Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Hi, I met your father this morning..."

"Then, this afternoon, I found out he is a registered sexual offender."

So...that's the conversation I had with my neighbor. Fun, right? Y'all are jealous, huh?

I had tapped on my neighbor's door to ask if I could carry a garage sale, Little Tike type of kid's tree house through his backyard. His father answered the door, and then his parents told me that they were just visiting, and weren't sure where the keys might be, so would I please come back and ask their son, my neighbor.

When my neighbor returned, he not only agreed, but, he helped me carry it. My feel for him is that he is a nice guy. I was grateful. What can I say? I like him. He always offers to help me carry heavy groceries, etc. By all counts, a good neighbor.

Then another neighbor dropped by, and another, and another. "Have you met John Smith's parents?" I readily said yes and that they seemed like nice people. "Did you know that his father is a registered sexual offender? The website says he is living here now."

So, um...what do you say to that? I went with, "Thanks for telling me."

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do. Pull my kids inside. Add a lock to the door. Buy thicker drapes. Move. Finally, I decided to calm down and go with just talking to my neighbor. I don't believe in talking about people behind their backs, and because he struck me as the kind of guy who would have knocked on my door and said, "My parents are coming to visit for awhile, and there is something you should know..." When I talked to my neighbor, he acted like I had lost my mind. I wondered if he knew? He had to know, right?

Then a knock on my door. My neighbor was back, with an explanation. His father had "stepped out of line" with a 16 year old he was counseling. He lost his job, his retirement, respect and had now lived with the consequences of his actions, for the past 15 years. He apologized for not telling me earlier, but, that he hadn't known that it was permanently linked to his father's record.

I feel better. I asked for permission to repeat what he had shared with me, and he gave it to me, he also suggested that I give anyone who would feel better talking to him about it, one of his business cards, and to tell them, to feel free to contact him. I respect that. I respect him.

I have also now been shunned as 'the irresponsible mom' because nobody else is interested in details. They are all in the 'high alert' phase, where they are acting like our street is a ticking time bomb, waiting to go off and claim their children.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but, my personal policy is to educate my children to use caution with people that they don't know, and even people that they do. I don't suggest taking it to crazy levels, nor do I want them to live in fear. I want them to approach it like driving. Vehicles are dangerous. Necessary, potentially fun, but also lethal in the right circumstances. Have a healthy respect, proceed with caution, don't do anything stupid...and keep on trucking.

Now tell me, does that make me irresponsible? How would you feel? What would you do?


  1. I think I am in line with you. While I would probably be a little more cautious about things I also fully realize that there are sometimes a situation where a "relationship" is consensual at first until someone finds out or changes their mind. Then there is this permanent mark on a person for the rest of their life.

    Depending on what kind of "stepped out of the line" it was. In general you are not irresponsible. It is a great opportunity to teach your children about being careful as well. Signs to look for, etc.

  2. No. I think the only thing you can do in that situation is arm yourself with the facts. You have to get as much information as you can. Doing what the other parents did is the irresponsible path.

    John Smith's dad is a scum bag, however.

  3. No. you're not irresponsible. I think your neighbor handled himself with class....especially given the subject matter...and I know we've represented a lot of sex offenders in my line of work and to be honest, not all of them are monsters. Some of them are just really dumb and decision-ally impaired. like perhaps your neighbor's dad was 15 years ago! he wasn't RAPING children...and likely won't harm a hair on the head of YOUR children. I think it's great that YOU didn't just jump to assumptions, and that you went directly to the source....very mature, and responsible of you! Good for you Viv!


  4. I think you handled yourself with class and self respect. I think you did everything right and what you do from here should be equally as straightforward, thoughtful, reasonable and cautious.

    However, that said, your neighbor is a liar and a sneak who pretended he didn't know what you were talking about until he checked the web and knew he was caught. Regardless of your previous experiences with him, this must color all future dealings relating to this matter.

    Also, his father is a sex offender and a pedophile. There is no excuse or rationalization to change that fact. And adults CANNOT have "consensual relationships" with teenagers. In addition, even if she was an adult, he committed an ethical violation that would have cost him his job, his retirement and respect when he chose to engage in an inappropriate relationship with a client.

    Lastly, statutory rape is rape. Period.

  5. Personally, I think you handled the situation very well. What the father did was wrong but going into hysterics over it will not help anything, it will simply create an atmosphere of secrecy and further distrust.

  6. If I were YOU, I would move to Kentucky... Because at present, it seems like you're surrounded by not only a sex offender, but a bunch of uptight gossips as well. You need to be here with us mad people.

  7. I think you handled it perfectly and me personally, I would rather know that a sex offender lives next door then worry about the one down the street who hasn't been caught or I don't know about. At least I know.

    The best I can do is teach my child, not scare him or live in fear.

    This is a big deal where I'm at right now because 2 missing teenage girls have just been found and they have charged a registered sex offender with their murders.

  8. I think you did a great job of handling it.

  9. I think he's a perv and a rapist, and it doesn't matter if there was a "relationship." If the girl was 16 it couldn't be consensual, under the law.

    I feel bad for your neighbor because of how awful the situation must be for him, so I will give him a pass on lying when caught off-guard, since he came back and was honest with you. He could have claimed the old "it's a mix-up" or "false charges" BS.

    Getting the full story is just smart. What are you going to do, move now? It is so much better to have the real story (so you know his "type") and now he knows that you know. It's all out in the open, and that does add some level of accountability for your neighbor and his father. How in the world does that make you irresponsible? I think it makes you *not* a gossipy cow, which is a good thing.

  10. i think your kids are blessed to have a parent with common sense and who behaves rationally. you handled this situation with grace and respect for the son who isn't responsible for his dad's actions.

    it does no good to assume things or to freak out. you can now take steps to protect your kids and teach them about dealing with adults in general.

    good job, mom.

  11. I'm with you. But I also think that it's a hard place to be.

  12. I think your nieve' and if there is one thing I have learned, never ever take an offender or his families version of his conviction on face value. Offenders all claim the sex was consentual even if it was underage and they all claim they just pissed on a bush and got an exposure charge. If I had a dime for every time I heard those descriptions I would be worth millions. Why do you think we have a never-ending tide of victims? People as your self will take that version of the fathers crime and then minimize it. Believe nothing until you read the court records, then if you can live with it? Leave the guy alone.