I had no trust in the system but I had fought a good fight and came through when I had to. All I could do now was sit
and wait. All I could think of was Shannon’s reputation and popularity in Oklahoma. When this started for the media
it was the sweet, wholesome, little angel being victimized by an obsessed maniac. She just had a highway named for
her. “Shannon Miller Park” was on it’s way. The statue now had funding from the state and was to be eighteen feet
and bronze, the largest statue in the state. There had been Shannon Miller days. She made appearances
everywhere. Commercials featuring her were on TV constantly. The media adored her. As Terry put it early on in
this “Everyone in this state thinks they own her.” To sum it up I wasn’t confident.
During this an interesting thing happened. My father had gone as usual to pick up lunch and when he came back
he met Detective Lucas waiting for him in the hall. Lucas told him that he wanted him to know that he was only doing
his job the best he could. My father told him that we all have things to do in our jobs that we don’t feel good about.
Could that have been an apology? Maybe a change of attitude towards the whole thing?
After an hour and a half, including time for lunch, the jury had a question. Terry left, when he came back he said
that they asked if they could give a jail sentence and have it suspended. No, only the judge can suspend a
sentence. I knew now what was to happen, it was what I figured but I still felt hollow. There was a knock at the door
and Terry answered it, a voice said “There’s a verdict.”
In the courtroom I didn’t feel afraid really. Just cold and hollow. The jury came in and the judge read the verdict
aloud “The jury finds the defendant guilty and is to be fined five-hundred dollars.” She read it quietly and with a
shaky voice. She had given me sympathetic looks throughout the trial and I don’t think she liked this. Terry
requested a poll and each member individually had to give their verdict. None sounded firm, all of them sounded as
if they didn’t feel in their hearts that the verdict was correct. They had to protect themselves, if they had gone
against the state hero who knows what type of persecution they would have received. They had a responsibility to
the law but more importantly to themselves and their families. I have no bad feelings towards them today, they just
did what they had to do. It’s very rare that you find someone willing to go against the public opinion to take a stand
for what’s right, that’s what makes them special. They needed something to rationalize it. I feel that it was probably
the phone calls, which I thought when I made them were perfectly innocent, enough that I forgot about them. Even if
they thought that they were made to be annoying that still doesn’t justify stalking. It has to be repeated behavior as
well as malicious and it was one night. They need something to save their skins and I think that was it. I don’t think,
though, that they truly realized the effect of having a stalking conviction would have on my life. With the current
public attitude I may as well be a convicted sex offender. Still, I bear no grudge towards them.
At the time though, my blood started to boil. I was outraged, seven months of this crap, all the persecution by the
DA’s office, the media badgering, Shannon trashing my name on TV, the death threats, the cost emotionally and
financially on my family. I was humiliated in front of the nation, my psyche vivisected for all to see. In a sense I was a
victim of a form of rape by the state of Oklahoma. I turned to Terry and said “There’s no way in hell that I’m not
Terry said, “Look, you didn’t get any jail time and only a minimum sentence.” As I later would realize this was
almost a victory, at least as close as I could get in Oklahoma. At the time I didn’t care about that. This whole thing
from day one was an outrage. The courtroom observers’ attitude’s showed that. No one was jubilant, all seemed
solemn and quiet, disappointed. Sicely had tears in her eyes. The only people happy were Shannon and Chris.
McDanel and Engle seemed disappointed, they wanted jail time. I then noticed something, the entire trial her parents
were present but they weren’t there for the verdict, at least not that I could see. They were both there for my
testimony and I was told that afterwards they seemed very disturbed.
I was still pissed and the media was outside. Terry told me just to keep a calm exterior until we got to the
conference room. We walked out and a whole bundle of microphones were stuck in my face. I said “I’ll be right back
to talk to you, I just need a couple of minutes.”
We got in the conference room and Terry immediately told me that we had to be humble. “We don’t want a bitter
Joe out there,” he said. We spent a few minutes talking about what I should say while I calmed down. Terry and my
parents came up with approximately what the statement would be and I refined it. I straightened myself out and went
out to the reporters.
