Sex, crime and betrayal: Former Wadena woman pens memoir about ex-husband's sex scandal
FARGO - Monica Lee decided to write her account of her ex-husband's sex scandal for one reason and publish it for another.
"I didn't even really 'decide' to write it. I had to write it," says the 45-year-old former Wadena, Minn., resident.
Writing the book over the course of several years helped Lee, who now lives in Hampshire, Ill., work through her emotions.
"I ultimately decided to publish it, however, for other people, especially people who are in a place similar to where I was - married to someone behaving badly," she says.
The author says she felt that sharing her experience would help others realize they're not alone and perhaps help them make better decisions in their own lives.
"The Percussionist's Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal" tells the story of a central Minnesota high school drum-line instructor who pleaded guilty with an Alford plea (when the defendant doesn't admit to committing the crime but acknowledges that there's enough evidence for the prosecution to prove it) to one count of fifth-degree sexual misconduct.
Lee's husband at the time, Steve, was accused in 2001 of forcing sexual contact with an 18-year-old female student he met when she was 15.
When a police investigator first showed up at their door, Lee had no idea why he wanted to talk to her husband, and at first, she believed him when he denied the accusations detailed in the complaint.
"I actually accompanied him to the police station and sat there while he was being interviewed thinking the whole time that the girl was lying," she says.
Lee, a former journalist, learned the truth about what happened between her ex-husband and the student from the police interviews and court records she later used in "The Percussionist's Wife."
Lee started writing in the summer of 2006, right around the time she moved out of their home. She journaled to help her decide whether to file for a divorce, and she took a memoir-writing class.
"I was still sorting through the why's of what had happened, and writing it down helped me sort through those why's," she says.
Lee finished the book (her first) last summer, five years after her divorce. She has since remarried, and she says the writing and editing process strengthened her relationship with her second husband.
"You don't normally tell other people some of the things that I have in this book, and he read it, he read it like 10 times, because he was helping edit it," she says. "There are no secrets - he knows everything - so I think it brought us closer together."
The project also helped Lee learn to be true to herself and others.
"I was married to a man who was a convicted sex offender, and it was embarrassing, and I didn't talk to anybody about it," she says. "When I started opening up, it was freeing."
Her ex-husband, who worked at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School, was sentenced to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine for the gross misdemeanor. He served 60 days and paid $1,000.
Since "The Percussionist's Wife" was released Aug. 27, Lee has received heart-warming comments from friends, family and other readers offering her their support and understanding.
"I have heard the average self-publisher sells 100 books, and I am officially above average," Lee says with a laugh.
"The Percussionist's Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal" is available at Lulu.com, Amazon.com and as an e-book for the Kindle, Nook and Kobo.