Justice For Matt Bandy or How you could go to jail for life for images someone else put on your computer

The Bandy Family and Supporters



Matt Bandy
Jeanne Bandy
Gregory Bandy, MD
Letters of Support
 

Matt Bandy
Autobiography

My name is Mathew George Bandy. Until I was 16, my life was normal and happy. Then police raided our family home and I was accused of terrible crimes I didn't commit.

Fortunately, my mother and father have always been there for me. Before our lives changed so drastically, we and my younger sister always did things as a family. This family doesn't stop at my mother, father, and sister. My grandparents on both sides were always involved in our lives from the beginning. We are blessed to have aunts, uncles and cousins living in the same area. This allowed us to spend a lot of time together growing up. One of my fondest memories is when my grandparents on my mother's side took our entire family — their three children and all of their grandchildren — to Disneyland. Disneyland was always my favorite vacation spot, but the joy of having all of my cousins and family there made that trip especially enjoyable. This is still one of the best memories I have of my grandpa, who has since passed away. My grandparents on my father's side made the same sort of trip with all of their children to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Before my arrest, I was in high school and looking forward to the years ahead. The worst thing that had happened to me then was being injured during wrestling practice in my freshman year and learning that I had a degenerative disc disease. This caused me to have to sit out of the rest the school year. While recovering, I taught myself to play the guitar. After treatment and physical therapy, I went back to school and took it easy. I had many friends and spent lunch breaks playing guitar in the hallway.

Then, on the morning of midterm finals in my sophomore year, the police raided our house. They accused me of child pornography offenses. They threatened me with 90 years in prison -- all because some creep had, without my knowledge, used the Internet to plant porn on the family computer. Our computer had been turned into a "zombie," storing some stranger's illegal porn collection, obeying that stranger's commands. Can you imagine being a happy, normal 16-year-old with a bright-looking future suddenly being told you might spend the rest of your days in prison with rapists and murderers -- all for something you didn't do and didn't even know about?

Out on bail, I started having panic attacks and found it impossible to sit through classes. I dropped out and was home-schooled for the rest of that year. I returned to high school for my junior year, where I participated in school activities and even had the lead role in a play. But again, the stress of the wrongful prosecution overwhelmed me. I dropped out of school.

I eventually got my GED. But the two years I faced prosecution were terrible. For over a year, I had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor my activities. Try to think about what it's like, being shackled at seventeen. I tried to hide the bracelet from my friends. But every day it reminded me that my whole life was being threatened by the government. One time I went bowling, and a policeman saw the bracelet. He questioned me about it and demanded to know why I was in the bowling alley. Then he threw me out of the building. You know what reason he gave? He said I was a vagrant because I had less than $10 dollars in my wallet.

Another time, I went to court, thinking the bracelet would be removed that day. I was excited. I planned to go to a Halloween dance -- my first dance in almost a year. (I couldn't stay out after 9:00 p.m. with the bracelet on because an alarm would go off and I'd have to go to jail.) But the prosecutor asked the judge to deny the removal, and the judge agreed. I not only couldn't go to the dance, but I got more and more nervous about problems that bracelet could cause. I always got home long before 9:00 p.m., just in case. But even that didn't help, sometimes. The receiver gave all kinds of false readings. Alarms would go off even when I was home.

Eventually I plea bargained, just to stop the torment to me and my family.

After the prosecution ended and I knew that I wouldn't go to prison or have to register as a sex offender, I thought life would return to normal. But years went by, and it never did. Even though the story of my innocence was on the Internet (and also featured on the ABC News show "20/20"), new friends or potential employers would google "Matt Bandy Arizona," learn about the false charges, and drift away.

Some people wonder why I plea bargained if I hadn't done anything wrong. But those people haven't ever been caught in the justice system. They haven't been targeted by a district attorney like Andrew Thomas, who came into office just after I was arrested.

The best way to explain why I plea bargained at all is to ask a question: What would you do if you had to make the choice? Would you rather be dragged before a jury, accused of child pornography, watch your parents spend their life savings defending you, and risk going to prison for years? Or would you eventually plead guilty to lesser offenses with no jail time to end the nightmare?

And just so you'll know, the "offenses" I pleaded guilty to involved taking Playboy to school and showing it to some of my friends. If you want to know everything, please read "The Matt Bandy Story: A Nightmare Before Christmas" by Jonathan Bernstein.

