It was extraordinary, really. I disobeyed my doctor’s orders and climbed out of bed Friday afternoon to sit in a packed Nevada County courtroom and watch the young man who kidnapped and sexually assaulted a friend of mine be sentenced to 34 years to life in state prison.
I wasn’t there to necessarily see justice be served … where is the justice when two lives have been irrevocably changed for all time?
I was there for my friend – a lovely woman who was abducted during daylight hours while she visited a Grass Valley ATM. It could have been any one of us – and, indeed – it was one of us.
The extraordinary part of the afternoon was to hear her message to the court.
When Judge Dover asked if she wanted to make a statement, she said “yes” in a clear voice and stood up, her head held high, and began to read.
Part of her message that day was about the harm that had been done to her – both physically and psychologically. But she also focused on the healing aspect, the thing she had control over. She talked of the financial devastation the crime left in its wake. Did you think there was money for victims of violent crime? She has received $200 in the year-plus since the ordeal. Instead, she had to spend her life savings to help herself get better. Where is the justice in that?
But then her message turned to the young man, who, high on methamphetamine and prescription drugs, committed the unspeakable crimes. She was disturbed that he wasn’t able to receive help for his drug addiction; she was worried what prison would do to him; she was concerned that his life have meaning and expressed hope that he would speak out about this terrible drug in an effort to educate others.
As I sat in court and listened to this gentle soul expressing sympathy for the young man who was going away to prison for most of his adult life, it occurred to me how wise and compassionate my friend is. I felt immense pride that she was able to be so forgiving, so thoughtful and so strong.
Was justice served in that courtroom? I don’t know. But I do know that I was humbled and awed by what my friend had to teach all of us.
Dixie Redfearn can be reached at 477-4238 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at 477-4292.
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