I got a bit of good news this morning. Actually, it’s a lot of good news. The man who raped me was denied parole by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles yesterday. The next parole review will be August 2015 and I’ll be notified about 4 months before that so I can send my stack of reasons why he shouldn’t be let loose on a civilized society (well those of us who are civilized anyway). Again. I can ask friends and family to send another bunch of their reasons to keeping Carl Edward Chambers locked up. The next mandatory release date is in 20 years. He got a 60 year sentence, and because of the laws at the time of his sentencing, he has these ‘mandatory’ release dates. Until then, he gets ‘reviewed’ every three years. I just get back into a routine of not thinking about him roaming the streets, and that possibility comes into play again. He had to serve the first 20 years without any chance of parole, but after that it’s been a roller coaster.
I was a very young 23 year old in 1987 when the rape happened. I didn’t have a clue about evil people- or about people who were so damaged that they committed crimes like Chambers did. There was little doubt among the officers who investigated the rape that murder was the goal that day. I knew who he was, where he lived, and that he’d been in prison (the naive part of me didn’t have a clue why he’d been in prison, or what ‘Huntsville’ Texas prison really was- a farm for the worst of the worst). With me dead, he would have had access to everything in my apartment and my car. He would have been long gone by the time I’d been noticed missing. I was still off of work from a back injury, so it could have been a week or more. Probably when I started to stink up the place, bothering the neighbors.
I fight to keep him locked up because of what he did to me (other blog posts go into more detail, and there are more details to come, in due time). But I also feel he should serve as much as he agreed to when he plead guilty part way through the trial. He heard me testify, and whoops- time to change his plea from not guilty to guilty. How often does that happen? Then he agreed to the equivalent of a life sentence, or 60 years (I wouldn’t accept less than that in the plea bargain, and was ready to let the judge have at it). To me that either shows that he’s incredibly stupid, or there’s a shred of conscience in there somewhere. His sister (mom of the baby I took care of, and how I was introduced to the monster) even testified on the side of the prosecution; she had told me that he’d always been the ‘black sheep’ of the family. I’m thinking more along the lines of black heart. Cold. Hard. She was a sweet kid with a baby. She knew nothing about what he was capable of; his prior offenses were violent, but not to the point of actually physically hurting someone. He tore me up.
And yet, there’s also part of me that wonders what in the world happened to him to make him the way he turned out. That’s not in any way condoning what he did, or making him less responsible. But I do wonder. The other siblings weren’t felons (at least then; no clue now- but the sister I knew was a sweet kid struggling to make a life for her baby). I’ve forgiven him- again, that doesn’t erase culpability. It just keeps my life from being all about him, and how to get even. There is no way for him to give me that day back, or undo what he did to me. It’s in God’s hands…He’s got MUCH more at His disposal for punishment than I do. Frees up my head not to be mad all the time. Did Chambers alter my life forever? Yep. But he can’t do anything to take it back. An apology would be nice, but I don’t think I’d ever trust that it was genuine, so why bother?
I do wish I’d been taught that I had the right not to help someone who seemed potentially harmful, or gave me knots in my stomach. I didn’t feel that I had that right- I was taught to help my neighbors, and ‘neighbors’ meant everyone. I wasn’t taught to think through what I knew about someone (no matter how minimal) and base a safe decision on that. That was a very hard lesson to learn- and it didn’t have to be that way. Christian parents and youth leaders need to be teaching their charges that it’s OK to stay safe; it’s not a sin to avoid being assaulted or murdered. They need to know how to identify potentially harmful situations. God gave us brains; they need to be used.
Well, now I’m off the hook for another 31 months, until I get the next letter telling me the next review is coming. And I’ll cry, and relive parts of the rape that get shelved periodically. I’ll talk to another lead voter on the parole board (this one was very kind; I can’t imagine having that job). But I’m never really ‘done’ with the rape, or Chambers. I never forget. I never had the life I thought I’d have (married, kids, house with a dog… I did get the dog). I never let anybody touch me after that, and was a virgin before (my beliefs are that sex comes after the wedding). My life became abnormal. I don’t think I’ve been all that abnormal, but I missed a lot. As I get older, that sinks in more.
But I still believe that it happened for a reason. I don’t believe God ‘made’ it happen, but it can be used for good. I’m still figuring all of that out (so I’m a bit slow). If it can’t be used to help someone else, then it’s for nothing. I can’t allow that- so I still muddle around in my own head, searching for ways to be of use through this. Chambers can’t win this one. I can’t let him. He took enough without my permission…this is on me.