Though Kurt was a pedophile -- tried, convicted, sentenced to twelve years -- he was in many ways a nice man. In fact at the trial one young man testified by saying: "He never hurt me and was always polite."
It is difficult to imagine, but this may help: he wore striped shirts from Gap Kids and had scars on his face from teenaged acne. That is to say, Kurt did, and not the young victim who spoke warmly of him that afternoon, whose face was smooth and pretty in a way boys can be at his age, much to their embarrassment. Of course his testimony helped put him away. But it was inevitable. When they searched his hard drive, police officers found that Kurt was in possession of some 1500 photographs of child pornography, including those deleted in fits of conscience, which were recovered and prompted further investigation.
How does this happen? Files are stored on a hard drive by orienting the magnetic particles of the disk in one of two directions, zero and one (on/off, yes/no, etc.). Information about the stored file - in this case, one of the almost twelve hundred deleted jpegs - is kept in a file management system. When in crisis, Kurt was deleting only the reference to the file in management system. The picture, stored in as a pattern of zeros and ones, would remain at least partially intact until reformatting, or if the hard drive were exposed to a strong magnetic field.
I was Kurt's therapist in the nine months between arrest and the trial. That's me, seated two rows from the back.
"He's a faggot," is what Willie had to say on the matter. "He wears those faggy shirts and acts like he's better than us but he still makes boys suck his dick. That's what he does." Willie leaned back and nodded at the group. "And now he's got to do what we all got to do, though I don't wish it on anyone" -- murmurs of approval from the men -- "even if he is a faggot."
It's not worth fighting it; Willie is a bit of a monster and besides Kurt is gone. "Does anyone else want to take a moment and say something?" I choose my battles with these men. Gary raises his hand.
"You know I try to good with everybody, I like to joke around, you know, and you guys all make fun of me sometimes and everything, but we're always having a good time, right? And I hate to say it, but I never liked the guy. I know, I know and I really am trying... I know my triggers... and I'm real careful of my SUDs*... and I want to practice tolerance in my heart, you know, I'm reading the Bible every night. Lord knows I don't get much else to do, but I hate to say it but you know he was a faggot, Willie's right, and he got what was coming to him."
If you had access to their files, you would be able to read more about Gary and Willie, both African-American, both in their early 40s. Both offended against all their stepdaughters, aged six through ten, for as many years as it took for the girls to reach puberty.
I am white, like Kurt.
And so he got twelve years, and the young man with the pretty face cried when the judge said it, and the guard took Kurt away for the final time. In the hotel room he had given the boy a book called The Little Prince, and it ends with the narrator asking you to ask yourself: Is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And he says no grown up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!
Six decades after he crashed it, and one month after the trial, Antoine de Saint-Exupery's plane was found off the coast at Marseille. The author of The Little Prince was taking pictures in preparation for the Allied landing in 1944 when his plane went down. Researchers still have no idea what caused the experienced aviator to crash on that day, which was reportedly sunny and calm.
Like many things there are two answers, though it takes me a long time to choose.
*Seemingly Unimportant Decisions