Every now and then I remember an event in my life that literally sends shivers up my spine and I’m going to share one of those times with you today. This isn’t easy to read, but it’s important to read! For almost forty years I was the wife of a practicing pedophile and didn’t know it. I saw odd behavior but passed it off as just that — odd. There were times when I was treated genuinely well in my marriage — like I was loved and adored. And, there were times when I was neglected and ignored to the point of making me withdraw into a shell of silence and depression. There was next to zero self-esteem in my life, and all I wanted to do was “be good enough” to be loved by my husband and the father of my children. There were times when I literally begged for love, and this segment of my life that I’m about to share will give you an even closer inside glimpse into the mind of a man who spent long, hard hours planning his every move that dug him deeper into the dark world of pedophilia.
If you’re new to this blog, I suggest you begin here and continue reading each post so that you can watch how the events in my life unfolded while being married for forty years to a practicing pedophile. I didn’t know what signs to look for and I’m sharing my story so that you can learn from me just how easily we can be fooled into completely trusting our children with molesters!
John loved church camp! It was part of his life growing up as a kid. In fact, I can say that church camp was one of the biggest highlights of his life. He wasn’t a big talker with me, but when it came to church camp, he got downright giddy. He would mark the date of church camp on his calendar a year in advance and make certain that he was a volunteer there every year. Honestly, I think we could have experienced a death in the family and he would have put church camp above attending the funeral.
In 1975, John had made his usual plans to volunteer his week at church camp. I’ll be honest with you. By this time in our married lives, I was so used to staying at home, that the thought never crossed my mind to go with him. Besides, on this particular year I was sixteen weeks pregnant with our fourth child and I wasn’t having a good pregnancy. I was experiencing bleeding and the doctor warned me that I should have complete bed rest until the bleeding stopped.
As you can guess, a troubled pregnancy was certainly no reason for John to miss the highlight of his year. He worked hard for weeks planning games for the talent show at camp. He was known as the “camp jokester” — the one who kept things lively and hopping at camp. He was a prankster doing things like hiding in the woods at night and hiding food from the cooks in the mess hall. He had his reputation as “camp comedian” to live up to, and nothing would stop John from going!
He also loved to hide out in the woods and set traps that would make the kids trip and fall and then he’d spook them by grabbing them and making them think that they tripped over a snake. I can’t tell you how animated he got over his week at camp!
He especially loved raiding the girl’s cabins at night, and would tell story after story of peeking inside the cabin windows late at night to scare the girls half to death.
This particular year I really didn’t want John to leave me. I had three young children, a fourth on the way, and it was a difficult pregnancy. I literally begged him to stay home from camp that year. “Please, can’t you stay with me? I’m so afraid that something will happen to this baby while you’re gone.”
John had a way of looking at me that was a mixture of pity, disgust, and questioning. He just stared as if to say, “I don’t get it. Why would I stay home? Camp is where I need to be.”
And, that’s just where he went. I remember the morning he packed up the car for camp this particular year. I sobbed because the bleeding had gotten worse, and I knew once John was at camp I wasn’t allowed to call him. He said it was a “camp rule.” In later years I found out there was no such rule. He could have picked up the camp phone in the kitchen and called me any time he wanted.
I watched the car pull out of the driveway of the church parsonage and then the tears really began to fall. I had already miscarried once and I knew how horrifying an experience that was and I was petrified that I would have to go through another loss again. I wanted my husband home with me!
Logic would tell you that I should have said, “You’re not going. This is your baby, and I am your wife. You’re staying with me! This is where you belong.” But, when you are already beaten down emotionally, there’s not a lot of fight in you. And, it is humiliating and demoralizing to have to beg for someone to love you. And, that’s just how it was with me. Besides, I felt once again that it was my Christian duty to share John with others — that he was a real asset to the campers. This was supposed to be a fun week for the camp kids, and a part of me felt so ashamed for wanting to keep him home from having this time away that he loved so much.
I’d like to say this was a good week, and all was well, but it was not. The pregnancy continued to give me problems. I was scared out of my mind as the bleeding gained momentum. And, I was also too afraid to try to call John to ask him to come home with me. In looking back now, I can’t believe how afraid of him I was. I have grown to say that he had a “quiet, complete, empowering control over me” — so hidden from everyone else. To the public, he was a fun, sweet, kind, man who loved his wife and children with all of his heart. He was also this man who everyone wanted to be around — he could make you laugh, he was even-tempered and so patient about everything, and he always flavored life with Christ-like love. At least that how it seemed to others.
John never called home once that week to ask how I was doing or to ask how the kids were doing. Not one call! Nothing!Not one word all week long!