After the plea bargain, I continued to spend time with my family, who were always supportive. We watched movies and sports, especially football. I continued to listen to music and collect old vinyl records -- Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin. I played classic video games. But I became depressed, especially when life didn't get back to normal. It became hard to enjoy anything.

Only many years later, in 2011, did my life finally start to get back on track. I got a great job. My family began to feel like they could breathe again. But thanks to the Internet, the story of those false charges will follow me forever.

The last thing I ever expected to happen was to be not only accused of a horrible crime I didn't commit, but then go public so people can be made aware of the technological and prosecutorial nightmares that can happen to anybody at any time. It hurts me to know that there are people out there who have to spend time in jail for the "crime" of being hooked up to the Internet and being taken advantage of by creeps who plant malware on their computers.

Thank you for visiting this website. I hope that each of you who read this will become part of the solution too.


 

Jeanne Bandy
Autobiography

My name is Jeanne Bandy. I grew up in the Midwest, living with my parents above their bakery. It was a peaceful and sheltered time, of which I have wonderful memories. After I graduated from high school, my family decided to live their dream and we moved to Arizona.

This was a challenging time for me because over the course of our first summer here I developed severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. The disease moved quickly and within a couple of years, several of my joints were totally destroyed. Although my illness was progressing, I attended university, spending my spring breaks on joint replacement surgeries. I underwent a total hip replacement, then wrist, finger, and knee surgeries. After each surgery, I would go back to school. Thanks to loving support from Gregory (who was my boyfriend at the time) and my family I would finish the semester. I received my B.S. in business, and after graduation Greg and I married.

For the next few years I worked to put Greg through medical school. After he graduated and went into residency, I returned to the university to work on my masters degree in counseling. This took longer than I anticipated because we decided to have a family. Matt was born, followed by Katie. So six years and two babies later, I received my masters while Greg was still working hard in residency.

Finally, we were through all the schooling and training and looking forward to a normal life. Well, it didn't exactly turn out the way I expected. Our lives were hectic to say the least. Between Greg's ER schedule and the kids' busy days, sometimes I could hardly remember which day of the week it was! I put aside my goals for a while to give my attention to the most important thing in my life — our family. I did, however, teach religious education classes for our church, and self-help classes for the Arthritis Foundation.

Even though we were busy, the years that followed were wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed raising Matt and Katie and seeing to it that my family was happy and well-taken care of. We have a large extended family here in the Valley and the years flew by, filled with many happy events, family vacations, and holiday celebrations.

Then our whole world came tumbling down early one December morning when the police raided our home. For the next two years, there was nothing but fear and anxiety in our lives. We spent that time in lawyer's offices and court trying to protect Matt. The case did severe damage to our family's world, a world that Greg and I worked so very long and hard to build. Even now, many years after Matt was falsely accused and wrongfully prosecuted, our lives have barely returned to normal.

We went public with our story because Greg and I do not wish for any other family to go through a nightmare like the one we endured. It exhausted us emotionally, financially, and physically. We feel compelled to stand up for those who may not be able to do so on their own. The system is broken, and no family should have to go through what we have.

We adamantly agree that child pornography is horrific, and there must be laws to protect children, but at the same time, we can not allow innocent people (or, in Matt's case, a child himself) to go to jail and be labeled a sex offender when their only crime was to own a computer. So we took the big risk by going public, but hopefully we will make a difference. People must become aware of computer security problems, outrageous prosecution tactics, and bad laws that endanger all of us, especially our children who are the most vulnerable.


 

Gregory Bandy, M.D.
Autobiography

My name is Gregory L. Bandy, M.D. I was born the oldest of three children of two very loving and supportive parents.

My father is a cardiologist, now retired. His schooling (college, med school, internship, residency, fellowship and "pay-back" to the public health service) required our family to move about quite a bit before we settled in Phoenix when I was twelve years old. I graduated from a local high school, then graduated Summa Cum Laude from college with a B.S. in Geology.

While an undergraduate, I met the love of my life, Jeanne. We married and had two wonderful children, Matthew and Kathryn.

I began working toward my masters degree in Geophysics, but after a few months I had a change of heart and withdrew from the program to go into medicine. Eventually, I became an emergency room physician. I have worked at two hospitals and still have an excellent relationship with both.