“I’m just very happy that the jury saw how blown out of proportion this whole thing was, the five-hundred dollar fine
was indicative of that.” I was then asked what I was going to do now. “I don’t know, I’m out of money so school is out
of the question. Your guess is as good as mine.” I was asked how to properly pronounce my name and I said “Vohkt,
like revoked.” The reporters laughed and I said “I need to go back now and get my head straight, I need a rest. I’ll
talk to guys a little later though.”
At the time I was doing that Shannon was trying to take credit for the verdict “I didn’t want him to get any jail time, I
just wanted it on his record.” She had nothing to do with it, she couldn’t have spoken to the jury anymore than I
could have. If she really didn’t want me to go to jail she would have admitted the truth and dropped the charges.
Considering the fact that she lied to the police in order to get me arrested in the first place, and the vicious manner
she went about trashing me on TV as well as her attempts in the courtroom I don’t think she would’ve exactly been up
in arms if I had been given a maximum sentence. At the same time Dawson Engle was trying to take credit for a great
victory and continued to portray me as a deranged lunatic. He didn’t win this, Shannon’s reputation gave it to him.
Besides, Michael McDanel did all the hard work. If you’re reading this Dawson, for your own good, don’t be deluded
by this one. For the most part he stayed professional until the end when he got to talk to the media. There was no
reason for him to trash me, he just wanted the attention.
Out in the parking lot I told Terry “I want to talk to whomever will listen to me.”
He said “Okay, go back and rest, have a few beers like you said before and then call me when you’re ready. Get
together what you want to say.”
I wanted to say everything, get it all out. The problem was that the Oklahoma media had filtered out the truth.
Nothing good was said about me, nothing bad about Shannon. Talking to the news there wouldn’t be any good.
Back at the hotel I showered and changed. I called Terry and told him I was ready to talk. He had been on the
phone since he had gotten back to his office with the media and told me “Okay, here’s what we can do. We can talk
to the Oklahoma reporters now and get a few seconds on the local news or we can accept a deal with Inside Edition
and go national for a full segment.” The deal was that they would do the interview at my home in Connecticut and
that they would pay for Terry’s airfare, rental car, and hotel room. I wasn’t to be paid but I didn’t care, I just wanted
the truth out.
“Okay, I’ll do it” I said.
“Alright, the only thing is you can’t talk to TV or radio. They want to be first on your voice. Print is fine.” The idea
of keeping bottled up longer didn’t appeal to me but it made sense.
We spent the last night I would ever spend in Oklahoma in the hotel room. With the media running around and
Shannon fanatics out there we couldn’t risk going out. My professor called from Edmond and came down and stay
and talked for about three or four hours. Marv and Sicely showed up. Marv wasn’t there for the verdict but he
congratulated me on my “victory”. We ordered pizza and I pounded some beers. “They tried to make me look like an
alcoholic in the courtroom and the media did make me look like one. Might as well be one!” I thought in a haze.
I didn’t go too far, I felt okay the next morning. I packed and my father made sure to track down everything from the
trash and all that the media could use after we left our rooms. We scampered out and went to the airport.
We were wary in the airport and people did recognize me. People were even pointing at me as we drove along on
the highway. We checked the luggage and went to the gate. I wasn’t watching people, just looking forward, but when
we got to the gate and sat down I looked around. The looks from people were different than the last time I had left,
after the arrest. People were watching me but the looks were sympathetic instead of accusative. The media had
slammed me but they couldn’t go as hard as they had without risking a lawsuit. Instead of calling me a maniac they
referred to me as a lovesick college student. I went to the bathroom and as I was washing my hands a big man came
up to me.
“Didn’t I see you on TV?” he asked.
“You sure did!” I said.
“I really hated the way they did that to you. You didn’t deserve that.”
“Thank you, that really means a lot to me!’
I got on the plane and relaxed for the trip home. I was surprised at how people were reacting towards me. After
all I had been in the news all week and off and on for the last seven months. Everyone recognized me, they were just
reacting differently from before. I just laid back in my seat and took it easy.
