Dear Annie: My son married a woman with a 3-year-old daughter, “Suzy.” Suzy’s biological father, “Duke,” has shared custody.
When I met Duke’s parents and extended family, we became quite friendly. Over time, I’ve learned a great deal about Duke’s childhood and how he sexually abused his younger brother and sister for several years. When Duke molested a neighborhood child, his church intervened and sent him to a facility for two years until he turned 18. Duke’s parents truly believe their son is no threat to Suzy, and that his “childish sexual abuse” is a thing of the past.
Suzy is now 9 and shows no signs of having been abused, and my son and his wife are very attuned to her behavior. Duke still lives with his parents, and I believe their constant involvement probably has prevented any abuse.
Duke recently became involved with a widow who has five young children. He now spends all of his time at her home. Should I tell his new girlfriend about his past? My family says that would only create problems and it’s best to keep mum. What do you think? – W.C.
Dear W.C.: Keeping quiet about abuse is never a good idea. Duke may not have abused any children in the intervening years, but it is unlikely that he is “cured.” And the temptation of being around young children without his parents’ supervision could undo his resolve. Please explain to your daughter-in-law and her parents how horrific it would be not only for his girlfriend’s children but also for Duke should he backslide. He should not be around young children without others keeping an eye on the situation. Simply waiting until something happens is not in anyone’s best interest.