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A discussion about what happened to Amanda, the victim from episode 4, and how the police department can make changes that will better serve vulnerable victims.

Special Guest:  Detective Jay 

Detective Jay has been in law enforcement for 18 years. He began his route into police work at age 19, when he joined the Explorers, or Youth Volunteers, and started going on ride-a-longs with law enforcement in his hometown. In 2004 he became a sworn police officer and for the next 10 years served on Patrol. In 2014, he was promoted to Detective in the Person Crimes department where he now investigates homicides, assaults, and sex crimes in his small town.

Read Transcript

Yeardley [00:00:08] Hey, Small Town fam. So, while we are officially on hiatus for a couple of weeks, we have a special bonus episode for you today called ‘Amanda.’ It’s about the young victim who is at the center of last week’s episode titled ‘A Dangerous Caller.’ If you haven’t listened to that one yet, we highly recommend you go back and do so before listening to this one. It’s unusual for us to do a follow-up episode on a victim. But when detective Jay said he had had further contact with Amanda after A Dangerous Caller. Detectives Dan and Dave and I wanted to know if she’s okay.

What you’re about to hear is the often-unreported ruthless cycle of abuse that goes on between a child predator and his young prey. A cycle that has all the earmarks of domestic violence between two adults, despite the victim in this case, being vastly underage. We are sparing with the physical details and instead zero in on the psychological abuse that Amanda has had to endure at the hands of her abuser.

The last thing I want to say is, it is with great respect and care that we share this episode with you, in hopes that Amanda herself, or perhaps someone who knows her, or even someone who’s in a similar cycle of abuse as Amanda, might hear it, or somehow get wind of it, and be assured that none of what is happening to them is their fault, and there’s help available. So, without further ado, here is Amanda.

Gentlemen, before we tell this story, why don’t you say hello to the Small Town fam so they know who you are. I have Detective Dan.

Dan [00:01:59] Hello.

Yeardley [00:02:00] Hello. And I have Detective Dave.

Dave [00:02:04] Good afternoon.

Yeardley [00:02:05] Good afternoon. And we are so pleased to welcome back, Detective Jay.

Jay [00:02:10] Thank you, guys, for having me again.

Yeardley [00:02:12] So, detective Jay, I was hoping you’d tell us that Amanda has gotten the help she needs and things are starting to look up for her. But I gather that’s not what’s happened.

Jay [00:02:23] Not so much at this point in time. This is a couple years after the previous case.

Yeardley [00:02:29] A Dangerous Caller.

Jay [00:02:30] Yeah, that prior case invited a lot of people who are also predators and wanted to victimize somebody that was in their eyes, an easy target.

Dave [00:02:43] It’s difficult because it’s so sensitive, trying to recognize the impact this has on Amanda and other victims who have been victimized. In some cases, it makes them more prone to that kind of attention from other people. It’s particularly apparent in situations where the support system, the family dynamic isn’t there that maybe another victim would have and so it makes them more vulnerable to this. They’re more prone to these types of situations, and it’s sad that in this case, she’s had other incidents that she’s had to deal with.

Yeardley [00:03:24] Right. So, Jay, you hear from Amanda again a few years after the first case, her parents are still not really in her life. So, where is she living now?

Jay [00:03:37] Amanda, she still lived with her grandmother, and her grandmother was probably in no better position now than she was in the previous case to act as a parent to Amanda. Amanda had started to run away from home often, and her grandmother would report her as a runaway every time that she’d leave. One of the times she was located by the police, her grandmother came to pick her up and that’s when she reported that she had been assaulted by a different male.

Yeardley [00:04:13] Does he have a name?

Jay [00:04:14] Yes, his name is Andy. She had met him a few months prior and he had lured her in with some free marijuana. They smoke some weed together under the overpass he was staying at and then he asked Amanda to spend the night with him.

Yeardley [00:04:32] Wait, I’m sorry. Did you say he’s living under an overpass?

Jay [00:04:36] Yes.

Yeardley [00:04:38] So, he’s asked her to spend the night with him under an overpass?

Jay [00:04:43] Yeah.

Yeardley [00:04:44] For so many reasons, he’s disgusting.

Jay [00:04:46] Yeah. And that’s when they had their first sexual encounter. This was a very abusive relationship. Amanda would go home for a few days, then leave and go spend some time with Andy. While they were together, he would have sex with her, and then he would berate her and accuse her of cheating on him. Then, they would communicate over Facebook Messenger and he would say he loves her, then he would accuse her of cheating, and this was a cycle that kept going on in her life.

