Offender story: Robert

Editor's Note: In Oregon, information pertaining to juveniles is not disclosed to the public, unless that juvenile, 15 or older, is prosecuted as an adult for a Measure 11 crime. Robert is identified by his middle name only, as he is soon eligible for relief from the sex offender registry. He said he hopes to gain a fresh start and become a registered nurse so he can provide for his wife and child. The newspaper granted his request in an effort to tell a story that otherwise never would be told. This is Robert's story.

Robert was 10 years old when he was adjudicated on a charge of first-degree sodomy. After 12 years on the sex offender registry, he said he is eligible for relief in just a few short months. It's the chance he's been waiting for and he said in early November he hoped to be granted a fresh start. That way, he can get his dream job as a registered nurse and begin providing for his family. Married with a 2-year-old son, Robert has struggled to gain employment or housing for his family thus far. His family shares a room with his wife's sister in her mother's home.

"It's been really hard to find work," he said. "I can't join the military or anything like that. I can't work for anyone, like the postal service, that has any ties to the state or federal government. I worked at a residential (assisted) home for three months, but they threw me out once they did my background check. It's impacted a lot of little things that I want to do that I can't do. It's stopped me from getting an apartment for my family. And the worst part is that nothing even happened."

Robert denies the charge he was found guilty of and says he was accused of the sexual crime by a step-sibling's other parent.

"They took (the parent's) word over everybody else's," Robert said.

Because of his young age, he was sentenced to three years of probation, he said, and put through a treatment program that involved counseling and evaluations until he was 14. After that, he still was monitored, and he has never been fully released from supervision.

He said he had a lot of anger for what was going on in his life and begged his father to put him in military school, a request his father granted for his middle school and early high school years.

"The whole thing was so messed up, I started acting out, I was just enraged by it all," Robert said.

As he aged, however, Robert went back into the school system. He graduated from North Eugene High School. During all of that time, he said, only three people outside of his immediate family knew about what happened and his sex offender status — an ex-girlfriend, her sister and Robert's wife.

His case file is sealed and therefore cannot be accessed by the public because he was a juvenile.

"In my eyes, if you're a child, there is experimenting, and I think that's sometimes understandable," Robert added. "But at the same time, at a certain age, you know right from wrong. For younger kids, I feel bad for them, because that was me. On the other hand, as you get older, you know right from wrong."