I remember as a child when I watched Disney movies I thought the princesses were perfect, just like their lives, but as I got older I realized that the princesses went through trials and tribulations before they got their “happily ever after”. Undoubtedly my trials, excuse the pun, and tribulations started early. By the age of eleven I knew the definitions of: attorney, testify, sexual battery on a minor under 12, molestation, and truth.
Although, my trials and tribulations were hard to overcome it is now because of them I understand that Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is overrated, justice does sometimes prevail, “Guilty by association” does not always apply, and most importantly your memories are what you make of them. I can say with 100% certainty the day Michael Sepulveda got prosecuted had positive outcomes in my life and my overall understanding on adult concepts at a young age. I clearly remember the inside of the courtroom like it was yesterday, it was the most terrifying yet dignifying moment of my life.
I sat next to the judge on the witness stand, and watched his attorney pace back and forth judging and questioning me. I remember wondering whether or not she really thought he was innocent or if it was just a job to her. I heard his family whisper and sob as they watched the scene unfold. To me the most terrifying thing was not the testifying itself, but watching his soulless eyes stare into mine as I testified, I could feel the hot tears streaming down my twelve year old face my heart was racing; I felt like it was going to jump out of my chest.
I wasn’t nervous because I knew I was telling the truth, I knew because I had sworn on the Holy Bible, to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the court of law, I knew because before the cross examining began my defender, Frances, asked me silly questions on record to show that I knew the difference between truth and lie, “When’s your birthday? ” She asked; I answered honestly. “Now Jasmyn,” She asked her smile comforting me, “If I told you Barney was red would that be true or would it be a lie? ” “A lie. ” I stated. Everybody with common since knew Barney was purple!
Above all of the silly questions and the oath I took, I knew I was telling the truth because for three years I was forced to remember every detail that happened. Subpoena after subpoena landed in our mailbox, and every time it was rescheduled; I was scared to forget because I knew that one day that subpoena was going to come and it was going to be game time. Those moments in court were not like an Episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Those moments did not lead to instant gratification and relief. Instead, those moments led to wonder and more waiting; waiting for two simple words: Guilty or Not guilty.
One word linked Michael and I together for the rest of our lives: Guilty. One sentence freed me from his chains for the rest of my life, “Michael Sepulveda, I hear by sentence you too a correctional facility for twenty-five to life. You will remain there for the rest of your natural born life, with no parole. ” He was charged with one count of sexual battery against a minor under 12. This day changed my life. ot was a bitter sweet feeling like jumping into a pool instead of sticking your toe in first. This day showed me not only that justice does prevail, but most importantly it taught me to be strong; that was the sweet part.
The bitter part was walking down the hallway after the trial and seeing his family distraught and upset. In that moment I was completely bombarded with emotions, I wanted to reach out to them and give them my condolences, but I also wanted to hate them; I wanted them to feel the pain that I felt for two years of my life while their son, nephew, brother sexually abused me. It was in that moment; in that hallway that I realized that in not all cases, including the case of Mike’s family, are people guilty by association.
To this day, some people will argue Michael deserved what he got, others will say and he deserved more than 25 years, and others will say he deserved nothing. I know personally I am not proud that I got him locked away, I feel strong about it and all, but even now as he rots away in a cell, he has never been closer to me than in my teenage years right now. It is because of Michael that I have post-traumatic stress disorder and often wake up in my own tears in sweat. It is because of him I don’t trust to be alone with many grown men, and it is because of him I had missed a major part of my childhood and grew up faster than I would have liked.
It is also because of Michael that I don’t have a clouded, deluded, and misguided outlook on life, but it is also to Michael that I give my greatest thanks, because of him I live in a better home than ever imaginable, with a great woman who I am proud to call “grandma. ” The late William Shakespeare once said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. ” As far as I am concerned, I was dealt a crappy set of cards, but like every great poker player knows, you just got to know how to play them.
I may not have been born great, but I will be great, because greatness is without a doubt being blessed upon me. Mike was only 24 years old when he was sentenced and now his entire life is over, it is because of this that I know to be thankful that I was dealt cards at all, and to cherish and love my family because in one mistake; one moment, it can all be taken away from you. The day Mike got prosecuted was bitter-sweet, but it has given me more than one thing to be thankful for, and has impacted my life in a great way. I may not be there just yet, but like every Disney princess, I am on my way to my “happily ever after. ”