What It’s like to be Married to Someone Convicted of a Sex Crime
Date:  02-22-2016

Being on a sex offender registry has long-reaching repercussions for the person on it and his or her loved ones
Via The Marshall Project

This article was published in collaboration with Vice.

In 2001, about six months before Gretchen met her husband, David, he was charged with sexual assault. After a night of drinking, police found him and a friend drunk and half-dressed on the side of the road; she was passed out, and he fled when the cops arrived. Gretchen (names have been changed) says that initially, David thought he would be getting a DUI. In fact, he was ultimately charged with “sexual penetration by foreign object/victim unconscious” — the “foreign object” being his hand.

Gretchen says David and the young woman got intimate consensually, and police misread the situation when the woman opened the car door to throw up, then fell out and passed out. According to prosecutors, the young woman was passed out all along and David perpetrated "a sexual attack on a totally vulnerable person."

David did three years in a California prison, three more on parole, and will spend the rest of his life on the sex-offender registry. Fourteen years after the incident, almost every aspect of the couple’s life together has been shaped by that night, from where they can live to whether to start a family. Gretchen is particularly worried about the passage of a new law that will make it difficult for registered sex offenders to travel internationally. The law is aimed at those with underage victims; David’s was not, but many on the registry report being stonewalled when they travel, regardless of the age of their victims.

Below, Gretchen discusses her marriage, her neighbors, and what the future might bring.

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