Hailey first wrote me on October 20, 2009, just a week after the arrest of Dennis Bradford. I was so elated with the news of his arrest that I had been unable to sleep, and it felt like I was in some zombie-like state as I was inundated with phone calls, text messages, and e-mails. I had literally received thousands of e-mails from all over the World, people congratulating me, sending encouraging and supportive messages, and also I had received letters from crime victims, sharing their stories. I had been staying up late every night, unable to sleep, and I took that time to make sure I read every single message, whether it was one word, or 5,000 words, I wanted to read them all. I came across and clicked on Hailey's message, and finished reading it, I couldn't help but sit and stare at the computer screen, with tears streaming down my face, and felt compelled to write her back. I had to know more, and I had to know how I could help this little girl, and let her know how amazing she is for sharing her story.
I won't share the whole message, but I will tell you that at the time she wrote me, Hailey was 15, and living in California, a small-town girl, with big dreams and a big, beautiful smile. As she said to me, in her own words, as she began her message, "I have what seems to look like your average teen girls life, but from my past, it's not." All I could think about was how often this is the case. Everything seemed perfect on the outside, but on the inside, behind closed doors, there were things going on in Hailey's life that I wouldn't wish on anyone...she was living in Hell. Hailey went on to share with me that she was raped most of her childhood (age 3 to 12) by her birth mom's boyfriend (who was already a registered sex offender). Feeling scared and threatened by him, she was too frightened to tell anyone, (as is the case, more often than not, of those preyed on by these sick creeps) and the abuse continued for years. After gathering up the courage to confide in her aunt at age 12 about what had been going on, Hailey was taken out of the home, and then adopted by her aunt and uncle, and the process of convicting this monster began. As she ended her message, she wrote "I heard about your story, and it made me think." "Thank you for helping me and every other girl out there...you saved us."
I had the chills. I wrote Hailey back and we began to communicate, back and forth. She has grown so much over the last six months, and has really opened up and shared many private details with me about her horrible experiences, which are ones I wouldn't wish on anyone. Just last week, her attacker was sentenced to 14 more years in prison by a judge, because after being released from jail on other charges, he was required by a judge to wear a mandatory GPS tracking device, and began to stalk Hailey, calling her, driving by her new home and school, telling her he knew where her bedroom was, and that he watched her run track at school. Hailey USED HER VOICE and told the police he had been calling her, and told them what he had said. After pulling the records from his GPS tracking device, it was shown he had infact been within 500 ft of her home and school.
Hailey, I hope you know that you are truly an inspiration to me, and I am so proud of you and honored to know you. I know you have had an extremely hard time dealing with the attacks and unfortunate memories of your past, but you are safe now and have amazing strength and courage and will make it through. You have impacted my life, forever. As I always tell you, no one can tell you how to feel, or make you be silent. You have a right to USE YOUR VOICE and speak out, and the chance to help so many others along the way. You deserve nothing but the best in life, and just know that I am thinking about you and praying for you, as I know in just short of two weeks, you will have another difficult day in court, as you get to read your Victim Impact Statement. Stay strong, little Hailey, lift up your voice, and don't be afraid to say all that you've been feeling. Thank YOU, Hailey, for writing me and reminding me of why I continue to share my story, and Thank YOU for helping every other child out there....YOU have SAVED lives by Using Your Voice!
It is now my mission to try and change the laws in Texas to have all repeat and high-risk repeat sex offenders wear a mandatory GPS tracking device ankle bracelet, upon release from jail. I know this will take alot of time and effort, but I am willing to fight to protect the children in our state. In my opinion, sex offenders already get light sentences to begin with, and we need to make their lives hell just as much as they make ours. I believe these GPS tracking devices will prevent further victimization, and the fact that they record whereabouts of the individual helps in court with convicting them of being in areas they are not allowed to be. Stayed tuned. Petition in progress!