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Close friend arrested for possessing indecent images of children **title edited by MNHQ**
191

Devaste · 22/09/2022 11:59

NC as outing, TRIGGER WARNING

I know it’s not AIBU but need a handhold really.
A friend I have socialised with every week for months and months has been on the news this morning having been arrested after a sting operation messaging a 12 year old girl and possessing indecent images and videos of child r*pe.

Im in shock, I feel sick. I have spent money on this person, I cared about them. I will never speak to them again but emotions don’t turn off straight away do they. I’m at a loss for what to say.
Our friendship group is devastated.

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GetOffTheRoof · 22/09/2022 12:12

You're not alone. We had this with one of my DH's oldest and closest friends just a few months ago. DH actually went into shock - grey, sweating, sick, the lot.

We knew this man well. Went to his wedding just a few summers ago. They've served together in the military for 22 years on the same deployments, working as instructors together, you name it.

His wife is standing by him..... Looks like his ex has stopped him seeing their teenage sons.

The videos and photos were reportedly of babies and toddlers. Mostly videos. And yet no prison. Whilst I know the sentencing guidelines were appropriately applied and the sentence he got was the right one under the letter of the law and the guidelines, it just doesn't seem right.

I'm furious - I work in the CSAE arena and never, ever saw this coming. I always used to joke that he was gay and stuck to the back of the closet and refusing to come out because he was always "faux camp" if you see what I mean, but I never envisaged anything like this.

Talk it through as friends. Don't be afraid to grieve the person you thought you knew.

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Narcalert · 22/09/2022 12:14

His wife is standing by him? It’s mind bending.

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Devaste · 22/09/2022 12:17

He’s been given 26 months in prison. He’s lost everything, he was doing a degree. How is it worth losing your career, friends, whole life for? I couldn’t stand by him. There was 100 other ways to deal with those thoughts. We were there for him, always. I paid for his nights out. We talked about feeling alone and trapped by our thoughts at 2am.

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GetOffTheRoof · 22/09/2022 12:17

Narcalert · 22/09/2022 12:14

His wife is standing by him? It’s mind bending.

Yep but shockingly common. With my personal hat on I'm livid with her. With my professional hat on, I know she'll have been groomed by him too. He'll have apologise, justified it as a short term shock after his divorce (as he did in court despite records lasting 8+yrs....), all the excuses and reasons any sick bastard can come up with.

He was always very charming and knew just what to say. He also had a filthy temper and wasn't afraid of a fight when drunk so there is also the possibility of coercion but I never saw it between them.

I'm sad for her as we've all completely withdrawn and she's no longer got the support she probably needs to leave him.

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SliceOfCakeCupOfTea · 22/09/2022 12:19

A family member was arrested for indecent images of children (don't know any more details, don't know if we're talking babies, young children or 16 year olds) in 2020 and still hasn't been sentenced.

We, as a family don't talk about it. I want to know more but dont know when or how I'll ever find out. Don't know when he'll be sentenced either but I feel I need to know.

You're right OP. Feelings don't switch off. It's very difficult and complicated.

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Narcalert · 22/09/2022 12:21

GetOffTheRoof · 22/09/2022 12:17

Yep but shockingly common. With my personal hat on I'm livid with her. With my professional hat on, I know she'll have been groomed by him too. He'll have apologise, justified it as a short term shock after his divorce (as he did in court despite records lasting 8+yrs....), all the excuses and reasons any sick bastard can come up with.

He was always very charming and knew just what to say. He also had a filthy temper and wasn't afraid of a fight when drunk so there is also the possibility of coercion but I never saw it between them.

I'm sad for her as we've all completely withdrawn and she's no longer got the support she probably needs to leave him.

Speaking professionally then, how is it possible to groom someone to the degree that they accept that their partner was sexually interested/excited by babies and toddlers? Surely grooming is a normalisation, so how does something so universally repellent get groomed into another adult?

I realise that’s a horrible question and please don’t feel obliged to answer, but I’m curious as to HOW it happens.

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Nagado · 22/09/2022 12:25

I know you’re going to be reeling from this, but please don’t call it CP. The P implies consent, which none were able to give. I know it sounds like a relatively small distinction but for those affected, it’s a massive one.

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Devaste · 22/09/2022 12:27

Nagado · 22/09/2022 12:25

I know you’re going to be reeling from this, but please don’t call it CP. The P implies consent, which none were able to give. I know it sounds like a relatively small distinction but for those affected, it’s a massive one.

I have the exact same opinion so I don’t even know why I used it I’m sorry

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GetOffTheRoof · 22/09/2022 12:27

@Narcalert in much the same way as anything else - it's the boiled frog. Slowly slowly.

Lots of excuses. A partner who is desperate to believe it's "not that bad" - especially if they aren't charged with non-touching offences. Claims the victims are liars (happens a LOT). A partner who is afraid of what life will be like without this person - or who literally can't live without them - financial, personal, caring responsibilities etc. Coercion and control may feature. Fear of people finding out. Justification. Burying head in the sand. You name it - if it applies to domestic abuse, it probably applies here.

www.stopitnow.org.uk/professionals-looking-for-advice/working-with-partners/supporting-partners/

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Abouttimemum · 22/09/2022 12:27

I sat next to a paedophile at work for 12 years. Literally no clue.

