Justin is accused of doing something he says he didn’t do.
Will he be cleared, or will he be found guilty?
As we drove home I turned and looked at Dad. “What do you think?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Beth certainly seemed pleased.”
I laughed. “Yeah. Sorta like the cat that ate the canary and it’s looking all innocent but there’s a feather sticking out of its mouth.”
“You’re not talking about your Aunt Beth, are you?”
“Sure I am. The canary is what she learned from Susan Carver and her foster mother. The feather is what I said and you confirmed about where I was on the day Susan claims I raped her. We provided just what Aunt Beth needs to nail Susan Carver and whoever put her up to this scam. One thing that disappointed me is that after hearing what you and I had to say, she didn’t tell us what she’s probably telling District Attorney Thompson right now.”
“What stuff is that, Justin?”
“Where does Susan Carver go to high school? What elementary and middle schools did she go to? Where was she born? Who were her birth parents? Why is she being fostered? When did she become a foster kid? Who was it that she had sex with? Was it really rape, or was it consensual? Why did she pick me? Why did she lie about being my sister? And most important, why did she lie about me raping her?”
“All good questions. I’m assuming that theywill be answered after Beth talks to District Attorney Lyle Thompson.
“Justin, when we get home, I’d like you to do two things. First, send copies of the files you have to Beth like you promised. You have her email address. But before you send them to her, I want you to encrypt them. Then we’ll phone Beth and you’ll tell her the same password that you told her to password protect the file. Second, come to my office and give me the unencrypted files. While you sit and wait, as an officer of the court — that’s because I’m your attorney — I’m going to read the documents. Third, I’ll decide if it’s in your interest to read them.”
I shook my head and grinned. “That’s three things, not two.”
“I know that. Just keeping you on your toes.”
“Yeah, sure,” I muttered, then I looked at him and grinned.
When we got home I copied the files from the flash drive to a folder on my hard drive. I scanned the files to make sure Devin’s name and email address weren’t included. They weren’t. Then I used Word’s Options to clear the author name and the save locations and to delete all off-line editing content from each document. I did that without reading any of the content. Really! I emailed the files to Dad, then copied the folder to my OneDrive account and encrypted it and created a zipped file password protected — both using the password ‘ClovisHigh’ — and emailed the zip file to Aunt Beth. I phoned her and she answered.
“Hi, Aunt Beth. It’s Justin.”
“Hi, Justin. What can I do for you?”
“I just emailed you a password protected zip file with the encrypted files I told you about. I used the same password for both that I told you this afternoon. So when you double-click on the file you’ll be asked for the password. You know how to open the zip file and unencrypt the contents?”
“Did you get my email yet?”
“Yes, it’s here. Let me try to open the zip file.”
“Wait! Don’t try to open it inside Outlook. Save the file to your hard drive first, then open it there.”
“Okay. It’s saved to the hard drive on my notebook PC. I just double-clicked the zip file, and it’s asking for the password. I’m entering it now. Okay, it opened. I see a bunch of Word document files. I’ll open the documents and review them. I double-clicked on the first Word file and It’s asking for encryption key. I just entered it, and the file opened. I assume all of the rest of the files will open the same way.”
“One of the documents has a list of URLs for websites where the documents were too large to copy.”
“Okay. Let me get to these documents now. Remember, don’t read them yourself.”
“You’d better talk to my dad. He said he’s going to review them and since he’s an agent of the courts as my attorney he can make the decision whether I can see them or not.”
“I think you mean that your dad is an officer of the court. Ask him to phone me before he gives you the authorization to read the files, okay?”
“Yes. But remember that the reason I haven’t looked at them already is because you asked me not to. Since I’ve proven that what Susan Carver is claiming is a lie, I don’t think there’s a good reason for me to not look at the files. Just saying.”
There was silence for a few seconds, then Aunt Beth responded. “The reason I don’t want you to look at the files is I don’t want your testimony to be influenced by what is in these documents, things that you don’t already know.”
“Testimony? There’s going to be a trial? I’m going to have to go to court?”
“No, what I mean is that you’re going to be interviewed. It’s like a deposition, and you’ll be under oath. This was suggested by Lawrence Wilde, Susan Carver’s attorney. This approach is often used in cases involving juveniles to avoid going to trial and any resulting publicity. One of my staff will interview Susan first. Her attorney and your dad, as your attorney, will also be present. Then, at a different time and on a different day, one of my staff will interview you. Your dad as your attorney and Lawrence Wilde as the attorney for Susan Carver will both be present. Then, we’ll have a meeting with both attorneys, Susan’s foster parents, and her CPS case worker. We’ll review the testimony and will see if we can get the attorney for one party, in this case Susan Carver’s attorney, to agree that Susan’s claims will be withdrawn.”
“So what’s to prevent Dad from telling me what Susan Carver said in her interview?”
