Letter: Thanks for a great year, and keep in touch . . .

To the Rappahannock County community that has raised me as a son and loved me as a brother, I sincerely apologize for my actions. And I am sorry for leaving you so abruptly after such a wonderful year as your reporter at the Rappahannock News.

Though I am not excited about the prospect of spending more than half a year in the Rockingham Regional Jail, I look at this series of unfortunate events as one of the best things that has happened to me. For years I was floating through my life at James Madison University. I had distanced myself from my family and had forgotten who I was. Had nothing changed, I cannot be sure that I would have graduated with a degree in journalism and gotten this amazing job doing what I love afterward – and I can’t be sure I’d even be alive today.

For those of you I wrote about while covering the courts, I did so with a heavy heart. I felt your stress and pain and embarrassment in my own heart. And like you, I will strive to overcome the devastating blow of a felony conviction. There is hope for us yet.

I am no longer floating, and my family is by my side. I know exactly who I am and who I want to be. I want to lead a life that makes my parents, children and grandchildren proud.

The irony of my situation is that I walked out of the Rockingham County courtroom Thursday a free man. Free of the shame and guilt I’ve held in my chest for more than two years.

This will not ruin me. And I’ll be out before you know it.

My story is far from over.

With love,

Alex Sharp VIII

P.S. If anyone would like to keep in touch, I can send and receive letters. My address for the next six months will be: Alex Sharp VIII, Rockingham-Harrisonburg Regional Jail, 25 S. Liberty St., Harrisonburg, VA 22801.