. You realize I might not find out the ‘why’ to what happened by tomorrow. It might take a few days and several interviews. Now, let me make a courtesy visit to Sheriff Ralston’s office and arrange for his assistance.”
“Uh, Aunt Beth,” I said, “what if that policeman, Lieutenant Gage, is at home when you get there?”
“He should be at work. If he’s at home, we’ll ask both him and his wife to come in for a little talk and explain why their foster daughter claimed you raped her.” She stared at my concerned expression for a couple seconds. “What?” she asked.
“If I were you, I’m not sure that I’d trust Lieutenant Gage, Aunt Beth.”
“Justin, if you’re worried about me, I’ll have a sheriff’s detective with me. So thanks for worrying, but I’ll be fine.”
“One other thing,” I said. “Are you going to tell them that I’m gay?”
“Absolutely not. The interviews will be for me to ask them questions and not for me to give them any information or to answer any of their questions.”
I relaxed. “Good!”
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Justin Carver
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