Sunday, December 4, 2016

Guest Blogger Jesse Hotz: "I was falsely accused of domestic violence. . ."

Christal Cooper

                                             Jesse Hotz 
                                                 Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz 

Guest Blogger Jesse Hotz
My Side of the Story
False Domestic Violence Allegations Nightmare

On Sunday, January 31st, 2016, I was working in the basement of our Marion, Montana family home, wiring the basement family rec room and hanging up sheet rock with a sheet rock lifting machine.    I had previously completed a family home remodel of our Montana retirement home, which provided a basement apartment (1,200 square foot area) for my mother-in-law, Linda Ann Greene.  Her basement apartment included a bedroom, bathroom, private kitchen area, living room, sewing room, and closets.

                     Marion, Montana Hotz Family Home  
                               Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz 

While working that Sunday afternoon I drank 3 to 4 Bud Lime beers and was still sober.  My wife Katherine Hotz, her mother Linda Ann Green, my 11 year old son W.H. and my 9 year old daughter E.H. had all gone ice fishing in the Kalispell, Montana area.  Around 5:00 p.m., I started calling their cell phones to check on them, and I did not receive any return phone calls.  When everyone returned home at 6:30 p.m., I was relieved, and greeted everyone in a friendly manner. 

                     Left, map of Kalispell, Montana.
                              Right:  View of Kalispell, Montana.

W.H., went to his bedroom to play his Nintendo Wii games.  Katherine, Linda Ann Greene, and E.H. were all sitting at the kitchen counter.  I overheard Linda yell at W.H. to get a bag of pellets for the pellet stove in her basement living room area.  Since my son W.H. was in his bedroom playing the Nintendo Wii, I went to the attached garage (right off the kitchen) to get her requested bag of pellets.  I carried the 40-pound bag of pellets from the garage area to the downstairs pellet stove.  As I was passing back through the kitchen, Katherine yelled and questioned me why I moved the bag of pellets.  I told her I was doing what Linda requested to do. 

E.H. went downstairs to pick up the bag of pellets and carry them back upstairs to her mom, Katherine.  Linda screamed at me for allowing E.H. to carry the 40 pound bag of pellets.

                                  Daughter E.H. Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz. 

I pointed my finger at her, while she was sitting across the wide kitchen counter.  I emphatically told her to “……Stay the (expletive) out of my business.”  She reached across the counter, grabbed my finger, and slapped my hand away.  I told Linda that she was going to regret causing more problems with our family.  Katherine charged at me and tried to head butt me, which she had done to me on numerous occasions.   I put my left hand up in front of my face to defend myself, backed away, and then walked away from the kitchen area into the living room.     

                                    Jesse Hotz.  Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz. 
I immediately walked away from the kitchen area and into the living room.  I heard Linda call 911 and then Katherine and Linda took WH and EH and left our family home.  As they were leaving, WH looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.  I interpreted this as W.H. acknowledging that he had to once again go along with his mother and his grandmother, until both had settled down.   

                      Son W.H.  Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz. 

That Sunday evening, I received a phone call from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department.

When the three (3) Flathead County law enforcement officials arrived, I invited them into the house living room to talk.  They asked me if I had been drinking, and I told them I drank 3 to 4 beers, but that I was sober.  Immediately, I was placed in double handcuffs without being frisked.  At that very moment, I informed them, that my Kel-Tec 9 was in my back pocket.  Next, I was taken to jail.  I was in shock, but then thought that this was either a major misunderstanding or simply law enforcement procedure. 

I had never been in jail before.  It was absolutely devastating, humiliating, and demoralizing.  I felt like it was a bad nightmare.  This jail cell was occupied by about a dozen other men, who were accused of robbery, drugs, and DUIs.  I definitely was an “outsider” in this group of men.

I later learned from a close relative who is in law enforcement that I legally should have been given my Miranda rights at the time of the arrest. I was not allowed a phone call or the opportunity to give a written or recorded police statement in my own defense. 

The police report stated, that I was intoxicated, which is false because I was sober.  I was not given a blood alcohol test for my BAC or a field sobriety test as proof of intoxication. 