Dave [00:05:20] It’s the DV cycle, Domestic Violence Cycle.

Jay [00:05:23] Exactly.

Yeardley [00:05:24] How old is Andy?

Jay [00:05:26] Andy is 25.

Yeardley [00:05:28] And Amanda is well underage?

Jay [00:05:30] She’s still well underage, and it’s not even close. But this is still a few years after the initial case with Amanda. So, generally, in fact almost exclusively, when we have officers take patrol reports of child sexual abuse, they do not interview the child. Amanda is a little bit different in that she is so far beyond her actual age in terms of her cognitive development, and she is able to explain everything that happened. So, she starts telling the officer what happened and then he writes it up in his report. And because I was associated with the last case, it gets forwarded to me about this relationship that she had had with Andy.

When I got the case, I contacted our Child Advocacy Center, set up an interview, had Amanda show up. She did, with her grandmother. While there, she was interviewed by one of the male interviewers, and she didn’t feel comfortable talking to him. She wrote a very short journal while in the room about what happened. And then she says, “You know, I just don’t want to talk about it with you. Is the other person who interviewed me for the previous case here?” And that person was, and she interviewed Amanda, and Amanda gave her full disclosure. She described that this relationship had gone on for several months. Most of the time, Andy lived in a different city, and she would travel by a bus or hitchhike to go visit him.

While there, he would take advantage of her sexually and abuse her in the park, various other locations, homeless shelters, and so forth. She said they’d also stayed at a hotel in town. She said on her birthday, he had broken up with her and kicked her out of the hotel while it was raining. And she told the interviewer that she had to go buy her own birthday cake because her boyfriend wouldn’t get her anything.

Yeardley [00:07:24] Good God!

Dave [00:07:25] He’s exhibiting his control. He can control the ebb and flow of this relationship based on his demeanor. He’s a tyrant, I’m guessing.

Jay [00:07:33] That’s exactly what it is.

Yeardley [00:07:35] Is he doing this to other underage girls as well?

Jay [00:07:38] Through this investigation, I wasn’t able to confirm that. But there’s suspicion that this was not a one-off, and this was a serial predator.

Yeardley [00:07:45] It’s interesting to me that Amanda– first of all, that she does disclose, that she discloses in quite a bit of detail. Do you feel as though that is a desperate call for help? Because she could easily deny it and not get him in trouble. She knows that if she discloses, he’ll get in trouble.

Jay [00:08:04] I see it as a cry for help for her. In her mind, she was weighing the benefits of getting herself help and also wanting a relationship, wanting to be with somebody. She lacks a stable history of that, and I think that is coming out in her current life.

Dave [00:08:22] I think the previous case, there’s been some trust built between her and the system, which includes law enforcement, and the Child Advocacy Center, and specifically that interviewer. We’ve talked about her a lot. She’s been on this podcast, she’s really good.

Dan [00:08:40] It’s Nicole, I’m guessing.

Jay [00:08:41] Yes.

Yeardley [00:08:42] She did the Disclosure episode.

Dan [00:08:43] Correct.

Dave [00:08:44] So, I think Amanda is recognizing, “This is bad. These are people that have earned my trust in the past and treated me right, and didn’t judge me.” She’s got some clarity at a certain moment and she’s like, “Okay, these people helped me in the past. I’m going to tell them what this guy is doing.”

Jay [00:09:04] One of the things that Amanda told us is that Andy is going to deny how old Amanda actually was and say that she was 19 or 18, something that would make the relationship legal. But Amanda says, “No, we chatted about this on Facebook. In fact, here you go, here’s my password, you can log in.” And I pull up the whole chat log. One of the things Andy does in the chats after he tears her down, he’ll try and build her up with promises that he knows he won’t keep, but he wants to continue to sexually abuse her. And one of the things he says is, “I could rough it in prison if your love isn’t strong enough. I’m scared to death of that challenge for six years.” So, he clearly acknowledges that she’s underage and that he knows what’s going on. And also, she had been sending him pornographic pictures of herself and he had also been doing the same to her. So, there’s no doubt that he didn’t know her age, and also was sending child pornography over the internet to her.

Yeardley [00:10:10] And at this point, she’s wiser than her years. But physically, could she pass for 19?

Jay [00:10:15] No, she couldn’t pass for 16. She couldn’t pass for 15. She’s still a child, and looks like a child.

Dan [00:10:24] You think about all the damage that’s been done to her over the years of her development, she’s like a wounded animal. She’s still out there, and predators are still coming at her. She’s not strong enough mentally to be able to fend these people off. They just keep picking on her and she hasn’t healed enough to be able to recover.