Our family has always been close. We gather for traditional Christmas parties, Fourth of July parties, and holiday and birthday get-togethers with our extended family. We enjoy sports — especially our local Arizona teams. Before tragedy befell us, we always took two or three family vacations per year, often including the extended family — cousins and grandparents and uncles and aunts — in the fun.

Then in the early hours of December 16, 2004 my life, and that of my family, changed forever. Three policemen pulled me from bed at gunpoint and led me outside where my family was quarantined while they "secured the area." (Keep in mind that our family consisted of middle-aged physician with an arthritic wife and two teenage children.) Thankfully, the area was "secured" and we were able to re-enter the house. Even now, many years later, I'm reluctant to go into details of the allegations made against Matt. You can read them elsewhere on this site. Suffice it to say, however, that this could have happened to anyone, and actually will continue to happen at random throughout society until common sense and new laws are employed and enacted.

We spent two years defending our son against charges he adamantly denied, and still denies. He successfully passed two independent polygraphs. Multiple expert witnesses stated that there are a multitude of ways this could have happened. Not one of those ways involved any wrongdoing by my son. Yet Matt and our family have had to pay — and go on paying — for something that careful, responsible investigation would have showed was not our fault.


 

Letters of Support

Below are a small cross-section of the many letters of support received by The Bandys or their attorney, Ed Novak, in support of Matt's and the Bandy Family's fine character. Others were written to Arizona legislators in a desperate attempt to find some state official who would listen, to no avail.


January 25, 2007

I am a fellow Ahwatukee resident. I wanted to thank you for using your horrible experience to enlighten others about the potential life altering risks of being on-line. I am very sorry that you had to go through what you did, but know that your efforts to get the message out will help spare other unwitting victims from the same fate.

Please feel free to use my comments in any way that you may find helpful. You may also post my name along with my comments if you wish. This is truly an amazing and shocking story both in terms of an example of a blatant abuse of power by the prosecuting attorney and in terms of the underhanded means with which the true criminals victimize and devastate others (i.e., the children in the pornographic pictures as well as Matt and his family).

Mark Mercer
Ahwatukee, AZ


January 24, 2007

I am just writing to let you know that others out here have heard about what has happened to Matt . I know this won't be much solice for you now, but I hope that Matt's and your whole family's suffering helps those like him in the future. I hope that you and your family tell your story again when the prosecutor comes up for re-election.

Hank Bennett
Newberg
OR


January 19, 2006

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

My name is Amanda Stem, and I am a Private First Class in the United States Army. It has been brought to my attention that Matthew Bandy's, whom I have been friends with for many years, character has been questioned. I have known Matt since 1998, I believe. Our families have been great friends and have partaken in wonderful vacations together in Mexico and Nevada. We have celebrated Christmas and birthdays, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving together as families. I even baby sat him and his sister a few times. He has a great sense of caring and humor put together for a winning combination. He would never do anything to hurt someone physically or mentally. He loves his family with all his heart and is truly a great person. I am currently stationed here in Mosul, Iraq, at Fort Courage and therefore cannot present my testimony in person. If you have any further questions, I can be reached by email at (email address omitted by editor to preserve Private Stern's privacy).


January 5, 2006

Mr. Edward Novak:

I have known Matthew Bandy for approximately the last ten years. During that interval, I have had the opportunity to observe him in numerous settings including providing professional care for him when he had been injured at school and was seen in the emergency department for an initial assessment and at subsequent E.R. visits when he experienced flares of pain secondary to that initial injury. I also observed him on numerous occasions when he and his family would stop at the department while out for social or sports events and observed his interaction with his family, the department staff and myself.

While Matthew always impressed me as a somewhat shy and reserved young man, and in spite of what may have been reluctance to express himself, I always found him to be kind, courteous, cordial and even at times humorously entertaining. I recall specifically being impressed with how he maintained his composure even though in obvious pain during his initial ER evaluation for a school-related injury. Matthew has always been warm, approachable and considering during the settings in which I observed him. Over the years I have had numerous discussions with his father about him and his response to his chronic injury and its impact on the family and his ability to attend school and learned that Matthew was a steady achiever and found ways to overcome the obstacles his physical malady presented.

