When I talk about being married almost forty years to a practicing pedophile, I say it with shame. I say those words with horror. I almost always have at least two very bad days of haunting dreams and lots of tears after I write a blog post. Why? Because there is still a part of me that agonizes over the fact that I was duped. I didn’t know the man I was married to for almost four decades! I grieve the fact that this man was so good at deceiving me and others that he got away with molesting children for all of those years!
If you are new to this blog, it’s important for you to begin here. It’s hard to start in the middle of a story and grasp the full impact — especially with a story that is as complicated as this one. As you are reading, take time to pause and allow the words to sink deep into your heart. What you are reading is not just hard to read, but it’s hard to believe.
And pedophiles are counting on just that — making it hard for you to believe that they could ever commit such horrendous acts! We’ve been talking about John’s pedophilic behavior escalating and becoming more and more visible to the public. People who were close to John were beginning to question some of the things he was doing, but nothing went beyond questioning. Why? Simply because our minds are not educated enough to think in terms of someone we know, love, and trust committing well-planned, well-thought out harmful acts against young, innocent children.
On a personal level, I find it difficult to allow my mind to think of children being harmed in any way. I get physically ill and have to shut down my thoughts. It’s too painful, and I think that’s true for most of us.
BUT, I can assure you that until we begin getting into the mind of a pedophile we will not be able to connect the dots and properly protect our children. Pedophiles are crafty. They’re smart. They groom children and adults. They create very detailed plans as to how they will gain the trust of both parent and child.
And, then they molest. The sexual part of pedophilia is thrilling because it is climactic on several different levels — the highest level not being the sexual satisfaction, but rather the fact that had such ultimate control. They managed to fool everyone! And, they have such tight control that most often the child is silent and the parents are totally unsuspecting.
At this particular time in our lives, John was getting more strange with his behavior. As I listened to him in the courtroom on the day of his sentencing, I understood just how deeply involved he was in child molestation. *Note: I will be describing the courtroom scene as this story progresses.
John’s behavior was “odd.” I guess that’s the only word for it. He was very involved with helping people both in church and in the community. He was volunteering more and more of his time for babysitting while parents ran chores, during church services, or when parents were working. He didn’t ask for money, and that is always a big plus for parents. Free babysitting from a man who is a well-respected minister of God’s word in a small, close-knit community? Of course parents were glad to welcome John’s help watching their children!
But………..I was beginning to get calls asking me if I knew John had a carload of little girls with him in town shopping for swim suits. Of course I didn’t know! We were separated at this time and he surely didn’t share things like that with me. People were beginning to question what he was doing. As I said, his behavior was a bit odd, but he was always a bit on the odd side and people loved him for that!
He took children on nature hikes in the woods. He picked up children from daycare and fed them, bathed them and had them all ready for bed by the time their mom got off work. He took young children on rides with him to visit at the nursing home, then he’d take the kids out for ice cream and buy them a special treat for being so good for “Pap” as he liked the kids to call him.
Odd? Yes. Criminal? No. Of course not. Why would we even think that?
Except…….something kept gnawing at people. “Maybe he’s just so lonely and lost now that your marriage is ending.” Oh, I’d be a wealthy lady if I had a dime every time someone laid that line on me! The guilt I felt at this time is hard to describe. What reason did I have for not wanting to stay married to this man other than his “neglect” of me as his wife? I was just so tired of the way he mistreated me that I felt I couldn’t go on any longer in this relationship. And, I felt so terribly guilty for causing him pain by not remaining by his side. After all, isn’t that the Christian thing to do? I certainly had heard that all of my life growing up in the church. No matter what, you are to stick by your husband until death! Yes, I felt extreme shame and guilt for not being the Christian woman I was supposed to be!
Little did I know the whole of it! Little did I know that this man — the one I shared my life with for so long — had been molesting children since the age of fourteen by his own admission in court!!!
His behavior didn’t add up. Yes, he was lonely, but so was I. And, when I played devil’s advocate in my mind, I tried to figure out what was going on, but never could.
I was lonely — but certainly not for little boys. I was lonely for the love and endearment of an adult male. I missed having a man to share my days and my nights with. I missed eating meals together. I missed having someone to talk to about our kids and private things that you wouldn’t share with others. I missed having a man around the house to fix things when they broke. I missed having someone to hold me, to kiss me, and to tell me that I was beautiful. I missed being special to someone.
