***If you’ve not yet read the previous post, (The beginning of the end) please hit the back arrow and catch up before reading this one.***

Grace knew that our ‘like family’ neighbors (family A) would be upset that she’d used their key to enter their home and drink. As soon as they returned from vacation, we had them over, and of her own volition Grace showed integrity and told them what she’d done. Through tears she apologized and promised to make it up to them. She followed that up with a written apology as well. In part her written apology said:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. ‘A’ Family,
I am so sorry. Through this whole event, I abused trust, ruined friendships, and hurt feelings. If I could go back in time I would, but unfortunately I cannot so I must face my consequences. I am deeply sorry for causing this pain to your family. Nobody deserves to feel violated. There are no excuses for what I did, bringing someone into your house. I am still extremely apologetic, and…. I still would like to make amends. I will do whatever chores you would like, volunteer in your name and whatever I can to make things better. That night I was not thinking about you, I was being selfish and thinking on how I could look cool and impress a boy, then lost control of the situation. As I told you that night on our deck, once again I am sorry for everything I put you guys through; I hope one day you can forgive me

While they were upset, at that time they responded by telling her that people make mistakes and that they still loved us….but they were upset that the young man, who had reputation for being trouble, had been in their home. It was a tough night, but we’d thought we were on our way to mending.

But a couple days later, after family B was not forthcoming or apologetic, our friends (A) told us that they were going to call their lawyer and the police, without using names, to ‘see what their options were’.

She said she was sorry if Grace got in trouble too, but she felt that his parents were not controlling him, so she would. I said I hoped that at the very least someone would treat his drug addiction. Her answer: ‘I don’t care what the hell happens to him, I want him out of here!’ (Having him out of the neighborhood sounded good to me too.) I was naïve (stupid?) enough to apologize again and say “do whatever you need to do to feel whole again”. I was assuming that any trouble would be small, like trespassing and Grace would learn a hard but valuable lesson. I was really, really wrong.

A young, short, 20-something, muscle-bound police officer (Vo) came to the door the morning of my youngest daughter Gloria’s birthday on June 30th. I was literally on my way to the stairs with a tray of fresh muffins and flowers to wake her up when the bell rang. Shaken, I asked the officer to give me a couple of minutes to wake her on her special day. He sternly asked me if I knew why he was there, and was I aware that this was very serious and she could be charged as a felon??
I stepped outside for a moment and told him yes, I knew why he was there, but I had greater concerns about other things that happened that night… and then he, without hearing one word of our story, shrugged his shoulders and said “it’s not illegal for people to have sex” I was confused and thought that was the law talking…but he was wrong. ( At one point I called a lawyer in the states attorney’s office (who is community friends with all 3 families) and she was instantly on alert and asked about whether the sex came before or after the drugs. At that point I didn’t know for sure and said I’d call her back later) This was before I was aware of the FBI’s description of ‘drug-assisted sexual assault’. If I became aware of it, why wasn’t he????

After waking Gloria, Grace and I sat on the porch swing while she related the events of the evening. He said he just wanted to hear her side of the story- he never read her her rights or anything. He was congenial, friendly, joking. I was nervous when the officer said to Grace “My memory’s not very good. Can you put what you told me in writing?”
As he left I barely realized that she had been actually been charged with several felony (Breaking and Entering, Burglary) and misdemeanor counts, and later so was the the young man. I was shocked and called my lawyer friend back and described the papers he’d left. I simply couldn’t believe it! My child, never in trouble before, and she is getting wrapped up in the court system as a suspected felon!

My friend, who has known Grace since her pre-school days with her son was very soothing and gently talked me through the path this process usually takes. She told me that first we’d be called to an intake hearing, which was very important to go to. Since Grace had never been in trouble, was a good student,leader, volunteer etc. she said that there was a chance, if the stars aligned just so, that they could decide that her case would be handled informally and not be sent to the court. I’d talked with the woman who’d sent Grace’s charging documents and felt we’d have a good chance, and I waited anxiously for the call for the intake hearing…. Again I was wrong. Someone, somewhere along the way looked at the paperwork and decided the charges were much too serious (?) and summarily waived the hearing and the case headed to the office of
Howard County States Attorney- Dario Broccolino, (WHO IS CURRENTLY ON THE BALLOT: PLEASE WRITE in ‘GRACE McCOMAS on Election Day- you’ll know why later).

We were not happy, but since she had never been in trouble ever before, she was only up to good things – we knew this would be a difficult lesson, but life would go on…or so we thought.

Shortly after, Grace received a subpoenaed as a witness against the young man. Soon after that , though we didn’t know it yet, her bullying began…. And continued, and she was gripped by severe fear, anxiety and depression.

The unexpected crowning blow of this chapter was that once the police became involved in these events, our ‘like family’ neighbors (A) suddenly started completely ignoring us and shunning Grace. No more big waves, no smiles, no ‘hellos’. More than once as they picked up their kids and Gloria from the busstop, they drove right by Grace… once it was in the rain. Staggering. We were crushed.