I was working with a lawyer this past summer, who took on the most startling of cases: A frum yid had unfortunately succumbed to his ta'avas, and committed horrible crimes. I will not state the exact nature of his crimes, yet I will say that he neither spoke, nor made any physical contact with his victims.
Before describing the court scene, I will first say that I have been to truly horrific funerals, and sat at some unbelievably sad and shocking shivas.
Nothing in my life had ever shaken me like the trial I sat through that day.
Frum family members and Rabbanim filled the court room to testify on this person's behalf. Not regarding the crime he committed, of which the defendant did not deny, but of his character. That, despite his crimes, he was a loving father and husband. That he learned every day. That he prayed. That he gave charity.
As each family member and Rabbi got up to address the judge, and spoke about how shocked and embarrassed they were, I had one thought going through my mind: This could have been me.
The crime that this fellow committed was not so far from viewing pornography that I could never have envisioned myself doing something like this. This could have been me.
Then the victims got up and spoke about how violated, and scarred they were.
Then the defendant spoke.
A frum, regular looking person. Someone you and I see in shul on a daily basis. Maybe someone you see in the mirror.
Between sobs, he spoke about his problem. The problem that started with pornography, but was never dealt with, and which eventually snowballed to this. One thing was quite clear: This man would have rather died than been in this situation.
Finally, the judge delivered the sentence:
Multiple years in prison.
Defendant too shocked to move or speak.
They took off his tie, cuffed him, and led him out. As he walked out, he looked back at his wife. Until the day I die, I will never forget that look he gave her. His expression was frightened beyond belief. Apologetic. Embarrassed. Desperate.
This shook me like nothing else ever had. This could have been me.
אל אלא אני בוכיה