When he came back on Saturday, I was not feeling well at all. In fact, I was now bleeding regularly. But, I didn’t tell John. Instead, I listened to him tell his stories of the crazy antics he played at camp. He told me about one particular preacher that he “razzed” (a word he loved to use) until this preacher actually cried. John pulled so many pranks that week that he was not invited back! He laughed himself silly over that! In his words, “They love me! I’ll go back next year. You just wait and see. That camp can’t survive without me!”
I shudder to think of what he really did while peeking inside of the girl’s cabins at night while they were undressing to get into their pj’s. I cringe when I think of him hiding out tripping the girls on their way back to the cabins and hearing them shriek in the woods as they thought a snake was wrapping around them! I’ve cried many tears over stories that were later told to me about him volunteering to walk the young girls to their cabins after the nightly devotionals so that they wouldn’t get afraid of the dark.
John loved church camp because it gave him a world of opportunities to have free access to children! He was trusted and loved! While other adults were sitting around the campfire talking together, he was out playing “pranks” on the kids.
Please pay attention! This is not a joke! Read this over and over again until it all sinks in! John is sitting in prison serving a thirty year sentence for molesting children. He has admitted to molesting children since the age of fourteen. He studied children, and knew games that they loved to play such as tag and hide-and-seek. He loved hanging out with kids far more than the adults. He got so excited about this, that he could barely tell the stories because he was so giddy about his time with the kids at camp. That’s not normal behavior for an adult! That’s really not normal behavior for an adult preacher — a man of God! That’s not normal behavior for a husband and father!
There were red flags waving everywhere, but nobody caught on!
Four days after John got home from camp, I lost the baby. I began hemorrhaging and for a period of twenty-four hours my life was at risk because the bleeding was so bad. I had emergency surgery.
John did not stay with me at the hospital. He left while I was still in recovery. He said hospitals bothered him and he didn’t like hearing about blood.
My mind was left in a state of flux. There were so many things I didn’t understand about the man who was my husband. He said he loved me, but he was so distant. Around me he was not affectionate, but around children he was absolutely amazing — hugging, holding, snuggling, and cuddling.
I thought there was something so very wrong with me. It took me forty years to find out it wasn’t me. It never was about me. It was all about the children.
Please, please share this blog with others. Take these words to heart. Do you know someone who displays this type of behavior? If so, have you confronted this person? Are you living in a situation similar to this? Do you see “odd” behavior? Does your gut feeling tell you something is wrong? Are you being emotionally abused? Do you know a child who is being abused? Has your child given you hints that he or she has been abused by someone? Are you listening to the voices of the children?
Please talk to someone! Keep this person from your children! Pedophiles are walking among us. They are your neighbor, your preacher, your teacher, your mailman, your best friend — maybe even your husband!
For the sake of the children, please let’s be on the alert at all times. Let’s make it impossible for these predators to gain access to our children! It’s our responsibility to do all we can to keep our children safe — beginning right now!!!
Thanks so much for the overwhelming interest and response to this blog. It makes me so happy to see so many people getting involved in this serious issue of protecting our children from predators and eventual molestation of innocent children. If you are new to this blog, I would suggest that you begin reading here. Please remember that this is my story. I do not claim to be an expert on all the different aspects of a pedophile and the behavior of a pedophile. What I do know is this: I know how my life was affected and changed living for almost forty years with a practicing pedophile. And, I want to share that with you so that you can learn from me. I want you to know what red flags to look for so that you don’t fall into the same trap that I did!
Last week, I had the privilege of being a guest blogger, and I thank Loony (Erica) for giving me an opportunity to voice my opinion on her blog, “Thoughts of a Lunatic” on the very complex topic of whether or not a pedophile can be rehabilitated. This post is going to go in a different direction just for today because I feel it’s so important for you to understand the way a pedophile thinks long-term. At least the way the pedophile in my life is thinking.
A couple of weeks ago, I received my third letter from John since he has been in prison. I have not spoken to him since he was under investigation. I have chosen to remain silent with him for a number of reasons, and one of the reasons will become apparent to you when I share just a few lines from a letter from him to me.
John’s letter was two pages, hand written front and back. The first line that grabbed my heart and began to shred it was this: “Dear Clara, I’m sorry I have ruined your life.” That’s as far as I read until the tears came pouring from my eyes — actually, the tears came pouring from my heart. Those words — “ruined your life” — felt like I was being stabbed with a knife over and over and over again. Cold, hard stabs. My first response was to sob, then curl up in a ball and cry for the next several hours. It’s still so hard for me to grasp this whole thing. I gave my heart, my very soul to a man that I loved and little by little my heart was kicked, beaten, and bruised until the final chapter when this letter arrived from prison and simply said, “I’m sorry I ruined your life.”
As you are reading these words, please think back to the post about rehabilitating a pedophile. I don’t think it’s possible, and when I read further on down through the letter I’m convinced that the pedophile I was married to can never be rehabilitated.