Yeardley [00:10:45] Right. Through no fault of her own, of course. It’s just one of the devastating effects of abuse.

Dave [00:10:53] Right. These are survival techniques. She’s got a normal that other children aren’t exposed to or aware of, and she’s just trying to survive. You imagine someone that is early teen, even mid-teen, even an 18- or 19-year old, that you’re out on the streets, and that’s your life, you’ve got to hone some survival skills.

Yeardley [00:11:18] Yeah.

Jay [00:11:19] And the predators know that. That’s what they go after. One of the things that Amanda discloses is that she had spent a night with Andy in a hotel room, and Amanda gave us the name of that hotel. So, I go to that lower-rent hotel and contact the staff, and they were very helpful. What Andy did is when he booked this hotel room, he had to give his ID, so we know it’s definitely him. Well, the policy of the hotel is every adult that checks in has to give their name and ID. Well, because of Amanda’s age, she doesn’t have ID. So, Andy rents the room for one adult and one child. So, on the registration for the hotel, it says, “Guests: One adult, one child.”

Yeardley [00:12:08] Again, he knows how old she is, or he knows how old she isn’t at least.

Jay [00:12:12] Yes. Okay, well, this is going to be an easier case to prove. But he was out of town, I think by a week later, so he had gotten wind that the police might be involved, and he had found another girlfriend who was actually 18 in this other town. I contacted their department, and they were very helpful. They gave us several resources, several officers to help track this guy down. When they did track him down, we were able to arrest him. It was something like 11:00 at night, and they met us halfway between our town and their town. I told them we had probable cause to arrest him, sent an affidavit their way. They grabbed him and exchanged him, and I lodged him at jail that night.

While he’s in the jail, he went to the nurse because on the jail staff, there are nurses who evaluate the inmates. Well, he had been having some pain while urinating, and he had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. When the nurse asked him who his sexual partner was, he said, “It’s Amanda, and this is her date of birth.”

Yeardley [00:13:17] Ah!

Jay [00:13:18] So, not only was that great just testimony wise from the nurse, but she documented it contemporaneously on the form. So, now we have him admitting to a sexual assault with the victim in this case on a medical document. So, this was very compelling evidence for the DA and within about a week of this, he had pled guilty ahead of schedule.

Dave [00:13:40] That’s incredibly efficient work to get that kind of timeline on a plea deal.

Jay [00:13:46] Yeah. And I think his attorney told it to him straight up and said, “This doesn’t look good. You can either hang out here in county or get this show on the road.” He pled guilty, and was shortly off to prison.

Yeardley [00:13:57] Wow. And what about our Amanda?

Jay [00:14:01] We came across other instances of adults sexually assaulting her. At this point, Amanda was not wanting to be the center of attention through the police again, for those cases, and we were unable to put any other together. I’ve seen Amanda several times just walking down the street during the day, and she’s going about her life.

Yeardley [00:14:31] Is she still running away from home?

Jay [00:14:33] Hasn’t when I last checked.

Yeardley [00:14:35] Is there any recourse for the system that’s in place to be able to help her? You all often speak about the system itself is overwhelmed anyway. And so, I’m curious, in a situation like this where Amanda is chronically abused, what do you do?

Dan [00:14:53] I think you just don’t give up.

Dave [00:14:55] She hasn’t gotten to the point where she’s able to accept all the help that could be made available to her. I’m not saying the system’s perfect, but it gives you some coping skills and life management skills that haven’t gained traction with her yet.

Yeardley [00:15:13] And that is just devastating. Sweet Amanda.

Dan [00:15:17] I’m hopeful that someday there’s a change in her life that completely turns everything around.

Yeardley [00:15:22] Right, where she sees the possibility. I think it’s very hard to go towards something if you already have decided or are convinced it’s not going to work. That’s a really tall order no matter what.

Jay [00:15:34] Yeah.

Yeardley [00:15:38] Well, Detective Jay, thank you so much. I really hope that one day you come back and tell us that Amanda has found her way to safety, and she’s all right.

Jay [00:15:49] Yeah.

Yeardley [00:15:51] In the meantime, thank you all for being here today, and for advocating for the Amandas in your towns.

Dave [00:15:58] Thank you.

Dan [00:15:58] Thank you.

Yeardley [00:16:02] So there you have it, another slice of snackable content here on Patreon. And just like our regular episodes, Small Town Dicks on Patreon is produced by Gary Scott and me, Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor and The Real Nick Smitty. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin. And Logan also composed our Patreon theme music. And finally, our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell. The team is forever grateful for your support.