Yesterday, I got a private Facebook message from a college friend of mine. The message was also addressed to several other college friends. It included a link to a news article about a guy we all knew in school. When I first read my friend's words, I thought maybe this mutual acquaintance might have died. But no... what actually happened was that my friend just discovered that his old fraternity brother was sitting in a Texas prison for possession of child pornography.
My mouth dropped open as I read about the charges. This man, whom I remembered as a congenial guy who liked music, had asked a casual friend to dog sit for him while he was on vacation. The dog sitter happened to find the porn while using the man's computer, ostensibly innocently. She uncovered thousands of film clips and images of young boys being abused. She reported her findings to the police.
The article also stated that the man had been an upstanding and productive member of the community, involved in Rotary and Boy Scouts and working as the vice president of a credit union. But when he was apprehended, he had bloody wrists because he had attempted suicide... and was also HIV positive.
Apparently, there was no evidence that the man had ever actually had sexual contact with a child. There were just many pictures and incriminating chat transcripts. The man had described his urges as a "ticking time bomb". And while he sits in a prison cell now with a long sentence ahead of him, it occurs to me that as bad as this situation is, it could have been so much worse. But it's always tragic to hear about someone who had so much potential ending up on the wrong side of the law.
This is not the first time an old friend has surprised me with news about a person we both knew who ended up going to prison. A few years ago, a very old friend of mine sent me clippings about someone who had gone to school with us. He now sits in prison, having been caught drug trafficking. I remember being shocked by that revelation too. He had come from a very respectable family. His father was the director of instruction for our school system. His mother was a nurse. His older brother was a celebrated athlete and though he, himself, was not athletic, he was very smart. I remember my friend had a mad crush on him when we were growing up. He could have done anything he wanted with his life. He could have been anything he wanted to be.
I remember running into him once late at night at a 7-11. I had stopped for gas and he was in the store with a girl. He looked strung out and emaciated. A couple of years later, he was busted. He now sits in a prison cell in California.
It always amazes me how lives can unravel... and how outward appearances can be so deceptive. Both of these guys had so much going for them.