(Dear friends: As you may know, Julie's life has been pure hell
past few years. Between Kathy Willey and the OIC, she was made, despite a
sterling resume, the most unemployable person in Virginia. Her house, which
she once owned free and clear, now has been sold, and the closing is July 16.
She has no idea where she can go, and no money with which to get another
place. She banged up her legs but good late last year and has spent much of
the past few months on crutches. Her son is showing signs of having a severe
learning disorder. Yet she still perseveres. Frankly, I don't know how she does it.
Since she doesn't have Net access anymore, she asked me to pass on this
she wrote and sent to me. She wanted to let all her friends know how much
she appreciates their support; some days, just hearing a friendly voice on
the other end of a phone line meant the difference between a bearable day and
an unbearable one.
Anyway, without further ado, here's her note. -- Tamara Baker)
I am the first to admit that, in my previous life,
there were times when I
threatened to write a mocking, humorous inversion of those Christmas letters
we all get -- the ones that ramble on endlessly about the sender's perfect
family, perfect friends, perfect careers, and the latest perfect vacation.
Instead, I would write of my horrid family, my horrid career, etc., etc.
I had no intention of actually *living* that inversion, that contradiction -- it wasn't *that* funny.
At this point, the only thing more humiliating
than being branded as a
criminal, and a liar, is the downward spiral after that branding. With each
new disaster, I thought that surely, it couldn't get any worse than this, only to
find out that, yes, it could -- and would. My imagined Christmas-letter parody
couldn't begin to touch this! However, things haven't stayed all bad: my legs,
for example, are much better now; I can walk without crutches, and expect a full recovery.
(My accident, where I managed to hurt both my legs at the same time, occurred on
September 17, 2000. I had surgery for them on September 27, 2000; I began walking
without crutches at the end of March, and the doctor thinks that by next September
I should be fully recovered.)
Many of you helped me to get through these terrible
times, and I will forever
be grateful to you. Grateful, and embarrassed not to have been able to thank
you personally and individually. I still hope to be able to do that someday;
you all deserve to be thanked and I want to be able to express my
appreciation to all of you. You made it possible for Adam and I to have a
roof over our heads and food on the table -- literally.
I have gone from having a perfect credit rating
when the OIC pulled it in
June of 1998, to looking like a "deadbeat" today. I had a "real" job and a
"fun" job when my name began to appear on the front page "above the fold" in 1998.
I lost both in February of that year and have struggled ever since that time.
I believed that, after the trial in May of 1999,
I could return to my life.
I was wrong, and I was wrong later when I assumed that I could outlast my
perceived "criminality" in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I couldn't, I
didn't. Last week I sold the house I had once owned free and clear; in July
we will walk away from it with little or nothing to show for it. I still can't believe it.
Other things I can believe. Having survived
a trial where a political
process replaced a judicial one, I was not surprised when the Supreme Court
appointed George W. Bush as President. I wasn't surprised that the incoming
Bush adminstration would make outrageous and unprovable accusations against
the outgoing Clinton adminstration, falsely accusing the staffers of our last
elected President of vandalizing the White House, and seeing the news media
blindly accept these falsehoods as truth, just as that same news media had
blindly swallowed the worst lies about me. I am not shocked to see that
Louis Freeh's FBI, the same agency run by the same man who did his best to
make my life, Janet Reno's life, and President Clinton's life as miserable as
he could, would stupidly withhold thousands of "unimportant" pages of
documentation in the Timothy McVeigh case. If it wasn't for the fact that
McVeigh has already confessed, this withholding of documents may have freed a
guilty man, ironically just as Freeh spent so many millions of taxpayers'
money harrassing innocent men and women, like Susan McDougal and myself.
"Is This America?" asked Anthony Lewis in
his November 23, 1998 New York
Times column, after having interviewed me. Yes, Mr. Lewis, this *is* America
today. It is not the country many of us thought we lived in, but it *is*
America today. Democracy cannot be taken for granted.
In the meanwhile, Adam and I face a move and are
in need of information. We
can't stay in Virginia, we need a more liberal community. We also need to
find a community with excellent special-education programs for Adam. His
learning disabilities are more severe than originally thought. He comes
first, this is *very* important. We also need to find a job for me and a
place to live. Can any of you help? Please, any ideas or suggestions would
be very much appreciated.
Most of all, I want to thank you all, again, for your support. It has meant everything to me.
Best wishes and, again, thank you --
Julie Hiatt Steele