My brother and his fiancée picked us up at the airport. I was tired so I just gave them the basics and said that I’d
tell them everything later. When we got home there were calls and notes left on the door again. I picked up the
Connecticut Post from off the kitchen table and was fairly shocked. They last time they had been fair and gave Terry
equal space as they had the prosecution. This time they made me look like a sicko, almost identical to the Daily
Oklahoman. I was pretty mad, I had called the guy who did the last story and he repaid me by writing this! They
never did run my side despite my attempts.
I laid low for a while and waited to do this interview with Inside Edition. A few days before hand, around one in the
morning, a courier showed up with the evidence. I had since decided that my parents and Terry were right and there
was no sense in appealing. I got lucky as it was. There was no way a jury wouldn’t find me guilty out there and next
time they might decide that the last group looked bad with the light sentence and stick me in the slammer. Since
there was to be no appeal the DA’s office had to give me my things back as there was nothing illegal.
I had been checking on all the shows on TV, just to see what they were going to say about me this time. Extra
announced that they had an exclusive with Shannon along with a big surprise! They came on and made me look like
a monster and then the surprise, they showed the brave man who stood by her side throughout this terrible ordeal
and they announced that they had been engaged for two days. At that one I laughed, it’s only fitting that she’s
marrying such a slime! They went on and talked about the wedding, they were going to invite all her teammates and
then they direct attention back on to me and spoke of the small fine with no jail time. Softhearted Shannon was
happy for the outcome and said “We didn’t want him to get any jail time, we just wanted this on his record and for him
to get some counseling.” Now that pissed me off. Not only was she trying to take credit for the sentence but now she
was trying to take credit for the therapy also. She didn’t care if I went to jail all she cared about was saving her
reputation. She didn’t want people to think that she was a spoiled brat who just goes to the police anytime she gets
into a situation were she’s uncomfortable. The therapy, in a way, she can take credit for. She got me arrested and
that caused post-traumatic stress disorder. Now I was continuing due to the fact that my life had been destroyed and
I was having a hard time getting it back together. I almost quit because of that but I thought, “There’s no way I’m
going to let her win.”
The morning that Inside Edition was to show up everyone was a little late. I started getting this distinct impression
that some one was putting me on. The crew finally got there with producer and the reporter. They all seemed very
friendly and eager to be the first to get me side of the story out. Terry got there ready to go and he and my mother
talked to them while a cameraman started taking shots of me in normal activities, walking down the street, sitting in
the backyard, watering the garden and on and on.
That took about an hour and a half and while I was doing that Terry was showing them the evidence and going
through what had gone on in the trial. We had already agreed to be up front and all them access to everything. No
question was to be off limits. He was excited and his voice carried enough that my next door neighbor came out to
watch the goings on. Before they started my mom said to them “If you’re just here to trash him, it’s been done.” Terry
supported that and they said that they had come to be objective and to let me tell my side for the first time.
The cameramen had finished setting up in the living room and it was time to start the interview. I answered
everything freely and with no problems. They had told me to take my time and formulate my answers but for the most
part it was all on the tip of my brain. During a pause the reporter said to me “I’m sorry I’m being so hard on you.”
Hard? This was nothing, I just had Terry and Marv rip me apart left and right, then Michael McDanel took a shot at
me. This was nothing. For the most part it was all what I had said in the earlier chapters except for a few differences.
First they showed me a video that they had put together of Shannon’s performances and the parade after the
Olympics. The reporter asked, “What do you think of when you see this?”
“That’s the person who betrayed me, who ruined my life.”
“What do you feel when you see this?”
“Fear, all she has to do is make an appearance in the New York area and then go back to Oklahoma and tell the
DA I showed up there and my life will be in turmoil again.”
“You were once friends, do you still want to be her friend?”
“What do you want now?”
“I want her to stay as far away from me as possible.”
Later on, near the end of the interview I was asked about Shannon’s engagement to Chris “I don’t care,” I said
almost laughing. ”We’re not friends anymore.” This seemed silly to me but I knew that had to ask it. I said what I
might say if a friend was in that position and at the end I said “If I could say one thing to Chris, ‘If you want her, you
can have her my friend.’” During this the soundman leaned over to my mother and whispered “He’s a good interview.”
After two hours it was over. They interviewed Terry for about thirty minutes and he just let go and seemed to be
having a blast. He left right afterwards for the airport. Since the prosecution made a big deal of my boxing they took
some shots of me working the heavy and that was it. I was upstairs changing and I heard the reporter say to the
producer “This is the first reverse victim in a high profile case under the new stalking laws.”
