In a league of second chances, why can't NFL combine sensation Tony Washington get any at all? It's a story of dark family secrets, justice unserved and the elusive power of redemption.
[...] On May 9, 2003, Washington pleaded guilty to having consensual sex with his biological sister, Caylen. He was 16, she was 15.
"Incest," he says, looking straight ahead.
He says he didn't plan to do it. He was a teenager. Unstrung. Unsupervised. His world was at war. He was scared. Isolated. Except she was there, the two of them best friends, close as book pages. They loved each other, trusted each other. And one day that tipped into something more. Something neither one felt was wrong in the moment. "We were just sitting there, and it was like, 'Do you want to?'" he says. There was no discussion. "We did it. And it was like, 'OK, what's next?' We never talked about it after that."
Both say it happened only once more. The two never kissed. Never shared true intimacy. Just spontaneous, ill-conceived connections. Needs met when few others were.
A few months after they first had sex, Washington's sister went out one night to meet somebody. Her boyfriend, she says. Johns, the police suspected. Soon after, Washington's phone rang. His sister had been picked up by the cops. He needed to come get her, and he needed to come right away. "All I knew was my sister was in trouble," he says. "So when I showed up, and they asked me about the two of us, I said yes. I didn't know it was illegal."
As it turned out, according to Caylen's account, the cops had been asking a lot of questions about her home life, digging to find out how a 15-year-old girl ends up on the streets. (The Magazine left multiple messages seeking comment from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and district attorney but received no answer.) Caylen denied she was a prostitute. So they asked her if there were issues at home. Was that why she ran off? Had anyone in her family touched her, abused her? For more than three hours, she stuck to her story: She left home to meet her boyfriend. She adored her brother. He was a good kid who took care of her. Their family wasn't like that.
More officers came into the interrogation room. Caylen was alone. She had no lawyer, just her and a passel of cops and detectives, and it got later and later into the night, and she was hungry and tired. It was then, four hours in, she says, that they started talking about jail.
Caylen did not want to go to jail. She wanted to leave. She says the cops promised her that if she confessed, everyone could go home, that she and her family would get free counseling and all this ugliness would end, and everyone could sleep in their own beds. They said it was her choice. Did she want to end up in prison? Her brother too?
Caylen folded. She said things that she insists now were "half-true" or "complete lies." She nodded her head yes to every question and said whatever she thought they wanted to hear.
"And then, like that, I was in jail," Tony says.