On behalf of myself and my family here in Washington state we would like to extend our heartfelt apologies to this young girl and her family, and to the community of Clearlake. We hope that she, her family and the community can start to heal from this tragedy.
We initially believed in Chris and his innocence. There was no way that the person that we knew could be guilty of such a horrible crime.
All of the information told to us by his family after his arrest further convinced us of his innocence – to the point of loaning my sister a substantial amount of money from my husband's retirement funds to finance the hiring of a defense attorney.
We were thanked profusely for supporting Chris along with numerous promises, and even a deed of trust to repay the debt.
Sadly, we were deceived by much of the information about Chris’ case, and to this date there has been no effort to make good on repayment of this debt.
Members of my family deceived us about the facts in this case. We were never told, for instance, that the molestation started when his stepdaughter was 11 years old. We learned of this by carefully following the trial.
Our granddaughter here in Washington is 11 years old. Her biggest worry is if she will achieve her set goal for selling Girl Scout cookies, not if she is going to be molested again by someone who is supposed to be nurturing her. The thought of this happening to her makes me physically ill.
We were never told that Chris, when arrested, had confessed to his crime, and that it verified his victim’s account of her abuse.
Our whole lives I had thought we were family, though I question this now by the way we have been treated and how our relationship was abused.
It is my belief that Chris had one chance at possibly making something of his life, and that would have been to take the prosecutor's plea bargain that was offered. With a much shorter prison sentence there may have been a glimmer of hope for him.
His lawyer was thwarted in his efforts to convince Chris to take the plea deal by his mother. He now faces a long incarceration where there is a very good chance that he will be preyed upon, and suffer the same abuse that he perpetrated on his victim. This is something that a lot of people in their blog postings are hoping will happen.
Such are the repercussions and devastation from a crime of this magnitude. It has affected the community where he grew up, and lived and worked. His victim and her family have suffered tremendously.
I am estranged from my sister and stepmother. The deception and disrespect to my husband, who was trying to help them when asked to, is intolerable.
Even though it has been a tremendous loss I am thankful that my father – who passed away on March 7, 2011 – did not have to see his grandson sentenced to prison, and how the actions of his family members have resulted in its present state. In my eyes his name has been shamed.
Lynda Smith lives in Washington state.