The crew got the lights and the camera’s down and while they were packing up the reporter said to us “You’re a
very nice family, I hope you can get you’re lives back.” As they were leaving I asked the producer when it would be
on. He said “Early November, we’ll call you and let you know before hand.” Okay, all we could do now was wait.
I waited and waited. No call. In that time OU had sent me a letter threatening to send the case to collection agency
and ruin my credit rating. I had had it with them and, after reading up on this in as many law books as I could find, I
took my case to a civil attorney. He told me “These are common tactics by universities, you don’t owe them
anything.” He also told me “We could file a lawsuit against Shannon Miller if you want. She lied to the police to get
you arrested. The big thing is do you want to go through it? It’ll be a total rehash of the criminal trial.” No, that was
enough for one lifetime. I went home and wrote a polite, but threatening, letter to OU. It didn’t take them long to tuck
tail and run.
It got to November and still, nothing from Inside Edition. I began watching the shows, maybe they forgot. Maybe
they didn’t want to use it after all, no that’s stupid they spent so much money getting Terry out here. Finally one
afternoon it came on. They announced that for the first time the stalker speaks out and you won’t believe what they
found in his apartment! For about six to eight minutes they trashed me, twisted and misused my words making me
look terrible. They had taken the prosecution’s side giving Shannon a little bit of time to talk without really saying
anything. None of the relevant things to the case were brought up and none of Terry’s interview was used. I was
shocked, I had watched the show to see what I could expect and while they sensationalized their stories they tended
to take the side of the underdog. Why did they do this to me? And after the amount of time they had to edit why did
it seem to be done so half-assed?
A few hours later a friend came over and got on my computer. He went online and showed me what he had found.
It was an article from the Edmond Evening Sun. Shannon claimed in it that she was very upset about the upcoming
spot and that it sounded to be one-sided. I thought “It’s been one sided towards you the entire way you spoiled little
brat! The truth hasn’t gotten out!”
It said in there that her agent, Sheryl Shade, who I think was at the trial, was trying to set up another story to
present Shannon’s side. Now I knew what happened. Sheryl Shade probably pestered the management so much
that they said to the producer that he couldn’t do it the way he wanted and rock the boat. They claimed that
Shannon had already been offered such appearances but had turned them down. Still, she had time to use me to
announce her engagement on Extra.
A big question they had was whether or not I had been paid for the interview. The program’s distributors wouldn’t
answer that but I will now. No, I wasn’t. I wanted to get the truth out to help to keep this from happening to someone
else and also get a little vindication.
Claudia Miller said in the article that all they could get was lies. She claimed that everything I said was a lie and
that they proved it in court. She said Dr. Logan didn’t find out about the foil and the calls until he was on the stand
and that I had admitted to intentionally ramming Chris Phillips. The one who was caught lying was Chris Phillips and
WE proved that in court. I may have not told Dr. Logan of the foil or the calls and just went with being drunk that
night to save embarrassment when we thought this would end gently with a deferred sentence but I told him
everything when I had too. That thing about me saying that I purposely rammed Chris is just flat out not true.
I was very upset about this and bounced off the walls for a while. I was at first very angry with Claudia Miller but
one thing I’ve learned is never react to something out of anger. Calm down and then make a decision. I blew off
some steam by running. I just ran and ran and ran. For hours I did this. When I came back I felt better. I thought of
what Claudia Miller had said and I realized this was a mother reacting to something that could damage her daughter’s
reputation. She shouldn’t have said what she said but it’s understandable why she did. I can forgive that. She
probably never expected I would see it.
