Isaiah 3:13 13 The LORD takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people.
There are good court stories (funny, interesting), and there are bad court stories. Real bad. About 15 years ago, I got a call from a client wanting me to appear for a guilty plea hearing in Washington County, Ohio. The courts in Ohio use digital recording, and if they have something important, they will bring in a live court reporter to do trials and things like that. My client explains that this was set for a trial that day, but his client was going to plead, so it would just be an hour or so to get that done.
I arrive in Marietta, get set up, and the defendant comes before the Court, and she asks him if he is there to plead, and he says he’s pleading not guilty. She immediately proceeds to put a jury in the box, and there I was, the official court reporter for a trial. I had no idea what I’d shown up for. This guy was a professor at Marietta College, and he was caught with thousands of child porn images on his computer. He had also pursued and groomed young boys from Parkersburg to get them to engage in sexual acts with him, and he had filmed it, photographed it. There was a lot more, but that was the gist of the charges. We began to pick the jury, and one of the questions the lawyer asked was what magazines the jurors received at their homes. One guy said he received Playboy magazine. They left him on the jury – I thought, “What’s up with that?” He was a big, burly, tattooed former Marine, looked like a pretty rough guy.
We get the trial started, and the story begins to emerge, of how this professor would go to Parkersburg and seek out boys who appeared low income, sort of lost little waifs, and he would befriend them, begin giving them rides home, buy them tennis shoes, pizza, ingratiate himself into their lives, take them to Kings Island and other fun places, all the while making them do sick and perverted things in exchange for their shoes and food. It was beyond sickening. These boys testified, and by the time of the trial, most of them were grown men. I’ll never forget one of them testifying about how he was going to school to be a teacher, and I’m sitting there thinking to myself that it would be a miracle if he was ever hired, once the newspapers printed all the details of this situation. These boys talked of how they were confused and hated themselves for selling their soul and their body for these little piddly tokens of affection. Each of them knew each other and knew the others were probably going through the same thing as they were, but they didn’t talk about it amongst themselves.
On top of these horrible in-person acts, this professor (Doctor Robert Anderson) was an online predator, pursuing children and preteens in America and even across the ocean. He had this little 7-year-old that he had quite the running action with, who would tell him he got up in the middle of the night to talk to him on the computer while mommy and daddy slept. He had this child go get a ruler in one of these exchanges and take a picture of it next to his privates so he could measure it. Sick, sick. I truly went to work each day nauseous and resenting my client who got me trapped into this nightmare. There were times I had to physically regurgitate the vomit and bile that would rise in my throat.
This case lasted almost a month, and we had to go through thousands and thousands of pages of instant messaging (back in the AOL days), thousands and thousands of sick, wicked photographs of children. The jurors had to view each of these pieces of evidence so they could determine a series of things: Age of child, perverse nature of image, etc. I had to mark the exhibits and see them as I put stickers on them. The attorneys would put them up on a big screen, and I would just wheel my chair around so that I wasn’t looking at the screen, which would put me staring at the jury instead. The juror I had wondered about that received the Playboy magazine, the muscle-bound Marine, sat in that jury box and bawled like a baby with every image. I mean tears pouring down his face, snotting and blowing his nose, just torn up. The women cried at first and then got looks on their face of resolve and purpose and just DONE.
The day the authorities swarmed into the college to try to seize these computers, they had the professor away from everyone, but somehow he was able to get word to a fellow partner in crime at Athens, Ohio University, and that guy remoted into the computers and wiped them clean. They had a Doomsday plan, and it almost worked. Thank God the forensic computer guys wouldn’t give up, and they worked and worked and worked until they got those images restored. That guy from Athens ended up dead before the Anderson trial of some weird poison or something, and there was an investigation ongoing about that.
This guy was a creep. I mean, he looked like a creep, and the evidence proved he was not just a creep, but a sick, sick purveyor of evil. True evil. It took me over three years to remove the things I saw from my mind. I would see a blond little sweet, innocent boy, and I would have a flashback of the 7-year-old from Sweden. I would see a preteen boy with ratty clothes and shoes, and I would see those young men who will never be the same. I would drive by that adult book store place on the way to Parkersburg and images would flood into my mind. I prayed and prayed for the evil to leave my mind, my memories, but it took a long time. And I am an ADULT. What does this kind of thing do to children? It is unthinkable.
I tell this story today because I haven’t thought about Doctor Anderson in a long time. Thank God. But there was a recent killing at Mount Olive prison, and I read the article, and it was HIM! I honestly thought he would have been in an Ohio prison and someone would have done him in long before now, but he had been sentenced in West Virginia as well, and had lasted this long before someone beat him up and killed him.
Parents, if you have given your child an Internet-enabled device and do not have a block on it, you have just opened up the door to the Doctor Andersons of this world. By this time, 15 years later, the accessibility to this evil has multiplied a thousand times. You say, “Oh, I have good kids – they know not to do anything like that.” You may have good kids, but even though children don’t go searching, there is evil lurking right around the corner searching for THEM! Please, please, protect your family, your children, from these things. I shudder to think of what the chances are that my granddaughters will be able to find a young man to marry who is pure in spirit, whose eyes have not been tainted by the pornography that is around every corner. Or that my grandsons will be protected from this so that they can have normal and healthy marital relationships.
There is no greater duty as parents and grandparents than to help our children navigate this world with confidence, with safety and with peace. Just wanted to remind you today that there is GOOD and there is EVIL in this world, and the Bible is true when it tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 that we are to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Don’t let it be your family! Your kids may hate you for a while for “depriving” them of what everyone else has, but wouldn’t you rather that than they be a victim to this evil? Stay strong, parents – this is the highest calling we have in our lives!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.