Imagine you’re a well-respected member of your community, a former policeman, a social worker. You’re married to a lovely wife, you have kids and for more than 20 years, you’ve operated an admired, exemplary foster home. You are credited with helping more than sixty high risk youngsters find stability over the years, many of them with innate problems.
But then, with absolutely no warning, one of the female children you are patiently, lovingly raising goes to the authorities and antes up this accusation: you’ve been sexually abusing her, not just now, but for years.
There are virtually no words to describe this lie. It is a total fabrication, an assault on your life and all that you stand for. It penetrates your very self-image, your good name, your reputation.
The most cursory research quickly reveals that the child condemning you has laid the same charge on four other men, each of whom has been found innocent. Even her brother says, “She’s a nut case. She has detachment issues. She has a pattern of making these claims every time she feels like a she’s losing her connection with a man. She’s sick.” In fact, it is well known the girl has fetal alcohol syndrome amongst her other challenges, causing periods of delusion.
But, amazingly, the various authorities investigating this case ignore the facts. They go on to muck up their tasks, making serious mistakes. The police are called in and you breathe a sigh of relief. Yet all they do is demonstrate a mindset of treating every suspect as guilty. What’s really horrifying is that they end up taking the child’s side. The result: your faith in “the system” is destroyed. Your self esteem and social standing in your small town are cast aside. The children under your roof are escorted away. You’re stripped of your authority to run a foster home. Your new, tainted police record prevents you from finding work in order to sustain your family. And you find yourself having to swallow your pride and mortgage your residence simply to put food on the table.
Your very being has been yanked out from under you based on a caustic, cooked up claim that is cagey, far-fetched, unproven and highly doubtful at best.
Your life is destroyed. Your freedom has died.
This couldn’t happen, you say? Well, you’re wrong, because it's exactly what has occurred to Robert Ireland of Sechelt, British Columbia.
Spend four days interviewing Bob Ireland at his home (as I did in January 2015) and you discover a handsome, once vibrant man who's been cut down by a bureaucracy that failed him. He’s a proud, hard working family guy who understood that in a democracy, he could count on being judged innocent, a law abiding citizen. He believed that human rights are supposed to matter. Hell, he’d been a cop himself and was convinced that if a false charge were ever laid against him, he would certainly not suffer consequences.
But suffering is just what Bob Ireland has experienced. Suffering is what he’s been forced to endure. Suffering that has plunged his life into an unbelievable abyss of paralyzing dread.
We’re not just talking hardship. Not just misery. Not just wretchedness.
We’re talking the kind of suffering where your life is ruined. Destroyed. Shattered. To the point where you wonder: “Is there any reason to keep going?”
“A Life Destroyed: The Day Freedom Died” is Bob Ireland’s story.