His wife did leave him and he has no contact with his two daughters but I think it’s not unusual for partners to stay. The whole ‘playing to down, misunderstood’ and choosing to believe what you want rather than the facts I presume. I agree I can’t understand it either!

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Eeksteek · 22/09/2022 12:30

We had a similar thing with my late husband’s business partner. I didn’t much like him anyway, he was a misogynist twerp (although I never thought anything like that was going on). His wife threw him out and my husband continues to let him work for us, and that he stayed with us (very short term). I wanted nothing to do with him. DH said he had nothing else left, but I didn’t feel that was my problem. The least I could do was make it unquestionably socially unacceptable and then maybe some of the bastards would think twice about it.

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CloseYourEyesAndSee · 22/09/2022 12:30

Narcalert · 22/09/2022 12:21

Speaking professionally then, how is it possible to groom someone to the degree that they accept that their partner was sexually interested/excited by babies and toddlers? Surely grooming is a normalisation, so how does something so universally repellent get groomed into another adult?

I realise that’s a horrible question and please don’t feel obliged to answer, but I’m curious as to HOW it happens.

Speaking as a SW - many many women will convince themselves that either the perp downloaded the images by accident, or they were sent them randomly without looking for them, that the perp was under lots of pressure and stress, they had mental ill health that caused it which is now over...so many reasons.
also the police won't give the details of the investigation to family members so it's easy for the perp to convince their partner that it was a couple of grey area images downloaded by accident when the police and social worker knows perfectly well it was 100s of images of young children for example but until the investigation is done that can't be shared.

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Onlyfoolsandhorsesfan · 22/09/2022 12:33

Im going through this with my cousin
he’s always been,well best way I can say it-is ‘creepy’ a ‘bit odd’ but ‘harmless’
hes married with two girls (one under 16 and the other over)-and is up on charges for rape of 3 girls aged 14/15,getting two pregnant and grooming 4 others
he used his job to get to these kids
I honestly never saw it coming-he might have been a bit odd but never came across as dangerous in anyway
i haven’t seen him in person for over 20 years but am fb friends (or I was-he’s now blocked)
his wife and kids are running round telling everyone that ‘anyone can make a mistake’ and ‘they where up for it’ and are standing by him
I’m disgusted by him-and to a point his family-I know they’ve been groomed by him too but part of me is judging them too-I can’t help it

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Teenyliving · 22/09/2022 12:34

@Eeksteek you are also letting him continue to work for you and stay with you. I can’t imagine a possible scenario in which I would let a child sexnoffenser in my house or stay married to a man that wanted to continue to employ him (and you said it was a joint business in any case).

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whynotwhatknot · 22/09/2022 12:41

shocking op isnt it-how long have you known him

theres no excuse or reaosning for this sort of thing just none

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steppemum · 22/09/2022 12:41

I have experienced this too.
He was the husband of a veyr close friend and I knew him before they got together. They had been married for years, 3 kids etc.
He appeared to be my nice guy. Mr boy next door. If anything a little bit boring.
She had no idea and was devastated.
He had thousands of images, hidden on his computer. (he was a computer techy so knew how)

he was arrested because a child had made an allegation against him.
He blew his own family apart, his kids all suffered from mental health problems in their teens, and his wife has been left dealing with his fallout ever since.

In court he blamed all sorts of things including how awful his wife was. If I had been there I would have punched him. She is lovely and supported him all through their marriage, even though they had a disabled child and she had no sleep for 12 years. (he never once did a night shift so she could sleep)

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SlashBeef · 22/09/2022 12:44

Yup same thing with a friends husband this year. She is also sticking by him so our friendship is over.

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Spanielsarepainless · 22/09/2022 12:45

My best friend found her (now ex-) husband viewing CP. It devastated us all.

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steppemum · 22/09/2022 12:45

the police won't give the details of the investigation to family members so it's easy for the perp to convince their partner that it was a couple of grey area images downloaded by accident

this was so hard for my friend. For ages she didn't know what they had found and what he was charged with.
She went to court to hear exactly what they had found. It was shocking.

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TotallyFloored · 22/09/2022 12:46

I've been the wife here and I think @GetOffTheRoof has it spot on in her post. I went into physical shock as I never saw it coming, despite being a fairly intelligent, professional woman (if I do say so myself).

I left my husband immediately, but I was fortunate in that I had circumstances which meant I was reliant on him for nothing. However, although I knew it was the right decision and could never put my children at risk, I still struggled to emotionally believe it was the right decision and not feel guilt over it. I still hope I have made the right choice in not allowing him near our children, as there is in fact evidence out there that it is better for kids to see their dad in these circumstances provided the safety aspect of it is tightly controlled. But I still constantly worry about the impact on them.