As his words continued, he said, “I’m sorry that you had to see my dark side. This has hurt you, I’m sure, but you’ve always been strong, and I have a favor to ask of you.” Ah, I knew it! I knew he could never leave it simply being sorry and asking forgiveness. Here we go to the real John. He’s going to ask (which really means “tell”) me what I’m supposed to do!
My tears continued to fall like pouring rain. How? How could this man be asking me to do something for him when he had caused so much destruction in my life, the lives of each of his children, his grandchildren, and so many others who knew him? If this has been me, I honestly believe I would have taken my life. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. But, the mind of a pedophile doesn’t work that way. John was thinking about John.
What did he want? He wanted me to talk to the kids and ask them why they weren’t all writing him. Why can’t they forgive him and have a normal relationship with him? I almost came out of my skin at that point! Are you kidding me? You’ve wrecked so many people in so many different ways and you want me to fix it?
Note: Pedophiles do not take responsibility for their actions. They find an escape and someone else to blame.
John said, and I quote, “I have been forgiven by Abba Father. The minute I asked Abba, I was forgiven. Now, I want you to get the kids to forgive me so that we can be a family again.” Really? Really, John? You want ME to fix this for you? It’s not going to happen!
Reading his letter made me feel like I had been swallowed up by some giant lie and I was trapped and suffocating and needed to get out — needed to run away — break loose, so I could get some air. I didn’t finish that letter that night. Instead, I sobbed deep, hard sobs into my pillow for hours and hours.
Those words, “ruined your life” and “you’re strong……you need to get the kids to forgive me” kept playing over in my head again and again and again until finally I bolted upright around 4:00 a.m., and it was like a light bulb went on! He was at it again! He was using me from prison! Or, let’s rephrase that — he was trying to use me from prison. But it wasn’t going to work. Not this time! Never, ever again will I give that man permission to manipulate me, to use me, and to trick me into doing anything for him. NEVER! This is his responsibility to win back his kids’ respect, love, and forgiveness. Not mine! I will not be the enabler — the fixer — any more again!
It took me about two weeks to open up that letter again and finish reading it. What I read stirred feelings that I don’t think I’ve ever had before. It was a mixture of horror, anger to the point of rage, heart pain that felt like my chest was going to explode, and a sadness that felt like I had fallen into a deep, bottomless pit.
There it was. In writing. Right before my eyes. “I’ve been forgiven. I know I did wrong, but I’ve never felt more freedom in all of my life. I’m teaching Bible studies in prison — like the Apostle Paul. I’m in the church choir. And, I’m doing a lot of one-on-one teaching. I’m evangelizing from inside these prison walls. But, I miss seeing everyone. Can you tell ________________ to send me pictures of the kids? I really need to see them. I’ve been made whole, and I know I won’t ‘those thoughts’ again.”
In this letter, he specifically asked for photos of little girls. Not parents. Not photos of their families. But, of the little girls.
And, I knew. At that moment, I knew that all of the crying. All of the brokenness. All of the wishing things were different was for naught. John says he is forgiven. Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. But, I can tell you one thing. He is not changed. Not at all. He is trying to manipulate me (and others) into sending him pictures of little children. He is masking his motives. He is trying hard. He is being persistent. He is using religion. He is lying. He is the same. He is a practicing pedophile. Only now, thankfully, he is kept away from children.
And, I thank God that the children are safe from this child molester. Every day, I thank God that many, many children are safe because this one man has been taken away from the children!
Sometimes it’s easy to fall into this trap of, “God has forgiven me, why can’t you? And, by the way, send me some pictures of little kids because I’m all okay now.” Do NOT fall for it! Please, be on your guard. Pay attention. Stay alert at all times! Pedophiles are lurking, watching, planning, wanting, desiring, and acting. They take innocent lives and hurt them — causing deep, lasting pain. Please, for the children, let’s continue to stay alert and on guard so that we can protect our children!
Next week, I’ll go back to my regular writing. I’ll be talking about our first New Year’s Eve together. Let’s just say it was a party like none other! But, for today I felt it was important to update you on the ongoing thoughts of a pedophile — even when caught, proven guilty with tons of evidence, claiming forgiveness and a new, clean slate, yet still……wanting the children and boldly asking — demanding, manipulating — for those selfish, hurtful, evil desires to be fulfilled.
Keep alert. If someone doesn’t seem right around your children, call that person out. So what if you’re wrong? It’s better to speak up and be wrong than to keep quiet and back off and always wonder if you could have possibly stopped a predator in his tracks!
Thanks for hanging in here with me. I know this is hard reading, but it’s important for us to know — to really understand how a pedophile works.
As always, I appreciate your comments and your thoughts. And, I thank you for caring for the well-being of innocent children!