“What will keep him from passing any information to you is the fact that he is an officer of the court. If it’s discovered that an attorney passed this kind of information to their client, then the attorney would be subject to disbarment. That means he’d lose his license to be an attorney in the state of California. So he won’t tell you what Susan Carver said in her interview.”
“I guess you’re going to tell Dad to not let me read the files, right?”
“It depends on what is in the files. But you’re probably correct.”
“Justin, our goal is to avoid a trial. What we want is for Susan Carver’s attorney, her CPS case worker, and her foster family to agree that this is an appropriate settlement for this case. Of course, you and your attorney also need to agree to this approach. You can understand why it’s important that each party’s information is kept confidential.”
“Then why doesn’t Susan’s attorney tell her that she should withdraw her claims right now? Without any interview or deposition or whatever. It’s obvious there’s no way I could have raped her. There’s no way that I could be her brother.”
“I recommended that Lawrence Wilde do exactly that. He said he needs to get Susan and the Gages to concur. Then he has to withdraw the interview request. I hope they will agree with my recommendation. If they do, then we’ll draw up the necessary paperwork for review and signatures. But if for some reason they decide proceed with the interviews, we need to be ready.”
“If they decide to withdraw Susan’s claims will I find out why she claimed I’m her brother and why she claimed I raped her?”
“Perhaps, perhaps not. In order to withdraw Susan’s claims, they might demand that information be withheld from all parties.”
“I want to have the charge that I raped her… what’s it called… expunged? So it’s not on my record. But mostly what I want is to find out why she claimed that I was her brother and that I raped her, and I want a written explanation and apology from her! If the only way to get that is to have a trial, then I want a trial. You can tell that to Susan’s attorney.”
“I recommend that you talk to your dad before making that kind of demand, Justin.”
“I will, but I’m adamant about this. It’s non-negotiable. Period.”
Aunt Beth didn’t say anything for a few seconds. “Do you really want to ruin Susan Carver’s life, Justin?”
“What do you think she’s doing to my life? The rumors are still going around school and a lot of people look at me like I’m some sort of pervert and I have a rep as a rapist. Susan Carver is a liar. Based on the lies she said about me, her foster father — who just happens to be a cop — tried to have me arrested. As far as I’m concerned settling this where she gets off scot free and I’m still under a cloud of suspicion is not acceptable.”
“Talk to your dad, in his role as your attorney, first. If he can’t talk you out of it and he agrees with your position, then I’ll present that to Susan Carver’s attorney and her CPS case worker.”
“Good. Thank you, Aunt Beth. I’ll go downstairs and ask Dad to phone you now.”
“Thank you, Justin. Goodbye.”
I walked downstairs to Dad’s office and knocked on the doorjamb to let him know I wanted to talk.
“Hi, Justin. Come on in.”
I walked in and sat down across from him. “I just talked to Aunt Beth. She wants to talk to you about my seeing the information that I sent her and that you’re looking at now. She doesn’t want me to see it because she says that I’ll probably to be interviewed by someone in her department, and separately Susan will be, too. She said it’s like a deposition, I’ll be under oath to tell the truth, and what I say and what Susan says will be confidential. She said if I read the documents it could influence my testimony because I’ll learn things about Susan that I wouldn’t know otherwise. The reason they do this deposition thing with juveniles, she said, is to avoid going to trial. What do you think about that?”
“I’ve never heard of it,” Dad said. “I’ll definitely want to talk to Beth about it and how she thinks it would benefit you.”
“What she said makes it seem like the only one to benefit would be Susan Carver. So, I decided I don’t want to do the deposition thing. What I want is to read those documents that I got, and to find out why Susan claimed I raped her and said that she’s my sister, I want a written apology from Susan Carver, and if the only way to find out these things is to have a trial, then I want to have a trial. And that’s what I told her.”
“What did she say to you and what are your reasons?”
So I relayed what Aunt Beth and I had talked about. I finished with, “Dad, the way this seems to be heading means the only person who will benefit is Susan Carver. Aunt Beth seems to be more interested in protecting Susan Carver than me. She doesn’t seem to care about what Susan’s done to me. She actually asked me if I wanted to ruin Susan’s life. I don’t care about Susan Carver’s life. Think about what Susan’s done to my life. Rumors about me being a rapist are still going around at school. Susan Carver doesn’t deserve to be protected. She is a liar. Her foster father sent cops to arrest me at school. Aunt Beth wants this to be settled confidentially, and if that happens Susan Carver will get off scot free. That’s bullshit, sorry for my language but that’s exactly what it is. And as far as I’m concerned that’s not acceptable. Period. That’s why I’ve decided that I’m not going to agree to this interview or deposition or whatever it’s called unless they agree with my demands. That means there’s no reason for me to not read the documents I was given.”
“Point taken, Justin. Let me finish reading these documents and then I’ll phone Beth.”
“Okay. I’ll be in my room. I have homework I want to finish tonight.”
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Justin Carver
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