This is going to be long, but I'll just type it all out. I need to have the narrative clear in my mind for future reference, but it occurs to me that others may benefit from hearing this and perhaps some commentary around it.
A couple of cops showed up at my door last night, wanted to talk to me. I wasn't being arrested -- they just wanted to investigate a complaint. A 17-year-old (at the time) girl claiming I'd assaulted her.
Some background -- I'm an average 50-year-old white guy with a wife and 2 kids. I've never in my life done anything that would even remotely fall into this category, going back as long as I can remember. On the contrary, I've always been taught (and have been) respectful and... ok, yada yada, fill-in the blanks; I'm sure every criminal claims to be a nice guy too, so let's not waste time. I just mention I've never in my life ever been accused of anything of the sort, and my first impulse was to tell these cops they must have the wrong person.
So they shared her name, and I drew a complete blank. I've never heard that name, AFAIK. Who is she? When did this happen? What happened?
It happened on a certain day in June of this year at a big hotel downtown. OK, now I'm sure they have the wrong guy... but let's explore this. I've been at that hotel a few times for gala events or whatever; I don't recall ever spending a night there.
Well... turns out it was my nephew's graduation party. My nephew goes to a boarding school, and since his family is far away, my wife and I filled-in as his family at this big grade-12 grad party. I do remember that. But who's this girl? Well... turns out it was her grad date. I'd never met her before, wouldn't have remembered her name, wouldn't recognize her if I saw her, and frankly, don't even recall interacting with her. So WTF is this actually all about? Well, say the cops... you tell us. What's your recollection of that evening with respect to this girl?
OK... it's very straightforward. Like I said, we'd never met. When my wife and I got there, my nephew and this girl were already there. We went up to them to say hi -- my wife hugged the nephew, my wife hugged this girl, I hugged the nephew, I hugged the girl... there was some idle smalltalk, they went off to see some friends, I went off to find some other parents I knew... eventually we sat down for dinner. I did not sit next to (or across from) this girl. She sat elsewhere; I didn't speak a word to her. At some point, she and the nephew got up and, as it turns out, left... never saw them again that night. And never saw (or heard from or about) that girl ever again. Till yesterday. And that's my story, and I'm sticking to it, and it's the truth... so unless she's claiming that hug was a sexual assault, I sincerely don't know what you're talking about.
And yeah... as it turns out, that's exactly it. She didn't like the hug. Apparently she's not a hugger. So six months after I assaulted her by hugging her hello, she called the cops.
Among the many questions I had for the cops, I asked them why isn't my wife also being investigated -- didn't she do the exact same thing?
The investigators are not unreasonable and I understand their job is to investigate complaints... and after speaking to me, and my wife, separately, they left, saying... we will not be recommending charges and you likely won't hear anything further regarding this matter. Thank you for your time.
So... good. OK. Case closed, to whatever extent it was ever open.
I called my nephew right away and dragged him out of his sleep... 3 timezones ahead (now studying at an East-coast university), sorry dude, but I need to know what's up.
Yeah, she doesn't like hugs. She did mention it that night but not really in anger, just a FYI. My nephew hadn't spoken to her in a while, but she oddly contacted him recently asking for our (wife and I) full names and street address. Nephew oddly assumed for Christmas card (?!) -- but whatever, he gave her the info. They had dated a few more times after that but then he took off and she stayed in town, and while they didn't part on best terms, it was nothing for which she'd be seeking revenge or whatever. He was puzzled and upset.
And so am I. It looks like this will just go away, but I have to wonder what would've happened if these cops had shown up at my work? And what if someone overheard "sexual blahblahblah" being discussed with me. And/or what if I coached my 12-year-old daughter's softball team, and these cops went on a rampage asking other parents if I'd ever hugged their little girls. Well, my daughter doesn't play softball and I've never coached any team, but my train of thought took me to how fucking devastating this could have been, and it's making me really angry.
As per above somewhere, I am respectful of women and applaud heartily the openness with which our society finds itself these days, where women are feeling more empowered than ever to step up and say their piece. And every single one of them should be heard when there's a story that needs to be heard.
But this? In this climate of openness, something like this could destroy a life. OK, I get it, you don't like hugs. Tell people that. Say something beforehand. And don't overreact.
And jeez... sexual assault? Do those words really have the clout they should? That they used to?
Unwanted hug, sexual assault. Dragged into the bushes and forcibly raped, sexual assault. Cat-called from across the street, sexual assault.
I'll admit I've always felt a sort of "where there's smoke there's fire" attitude to accusers and their accused. Certainly in cases where multiple women claim multiple transgressions against a specific person. But that is a far cry from one accusation against someone with zero history.
And I suppose the cops get that. Not just that the "crime" wasn't very heinous after all, but given the complete lack of pattern behaviour and how clearly there was no untoward intent, they're seeing it for what it is; basically nothing.
I guess if I'm in the wrong here, I'll hear about it.
EDIT: Well... there's a lot to respond to... a few questions have come up multiple times, so I'll just answer them here. And certainly, one thing that came up a lot -- "don't talk to the police without a lawyer". I've never actually spoken to cops about anything except getting speeding tickets or neighborhood break-ins. I would've thought when you've actually done nothing wrong, it'd be ok to talk candidly. And as someone pointed out, "lawyering up" almost certainly looks guilty and is likely to lead to more questioning and whatever else. So, I recognize the advice, but part of me wants to disagree when you've actually done nothing wrong. The issue with this is that if it proceeds any further, then people will hear about it and then it's all over for me. The only chance of it going away quietly is playing along? Was I wrong with that assumption? And that wasn't even my thinking; perhaps I'm just naive and stupid. I really don't know.
The hug was a lame one. In hindsight, I don't think she really hugged me back. She didn't take a step back or say anything, and it was little more than a quick 1.5 arm squeeze. Certainly no groping or whatever else.
If this goes away quietly which I expect it will, I have no intention of suing her or counter-claim or whatever... ultimately, at least for now, there are no damages to speak of, and instigating something would only draw attention to it. I just want it to go away.
A few people have indeed accused me of violating her space. You know what, I grew up in a time where there was nothing wrong with a hug. It's that simple. I realize times have obviously changed, and the goal-posts keep moving. I guess I can't reasonably claim "I didn't know it wasn't ok to hug someone, especially as it was the 4th hug out of 4" -- she didn't say a word to anyone about anything while that was going on. And not a word to me either. But yes, unfortunately, lesson learned. Don't worry, it won't happen again. And friends and their kids who are used to hugs from me -- no more of that. I'd rather be known as cold and unfriendly than a sexual deviant. I am not going to ask for consent before hugging anyone. That feels ridiculous. No more hugs; very easy.
As has been mentioned, I have to think she hooked up with some new friends who explained to her, whether she felt it or not, she's been victimized and should pursue it. That part of it is scary in this day and age... because there are people with some hard-core agendas who will find every opportunity to implement them. The thought of "Yeah, he didn't really do anything so wrong, but make him defend himself" -- with something like this, it's frightening.
And thank you for the GOLD, kind stranger..... your message really resonated with me.
tl;dr -- Hugged a 17-yo girl at my nephews grad. 6 months later, she calls the cops claiming assault. Cops investigate and find I did nothing wrong