The situation is so much more complex than I ever thought it would be - I was firmly in the camp of "how could she stay with him" whenever anything like IIOC, DV etc was raised. Now, I understand how those women with no support, money, independence etc just do not want to accept the truth. You do not want it to be true. You don't want to believe you have been so stupid as to fall for the lies you've been told, you don't want to believe you could be so wrong about everything in your life for so long - years and years. It is truly devastating. Earth shattering in fact. You have to accept the person you thought you knew never existed and grieve for that. And most people would rather believe it was a one-off, stupid mistake.

And remember, you are given very little information by the police. It can take up to 12 months for them to even begin to look at the devices in question to gather the evidence, and then even longer to take it to Court. And during this time, you are being told by your husband that its not true, it's a mistake, he has been hacked, it was maybe only one or two images but he thought the girls were 18. Details will not come out until it gets to trial - and if he pleads guilty limited details will come out then. These men lie day in, day out, about everything. They are accomplished at it. And you're not expecting it.

Another thing that surprised me is the amount of pressure placed on women to accept the men back from professional type agencies. I was handed a leaflet by the Police, issued by a charity working in the field, that explained how my husband's arrest did not have to mean the end for my relationship and that there was support out there for us to get through it. It made me feel wrong for throwing him out of the house. From an offender perspective, one of the ways to reduce risk of reoffending is to get the offender back to his previous life. If they feel they've lost everything, they often just think they may as well do it again - why not ? But, this does not take into account what is best for the wife/partner and children in these circumstances - that does not factor into their goal which is to help the offender. And, as you are not classified as a direct victim there is no funding whatsoever to help you if you do want to leave - only if you want to stay.

You are also often treated as guilty by association by others - surely you knew something ? Maybe you're into it too. People don't want to let their kids play with yours - how could you trust someone whose judgement is clearly so flawed ? And the guilt is unbelievable - for the girls in the images, your own children, for your children's friends who have been exposed to him (even though there was no evidence he progressed beyond looking at computer images).

But, the truth is these men are very clever. If you saw it coming, you wouldn't be in the relationship. You are groomed - its like boiling a frog. I hadn't shared a room with my ex for many years (and we are fairly young) - excuses from having a cold and snoring, early meetings, not wanting the kids to wake him up - all sorts. I thought it was sensible/normal - clearly it just gave him the opportunity to get online. There are other things looking back that I'd maybe question, but even with the benefit of hindsight I still cannot believe that he has done this - and I would never come to the conclusion he had. He was not the person I thought I knew for so long.

I don't really know what to advise you really. Your friend is making a decision that very few people would agree with. Its such an emotive subject and most people have a very visceral reaction to it. But, the lack of help and support she will have received, together with her individual circumstances and how reliant she may be on him, mean that the decision she has made is not as straightforward as many people think. She will be going through so many emotions, and with everyone withdrawing from her (and her wanting to hide from everyone), she'll be pushed in his direction. She'll miss her life, when everything was ok.

I'm not saying you have to agree with her decision, or have anything to do with her or him at all, but please try to remember what she has gone through and be kind where possible. Because very few people are when you find yourself in this position.

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Spanielsarepainless · 22/09/2022 12:47

And he claimed he got no sexual gratification from it at all...

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10HailMarys · 22/09/2022 12:50

I completely understand how horrified you must feel. It must be an awful, awful shock.

The thing is, when we hear on the news that someone's been jailed for something like that, we tend to forget that paedophiles have families and friends and jobs and all the rest of it. Obviously there's the occasional stereotype creepy little bedsit loner, but in most cases whenever someone's face is splashed all over the news like that, there are people who knew and liked them feeling just as shocked and betrayed as you do now.

I don't have any advice to offer, other than what you are feeling is completely normal. You couldn't possibly have known there was anything wrong - nobody in your friendship group could. I hope what you're currently feeling will fade, but be kind to yourself right now.

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BloodAndFire · 22/09/2022 12:51

There is a very well known journalist who still writes regularly in the Times and has stood by her husband after he was convicted of similar offences. It's mind blowing.

@GetOffTheRoof sadly my husband also lost his best friend for the same reason. We went to the court case and even visited him in prison, but could not continue contact after that, especially once we had children of our own, They haven't been in touch for many years now and I know my husband still feels it as a loss, despite absolute horror and disgust at what his (ex) best friend was capable of

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TotallyFloored · 22/09/2022 12:54

@Narcalert - when I say I was groomed, I don't mean into accepting him viewing IIOC. I had no idea.

I mean I was groomed into thinking he was such a good man, if anything a little boring, no odd kinks etc... That he thought his family was important and would do anything for them. It's why it is so hard to believe the truth, rather than the version they present.

Now looking back, I see many occasions where I interpreted his behaviour as kind/considerate, when it was in fact extremely selfish. But you are conditioned to see the best in them, rather than believe the worst interpretation. It is very similar to DV in many ways. Yet you get no support whatsoever in dealing with it and are generally vilified along with your (ex) husband, even if you make the "right" decision and leave them.

I cannot overstate the impact this has on you when you are the wife. Your world is shattered and you are left truly alone to pick up the pieces.

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LoekMa · 22/09/2022 12:54

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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