I sat at my dining room table. I didn’t move. The detective that had been in the kitchen came out and sat in the same seat that my husband had sat in only a minute or two before. He quickly introduced himself as a member of the computer crime task force, set a manilla folder on the table in front of him, and removed two sheets of paper.
“This is a copy of the search warrant for your records. And this is a receipt of everything that we removed from the house, which was only his phone.”
I looked at the paperwork.
The person/property or articles to be searched for and/or seized is described as follows: Computer hardware, computer software, mobile devices and portable digital storage devices, to include contents therein. Additionally, and and all computer-related documentation, records, documents, material, proceeds and passwords or other data security devices related to the acquisition, possession, sale, and transfer of child pornography.
I felt like every drop of blood drained from my body, from head to toe. The snake of anxiety that had been coiling in my gut, waiting like a rattler ready to strike, suddenly became a constrictor, squeezing the air out of my lungs in a single, solid breath.
“Your husband has been arrested for soliciting a 13-year old girl, after her mother reported him. He’s admitted to everything.” He gestured to the folder full of printed materials. “We have copies of their chat logs, where she tells him that she’s 13, and he tells her that he’s ok with that.” I could see the edges of the papers, stacked unevenly, catching a single column of letters on an edge, or the darker edges of a printed image, small, purple tags indicating different pages.
“There was more than one girl,” he said. “We have logs of several chats. You don’t need to see them.”
Thank God for that.
“Your husband will be taken in for processing, then brought to the courthouse for a bail hearing at about 10 AM. You can meet him there if you’d like, you could make arrangements to bail him out, but there would probably be conditions to his release.”
“I don’t know what I should do,” I told him.
“You can go to the courthouse, support him, and arrange for him to get out. Or, you can put all of his shit on the front lawn, change the locks, and curl up with a bottle of wine. I know what I’d be doing.” He wrote his name and number on a scrap of paper for me, and as quickly as they had burst into my house, I was alone again.
The house was so silent compared to what it been minutes earlier, with none of the typical morning sounds of coffee brewing or a running shower. The cats were missing, having bolted when the task force had first burst into the house. I stood up and walked around my first floor for a minute, unable to force myself to do anything but stand in the center of each room and look around. My brain eventually rebooted and I called my mother, forcing the words out of my mouth because I felt like if I didn’t actually say them, it couldn’t possibly be true. Once I started talking, I couldn’t stop. The story poured out, and I told her about the raid, and the state trooper, and the banging and shouting. I told her that this wasn’t our first dealing with infidelity, and how he had hired an escort off of Craigslist and I’d found a condom in the bedroom trashcan, and how we had made a point to be a better, stronger couple since then, and we certainly weren’t 100% in the running for Strongest Couple of the Year but I thought we were doing so good.
My mother hung up to make some phone calls. I started wandering again. Unwilling to move the last thing he’d touched, I stood on his bathrobe that had been tossed on the kitchen floor and made some oatmeal. I made a pot of coffee, I went to the bathroom again. Somewhere in between my aimless trips across the house, I messaged his mother, asking that she call me when she got a moment, which could be a second later, or an hour later, depending on when she woke up and looked at Facebook. I didn’t know how I was going to break it to her. My own mother was holding back tears at the news, and I couldn’t imagine what I would say to his mother, who loves me as the girl she may not have given birth to but is her daughter just the same. It turned out that I had approximately 3 minutes to decide what to say before she called me, and I took the “rip the bandage off quickly” approach.
She didn’t believe me at first. Of course, what mother would want to believe it? Especially of a son who, to her knowledge anyway, loved his wife more than life itself and had never done anything to hurt her in their 17 years together. She had no idea about any of our problems; his parents live thousands of miles away and only see the things that get posted online. I gave her the timetable: I had roughly two hours to decide the what was going to happen for the rest of her son’s life, in addition to my own. We hung up, with me promising to keep her posted on everything.
Then I sat on the couch, staring at nothing at all and clutching a bowl of oatmeal until it got cold.
It was 8:30 AM.
I needed to make a decision.