The next day, February 1, 2016 the Flathead County Judge simply told me to go home.  As I was being released, one of the Flathead County officers informed me that my wife and mother-in-law had filed an emergency restraining order against me, which meant I could not return to my home. 

The Flathead County law enforcement officer called my wife, Katherine to set up an arrangement for me to get my personal belongings.  Her response was that she would be in Washington State for the next several weeks, so I would have to wait.  

By this time it was late Monday afternoon, (February 1st, 2016) in Kalispell, Montana, and there was a freezing cold snowstorm with below-zero temperatures.  I only had my tennis shoes, blue jeans, a t-shirt, and a vest jacket.  I did not have any cash, identification, credit cards, or a cell phone with contact phone numbers.  At this point, I was homeless and destitute. 

                     Weather forecast photo of Kalispell, Montana.
                                Attributed to Betty Jo Jones.  Public Domain. 

For the next 6 to 8 hours, I walked around Kalispell, Montana in a freezing cold snowstorm in tennis shoes and no winter coat and without any money, credit cards, identification, or a cell phone.  All the homeless shelters were closed, as they were full, due to the Kalispell winter snowstorm and blizzard.  I was able to seek shelter and help from a businessman and his wife, as I had done contractor work for them in Kalispell, Montana.  They were very caring and kind to help me get a motel room for the night. 

                     Downtown area of Kalispell, Montana.
                               Fair Use 

While in that motel room, I was at a complete rock bottom point in my life, and I felt that I had no choice but to file for divorce.  The agonizing feelings of despair and hopeless betrayal were beyond words. I honestly do not think, that my wife, Katherine Greene Hotz, expected me to file for a divorce, as I was always loyal.  

                     Rainbow photograph attributed to Jesse Hotz.
                               Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz. 

The next day (Tuesday, 02/02/2016), I called another business associate to give me a ride from Kalispell, Montana to Marion, Montana.  I had called the Flathead County Police Department again to help me retrieve my personal belongings with my wallet (including my credit cards and money), my driver’s license, cell phone, prescription eyeglasses, prescription medications, winter jacket, winter clothes, winter boots, and so on.  I also needed to get my truck.

                     Weather Forecast photo of man walking in snow in Marion, Indiana.
                                Public Domain. 

Thankfully, another business friend and a police officer were able to drive me with the half-hour drive from Kalispell, Montana to Marion, Montana to get my personal belongings and my truck.  I had ten (10) minutes to quickly get my things.  As it turned out, my wife, her mother, and my two (2) young children were not at the Marion, Montana family home, as they had gone to Washington State for the Super Bowl game with the Seattle Seahawks playing in the 2016 Super Bowl.  I will forever remember finding a hidden and loving note from my 9-year old daughter, E.H., on my bedroom pillow.  Her precious note read, “I LOVE YOU DADDY.”  Under her note was my wallet. 

After retrieving my personal belongings, I stayed at a budget motel in Kalispell, Montana for another night.  
I called my 91-year old dad in Texas.  My dad loaned me the money to hire a lawyer. 

                           Jesse Hotz holding his father's hand.  Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz. 

On that same day, (Tuesday, 02/02/2016), I went to see a local lawyer.  There would be a $1,500 retainer fee for the legal divorce part and another $1,500 retainer fee for the lawyer to handle my domestic violence charges.  I knew, that I had to prove my innocence first and foremost.  I also had to regain custody and visitation with my kids.  I refused to plead guilty to the domestic violence charge nor accept a plea deal for the domestic violence charge, because I was innocent. 

I also needed to find a place to live.  Again, a business friend and a Kalispell law enforcement officer accompanied me to get my motor home in Marion, Montana.  I was able to set up my motor home in a Marion, Montana trailer park area for $250.00 per month.

                                Jesse Hotz standing next to his mobile home.
                                Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz. 
So, I was now living in a motor home without running water in a trailer park in rural Marion, Montana during the dead cold of winter; while, my wife, Katherine Greene Hotz, and her mother, Linda Ann Greene, were living together in a spacious 5,000+ square-foot and luxurious family retirement home in Marion, Montana, which I was paying for entirely.

