William Archer Stulb isn't allowed to floss his teeth in jail and has to eat and sleep on a schedule.
The 22-year-old Martinez man can't attend the college classes he had hoped to be in this fall.
"A party one Friday night forever changed my life," Stulb said Tuesday to more than 300 teens who crowded into the Columbia County Library's performing arts center to hear county Magistrate Judge J. Wade Padgett's Teenage Years 101 seminar.
Padgett designed the seminar to educate teens on the implications of being a teenager in modern society and to school them on the law in reference to their choices and actions.
"The decisions you make now can and will affect your life, your future as well as others," said Stulb, who was convicted of statutory rape in September 2005 for a 2003 incident in which he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl. In December, he was sentenced to a year in jail, nine years of probation, a $10,000 fine, 300 hours of community service and registration as a sex offender.
Stulb was asked, and agreed, to participate in Padgett's seminar.
"It is a huge impact on my life," Stulb said as he stood before the crowd guarded by two Columbia County sheriff's deputies and wearing a jail-issued orange jumpsuit and ankle shackles. "All my freedoms were taken away from me when I went back to jail. Reality kicked in ... This is going to be with me for the rest of my life."
Padgett said he put the seminar together to avoid other teens being put in Stulb's situation. The purpose of the program, he said, is to educate teens about how the law affects them and that their decisions can have lifelong consequences.
"The key to the jail is in your hands," Padgett said. "Every decision you make has consequences, good and bad ... They all come down to you."
Padgett discussed topics most likely to affect teens such as driver's licenses and the offenses that can get them suspended, along with the dangers of alcohol and drugs including prescription drugs and methamphetamine.
"With drugs, you don't know what is in the substance you are putting in your body," Padgett said, especially regarding methamphetamine, which is often homemade. "These are people who flunked out of high school. Somebody you wouldn't associate socially, and you are trusting them with your life."
Padgett, who explained that those under 17 usually go to Juvenile Court, while teens 17 and older go to Superior Court - explained new, stiffer mandatory penalties for sexual offenses including the statutory rape Stulb was convicted of.
Greenbrier High School junior Eric Patterson, 16, who attended the seminar with friends including fellow golfer Kyle Schnetzler, said Stulb's words were more personal than the rest of the seminar.
"We're on the golf team, so that kind of hit home that he was the captain as a freshman, too," Eric said, adding that the rest of the seminar was very informative, especially in regard to recent changes in the law.
Stulb urged the teens to avoid his mistake by making good decisions, being responsible and finding and following a positive anchor in their lives.
Padgett also addressed technology issues such as the Internet, the dangers of popular Web sites such as www.myspace.com and www.facebook.com, and how online actions can get teens into real trouble.
"I'm not anti-MySpace or anti-Facebook, but you have to understand you can get into trouble on that," Padgett said. "What you say on there doesn't go away."
Because of the popularity of the seminar for teens and adults, from which more than 100 parents were turned away Sept. 12, Padgett has scheduled a second round of seminars for October. The session for adults is slated for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16. The session for teens 13-19 will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18.
For more information, call Columbia County Magistrate Court at (706) 868-3316.
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