In summary, I have observed Matthew Bandy for ten years in a variety of settings, professional and social, and always found him to be a warm and pleasant young man and never observed anything that raised concern that he was anything other than a typical Valley teenager interested in the activities of most young men his age.

Mark E. Sexton, MD.
Phoenix Emergency Physicians
Scottsdale, AZ


September 13, 2006

Dear Mr. Ed Novak,

I am writing to inform you of my knowledge and relationship with Matthew Bandy. I have been a close friend of his family for over twenty years and have known Matt since he was born. He has been a member of a loving family unit that exhibits a closeness that is seldom seen in this modern day of hectic hurry. His extended family, which includes grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, is all loving and caring. He has always been the same, very loving and caring. He strives to do what is expected by society and has a strong sense of conscience. He willingly accepts tasks and strives to put a bit of "Matt" in everything that he works hard at (he has an intelligent sense of humor that makes seven adults think). His music, books and television viewing exclude the harsh language and acts that permeate modern entertainment both by training and voluntary choice. Matthew shows the utmost respect for all people, animals and personal property. He trusts society to respect him in the return and it would be a blow to him to experience trespass. I would be proud to have Matt as a son and consider him to be almost that.

Robert R. Bartos
Phoenix, AZ


January 18, 2006

To whom it may concern:

I met the Bandy family in 1991. I met Dr. Bandy at Tempe St. Luke's Hospital, working the Emergency department. I have been a Registered Nurse in the ER for 27 years. Dr. Bandy is a very kind, compassionate person, who is very efficient and knowledgeable in emergency medicine. He is a huge asset to the ER, builds comradery and works as a team member. Soon after meeting Dr. Bandy, I met his wife Jean and children Matthew and Katie. They would bring dinner to Dr. Bandy at work and the whole family became friends to the ER.

Tempe St. Luke's is well known for treating all co-workers and patients as "family." Dr. Bandy began having parties inviting the entire ER and families for summer gatherings of swimming, basketball, volleyball and Christmas parties with Santa there for all of the children. This has become an annual event to date and has made many memories for all who were a part.

Matt and Katie were a welcoming pair and played well with all. Matt was always including other people by sharing his toys and games. He often would give up his turn while playing video games just so his guests could play. The Bandy family has strong Christian values. I feel Matthew has had great parental guidance and supervision. I would like to give Matthew special recognition for being a part of his family and for the future to be an active part in his community. I have total faith and confidence in Matthew's integrity.

Sheila Bryant
Tempe, AZ


10 January 2006

Re: Matthew Bandy

To Whom It May Concern:

It is with pleasure I take this opportunity to give support to the character of Matt Bandy. I've known him since he was a toddler and have watched him grow into a fine young man. His father Dr. Greg Bandy and I have worked together in the Emergency Department at Tempe St. Luke's Hospital for many years and although the time spent with Matt has been episodic he has always been courteous and conversant. At no time did I observe any behavior that would not make a parent proud. I've also noted an excellent relationship between Matt and his parents Jean and Greg.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information.

James R. McEown, MD, FACEP
Morrison Vein Institute


November 11, 2006

We have known Matt for all his life. Even as a small child he was considerate and thoughtful of others and he has continued these traits even as a young man. He is very respectful and kind. If he thinks someone is in need he is there to help. In grade school, he would help the disabled children with their lunches instead of going out to recess.

He is very giving. One year while we were all on vacation it was our son's birthday and our son saw a video game he wanted. Of his own volition, Matt decided to get the game and enlisted the help of his cousin to help pay for it. Even though Matt is older than our children, he always includes them and makes them feel welcome. On a deep sea fishing expedition, Matt allowed our son to be the one to reel in the first catch which made a real impact on our son.

He has had some disabling health issues with a serious back injury. Through it all he kept an upbeat and positive attitude. He is also a very forgiving person. His friends as a joke pushed him and made him fall, re-injuring his back at which time he had to miss numerous weeks of school. He never blamed his friends or got upset with them. In spite of his constant back pain, he was able to keep up in all of his class work. He is a dedicated and hard worker. Matt has never had an easy life due to his back, but he has always made the best of it. Never once have we heard a word of complaint.

Sincerely,

Carl and Heather Bandy (his uncle and aunt)


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