I am a registered sex offender. But that is not who I am. Though I take full responsibility for my poor choices, I’m not my crime. Sure, society and the courts have labeled me a felon and a sex offender. I’m also a father, business owner, a dog dad, a former TV weatherman and radio host, and someone who has compassion and empathy for others. You see, I made a horrible choice that caused my life to veer way off course. Let me summarize my story for you.
In 2006, I was arrested by the FBI for developing child and teen modeling websites generating over $500,000 in just over two years. FBI agents with guns drawn stormed into my house on a cold spring morning in northern Utah. At first, I told them they had made a mistake and explained that the websites contained no sexual acts or nudity.
As they were interrogating me in my house, I told them the content did not rise to the level of child pornography. Later that year, as I was on pretrial release, I came to understand that it was my naivety (and of course my lapse in good judgement) that got me into trouble. I didn’t understand the law. I didn’t know about the “Dost Test” and how even non-nude images of minors can rise to the level of child pornography. I never thought I was breaking the law, even though was I was doing was destroying me from the inside. I would often cry over what I was doing and the harm that I was causing. But the money was too much for me to walk away from.
I have been through a lot since that fateful day. I lost my mother. My father was in a coma and almost died. My sister had a debilitating stroke due to a blood disorder. I fought in the family court to keep my parental rights and won. Three of my four grandparents passed away. Plus, in 2017, I went through my second divorce. That’s a lot to deal with in such a short time, but it hasn’t been all bad. Sure, it’s been one hell of a struggle, but I’ve learned so much about myself and others. When incarcerated, I spent a lot of time working on nonprofit business plans. My goal was to help others when I got out. I wrote a book, a screenplay, and even an activity book for incarcerated fathers. The book was published online by a Texas nonprofit organization. Even though I was locked up, I felt that I was accomplishing something, even though it was in a small way.
Now that I’ve been out of prison since 2012, I’ve focused attention on bettering myself and developing ways to help others. From 2013 to 2017, I produced five independent films with topics ranging from Tourette Syndrome to the lack of rental housing for ex-felons and registered sex offenders. In 2017, I launched a video podcast titled Solitary Nation, where the focus was on America’s broken criminal justice system. More recently, I’ve decided to become more vocal through my website and vlog, The Outspoken Offender. This venture is about the urgent issues registrants face every day in society, including the lack of jobs and rental housing. It’s also about the loss of family and friends and struggles in marriages due to collateral damage. Furthermore, my project discusses social ostracism and the effects of long-term rejection. Studies have shown that rejection can have disastrous consequences in the form of anger and aggression.
I’m determined to live the healthiest life I can while giving hope to the almost one million registrants and their families. As Jeremy Limn once said, “Rejection gives you more power to push forward.” Thanks for reading.
Assisting registrants, family members, and loved ones affected by the sex offender registry.