What I couldn’t forgive or forget about was not only the entire legal problem but now they were trying to suppress
my rights protected by the first amendment of the constitution of the United States, my freedom of speech. My
Miranda rights were already violated back in February and so were my rights under the fourth amendment, protection
from unreasonable search and seizures. I had had it with this. I realized that they were doing this because they
feared me. Not for anything physical or anything like that, nothing to do with the charges. They feared that I would
get the truth out and didn’t want anything to mar Shannon’s reputation and marketability. What makes her reputation
more important than mine? Nothing at all. She ruined my life for no good reason and now she expected me to just
roll over and die. Later on in life I’m certain I’ll have the room for forgiveness, but not now. What she did was far too
severe. I thought near the beginning of all this that she had acted off of pure emotion and later realized the truth. It
seemed, first, that she wanted to end the pain on me and the stress on her. Later it became apparent that she
realized the potential for publicity. Did Extra run their story because of her engagement? No, they ran it because of
the sensationalism of Shannon Miller having a “stalker”. How could someone be that horrible as to ruin someone’s
life for nothing more than to cover herself and pick up some cheap publicity in the process?
The publicity seeking would continue for months on as she would bring it up at any point. In April of 1999 I was
informed of an article in the tabloid Oklahoma Woman in which Shannon slanders me in order to get a little more
attention for herself heading towards an appearance with Barry Switzer. As usual the Oklahoma media glorifies her
and her achievements and then it gets to me. The entire time she tried act benevolent, acted like I was some sick
pervert that needed help that she pushed to get for me and claim that she was putting it all behind her. Yeah, right.
She’s trying to put this all behind her and yet she keeps on blabbering about it and changing things as she sees fit.
Makes sense. I did get pretty mad about this at first and was set to file lawsuits, swear out a complaint for
harassment, the whole ball of wax and then I realized that the less I do the more she’ll do. She just goes on and
makes it worse for herself, it’s sort of like she’s making the bomb and all I have to do is attach the detonator.
Another thing this article shows is how the Oklahoma media protects their icons. Everyone seems to be
encouraged to forget the fact that Barry Switzer resigned from OU football in disgrace in 1989 after arrests of some
of his players. They never seem to mention the incidents of gunfire and rape in the dorms. For some reason he’s
now getting a building on the campus named after him. Hmm, guess they forgot about him getting arrested for trying
to carry a gun on a plane and all the behind the scenes crap that happened when he was a coach for the Dallas
Cowboys. Actually, I find it very appropriate that he and Shannon are making an appearance together.
All the abuse by the media aside a very scary precedent has been set by my case and the media hasn’t said a
word of what really happened. Therefore no one knows that they’re vulnerable to this law as well. Pretty much
anyone with a crush can go to jail now. Stalking laws are pretty controversial anyway in that they violate the Doctrine
of Vagueness set by the Supreme Court in that they are far too broad. The original intent was to protect those who
really were being threatened and were in genuine danger not to prosecute someone for trying to get a young woman’
s attention. I can’t let this happen to anyone else.
I spent a couple of weeks trying to find a way to get the story out and was getting more and more frustrated. I just
wasn’t sure how to go about it. If I just got it out once to a newspaper or to a magazine it would get things going. The
newspapers didn’t want to dredge up old news. I had written an article but I was having a hard time finding the type
of magazine that would print it. Plus, it was just too long. My first draft was fourteen pages and I just kept ripping
things out trying to get it as basic as possible. I had gotten it down to around eight pages but it had lost a lot of its
soul. Then a good friend told me “Write a book. A magazine article is fleeting and forgotten, a book is forever.” Two
weeks after I heard that I’m finishing the rough draft.
What I’ve said through out this book is as accurate as I can remember from the past ten months. The things that I
said were out of the VPO hearing and the police reports are directly from them. The things in here from the trial are
as close to what I remember as I can get and can be backed by the public records. I just don’t have the full transcript
of the four-day trial. That’s very expensive but I’ll get it if I have to. I fully expect Shannon and everyone around her
to scream and yell and call me liar. The big accusation from them will probably be that I only did it for the money.
No, I tried other avenues but I was stabbed in the back. This was the only alternative. Is there money here? God, I
hope so. Anything I get is going to pay for my schooling, I’m not going to quit. The Daily Oklahoman will probably
trash me and, in a grander way, probably so will The Edmond Evening Sun. Both newspapers showed a tremendous
tendency towards yellow journalism concerning me, in particular the Sun. Her fanatic followers will all claim that this
is just a pack of lies, that Shannon would never say things or do things like that. All of that doesn’t matter, it’s still the
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Copyright 1999 Joseph Vogt