I did not seek to fill this void by gathering up little boys and taking them shopping for swimming trunks. I didn’t pile my car full of little boys and take them out for ice cream. I didn’t ask parents to babysit their little boys. I had no desire to bathe someone’s little boys, diaper them, and get them ready for bed.
And, then it hit me like a bomb. I wept many, many nights thinking what a terrible person I was for not being involved with others like John was. I thought, “Here I am not even divorced and I’m thinking about other men while John is out doing so many good things. He’s out helping people, and I’m laying in bed having a pity party and filling my mind with so many selfish thoughts!”
I buried myself in guilt for no reason, and that’s just what happens to victims of abuse!
Please, please read that over and over again if you are a victim of any kind of abuse. The needless guilt and shame will eat away at you while the real perpetrator continues on about his evil business!
Except……….liars eventually get caught. Always! It might take years and years and years, as was the case with John, but eventually the truth come out!
One very ordinary evening I was sitting at my computer when an email came through. It was from John, but there was no subject line and it took forever for the email to load.
That email (which two years later was turned over to the police) contained photo after photo of little girls — most of whom I knew — doing ordinary things like running, jumping, playing, swimming, sleeping, eating, drinking bottles, laying in a crib.
I waited for another email to follow explaining why I was sent all of these pictures. And, I did get the email.
It said, “Sorry. This wasn’t meant for you. These are my pictures. Please delete.”
Odd? Yes. I’ll say it again…..odd that I would get an email with nothing but pictures of little girls from a 60-year-old man who is separated from his wife. I know I sure wasn’t spending my time taking pictures of little boys and loading them onto my computer and staring at them.
It was odd, but………I’ll be honest with you. I never questioned John. Why? There were no pictures that were questionable. They were just pictures of sweet little girls and I knew many of them. I figured he was testing out his new camera and was just snapping pictures.
Oh, how very wrong I was! God forgive me for being so naïve!
Why did I save those photos and that email? I don’t know except to say that I guess I figured I’d save the email in case John ever needed the pictures. In case he deleted them by accident I’d have them. Oh, I’m sick writing this. What a fool I was!
Two years later, when answering questions posed to me by police I recalled this particular email. And, it was this email that went on to help convict John and sentence him to prison for the rest of his days on this earth. I cannot share details — I can only say that my heart was broken and will forever remain broken by what I learned.
And, I thank God daily for saving that email. Call it gut instinct. Call it divine intervention. Call it what you want, but that one “slip” of an email helped convict the man who looked so innocent!
So what lessons do we learn from this? What can we take away that will help us?
First and foremost, I’ll continue to say this over and over again. “If it doesn’t seem right, then it probably isn’t.” Go with your gut feelings!!!!
As sad as this is to say, don’t take everyone at their word! Pedophiles are masterful liars! They will often make you feel like you’re going crazy! You won’t know what to think when they are holding you in the grip of manipulation!
Finally, it helps if you play the devil’s advocate game as I did. I kept trying to think what would make me want to be in the presence of little boys all of the time — comparing my thoughts to John’s and asking, “Why does he like to be with little girls all of the time? Is that normal?”
Of course I know the facts now, but at the time it was like trying to fit pieces of a crazy puzzle together.
Lastly, get educated!!!!! Read the suggested reading I have on this site. Visit my son’s blog here. He has so much valuable information!!!
Ask questions!!!! Don’t withdraw into a state of guilt thinking YOU are a bad person for questioning another. You questions just might save the very life of a child!!!!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it’s hard to read, but if we’re going to learn how to protect our children from the harm of abusers we need to know how pedophiles work.
Thank you so much for sharing this information with others, too! Nobody wants to think badly or wrongfully of another, but if you suspect abuse, you must report it! You can report to your local authorities anonymously! It’s better to report and be wrong, than to keep quiet and allow an abuser to continue!
The next time we’re together, I’ll share more about pictures. This time the pictures were being taken right in front of me! Pedophiles grow more and more bold with their actions — it’s part of their turn-on!
Thank you so much for helping me in this effort to educate! And, thank you for joining me in the fight against child abuse! There is hope and there is help and it begins right here with us!
If you are in need of a speaker at your church, school, or parent’s group, you can contact me by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org