The Monsters Living Among Us

The Fallout

The morning after John’s arrest Linda had a total mental health breakdown. She ended up in the military hospital, isolated in the psych ward, in a straitjacket. Closely monitored as a suicide risk. With John in jail, their daughters were farmed out to temporary foster care parents within the local US military community.

I learned all of this on Monday morning when I received a call from the Air Force Chief Master Sergeant. He asked me to drop by and I immediately went over. In his office, the door closed, we discussed what had gone down over the past week and what each of us knew. The Chief assured me the Air Force legal department was already heavily involved.

Later that week John was allowed to leave jail for a supervised visit with Linda. My wife and I were also allowed to visit Linda later that first week. When we visited, she was still in a straitjacket, still monitored as a suicide risk, struggling to hold herself together.

It was the first and only time I’ve ever seen someone wearing a straitjacket.

By the end of the second week after John was arrested literally all DoD medical, legal, and family services organizations in Naples were involved with the case. My name was slowly percolating among those involved as the person who pulled the trigger. While I didn’t care, my wife was frightened someone would go after us. She was horrified at being involved in such a massive community scandal.

The Great Cover Up

I later learned that while Linda was still in a straitjacket, she was visited by Air Force legal officers. They weren’t there to take statements and make sure her legal rights were protected. They were there to pressure her to drop charges against John.

The legal officers explained that if John went to court martial, he’d be convicted. A conviction would mean long prison time, a dishonorable discharge, and then Linda would “have nothing.” As she wasn’t even an American citizen, she’d be stuck taking care of three children by herself with nothing to fall back on. John had about twelve years of active-duty service at the time. The legal officers explained that if Linda just dropped her charges, let this blow over, she could wait for him to retire then divorce and get half his pension.

Or so they told her.

Apparently, having a gaggle of military officers pressuring a woman, wearing a straitjacket, into dropping child molesting charges was sound legal strategy. For the Air Force. Linda withdrew her charges and John was released from jail. Another few weeks later Linda was finally released from the hospital and reunited with her husband and children.

Air Force officers successfully protected a fucking active-duty wife beater and child molester and made their problem go away. Mission accomplished.

Long Term Impact

When Linda was released from the hospital, the family was required to move out of their rented home and into military housing. As there wasn’t enough military housing for all families there was normally a several month-long waiting list. Getting moved into military housing with no waiting time meant someone big pulled strings to get them in.

The housing they moved into consisted of a densely packed high-rise apartment building. Living close among other military families, some of whom knew what had happened, prevented John from abusing his family. Linda and her children were at least safe. Being safe, Linda took her own brand of revenge on John. Stories filtered back to me that Linda made John sleep on the couch while she slept in the bedroom. With other men that she brought home on a regular basis.

The girls suffered from the severe family dysfunction, and suffered from being sexually molested by their father. The oldest, now fourteen, gained a community reputation as being a problem. I saw her a few times around the military community, always dressed in a way that screamed teenager in trouble.

My wife and I no longer socialized with Linda, but I did encounter her now and again on the base. The first time we met after she was back with her family, she gave me a long strong hug for helping her. She was still emotionally struggling, but holding herself together and building her new life.

A New Beginning

In due time, Linda met a nice Italian man and started seeing him on a regular basis. She even made a point of bringing him over one afternoon so we could meet him. But she was still sharing an apartment with her husband.

The end came suddenly. One day the Chief Master Sergeant called to tell me John was being transferred back to the ‘States. At that point John had only been in Naples one year on what should have been a three-year assignment. But the local Air Force command apparently decided to make John someone else’s problem.

A few days later John and I crossed paths on the base, the first time I’d seen him since he’d been arrested. John looked at me and said “Ron, I don’t blame you for what you did.” I told him I also didn’t blame me for what I did and wasn’t sorry for a Goddamn thing. Then I walked away.

Another few days later Linda and her boyfriend came by our home for a visit. She told me she was going to stay in Naples when John went back to the ‘States. John had never adopted Linda’s oldest daughter from her first marriage, and the daughter had chosen to go back to her dad. The middle daughter would be going with John, and the youngest would stay with Linda.

Linda had already found a job working on the Navy base so got to keep her base access. But she had to leave her apartment and was moving in with her boyfriend. Linda explained that once John got back to the ‘States they expected to file for divorce.

As it turned out, well-trained lawyers weren’t done protecting a fucking child molester. A few months after John was transferred, Linda and her boyfriend came by again. Linda showed me a set of legal documents and asked me to review and advise her on what to do.

The documents were divorce papers drawn up by John’s lawyer. The gist was that John was filing for divorce on grounds that Linda had abandoned him by remaining in Italy. All Linda needed to do was sign, and mail them back, to be free of John and her marriage. But buried in the standard divorce verbiage was a clause reading (paraphrased):

“I agree that [ John ] was a loving and faithful husband during the years of our marriage. [ John ] never abused me, and never molested our children.”

Another clause was a quitclaim against any future military pension John may have, should he remain on active duty long enough to retire.

I had to read the papers several times. I was shocked at what John’s lawyer was doing. Meanwhile, Linda and her boyfriend, obviously in love, were sitting on my couch looking at me for an answer. I explained to my wife what was in the papers, and she became as visibly angry as I was feeling.

My Recommendation

After what seemed like forever, I told Linda “I think you should sign these.” I explained that John was gone, and if she wanted to start a new life it would be best to just be free and clear of him. I told her what John was getting away with was a disgrace, but he was no longer her problem.

Linda took the papers back and looked at the signature line for a few long moments. Then, with an air of finality, she signed. She and her boyfriend thanked me and left.

My wife and I transferred out of Naples back to the ‘States a few months later on our normal rotation. I never saw Linda again.

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