American hero or manipulative monster?
by Sandy Rozek
This is the insidiousness of being on the sex offender registry: No matter what you have done before, no matter how noble or brave or selfless, everything done after is seen through the prism of that label. Sex offender. Monster. Destroyer of children.
Who, really, is Michael Cain?
In 2003, at age 22, he was serving in the United States Army stationed in Iraq, where he was maimed by a land mine while on a volunteer mission delivering water and food to an encampment of fellow soldiers. He lost both legs. He came within a razor-thin edge of losing his life.
His surgeries (for his amputations and then 12 more to remove blast debris from deep within his muscles), treatment, and therapy were agonizing and tortuous. When visited by President George W. Bush and asked what he wanted the president to know, Mike told him that the men back in Iraq didn’t have enough water.
The bouts of physical pain and the more debilitating mental and emotional depression and despair almost brought him down. Once it was clear he would live, he wanted to go back to Iraq to fulfill his responsibility there. He keeps photographs of his injuries in a little scrapbook titled “My Accident in Iraq.”
He was awarded the Purple Heart. The Purple Heart Foundation said of Mike, “He lives every single day with an attitude that is unparalleled, and a heart full of nothing but kindness.”
Then in 2005, still recovering at his family home, married and with a child, he had a brief sexual relationship with a ten-year younger girl, the 14-year-old sister of one of his friends in his Wisconsin hometown. She told about it, and Michael was convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a child; because of her age, the offense is considered violent. He served 20 months and was released from prison in 2008.
For years after that, Michael’s life was not crushed by his conviction and placement on the sex offense registry in Wisconsin and later the registry in Virginia.
He became active in special events and Wounded Warriors projects in ice hockey and football. Over the years, he received recognition in the media for these activities and for his association with the organizations and the celebrities who also were involved with them. He was recognized and lauded by a Wisconsin state representative.
There is no evidence that Michael tried to hide his past. The USA Warriors Hockey organization said he was forthright about his criminal history; they did not find it reason to reject him.
When the Military Warriors Support Foundation chose Michael as the recipient of a mortgage-free home in Stuarts Draft, Virginia, however, rejection was on its way. He was recommended to them for the special project, and their initial vetting system did not reveal his criminal history. There is no evidence he was hiding it from them, nor is it clear how it was discovered, although indications are that a news outlet unearthed and revealed the information. When the foundation was told, it took action that very day to remove him from eligibility for the home. They said they would assist him with finding another home.
Since then, in spite of no hint of impropriety, everything he has done is portrayed as a ploy to further his intent to commit additional crimes.
His Wounded Warriors sport projects occasionally took him to high school sports activities. My gosh, he was scoping out students to molest.
His activities won him the respect of and accolades from a wide variety of celebrities and major figures. Oh well, everyone knows that “they” want to make themselves look good in public; “they” are masters of manipulation.
He was awarded the gift of a home in an average American town. Well, of course he wants it; there are kids and teenagers all over the place there.
A thoughtful person will recognize that sometimes good deeds and selfless acts are done from the heart and not for a nefarious purpose and that sometimes a gift is something to be thankful for and not a segue to criminal activity. Such a person, one associated with one of the special sports teams who has worked with Mike, said, “He did a terrible thing, and he paid a terrible price, and he continues to pay the price.”
This is what the sex offender registry does. It continues to exact a terrible price from those who have long since paid their dues and from whom no more is right or justified.
Sometime a hero really is just a hero.
Sandy Rozek is communications director with NARSOL, an organization that advocates for laws based on facts and evidence and for policies that support the successful rehabilitation, restoration, and reintegration of law abiding, former sex offenders into society as the path to a safer society.