                     Marion, Montana Hotz Family Home  
                               Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz 

I have since learned, that this is not an easy legal feat or an easy road.  The worst part was losing custody of my Children and only having phone visitation once a week for an hour or so.  Even then, their phone calls were closely monitored by their mother.  My Children were hurt the most, and all I could do was reassure them that their Dad Loves them very much.  And, I kept reminding them to “….Keep Smiling, Be Happy, and Be Loving …..” 

A close personal friend and legal advocate extensively researched online and located these pertinent articles, pertaining to false domestic violence allegations. 

      Stop False Allegations of Domestic Violence
       (Petition2Congress:  Free Petitions That Send Email to Capitol Hill.)

      False Allegations of Abuse Target Men in Divorce
       (Huffington Post, HuffPost Divorce, Joseph E. Cordell, Cordell Law, dated 11/18/2015.)

      Gallatin County Judge Rules Domestic Violence Law Discriminates Against Men” (Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Whitney Bermes, Chronicle Staff Writer, dated 03/26/2016.)
                                              Gallatin County Judge Rick West.  Public Domain

These articles were truly informative and relevant, and led me to a new understanding of why my wife and mother-in-law made these false accusations:  both were not happy about my early retirement from Boeing, since there would no longer be a 6+-digit family income.  I believe they made the false accusations in hopes that it would force me to go back to work with Boeing in either Washington State, or Helena, Montana, and therefore I  would only be able to return for short family visits on my days off from work. 
                     view of Helena, Montana 

Even though it didn’t go as they planned, they still have had an advantage over me through the legal divorce process and the legal criminal process.  I had to fight tooth and nail to clear my name and my record.  Regaining visitation and shared custody of my Children has been a saving grace. 
                         Jesse Hotz.  Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz. 

Throughout the entire arduous and lengthy legal process for the next six (6) months, I learned that many men, husbands, and fathers are the victims of false domestic violence allegations. Criminally and legally, men who are falsely accused of domestic violence are treated guilty, until they can prove their innocence.  Usually they are forced from their family homes, and not allowed contact with their children.   Most cannot hire experienced attorney, and if they do, it is a great legal expense.  In many cases, these innocent men have to rely on public defenders, who are too busy and overworked to fully represent them.  In many cases, the innocent men agree to take plea deals, which adversely affect long-term employment, child custody, gun rights, etc.    

The false accuser usually retains the family home, custody of the children, and full financial support during the lengthy legal process. 

The innocent man being accused is simply hung out to dry and treated as a dangerous and guilty criminal and wife-beater.  And, even if and when the legal and criminal charges are dismissed against the male victim, there is no accountability whatsoever for the false accuser, who has falsely accused the male victim with false domestic violence allegations.  There is not even so much as a slap on the wrist.   And, even with false domestic violence allegations, the false accuser has everything to gain and nothing to lose.  There is not any legal or ethical accountability whatsoever.

Hopefully, with increased public awareness, advocacy, activism, and support, new laws will be enacted to fix this horrific problem for male victims and their families. 

After spending over $30,000.00+ in legal costs with several attorneys, my legal battles are still far from over.  There will be more legal issues and legal costs, which will probably take several more years and thousands more dollars. "Que Sera. Sera."

My Life has been shattered and devastated by the false domestic violence allegations "Silver Bullet."

All of the emotional, mental, financial, and physical anguish and stress has aged me decades beyond my years.  And, all of the family stress has had other heartbreaking repercussions. My 91-year old Dad just had a double massive stroke.

                     Jesse holding his father's hand.  Copyright granted by Jesse Hotz. 

Some days, I keep asking myself when it will ever end. And, through all the ups and downs, I truly and honestly still have to work one day at a time at being "Better" and not "bitter."

My Children and Family are My Saving Graces.  So, I pull on my boots and face "My Little Ones," and I put on My Strong, Brave, and Loving Dad face. To that end, "We Dad Soldiers Must Keep On Keeping On" .... "Carry On, My Brothers."  AMEN.

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