One April afternoon in 2004, Steven Barker Sirois was mowing his lawn when a family friend drove up in her pickup. She had asked him to research battered women shelters in the area for a friend of hers, and he had forgotten. He walked toward her saying, “Darla, I’m sorry, I forgot.”
She replied with, “Did you think she would not tell me?”
Steve, tired after working all day at the State Park where he was a park ranger, was in no mood to put up with any of Darla’s histrionics. It seemed she was always coming to him for advice, financial problems, bemoaning the loss of a boyfriend, or something else.
He said, “Don’t say it, Darla, just don’t say it.” Those same words would be used against him later.
She called him a son-of-a-bitch, and nearly hit him with her truck as she drove off. Completely confused, he tried to reach her on her cell phone, but she wouldn’t pick up. Steve went inside to tell his wife, Robin, about the crazy encounter he had just had with Darla.
He finally reached Darla at her job the next morning, and asked what was going on. She just said, “You know what’s going on. You need help, Sirois,” and hung up. Within a week, he was sitting in the sheriff’s office, giving a deposition to a deputy who informed him that he was being accused of the crime of sexual assault of a child, Darla’s daughter.
How would you react, if you were minding your own business, and were suddenly accused of a horrific crime, something you had nothing to do with? How would you cope? How would you defend yourself? And, more importantly, if you were convicted, what legal means would be at your disposal to help you regain your freedom? Sadly, very little, and most of what you could do would be stacked against you.
Steve’s story will examine how easily the American justice system can be twisted against the innocent, and what they have to do to fight their way back to normalcy.
A work in progress, currently titled, Aggravated: How a Series of Lies Sent an Innocent Man to Prison. Publication date to be determined, but hopefully sometime in 2017.